Latest Nonsenses

Shockingly the home of DERBY doesn’t want to know!!


The early history of roller derby is shrouded in mystery. The only thing we know for certain – and the clue is in the name – is that sport originated in the English town of Derby. EMILY FLATULET travels to the East Midlands to find out more…

The year is 1823. A schoolboy (or possibly girl, the records are unclear) called William Webb Ellis is getting bored of being beaten at football. The other team is taking the piss quite frankly, jinking the ball over him/her and doing the old swirly legs “come and get it, bet you can’t, bet you can’t” like an over-competitive dad in a crowd of five year olds. “Ha ha, you’re rubbish at football,” says one opponent. “You’ll never grow up to advertise aftershave or conjoin with reality TV contestants,” says another. One final comment – “you could play for West Brom mate” – sends him over the edge. Webb Ellis picks up his ball in a huff and walks off the pitch. Everyone is astounded. What, you can pick it up? Why have the masters been forcing us to either kick it or waddle about with it between our buttocks all these years? And so the sport of rugby is born, named after the school at which these events took place – although the school in question is burnt down that day by the rioting footballers and has never been heard of since.

So who is the William Webb Ellis of roller derby? The birth of this particular glorious sport most likely occurred back in 1900s, the heyday of quad skating. As the refined women of Edwardian England took to their eight wheeled perambulations along Derby’s canal paths and boulevards, which specific woman was it who decided that – instead of just idly skating along – she was going to knock the other women over; or skate to a halt in front of them and edge them into the canal with her shoulders; or come shrieking up from behind, a charcoal pentangle on her face and 666 scrawled on both arms, flicking Vs as she passed the demure ‘blocker’ now sobbing into her husband’s moustache. Surely this person, like Webb Ellis, had a name? If she did, it seems that history has chosen not to record it.

We wander the streets of Royal Derby, questioning its genteel inhabitants (“roller what?”) as well as itinerant traders (“you want any hash?”) and hobbledehoys (“what did you just call me?”). None can aid us in our quest. Surely there must be a statue here to roller derby’s progenitor? If there is we can’t find it, although we do locate several of children shouting at animals. Also one that looks from a distance like a referee signalling lead jammer status, but turns out to be Florence Nightingale waving an ice cream. They’ve even hidden the damn boulevards and canals. As a last throw of the dice before returning home, we head to the tourist information office. Whilst they have nothing to offer but confused shrugs, they take down all our details and promise to pass them on to someone who might know.

Several days later Hilary Goggles, Assistant Media Responder for Derby City Council, e-mails us: “Dear Sirs or Madams, Pursuant to the request filed at Tourist Information forthwith herewithin some days past, the council wishes it known that we have no prior knowledge of the sport of ‘roller derby’, nor of what/which origins/links caused it to be named after our great city. Having viewed internetular footage of said ‘sport’ – and we use that term through collectivised gritted teeth – we would also like it known that this is not the sort of ‘spectacle’ the City of Derby would hereforce wish to be associationed. We are appreciative that there will be will be numerative costs to those, both individually and as organisational entities, participationing in said ‘sport’ to change the aforementioned name. However, it is something we would impeach upon to you to so do. Although we are financially corseted by current economic prevailments, let it be known that we have formally agreed to close two libraries and pass on the savements – a sum not unadjacent to £1.4 million – should you be amenable to renaming said sport as ‘Roller Nottingham’. Yours etc, Ms Goggles.” Hmmm…

Should roller derby change its name? Is the money on offer worth it for such a big switch? Let us know what you think…

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