The History of Manchester Roller Derby

Manchester Roller Derby (MRD) was formed in March 2010, by two skaters who had previously skated with Rainy City Roller Girls.

Newbies Z2H 1

The early days at our first venue

They wanted to set up an inclusive roller derby club – one where anyone could give the sport a go, regardless of gender or ability. One of these skaters was our very own Sui-Cider

“It all started in a dusty hall,
full of boys and girls hanging on our every word.  We had no idea how popular it would be.”
– Sui-Cider

The first venue these skaters found to skate at was in Levenshulme and already home to a Manchester roller hockey team.

Here we learned the DOs and DON’Ts of derby.  We learnt through trial and error how to run a successful and self-sustaining roller derby league, and of the structures that need to be in place for that to happen.

Following a year and a half at this venue, the decision was made democratically by the league that we needed our independence, more skating hours and that we needed to find a skating venue that was fit for purpose.

After an absolutely tireless search by our president at the time Psycho-Sis, our men’s team captain Gazooka and our coach/women’s team captain at the time Manc Zappa, we finally found Sporting Edge, a community sports centre based in Openshaw.

The move to our new venue in October 2011 was hard for everyone and it took us a few months to find our feet (skates!) but all the hard work really paid off.  We’re still there, happy and able to do everything on our own terms.  We affectionately refer to our home as Sp’edge.

MRD's co-ed team at the first UK co-ed tournament, January 2013. Photo by Shirlaine Forrest.

MRD’s co-ed team at the first UK co-ed tournament, January 2013. Photo by Shirlaine Forrest.

Since those early days we’ve fine-tuned our training sessions to make sure they fully cater to the needs of all ability levels.  We are a huge league now with over 100 members who skate hard and play even harder.  Our dedicated referee crew is well respected by the league and throughout the roller derby community, and we also train prospective referees or ‘refflings’.

We now have two bouting women’s teams, two bouting men’s teams and our Rookie Monsters farm team – as opposed to having just one women’s team and a handful of men wanting an opportunity to skate on a team before changing venues.  AND we won the UK’s first ever co-ed roller derby tournament in January 2013.

At any one time, we have about forty people  taking part in our rolling ‘Zero to Hero’ programme for new skaters.  As spaces are freed up, by skaters passing their minimum skills tests, we invite people from our waiting list to join the programme.

It’s non-stop, but we love it!