The theme of today…

Spreads from 'The Royal Shredding' and 'Murder on the Flat Track Express'.

I have just been doing some updates to the website (, to make things more rounded, adding in a section about training and the organisation of the sport, hopefully reflecting what goes on behind the scenes, the aspects the public doesn’t see. I’ve also added some more images in to the ‘Artwork’ section, spreads from past programmes I put together for the Sheffield Steel Rollergirls between 2009 and 2012.

Last weekend was the first event I have shot where there was no programme available. There may have been one, but I didn’t see any. As time has gone on I’ve seen teams put less and less emphasis on producing programmes to support the day.

Print will always cost, first you’ll need a designer to put a programme together, most teams usually have or know a designer that can do the job, put together the programme and create any illustrations/graphics, likewise with photography, so the only real cost will be the actual print. Like any industry the cost of the product will be governed by economies of scale. The more programmes printed, the lower the cost. Most of the work is in the set up, but as I’ve seen audiences drop the focus has shifted away from producing programmes. From 16 page booklets full of graphics, photographs, information and adverts. I’ve seen many reduced to an A5 fold out to an A3 sheet and some to a photocopied A4 sheet folded in half. Teams cutting down on costs.

Programmes were an essential part of the Derby experience, helping those new to the sport to understand what was going on and to reinforce the theme of the bout. Many bouts taking inspiration from films and music from the generation of the team members. It also gave the audience a memento of the day and helped gel teams together through creativity and a shared ownership of the day’s event. As the ‘past-time/hobby’ morphed in to a ‘sport’ these aspects fell by the wayside.

Spreads from 'Smashdance' and 'Block around the Clock', both themes referencing common interests and history of skaters and team members alike.

Looking back at the programmes I produced a theme emerged. It feels that part of appeal that drove early participants to the sport were shared cultural values and interests as well as Derby itself. The programmes were themed around the films and music, common cultural reference points all team members, not just skaters could tap in to, and on the day of the bout these themes gave a more full experience for the public and those involved, and dare I say, fun. Bouts were themed around the 1920’s to the 1980’s and beyond, and references to current events at the time shaped some events.  Formalising Derby as a sport, coupled with cutting costs, rising prices elsewhere (due to austerity) has had several negative effects. There is less glue, shared common experiences to hold teams together, it is harder now to put on events to cover costs, let alone make a profit, and as such a move away from events aimed at the general public to just those already in the scene. With less public exposure, less recognition and less ability to bring in new blood.

Perhaps Derby has turned a corner and I am out of touch. I just liked the time when other interests could be brought in to the scene and friendships could be formed that were not just about Derby.


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