Hallam Hellcats: Fast, ferocious and fierce - and now Sheffield roller derby team is flying high

They're unapologetically fast, ferocious and fierce - and now they're flying high, after all-female high-energy Hallam Hellcats fought their way up the roller derby league
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The Sheffield-based squad are now just one division away from the top flight, and will start next season in tier two of the Five Nations Roller Derby Championships, after winning play-offs at Ponds Forge.

Sheffield roller derby team Hallam Hellcats celebrate victory after being promoted to Tier 2 in the Five Nations Roller Derby Championships (Photo: Hallam Hellcats)Sheffield roller derby team Hallam Hellcats celebrate victory after being promoted to Tier 2 in the Five Nations Roller Derby Championships (Photo: Hallam Hellcats)
Sheffield roller derby team Hallam Hellcats celebrate victory after being promoted to Tier 2 in the Five Nations Roller Derby Championships (Photo: Hallam Hellcats)

The women, who train and play at Skate Central on Queens Road, are now ranked 17th in the whole of the UK and Ireland, and 46th in Europe.

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Their youngest player is 26 - and their oldest is a grandma who goes by the skate name of Grimblok or Granny Grim.

"Skate names are an important part of the sport," said team captain Chelsea Abbott, aged 35, aka Abbottoir.

"It's like an alter-ego when you're on the track. 

"We've got names like 'Olive A Sudden', 'Wilma Wheelsmove', and 'Noo Matic'. It's all about empowering women to get out there, leave their home lives behind, and just play sport purely for the enjoyment of it.

Hallam Hellcats in action (Photo: Karina Lax)Hallam Hellcats in action (Photo: Karina Lax)
Hallam Hellcats in action (Photo: Karina Lax)

"There's been such a missed opportunity for women to take part in full-contact sports not previously classed as 'womanly'. It's such a shame, but it's changing. Women are finding sports in their 30s and 40s that they should have known about years ago.

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"It's the freedom to turn up, not have to explain yourself, get your skates on, hit each other for a couple of hours, and go home!"

Hallam Hellcats (Photo: Karina Lax)Hallam Hellcats (Photo: Karina Lax)
Hallam Hellcats (Photo: Karina Lax)

Each 30-minute match consists of two-minute 'jams' where, instead of chasing a ball, one of five skaters called a jammer must try to lap the opposition - or blockers - on an oval track while racing on four-wheel rollerskates. 

A point is awarded for each player a scorer gets past, using defensive and offensive manoeuvres on 'legal body zones', slamming into shoulders and hips.

Hallam Hellcats in action (Photo: Karina Lax)Hallam Hellcats in action (Photo: Karina Lax)
Hallam Hellcats in action (Photo: Karina Lax)

"If you're skating at speed and catch an opposition player on the hip they can really take off!" said Chelsea, a university photo technician and mum-of-two who lives in Crookes.

"It's great to watch. And hopefully they land safely!"

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Sheffield roller derby team Hallam Hellcats celebrate victory after being promoted to Tier 2 in the Five Nations Roller Derby Championships (Photo: Hallam Hellcats)Most PopularHide AdHallam Hellcats in action (Photo: Katrina Lax)Hide AdHide Ad