Is your child the next Skate Bush, Swish Cariboom or Mad Mel Arena? If you know a tiny Toxic Avenger or Rock Mobster, VRDL is excited to announce that we will be introducing JUNIOR ROLLER DERBY in 2014! Classes are CO-ED (yay!) and will run during school terms for skaters aged 8-12 and 13-17. If you know a future derby star, aged 8-17, complete an EOI athttp://www.tinyurl.com/juniors2014 or send an email to email@example.com.
Written by The Cleaner, 2013.
What another year it’s been for the Victorian Roller Derby League. Firstly, though, it’s worth remembering that 2012 saw Australia’s champions grow to four home teams, place fifth in the Tuscon Dust Devil Tournament, take the trophy for the second year running at Australia’s own Great Southern Slam national event, feature several top skaters share the banked RDX track with Gotham and L.A Derby Dolls, among a myriad of other events. Goodness gracious!
Yet 2013 has been no case of taking the foot off the pedal: the All-star team fielded not one but two trips across the Pacific to the USA, each time exceeding all expectations and further cementing the blue-and-white in the hearts and memories of our derby cousins. Ranking 21 out of 166 in the world on the WFTDA leaderboard doesn’t look so bad either!
Meanwhile, the Vic/Tas tournament, which spanned many months, saw VRDL emerge victorious again on the mainland and across the Strait. Top that off with official sponsorships, a new venue, and all the various bootcamps and coaching that the league hosts throughout the year, and it becomes pretty clear that the future continues to look bright for VRDL and Australian derby as a whole.
But despite all the frequent flyer points and the increased exposure overseas, anyone who has travelled anywhere knows there is nothing quite like the feeling of coming home. That was the vibe at the 2013 intra-league grand final on Sunday 24th November, as the opening bout’s skaters took to the track to warm up at VRDL’s home turf of Darebin YMCA in Reservoir, Victoria. The flair and spectacle of the old Showgrounds’ big white tent may be missing at this year’s venue – on the other hand, so is its cold concrete. In its place are (among other things) tiered seats, better acoustics, and a roving mic reporter to augment the excellent commentating (we’ll miss your work Jude ).
BOUT ONE – DEAD RINGER ROSIES vs TOXIC AVENGERS
The first match of the night’s double-header was between the Dead Ringer Rosies and the Toxic Avengers. Placed third and fourth in the season’s ladder respectively, these two teams bear the marks of the league’s earliest history – their pink and green uniforms the basis for the colours of the most recognisable VRDL logo printed on many of the black hoodies seen in the hordes of spectators spilling into the venue. Those early days are not really so long ago in Australian derby history. It was thus no surprise that the crowd’s most stalwart supporters were especially energetic about the outcome of this classic battle.
The first half blasted off with Rosies jammer Swish Cariboom and Mad Mel Arena for the Toxics – both All-star veterans and popular skaters with the crowd. Swish was the first to take advantage, darting through opponents and teammates alike for lead jammer position. Mad Mel, meanwhile, encountered early resistance from Rosies blocker Tiger, and was called for a track cut penalty, landing her in the box for one minute.
Swish jumped on this power jam opportunity which had arisen unusually early in a match. However, she too met stiff opposition by Rocky and Dayna Might, who, despite unable to fully prevent her progress, managed to force the Rosie jammer outside, costing her valuable time in recovery. Nonetheless, Swish was able to rack up 10 or 12 points before calling off the jam as Mad Mel re-entered the track.
The second jam was an echo of the first – relative newcomer to the Rosies, Screw Barrymore (formerly from the East Vic league) found a weak spot in the inside line and dived through it for lead, while Toxic jammer Perky Nah Nah also committed a track cut. Another 10 points took the Rosies up to 22 to 0.
Swish was soon jamming again for the Rosies, evading excellent Toxic defensive strategies by Bianca Sciarretta and Dayna Might, before cutting the track herself. Perky Nah Nah was released from the bin on her previous penalty, before almost immediately cutting the track again! As a result, neither jammer spent more than a few seconds in the bin before returning into a jam that would therefore last the full two minutes. Both teams redoubled defensive efforts – especially of note was the teamwork between the Rosies members Vajazzler and Tiger. Nonetheless, this jam ended with Perky putting up the first four points for the Toxics.
So marked a frenetic start to the bout, and only 7 minutes into the first half! The Dead Ringer Rosies continued to cycle alternating jammers Swish Cariboom and Screw Barrymore, while the Toxic Avengers introduced all-rounder Rocky to the star to complement jams by Mad Mel Arena, who introduced her crowd-pleasing 180-degree reverse twist on the outside line while simultaneously calling off a jam, her hips just extending beyond those of the foremost Rosie blocker – a bit of a signature move which was a bit of a hit with the commentators during the WFTDA championships in the States earlier this year.
Nevertheless, it was the Dead Ringer Rosies who began to find holes in the Toxic walls, resulting in a few 0-point jammer-on-jammer sprints. Tam-ba-lam Slam, a ring-in for the Rosies, donned the star and gave Rocky a run for her money, who dragged a difficult 3 points out of a very fast pack. The score stood at 32 to 11 in favour of the Rosies before the first official review of the night was called and everyone took a breather.
A tough wall of Rosies blockers consisting of Tiger, Fyfe and Mon-U-Mental made a frequent appearance alongside each other, operating and communicating well on a busy track. Their defense led to a couple of jammer errors by the Toxics, helping Swish and Screw make consecutive extensions to the Rosies lead which they began to maintain by about 40 points or so leading up to the conclusion of the first half.
After a few more jammer-on-jammer races, the Toxic Avengers blockers, led by Bianca Sciarretta, began to stand their ground. Terror Australis (of the Dolls of Hazzard) playing in a Toxic jersey in this match, worked to hold Screw Barrymore back in the final jam of the first half. There were many tumbles in a scrappy pack while Mad Mel took lead. The period concluded with a score of 94 to 35 still in favour of the Rosies, but having seen the Toxics double their own score in the last 13 minutes – though this was not without sustaining significant penalties.
It was textbook derby: a combination of penalties, power jams and smart 4-0 executions that were representing in a confident but wary lead by the pink team. A score no means out of reach for the Toxic Avengers, they would have to tread carefully with the now familiar no-minors ruleset that often seems to result in more foul-outs than previous years, as well as employ some strategic defensive smarts to force a few penalties over to the other side.
The second half opened with a very quick hit-and-quit jam in Mad Mel’s favour. The Rosies answered by shutting down Dayna Might who had donned the star, coming up second best against a brutally efficient blocking duo of Vajazzler and Fyfe. Meanwhile, Screw Barrymore collected her own 4 points. It followed in this fashion with back-and-forth jams inching up the scoreboard to 129 – 41, 10 minutes into the second.
But it wasn’t to last. As if defying the crowd to expect any such pattern, a truly epic jam crept out of nowhere, a jam the likes of which are infrequently seen in derby. Toxic jammer Rocky had obtained lead jam over Rosies player and recent Glaswegian transfer Disco Brawl, who opted to pass her star to pivot Tiger after failing to breach a green wall operated to perfection by Sciarretta, Judgement Jay and Mad Mel.
In the meantime, Rocky carefully made her way time and time again through the struggling pack in her inimitable (and unforgettable – this was her last bout) style. It’s a style not consisting of Mad Mel’s acrobatics, nor the speed and dexterity of Perky Nah Nah or (grand final’s bench coach) Bella Bomba, but, a deliberate, cautious entry into a pack that seems to inevitably see her emerge on the other side of it regardless of the defense mustered, her face set in the same neutral concentration that it was on her approach.
So it exactly was in this single jam, as she took away 20 points worth of natural grand slams, rocketing the Toxics back into the game after such a struggle in the first. The end-of-jam whistles chirped but were somewhat smothered by the roar of the rather usually quiet crowd who were stirred by this display. They repeated this roar two jams later when Rocky was up on the line again, this time taking another 14 points in the same fashion, before an unfortunate penalty took her off, while her blockers successfully held back the Rosies jammer from any power jam rewards. The score now stood at 132 – 83.
Unable to make it a hat trick for her final game with VRDL, Rocky returned to the track from the box but made a final track cut – her 7th penalty for the night, and fouled out as Swish answered with a 17-point power jam. Tam-ba-lam Slam notched this up a further 3 Rosie points after a nice recovery from a collision with a Toxic blocker. It was largely up to Mad Mel to push on for more in Rocky’s absence, pocketing a respectable 13 points against fierce resistance from Gilli Pepper, Disco Brawl and Vajazzler, as her opposing jammer Screw Barrymore was issued an elbow penalty.
The Rosies nonetheless were looking positive as the clock dwindled to under 8 minutes remaining, with a 66 point lead over their rivals in green. A rare pivot line start saw Toxics’ Dayna Might rocket out of the pack for lead, as teammates Perky, Sciarretta and Scarlett Savage isolated Screw from any Rosie assistance at the back of the pack. Stuck behind this wall and being recycled out of bounds, she was sent off again for a track cut.
With two blockers in the bin on each side, Mad Mel once again found her form with some agile footwork through the gaps on the first and second turns. Delivering 18 points, the Toxics had made it over the century mark. With a score at 162 – 116, the crowd once again were surprised to find that the differential didn’t look too impossible. 46 points is only a couple of power jams, right?
The Rosies were having none of that, knowing that they would be able to hold the lead by avoiding any recklessness on the track in an effort to keep any blocking advantage. Once again they demonstrated what seems to have significantly raised their game in 2013 – good communication between experienced, strong blockers who know how to curb their penalties when it counts, whilst losing none of their aggression in laying hits. As Dayna Might was denied by Tiger, Swish Cariboom furthered the margin by 9 points as the Toxics called a time-out with only 12 seconds remaining on the period clock.
It proved to be what the Toxics needed: Mad Mel was sent up to jam for the final play and outpaced Screw Barrymore, who had played a most remarkable game jamming for the Rosies but was stuck behind Perky and Scarlett Savage. She made a star pass to Disco Brawl who fared no better. This final jam was decidedly in the Toxics’ favour. As the jam clock wound down, 17 points were put up by Mel, resulting in the rather closer-than-expected end score of 181 to 135.
What a hard fought game! Although the Rosies led from the very first 2 minutes, the Toxic Avengers used the second half to play a cleaner and more strategic battle than that which they began, with very successful power jams that left their mark on the final score as an unequivocal comeback. Nonetheless, this was a clear and confident victory by the Dead Ringer Rosies, playing what was one of their best games, particularly defensively, that this writer has seen. Noting the strength and up-skilling of their team despite some absent faces such as that of Ruby Ribcrusher, as well as their communication on the chaos of the track, the Rosies have wrapped up 2013 as a much more formidable force than ever. A well-deserved victory!
BOUT TWO – DOLLS OF HAZZARD vs ROCK MOBSTERS
The two teams battling it out for first and second place, the Dolls of Hazzard and the league’s youngest team the Rock Mobsters, took to the track to warm up as the grinding tunes of Sexy/Heavy performed live and loudly. These same two teams duelled it out on the same date the previous year for the top position, with the Dolls emerging victorious. The calm and confident expressions on either side during equipment checks were otherwise impossible to read: would the Dolls make it a winning streak? Did the Mobsters have a secret weapon we didn’t know about? Were the polkadot skate covers on the Dolls’ feet a secret weapon or just evident of their sweet style? Were there any burgers left at Jerry’s Vegiburgers outside? All very valid and important questions.
The big battle commenced with a bang. Crowd favourite Skate Bush was lined up alongside Rock Mobsters jammer G-Banger. A single whistle blew and the pack erupted, spinning off at a serious pace as G-Banger deftly took lead. But Bush was putting on the heat, and few are as fast as her on the flat track. G-Banger managed to snatch all but two points before being forced to call it off.
Anna Conned Her, drafted from the Melbourne Northside Rollers league, stepped up for the Mobsters, facing off against Ivy K’nivey for the Dolls. The latter was issued a track cut, followed by a forearm called on Anna. Both jammers thus were quickly re-introduced to the pack after a fleeting glimpse of the penalty box, neither eligible for lead. The crowd was treated to some incredible defensive work by both sides as both jammers struggled against imposing walls to make the most of the full two jam. Ivy K’nivey came out second best after being sent off again for a back block.
G-Banger returned to jam for the Mobsters and was eager to capitalise on the power jam that opened. The Dolls were not going to let her through easily, though – Tui Lyon and Terror Australis using up costly seconds for the Mobster jammer. Escaping their clutches penalty-free, she found her momentum and chalked up 19 points. The lead changed in favour of the Mobsters, at 6 to 21.
10 minutes had disappeared off the clock already and the score extended to 28 for the Mobsters, and 10 to the Dolls. Five minutes later, the Dolls were still on 10 but the Mobsters had bumped up to 44 by consistently snatching lead jam status several times. It appeared that the Dolls were on the back foot, calling a time-out to regroup.
The ever-reliable black-and-gold clad Tam-bal-am Slam, in her second game for the evening after guesting for the Rosies, advanced the Dolls score by getting a 4-0 win over Anna Conned Her. Then at the start of a new jam, G-Banger surprised both the crowd, the commentators, and her opposition alike by skating halfway round the track in the opposite direction. This appeared to be a sneaky method to take advantage of some circumstance invisible to this writer, by forcing Ivy K’nivey to rejoin the pack behind her yet avoiding any out-of-play penalties, at which point the Mobsters jammer charged off again after the pack she left back at the first pass. It cost the Dolls, with their jammer almost on the other side of the track behind the others, but admittedly it did take another full minute into the jam before G-Banger herself could emerge with lead status herself, and with a 4-0 result in her favour.
Skate Bush answered with a power jam in what was to become a frequent ‘back and forth’ exchange of derby punishment on each side. She took 13 points as the referees sent Mobster Scarlett Savage to the box for a multiplayer block. Mobsters decided to call a time-out with a 22 point lead, at 27 to 49. There were 9 or so minutes remaining on the first period clock.
The Dolls continued to inch closer on the scoreboard. Miss Chivas, acting on a cue from Pony Slaystation, took out Dolls jammer Ivy K’nivey in an excellent hit. But G-Banger was called for a back block – a rare event for her in this game as she had so far played a very clean and controlled game – and Ivy redoubled efforts to use this time to rack up an impressive 19 points despite ongoing pressure from the Miss Chivas and Slaystation duo. The score stood at 46 – 53 and the crowd started to jitter with the prospect of a potential Dolls lead change that might only be a jam away.
And it came. Smashin’ Pop took out Anna Conned Her in a devastatingly powerful hit true to her derby name. Tui Lyon and Terror Australis opened up a hole in the pack for Skate Bush who worked hard to use it, and was rewarded with 9 points. The Dolls had taken the lead at 55 – 53.
The Mobsters began to suffer in the same way the Toxics had in the first game – a series of penalties cost them as Anna Conned Her received another forearm after everyone (including the jam ref) thought she had successfully obtained lead jammer status. Instead, that status was shifted to Ivy who struggled against some superb blocking by Scarlett Savage and Calamity Maim. However, Maim received another multiplayer block penalty for this (one of several against her for the night), and the Dolls began to break away at 81 to 57.
Anna Conned Her’s previous fate echoed for Miss Chivas who stood up to jam, out-manouevering Tui Lyon but was also issued a forearm, and joined two of her blockers already in the box. Skate Bush seized the moment, demonstrating some outstanding footwork on the outside line and earned 18 points for her side as the period clock timed out. The Dolls had reached just shy of a century, at 99 points, while the Mobsters trailed on 57, having not advanced for several jams.
It was clear that the Dolls had found their stride after a slow start that had left them chasing the Mobster team. The balance of power seemed to be being driven by inopportune penalties that had cost the Mobsters, though many of their players, notably Pony Slaystation, DeClaire da Pain and Miss Chivas, as well as G-Banger were playing quite a solid game for their part. After a half-time break, crowd discussion made it clear that many expected yet another lead change shortly into the second period – perhaps a truly Mobster-style revenge?
They were almost right. A mirror of the first period’s initial jam scored 2-0 for G-Banger as she escaped obstructions by Bicepsual and Smashin’ Pop. This was followed by Anna Conned Her who performed what seemed like a signature inside-line leap for lead jam and scored what was (up til this point!) a record 23-point jam. Just like that, the Mobsters had risen from 57 to 82 points, while the Dolls had yet to improve their lead past 99. G-Banger returned and added 10 points of salt on the wound. A 99 – 92 game with the Mobsters trailing, only moments in to the second half! The crowd was beside itself.
But the Dolls had worked out of tougher situations than this. With two Mobsters in the bin, Skate Bush defied a block from Green Eggs and Slam, and Anna Conned Her hit the penalty box again. Bush decided to call the jam early, resetting the state of play for Ivy K’nivey to kick things off with an advantage. The skater made no waste of it, despite enduring some punishing defense once again from Mobster all-rounder Miss Chivas. Worryingly for the red team, captain Calamity Maim was sent off again in what was possibly her 6th penalty.
Anna Conned Her leapt from the box back to the track, but again the referees caught a forearm penalty and sent her straight back off. Scarlett Savage and Miss Chivas were alone in trying to shut down Ivy K’nivey, but she beat the record for a power jam that night, 25 points widening what had been a swiftly shrinking gap for the Dolls lead. But now they had recovered, pushing their lead out at 133 to 92, before subsequent jamming took it further to 147 to 97. Only 17 minutes remained on the clock.
Players from both sides – several of which were playing their second match already, appeared to start working harder despite looking increasingly tired, drawing pockets of reserved energy from wherever they could muster. Some jams simply looked gruelling for all involved. In one, Anna Conned Her could not shake a Dolls contingent tracking her every movement behind the wall, and performed a star pass over to Miss Chivas in chaotic circumstances. Ivy K’nivey was also being pummelled by similar Mobster defense. Both jammers expended great effort in what ultimately was a low scoring jam of 4 points for the Dolls and 8 to the Mobsters. Even the commentators remarked that everyone must have been glad to hear the whistle blow on that one.
Yet for the most part, both teams continued to put up big points on the scoreboard, usually through powerjams. Fervour in the crowd swelled to support G-Banger through a series of particularly outstanding jams on her behalf that saw her slip through several especially haz(z)ardous Doll containment lines while outpacing Skate Bush. But still it wasn’t enough for the Mobsters, Pony Slaystation fouling out with 4 minutes remaining. With a score of 188 to 134, the packs began to race even faster, a sense of urgency gripping both player and spectator alike.
Urgency transformed into jubilation when, in an epic monster of a jam, Skate Bush suddenly wowed onlookers with a 28 point surge for the Dolls, decidedly winning that single-jam record for the evening. She took lead jammer away from the Mobsters again, after teammates The Cleminist and Tui did a tidy job of locking up the Mobster offensive.
The pace broken up slightly by the odd official timeout or review, the final jam saw Bicepsual wear the star for the Dolls with a power jam, after lead jammer G-Banger was pulled up on a track cut on the third pass. Thus almost-definitively closing the chance for the Mobsters to score, it was up to Calamity Maim, guest-skating Mobster Gilli Pepper and Miss Chivas to try and contain the damage, but Bicepsual still walked away with an additional 15 points to add to a decisive Dolls of Hazzard victory, for the second year in a row, with a final score of 203 to 150.
So concluded the double header and the 2013 season for Australia’s champion league of VRDL. With a new ruleset this year, a new venue, many new faces rotating into the teams, and players Rocky, Bebop-a-Lula, Gilli Pepper, Brutey, Matron Minx retiring at the conclusion of Sunday’s event, the league continues to adapt and evolve. Every year sees the competitive level raise magnitudes after exposure to (and more importantly, victory over!) more experienced leagues abroad. With more WFTDA leagues appearing in Australia and quickly skilling up, what, other than TGSS in Adelaide next June, will 2014 bring?
If VRDL’s bouts are anything to go by, the answer is simple: even better roller derby.
Think you’ve got what it takes to become the next Swish Cariboom, Skate Bush, G-Banger or Mad Mel Arena? Well, here’s your chance – the Victorian Roller Derby League are recruiting! We will be holding an intensive fresh meat boot camp over 8 sessions on Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons between December 4 and January 12, followed by league tryouts on January 19. The boot camp is open to women and men 18 years and over.
The cost is $195, which is inclusive of all eight sessions, tryouts, and Skate Victoria insurance.
Already know the basics? Join us for the January sessions to brush up your skills in time for tryouts. The cost is $105 for the advanced program, inclusive of three sessions, tryouts, and Skate Victoria insurance.
Register your interest here to get more information.
Wednesday December 4 (6.30–9.30pm)
Sunday December 8 (12-3pm)
Wednesday December 11 (6.30–9pm)
Sunday December 15 (12-3pm)
Wednesday December 18 (6.30–9pm)
Sunday January 5 (12-3pm)
Wednesday January 8 (6.30–9pm)
Sunday January 12 (12-3pm)
League tryouts will then be held on Sunday January 19 from 12-4pm for women only, but men are welcome to join as officials.
Skate Victoria insurance will cover you for tryouts and wRECk classes through to the end of 2014.
Please note: The Sunday sessions will be held instead of the usual wRECk (recreational class) program.