On November 19 2011 the Varsity Derby League sent its first bouting team The Dishonour Rollers to the Canberra Roller Derby League HQ – The Cannery – for an all day round-robin bout-fest with CRDL and the Sydney Roller Derby League. Representing the Dishonour Rollers, Legz had this to say about her experience:

This time last week, I had eaten a ham and cheese toasted sandwich and was sitting outside on an already a steaming hot day, strapping on a pair of knee-pads.

The sound of velcro being ripped open and reapplied on the knee and elbow pads on those around me was soothing – reminding me that we’d done this a thousand times and just because we were playing someone else was no reason to get worked up.

It was our first bout and needless to say there were some pretty energetic birds flapping around in a few tummies.

I thought back to the first time I walked into the Cannery – 1 July 2011.

I remember how wobbly I was on those skates and how I fell over being a smart-arse trying to moonwalk in them.

That first night of skating, back then it was just ‘skating’… it was just a fun new hobby, that like most things, I’d get over it in a few months.

I had no idea of the grip that this sport was going to have on me and that four months later, I’d be bouting on this surface, with some of the best friends I’ve ever had and completely obsessed with all things derby.

I guess you’d say the Derby Bug bit me… hard.

After what seemed no time at all, it was time to take to the track and warm up. The surface was good, grippier and harder, meaning my plow and T-stops needed a bit of adjustment.

The heat was going to be torture, 32 degree day in a tin shed warehouse, and a high exertion level – I don’t think Rexona makes anything strong enough for that. We were called in to the bench to sort out the lineup, and get gear-checked by the Refs. Then it was time to get amongst it.

Let me be clear – these CRDL girls are idols to a lot of us… watching their bouts is what got some of us interested in roller derby. We’ve all watched them on the track at their bouts and have someone we look up to when we think about the kinda Blocker/Jammer/Pivot we want to be.

Now we were lining up next to them on the track.

For me it was a mixture of awe and a pinch of fear. What would happen if I knocked one of their fearsome blockers over? Would I feel awful, and apologise and try and help them up? Would I be proud of myself? Would they be angry?

I had no idea how this all worked. So I just tried to take my head outta the equation.

Tori Smack by Bullseye Betty

We got knocked down, a lot. But that was to be expected – the important thing was, we kept getting up.

Our confidence grew as the game went on, and our girls were winding up for well-timed hits, our Jammers were securing lead Jammer status and our pack work and communication was improving.

We got trounced, but we got good points on the board and no injuries aside from a swollen bloody nose on Marie Slamtoinette.

After a BBQ sausage, a banana and about as much Powerade as the human body can hold, it was time to suit back up.

The pads were still wet with sweat from the first bout against the Canberra Roller Derby League, so they were less than pleasant to put back on, and then we were back in for another roll around the track before the second line-up and gear-check.

This bout was against Sydney and we pulled it together for a far better performance.

Our nerves were mainly outta the way, we’d received some really encouraging words from the CRDL girls and we were ready to play hard.

So was Sydney.

Miss Ravish'em by Bullseye Betty

Little did I know, in about 15 minutes I would be writhing in pain on the track with a suspected broken leg. But I’ll get to that.

Our Jammers had managed lead Jammer status a few times, and we were getting some respectable points on the board, I’d managed a few whips I was proud of and was starting to get a high from the sound of Sydney girls hitting the deck after I’d put a shoulder into them.

I’d managed to open up the inside line for our Red Hot Jillie Pepper with a hard hit on a Sydney girl, and Jillie came sailing through for another set of points.

This pushed the Sydney girl towards the outside of the track, when she overcorrected and fell – right in front of me.

I had no time to react; down I went.

I was on all fours on the ground on top of her, and before I had a chance to get up, the Derby girl pile up was added to by one of our power blockers landing on the back of my leg.

It all happened very quickly, and everyone started springing back up to catch the pack.

All except me. I couldn’t make my leg work.

I tried twice to spring up as I usually do, but my body was all like “Legz. no. I’m done.”

Diazeslam by Bullseye Betty

I’ve received two comments on how it looked from a spectator perspective: one was “you looked like a half mashed insect trying to get away” and the other was “it was like a marionette and someone cut the strings”.

I remember hearing someone yell out “just stay down!” and realising that was my only option, I rolled onto my back.

I didn’t realise I was crying til I couldn’t see through tears.

I had two goals for this bout “I will not cry” and “I’ll be happy if we just manage to walk away afterwards!”.

Needless to say, I achieved neither.

After some wonderful medical assistance from Dr Hell, I asked if I would be right to play the third game.

She laughed and said “umm no. NO! You’re getting xrayed my dear. You’re done for today.”

Then I was asked by one of our VDL girls if I wanted to carpool to the hospital for xrays etc.

Carpool to the hospital?

There’s an alarming sentence, that meant there were others.

Then around the corner came Diazeslam, equally bleary eyed, and her wrist bandaged up on a splint.

So off to the hospital we went, with quite an exit; I couldn’t walk and was frustratingly slow on one foot apparently, so our big biker coach carried me out like some sort of terrible z-grade movie.

All the boring medical stuff that happened after that aside, we were sitting in the waiting room of Emergency, glued to our phones for the latest commentary on the game, which was being updated on Facebook.

At one stage I nearly leapt out of my wheelchair with excitement at the score being 45-50.. then sad news that another skater was down – my derby wifey Junk Punch.

After a few more Jams, they called it.

Game Over.

And that was it – our first big day was done.

We survived! Yeah there were some little war wounds, but we did it! We had BOUTED!

All our hard work had amounted to something, and from what our opponents have said, we did pretty bloody well.

What I have learned from this experience:

  • Your competition aren’t always as scary as you build them up to be
  • Shave your legs – you never know when you’re going into hospital where there are hot doctors
  • Bouting brings you closer with your teammates, so does 5 hours in emergency
  • Working hard in practise pays off; and
  • Derby is the greatest sport ever created, you make the best friends, have the best time, and even when you end up in hospital – you still look back on that day as one of your top 5 ever!!