Skaters jostle for position at the Rockhampton Roller Derby at the YWCA Hall.
Skaters jostle for position at the Rockhampton Roller Derby at the YWCA Hall. Chris Ison

Bare knuckle winners

BARE Knuckle Knock Outs captain Rink Bitz got the privilege of bragging rights but it was a close thing as the Rockhampton public flocked to the YWCA for the first roller derby in the city.

The big crowd was not disappointed as both the Bare Knuckle Knock Outs and the Black Eyed Betties put on a display that will have spectators queueing for tickets the next time a show is staged in Rockhampton.

For the record the bout was won by the Bare Knuckle Knock Outs by 157-153 after the Black Eyed Betties had reduced a large half-time deficit and was on the verge of grabbing a lead.

However, it was not the score that mattered greatly to the crowd but the action on the track.

From the outset it was fast and furious but the crowd remained quiet as spectators did their best to understand what was going on.

They learn quickly in Rockhampton.

The second half was played with the crowd at fever pitch each time a jammer tried to navigate a path through the pack where four fearsome blockers were trying to prevent her posting points for her team.

With the crowd vocal the girls also lifted their game.

Friendly shoulder charges turned into desperate lunges sending jammer and blocker out of play.

It was that sort of night.

For those spectators who wished to see plenty of spills there was no disappointment as the sound of a multitude of wheels travelling at speed over the wooden floor was often interrupted by the thud of a body crashing to the ground.

Even referee "Missed Her Bitz" got into the act, raising a big cheer from the crowd as he lost his balance when zooming around the outside of the track.

Jammer referee Weird Al sk8abitch, who is to roller derby what Billy Bowden is to cricket, also entertained the crowd with his extravagant actions including propelling his arms like giant windscreen wipers to signify to the jammer that a jam was not in progress.

For most of the local girls the bout was their first opportunity to put months of practice into a contest.

They came through with flying colours.

It was not all inexperience on the track with Gladstone and Bundaberg supplying players who have been involved in this competition before.

Weird Al, who also helped to organise the event along with other club members, said he was happy with the way the show went and delighted with the attendance.

"We were stoked with the crowd turn out," he said.

Rockhampton based girls all did very well considering most lacked experience.

"Ja Sin_ta Gra8r only started skating four months ago," he said. "In the second half she was a scoring machine, she went well when she got over her nerves."

He said Anna Key was another novice skater who did well while captain of the Black Eyed Betties, Lil Miss Lucifer, also caught the eye.

"Lil Miss Lucifer didn't hold back," he said.

Weird Al said the plan for the future is to hold three or four shows each year, possibly at a larger venue.

Another plan for Rockhampton is to produce more players and referees.

"We are having a fresh meat intake on Saturday at the YWCA," he said, "anybody who is interested should bring their skates along and have a try."

Also those who might want to become a referee should turn up and see what this fast and frantic sport is all about.

Even the half time entertainment was unique with the Rockhampton Rock & Roll Club and the Beyond Gravity Pole Performers keeping the crowd entertained.

More pictures of the roller derby match between the Bare Knuckled Knock Outs and Black Eyed Betties can be found in the Morning Bulletin's online picture gallery.

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