Good times roll for derby team
A RAG-TAG bunch of men are showing they have what it takes to roll with the hits in what is traditionally a women's game.
Roller derby was revived as a women's sport in Texas in 2000 with an emphasis on female empowerment and a grassroots ethos.
But the punk attitude and gorgeous variety of women who play roller derby quickly caught the eye of a couple of curious men.
Often, men interested in derby will train to become referees or coaches, but Ipswich is leading the way with some of the nation's first male roller derby skaters.
Dubbing their sport “merby”, short for men's derby, the men train with Ipswich's roller derby team – the Brisbane City Rollers (BCR) – at the Ipswich Showgrounds.
The league is already unusual in that it is co-ed, but BCR gathered enough male skaters to hold an all-male bout.
Relishing the opportunity, the merby skaters held a special match in the intermission of BCR's friends and family bout on Sunday, with the Frankies beating the Uppercuts 36 to 28.
The women's teams – the Missfits and the City Sirens – also competed, with the Missfits taking the match 125 to 100 points.
The Missfits led most of the game but the Sirens were never far behind, often trailing by three points. The Missfits will go on to a bout Toowoomba in May.
Gerard Nelson, also known by his merby alias Ged-I, said he was attracted to derby as a sport which mixed skill, strategy and stamina.
“It's great fun to watch and even more fun to play, and the sense of community around derby is fantastic,” Mr Nelson said.
Mr Nelson, 38, said the men's game tended to be “faster and a bit more aggressive”.
Elton Christiansen said he was initially attracted to the skating element of the sport.
Mr Christiansen, who is married to a BCR derby skater, said his male friends were often curious about derby girls and “therefore curious about derby”.
“When I mention merby they still want to talk about the female aspect of the sport,” Mr Christiansen, also known as Hellton, said.
Mr Christiansen said the men's version was more “smash ‘em up”.
The BCR merby teams hope to travel to Melbourne to compete against the Moustachio Nuts later this year, and have more demo bouts in the pipeline.