In terms of Newcastle Roller Derby bouts, it doesn’t get much bigger than this – the league is set to celebrate it’s Pride Week bout as the Fort Smashleys and the Bogey Rollers battle for the final spot in the competition’s grand final next month.
The Saturday bout, to be held at the Newcastle Showground Exhibition Centre, will boast “rainbows everywhere,” said league spokesperson Zoe Hennessey. Players and referees will wear themed uniforms, and the hall will be emblazoned with colour.
The roller derby stars have even planned to change their derby titles for the weekend, though Hennessey laughed at some of the impending Saturday changes.
“A lot of people have tried to incorporate the word ‘pride’ into their names, but I’m not sure how well that’s worked,” she laughed. “We’re planning on having as much colour and celebration as possible. It’s going to be a colourful assault on the senses.”
For the NRDL, implementing a pride bout alongside Newcastle Pride’s week of celebrations was an important one. With so much crossover between the roller derby and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, it was only a matter of time before an event like the Pride vs Pride bout was confirmed.
“Newcastle Roller Derby shares so much crossover with the LGBTQI community here in the city, we always have,” Hennessey said.
“We really wanted to highlight that. We’re an alternative sport, so it’s only natural we’re going to attract alternative people within our group. It’s something that’s always been apart of the community, respect and pride in who we are and what we do.”
The pride theme of the bout isn’t the only reason this Saturday’s clash is a key one, however. With the Harbour Hellcats already confirmed in the league’s big dance, the Rollers and the Smashleys are vying to clinch the final’s second spot.
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If a battle for the decider wasn’t enough, both teams are set to be without their primary jammers for the weekend. The Rollers will be without Hollie Funk, while the Smashleys will be short Rubylicious as they battle for the grand final.
With both teams shorthanded heading into Saturday’s fixture, it’s anyone’s game to take, says Hennessey.
“With both their primary jammers out it’s going to have a big impact on the game overall, and how it’s going to be played out,” Hennessey explained. “It makes strategy and blocking technique that much more important.”
Considering the Smashleys are reigning Newcastle League champions, the chance for the Rollers to knock them out – and in the process, open the league up for a new titleholder in 2019 – is a very appealing idea for the Bogeys.
“It’s going to be a really intense game, neither is going to give any ground easily and they both want that spot in the grand final,” Hennessey said.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better bout, both teams are about as even as it can get with the jammer news. It’s going to be a great event, and we’re so excited to celebrate pride and all our members that fall into that category.”
Tickets for Saturday’s event are already on sale online or can be purchased at the door. Tickets are priced at $12 for adults, $8 for children, and $35 for a two adult, two kids pass.
Doors open for the event at 6pm, with first whistle set for 6.30pm. Read more information about the event on NRDL’s Facebook event page.