September 10, 2010, marked the historic night the Kingston Derby Girls hit the flat track for the very first time. They rolled into the M-Centre in front of more than 2,000 screaming fans for Back to Cruel, an exhibition bout in which two teams, the Disloyalists and the MC Marauders, battled it out. Neither team particularly knew what they were doing, but it didn’t matter. Roller derby had officially hit Kingston. And Kingston loved it.
Fast forward to last Saturday night. Three years later and many changes later, the Kingston Derby Girls now know exactly what they’re doing on the track. All three home teams — the Rogue Warriors, the Skateful Dead, and the Disloyalists — were out for blood in the packed double-header that was Back to Cruel IV. The first game, the home team championship Battle for the Boot, saw the Dead face off against the Rogues. Going into the game, no one could call who would come out on top. The Rogue Warriors had never lost to the Dead, but with several key players on leave due to pregnancy and injury, the team was seriously short-handed. To top up their roster, the Rogue captains and coaches called two well-loved KDG alumni, Tight E. Whitey and Yo! Shanity Slam, out of retirement, and borrowed from the Disloyalist roster. The Dead had also lost players over the season, but had held together and maintained better practice at attendance. However, would it be enough to take down the home champions?
The game was hard-fought from the first whistle. Both teams wanted to go home with the Golden Boot, the gold rollerskate that has been the symbol of home team dominance since the first Back to Cruel. The Dead leapt out to a quick lead as Rogue jammers showcased their agility but met up with walls of red shirts time and time again. Playing with unfamiliar players proved challenging as the Rogues struggled to maintain their formations against effective Dead strategies. Dead co-captain Timbit proved the might of smaller blockers by effectively sweeping Rogue jammers out of bounds; her partner in captainship Newey and Improved laid down powerful blocks, and the whole Dead team showed strong cooperation under the leadership of their pivots, coach Colin-the-Shots, and bench coach WD Forte.
The Rogues, led by coaches Reba Smackintire and Glitter Bomb, endeavoured to regroup in the second half. Triple threat Zesty Enterprise — who was later voted MVP for the Rogues — and team co-captain Flaming Hips did their best to hold the Rogue walls together and stay strong against Dead jammers Saragorn, TyKnee Smasher, and Boney L’Ass. Rogue blocker Fate Tempter blocked mightily despite being injured and Impatience and Little Tank proved formidable foes. Rogue jammers Nikki Heat and co-captain Kimminent Danger, as well as guest players Tight E. Whitey and Yo! Shanity Slam, slipped numerous times through the Dead formations, but in the end, the Dead defense was too mighty and the Rogue walls did not hold. The final score was 193 to 100 for the Dead. The crowd roared as the golden boot went to the Skateful Dead for the first time in history and Dead co-captain Timbit was hoisted in the air by her teammates.
“New” players on both sides proved that they can no longer be referred to as such, showing astonishing talent for skaters finishing their first season: the Dead’s Saragorn went from being a “rising star” to just a star, weaving dexterously through the pack time and time again and showing both impressive track awareness and extraordinary endurance. Unsurprisingly, when the dust had settled, she took home the MVP prize for the Dead at the end of the night. Dyke Spice and Frigger Skater of the Dead also proved their talent repeatedly throughout the night, and the Rogues’ Red Nasty and transfer skater Princess RedNek proved themselves to be key blockers in an evolving Rogue roster.
The second game featured hometown favourites the Disloyalists taking on Forest City’s travel team, the Timber Rollers, from London, Ontario. The last time the Disloyalists played Forest City, the hard-fought game had ended in a disappointing loss, and, after a season of losses against strong teams all over Ontario and Quebec, the Disloyalists were out for redemption. But their roster has also been damaged by injury this season: Manic Breeze, Johnston, and Vincent were watching from the bench and sidelines, and Luci Fleur was playing while recovering from an ankle injury. The Timber Rollers leapt out to a lead from the first whistle in a hard-fought, fast-paced, heavy-hitting game. Co-captains Angel’a Misfortune and Banger Management played their usual strong game, blocking effectively against the agile and tenacious Timber Roller jammers. Several power jams led to a number of lead changes as blue and black shirts took turns in the penalty box as the game quickly turned into a fierce battle for every last point. Going into halftime, the game was either team’s to win.
The Disloyalists call themselves a second-half team, and they came out skating hard, but it was clear in the second half that both teams were tired. Disloyalist jammers LaVallee of the Dolls, Willard, Luci Fleur, Angel’a Misfortune, and Queen Blitz, fought their way through walls of black shirts whenever they could, but met with ferocious resistance from strong Timber Roller blockers. The Timber Roller jammers were impressive, using agility, strategy, and at least one move the Disloyalists had never seen before (knocking the jammer out, skating the wrong way around the track, and then completing a star pass to change the jammer), to fight the walls of blue. The Disloyalists finally managed to pull out into the lead and spent the last few minutes holding on to the lead for dear life. The final score was 186 to 129 for the Disloyalists and the well-deserved MVP accolades went to Angel’a Misfortune for the Disloyalists and Fraxxure for the Timber Rollers.
The crowd was crazy. The children had to be chased off the track at halftime. Free t-shirts were hurled willy-nilly into the crowd. There were tricycle races and some kind of crazy game with kayak paddles. With music by the inimitable Rueben deGroot, announcing by our esteemed Dr. Sneaks along with guests Luci Fleur and Yo! Shanity Slam, and two nailbiter games, Back to Cruel IV was not a night to be forgotten. The Kingston Derby Girls would like to thank everyone who came out Saturday to celebrate an unforgettable end to an amazing season. Thank you to every volunteer, to our beloved referees and non-skating officials, and to our guest team the Timber Rollers for driving all the way from London. And thank you, thank you, thank you to our fans — we love you all and can’t wait to see you next season.