Well, we could not be at the Beast of the East, but going to Hammer City to their season opener doubleheader was not second best to say the least.
Slacker Smacker from Thames Fatales (green) against Hammer City Eh! Team (black))
By admission within their programme for the night, the Hammer City Rollergirls were going through rebuilding and “some realignment. Under the new HCRG structure we have two fierce teams”, the regional Hammer City Harlots and the WFTDA Hammer City Eh! Team.
The rematch between HCRG and Forest City brought back to mind the two matches from last year, both won by the Hammer, and one of which we were privy to watch at Thames Fatales’s Western Fair stage. The vaunted run and gun and take no prisoner style of Hammer City Eh! team at Quad City Chaos’s first year in 2010 was in full evidence against Thames, rekindling the memorable hits and memorable names at the Battle of the Waterfront (which took place on the hottest day of the year between Death Row Dames in blue and Harlots in red that with the most sudden of sunshowers brought the bout to a skidding stop). The battle with the Thames was the last we were to see of HCRG in 2010 where Perky Set and VicaDoom led the red of the Harlots over the Thames Fatales in forest green and black.
But before we go too much further into the nitty gritty details, one really begins to appreciate the massive organizational efforts made by leagues everywhere to get their events up and running. Original Tankgirl Miss Carriage amongst everyone at HCRG fielding questions from the volunteers and marshalling the media and the musicians and the scoreboard and the NSOs and zebras and merchandise tables and food options and setting up change rooms and kids friendly areas and all the family types and balloons and drawing materials and announcers and the areas for beer [no beeramids in Hamilton] the track and the benches and the chairs with the big J on them for Mirambo and company and the ticket handlers and sellers and suicide line wavers and waivers and keeping everything friendly. And did we mention that Dave Andreychuk Arena with the sunlight streaming in through the end doors was so reminiscent of George Bell Arena and the lighting which is amazing for photo types. If only The Hangar could be as good. [Happy Mothers Day too!]
HCRG, once the champions of Beast of the East in 2008, were missing at this year’s Beast and Quad City Chaos as HCRG as a league underwent a massive organizational change. HCRG carry their Derby history through the Steeltown Tank Girls, Hamilton Harlots, Eh! Team, Death Row Dames. But for now it’s down to the two teams in the Hammer.
This piece is not intended to be another history of HCRG or Thames, but another chapter is being written, so to add to that story is our valued contributor: Lee Way Wreck’Em [incidentally the lead jammer with GTA Rollergirls Derby Debutantes] who witnessed the weekend. The first thing noticed was the massive changes in rosters. Forest City’s Thames Fatales were already without Sufferjet on the jammer line [although playing at Beast] in Hamilton and Piepshow was taking time off since November, but looking forward to a return at the end of May. As well, missing in action in more ways than one was CommieKaze.
These were not the HCRG Eh! Team or Hamilton Harlots of days yore. This was a HCRG without the likes of Dicey or Dangermouse, Vicadoom or Carla Coma, ChainSaw Mary or Jett-Girl, Perky Set. Longtime vets Eduskating Rita and Bitchslap Barbie, Hawkeye Fierce and Miss Carriage are still on the Eh! Team, yet the league as a whole incorporated newer talents presenting new challenges in defending the name of the Hammer.
It was probably Thames being battle toughened already in the season and Hammer playing in their first games of the season that gave Forest City an advantage. Thames Fatales had already launched their season by travelling down to Mid Michigan in a rematch of their bout from 2010. Then came two very tough losses at Beast of the East 2011 against eventual finalists Gore Gore Rollergirls and ultimate champions Slaughter Daughters.
From the get-go in Hamilton, Thames showed themselves to be a high speed team in warm-up that continued onto the game. Thames Fatales have been around longer as an experienced unit, with their roster of ten led by the able veterans including C of 234 Anya Face and A of Mirambo #69 along with 420 Backalley Sally, 13 Dollface Massacre, 5678 Annie Takers amongst others pulled ahead. Both sides dealing with penalties and attendant problems, power jams and Thames trapping walls allowed points to accumulate. Without Piepshow or Tamahawk, the jamming core revelation of the Fatales was Slacker Smacker who practically rotated 1-2 with speedster Killson. Eventually, Jemecide got thrown into the action, too getting two jams, including last jam!
There was no lack of will however on the track, the trademark Hammer style on display, Eduskating Rita still laying the big bombs on the track, captain Bitchslap Barbie, JJ Bladez and Miss Carriage on the jam and Lock N Roll’s go for broke takeout play.
Down 39-63 at the start of the second half, Eh! Team woke up, playing more effectively in the second half, coming up with plays to stop the jamming invasion. Thames’ speed on the jam though negated that, with the presence of Killson. It was a toss-up between Killson and Slacker Smacker as to who was more effective from the jammer position.
“London played solid, they dominated the pack,” says Lee Way. Though it was thought the score was going to be closer, “Hamilton tried to execute plays [to deter the scorer], but they had to pay attention to who was the jammer. London knew what plays to run at the right time. The jammers skated incredibly.”
Harlots (in black) Captain Scooby Doom K9 and 11 Dark Passion Play
The first game of the night was the newlook Harlots wearing the Hammer black and white and gold.
The Hammer City Harlots wearing the Hammer City Rollergirls logo tops of black [sans Harlots symbol or red!] squared off against the bright yellow and blue of Luscious Lunch Ladies, the more rookie laden team of the Forest City Derby Girls.
The Luscious Lunch Ladies already had a handful of bouts to their name. But added to their roster was the presence of 666 Elle Boes which gave the Ladies a major, almost unfair advantage because of her Derby background with the original London Thrashers, then the Thames Fatales. Coming out of inaction, it was decided to put her on the Luscious Lunch Ladies for the night to get some gametime in.
The MVP of the night for the Lunch Ladies was Grisly Baire as chosen by the Harlots. The final 210-64 score in favour of the LLL signalled to all on the outside that this was a new Harlots in the making. It was not a night without casualty as #K9 Scooby Doom left the bout leaving with a shoulder injury.
Hammer City coming on the short end of the score on both games does not belie the gritty efforts and hustle and heart of Luscious Lunch Ladies and Harlots, Thames Fatales and Eh! Team on the track and kudos to everyone who ran the show so the fans could see their favourite players in the Derby world.
Andi Slamberg with the Luscious Lunch Ladies knew they had to step up their game to face the Hammer.
“As soon as we knew the Lunch Ladies were going to be playing the Harlots we kicked our practices into overdrive! Regardless of the the shake up at HCRG we knew that the Harlots were a fierce team and we weren’t sure what to expect. We knew that they had some rookies and some more experienced players who weren’t ready to join the Eh Team, so we were lucky when Elle Boes was added to our roster! It was great to add some experience to our team as well since all of us only have 2 or 3 games under our belts.”
“We also had amazing leadership from our captain Mighty Thor and our bench coach Anya Face! Everyone took a a huge leap forward with their game play during this game, spotlight on Grisley Blaire who was a huge force with keeping the Harlots jammers on lock down, and then ended up being a super awesome jammer for us in the second pierod and won MVP voted by the Harlots. The entire Lunch Ladies team really came together, and pulled everything we’ve been learning onto that track. The Harlots were an amazing team, and you can see that they are working towards being the dominating force they once were, I can’t wait to see how they grow and continue to improve! As they do so will the Lunch Ladies and we will be there with open arms to challenge them on the track again! The FCDG Vs. HCRG games aren’t going away anytime soon! We have nothing but love for this league and all they’ve accomplished but it seems like this year is the year of FCDG this is the first time our league has every won against them and it was a huge honour but we’ve worked hard to earn it and boy did we ever!”
Thames Fatales and Luscious Lunch Ladies in their development have shown they are going to be teams to look out for as they represent the Forest City Derby Girls. Lots of savvy and coaching.
For Hamilton, it’s a process that’s going to take time, trying to make a cohesive whole again on both teams. Lee Way concurs herself there are no worries for HCRG: “They’ll be a force once again. I expect them to be dominant again.”