In another one of our random recounts of Derby journeys we recall a trip up to Fergus in the middle of December. It would turn out to be our last Derby bout of the year 2012.

ONE Sunday afternoon in December, Canadian Psycho in one of her generous moods took a certain derby type photographer on the road to the far northern reaches of Ontario. The bait of chips and orange sponge chocolates helped. Providing the excitement for the day was the first ever open bout of the Fergus Roller Derby league and their team the Fergus Feims facing the Orangeville Roller Derby in their first ever bout. [Editor’s note: Way to bury the lead!]

It was a grey December day, and a bit of precipitation was in the forecast. The windshield wipers to the Psychomobile were in full use as the wheels hit the highway. Once we were beyond the Guelph, it became farmville country. Stalks of dead and harvested corn lined either side of the two-lane either side country road. Lo! and behold the road quickly became shrouded with the densest of grey fog.

It was a scene out of a John Carpenter movie, [the original, not the Smallville remake] and we let Psycho know it. She told me to stop saying it. Nevertheless, it was still eerie out there à la Children of the Corn. Shrouded car lights were all going the other way in the murk. Maybe they were telling us something.

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Psycho stopped off in a garage to replenish the water for the wipers that had run dry in the rain. One could feel a Silent Hill ominousness as the crows looked down from overhead telephone wires.

Driving through the desolate farmland was left behind as vestiges of civilization began to appear. Lo! the highway sign: Fergus, population 1.

The Wellington Sportsplex looked to be shiny and new and very reminiscent of the type of building in Ajax where the Durham league dwelled. There was a pool for Psycho to splash around in if she had a Gore Gore uniform.

Knocking on the doorway to what could have been the room for the bout, we were quickly welcomed and ushered in as game time was right on the horizon. All the requirements for power were available around the walls. Game on! rock and roll and ready to shoot.

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So what was the atmosphere like? This was derby baby at the grassroots level. Jam-packed crowd. Jam-packed derby. First time announcer, first time fans. Demo 101. Trying to explain the rules. Just a lot of fun and a mixture of sprawls and lots of big sprawls.

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But were the players ready? The crowd certainly was, many at their first ever bout. Seats were set up behind the suicide lines.  Much of the crowd from out of town cheered for their Orangeville team. The room was no bigger than a church basement just able to accommodate the track itself. There was even a stage set up with seating to hold part of the crowd. The narrowness of the room meant there was barely any outside track space separating the skater from the wall or the exit doors. Padding was taped to the walls as best as they could. The teams were herded and huddled around the inside of the track. Even the zebras were confined to the inside, the head ref, jam refs obviously, but all the OPR were on the inside, producing quite the cluster.

What were Psycho’s impressions of what she saw that day?

“In Fergus, I saw some darned exciting derby between two new teams laying it all out there on the track… To top it all off, a nail-biter finish more than justified the wintry, white-knuckled drive!”

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For Waldow, it was akin to watching her derby babies come to life going through all the trauma of opening day and birth.”Despite having organized these events and larger ones in the past, I still get nervous prior as I feel that any problems are mine to fix because I want our skaters to be able to just enjoy the game.”It was a great opportunity for our new skaters to get their feet wet on the track and I loved the really tight game. It was so much fun to be back out there skating again. ORG were a big challenge!”For the season to come in Fergus 2013: “Fergus Roller Derby and our team, the Feims, are gearing up for our first full season and it looks like it’ll be an exciting one. We’re looking forward to seeing how our veterans settle into the rule changes and how our fresh skaters progress!”

There is a spring and summer full Fergus schedule to be announced later.

Talking about burying the lead: as if there was not enough Derby already everywhere, Fergus will be hosting the Winter Wipeout Tournament on March 2. Round robin style with:

  • Decapulettes, Festival City Roller Derby
  • Fergus Feims, Fergus Roller Derby
  • Highland Dames, Grey Bruce Roller Derby
  • Pulp Affliction, Orangeville Roller Derby
  • Woodstock Warriors, Woodstock Roller Derby
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