River City get ready to roll

After 12 months of full contact in elbow pads and fishnet stockings, Wanganui's roller derby girls want to show their fans what they have learnt.

The River City Rollers are hosting 'The Fright Before Christmas' at Jubilee Stadium on Saturday night when they take on sister club, the Whenua Fatales from Levin.

The sport, which attracts an interesting sub-culture of women including many with no previous sporting background, continues to grow in popularity with Wanganui no exception.

Established in 2010, the River City team just finished their first full season with seven bouts, including the nationals.

This will be second time playing at home as new rural teams often have to travel to the more established clubs in the bigger centres.

Melanie McGhie, aka Mel-icious Mayhem, said they train with the Fatales every six weeks so the teams will have similar strategies.

They are developing a more physical style of the sport and have shown a lot of improvement after a full season of competition.

The Rollers have co-opted New Zealand representative coach Stacey Roper (Pieces of Hate) to be their bench manager.

Emma Canden, aka Crystal Crush-Her, said the club had been proactive by contracting outside coaching to help them improve, something teams in the bigger centres take for granted.

While still a relatively new sport in New Zealand, it's good to see the old parochial passions have migrated to it as Crush-Her expressed her "disgust" other clubs have stolen their idea of outside coaching.

The sport started in America where there are professional and amateur leagues.

Teams skate around an oval track with points scored as lead players lap members of the opposing team while others the jammers attempt to stop them.

They adopt nicknames many with double entendres and wear colourful outfits to add an element of entertainment. The Rollers have a roster of 17 league players, 15 up-and-comers (aka fresh meat) and nine intermediate players (cadets).

In their ranks you will find grandmothers, nurses, artists, teachers, photographers, wedding planners and office workers. However, expect slightly different personas than above to emerge on Saturday.

Doors open for the bout at 5.30pm with tickets available at the Opera House.


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