Commandos on skates
Roller Derby teams
scorch the track
● Roller derbying is defined as a "game on roller skates," but this sedate descrip- tion gives no picture of the skill, speed, and spectacle of the "game," recently
introduced to Australia.
By AINSLIE BAKER, staff reporter
THE players who scorch
their way round the special track installed at Sydney Stadium at speeds of up to 40 m.p.h. are
commandos on skates who
graduate to the track from tough training schools.
The schools' most carefully guarded secrets are the "fall survival routines" — the art of falling without being killed.
While they graduate with a high degree of skill the melee that is the Roller Derby in action means accident and in- jury.
There are few members of the teams at present in Sydney without broken coccyges, that uncomfortable rudimentary tail bone at the base of the spine, and few who have not suffered fractured limbs.
One player, Roger Schroe- der, of New York, wore
WHEW! The blande Dervish (above) it out and away and has scored her point. You'll see the move she made before in
the top picture on the opposite page.
JERRY MURRAY (above), a crowd- pleasing villainess on the track, is whipped ahead by her team- mate to score. Jerry is playing as a re- placement with a male
ROGER SCHROE- DER, of New York (left), skating in his crash-helmet, neces- sary to protect his re- cently fractured jaw. Sometimes he takes the helmet off — to use
it as a weapon.
an American-type metal crash- helmet when the Sydney sea- son opened, to protect his re- cently fractured jaw.
But apart from this obvious precaution the players wear no protection except a thick pad of sponge rubber in the seat of their pants, and padded leather sliding pads on their knees and thighs.
"These skaters take their punishment as well as any boxer," said Ernie McQuillan, noted Australian boxing
Ernie has been engaged by the teams as conditioner. He
is amazed at the physical fit- ness of the girls and the amaz- ing skill of all the team mem-
The audience roared their
appreciation of the skating
skill and finesse of the skaters when the game was presented in Sydney.
Rows of seats were removed
from Sydney's famous stadium
for the oval track which
sweeps round the ring.
The track is built of wood,
is 125 feet long and is banked at an angle of 47 degrees at each end, where its maximum height is seven feet from the ground.
SPECTATORS are pro-
tected from flying skaters by a safety railing with padded posts, but even so on
several occasions, on their first
night, skaters flew over the fence among the audience.
The Roller Derby is a game on roller skates, in which the players score by passing members of the opposition
The skaters are divided equally into two teams, sub-
divided into teams of five, who
RELAXING in their Sydney quarters, two of the skaters (right) in their kitchen enjoy one of the many cups of tea they brew
through the day.
"GERTCHA," the centre blonde,
Joan Weston, seems to be saying as she manoeuvres into position to get ahead in a double block play against Jerry Murray, back, right.
each take the track for 12- minute periods. Men race men, and women race women, alternately. But replacements due to mishaps can be either
men or women.
When the opposing teams are bunched in an even pack
(neither having the advantage of the other), the referee blows the whistle for a jam.
This is the sign for each team's best sprinter, or the member most favorably placed, to break away and circle the
track, passing as many of the opposing team as he can in the break's 90 seconds' dura- tion.
Points are gained for each member of the opposing team passed, five points — a grand slam — being the maximum score possible during any
CHIEF referee is husky,
Pasadena City College football player Roy Langley.
Roy has coached Carl Novak, heavyweight wrestler and former speed skater, to help him keep law and order
on the track during the Aus- tralian tour.
The referees don't skate. They race around at high speed wearing slacks and
rather spectacular navy-and- white striped shirts.
But even with their shirts they can't compete with the players' "futuristic" skating costumes of long tights and brilliantly colored satin shorts
The game is exciting to watch and there is what ap-
pears to be a great deal of violence when players fight, elbow, and throw their way forward to win points.
AUDIENCES in Aus-
tralia immediately be- gan betting on whether the fights were real or skil- fully staged acts to keep
Members of the teams
stoutly deny any "fight acting.'' They're in it to win, they say, and there is pertinent evidence to support their claim.
The evidence? Troupe members are paid bonuses for every point scored during the games, have to pay all fines imposed for fighting or anti-
social track behaviour into a communal medical fund, thus reducing their bonuses.
TEAM PLAY. Lou Guzman, skating ahead, attempts to make an opening for his team-mate, Al Stewart (partly concealed at back), to pass blocker George Vogh, of the opposing team.
AN ATTEMPTED WHIP- THROUGH by, left to right, Norma Rossner (U.S. team), Joan Weston (U.S. team) is blocked by "Spider" Wallace,
of the Australian team.