One point. That’s all that separated the Fighting Finches and Demolition Dames in the first match-up of the season.
The Finches, who trailed by 50 at one point during the June 25 bout and 30 going into the final jam, had a come back for the ages to win 155-154 and take the early lead in the season series. And the close decision only added to what has become quite a rivalry between the two Granite State Roller Derby home teams.
“It was epic and that’s what the audience wants to see,” said Melody Broider, who rolls with the Finches and is also known as Spank Alley Sally.
Off the track, they’re friends, they high-five and enjoy a couple adult beverages after rolling around the track for two, 30-minute halves. But on the track, it can get pretty fierce and definitely competitive.
“It’s all in good fun,” said the Dames’ Rebecca Jones-Ball, aka Bex in Spex. “It can also be fun to trash talk a bit.”
This is the fourth year of the home teams and it’s been a little lopsided, which has led to some extra bragging rights along the way. The first year, it was all Finches. The Dames took all four bouts in year two and last year, the Finches held a 3-1 edge. So you better believe that when the Dames and Finches square off on Saturday at Everett Arena, the Dames will have a little extra motivation to even up the season series. Not to mention the fact that there’s a little controversy swirling around as to whether the Finches actually earned the final points that led to the opening victory.
“To win by one point is incredible and crazy,” said Maddie Cole, a member of the Finches who goes by Lil Sumpin’.
No one we talked to on the Dames side was about to guarantee victory, but you can tell there’s a smell of pay back in the air.
“We are definitely thirsty,” Jones-Ball said.
But like we said, off the track everything is cool. The teams even practice with each other. Sometimes, especially when the official match-ups are close enough together like the first and second ones are, they do what is called a black and white scrimmage, where the teams are mixed up. It helps keep the rivalry to the bouts, which is what it’s all about.
“We’re still a league and skate together at practice, but it gets intense,” said Kim Blank (Missy Riot), co-captain of the Finches.
What it really comes down to is the people in the seats. The bouts are supposed to be close because then not only do the fans stay excited and into it, so do the players. When a skater reaches the level of being able to compete in roller derby, they are placed on a team. It doesn’t matter if they’re married, friends or co-workers, the point is to make the teams even, so the audience doesn’t leave at halftime when one side leads by hundreds of points.
“We always try to keep it family-friendly, but fun,” Broider said. “We all want to win, so we’re competitive.”
This also happens to be the first year where the two home teams only compete against each other, so you can only imagine what things will look like on the track when the fourth and final installment of the series takes place Aug. 13.
“I don’t really now what the rivalry is all about, but we just want to put on a good show,” Cole said. “And then we leave it all on the track.”
Each team has upwards of 12 players, but only five are on the track at one time. There’s four defenders, one of which is considered a pivot, and the jammer. The jammer is only the one who can score points and each time they pass the hip of an opposing defender it’s one point. If they pass the opposing jammer during a lap, it’s an extra point. The jams last for two minutes, unless they’re called off early. There’s a lot of rules to this game, some of which lead to time in the penalty box, but we can’t explain it all, so instead, our solution is to go and watch this Saturday’s match and just enjoy it. Leave the scoring and rules to the officials.
Each bout is two, 30 minute halves, and it’s constant action. They just keep going around and around the track, but there’s a considerable amount of strategy to it. And if you like seeing a group of women, covered in pads, crashing into each other and a lot of the time, falling down, this is a sport for you.
“I think this is the year when it’s going to be more even,” said Alison Murphy of the Dames.
And following each bout, there’s an after party at Area 23.
As for Saturday’s bout, Everett Arena opens at 4 p.m. with the Dames and Finches squaring off at 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and can be purchased at Spank Alley Skate & Board Shop and Bona Fide Green Goods, or $12 at the door. If you can’t make it this weekend, they also have match-ups July 23 and Aug. 13.
For more info or tickets, visit granitestateroller derby.com or facebook.com/ GraniteStateRollerDerby.