MORE than 1,000 fans watched roller derby history being made at Leeds’ Futsal Arena on Saturday.
The world’s number one team, Gotham Girls All Stars, flew into Yorkshire from New York take on Europe’s top team, London Rollergirls’ London Brawling, for the first time.
And history was made as Gotham took their 50th win in a row, displaying exactly why they have taken the top title in club play, the WFTDA Championships, for three years consecutively . The team beat London 294 points to 56, in front of a crowd of fans from across Europe, including Copenhagen, Geneva, Toulouse and Dublin.
Yorkshire leagues were also well represented, with crowds of skaters cheering on the action from Wakey Wheeled Cats, Harrogate’s Spa Town Rollergirls and Sheffield Steel Rollergirls.
And thousands more watched the game as it was streamed live online around the world.
Leeds Roller Dolls’ A team, the Rebel Roses, played London’s second team, the Brawl Saints, before the headline game.
The home side put up a tough fight, but were outplayed 296 points to 73.
Rebel Roses skater Liz ‘Bruise Em Banshee’ Thomas was handed the Most Valuable Player award for her hard work on track.
She told the YEP: “It was fantastic to be part of roller derby history. Playing the opener for London versus Gotham was immense.”
Tickets for the game sold out in just four minutes, and the city’s own league, Leeds Roller Dolls, were partly responsible for making it happen.
Roller derby is a highly competitive sport played on quad roller skates, and Leeds was the first league to form in Yorkshire in 2007.
Leeds play their home games at the Futsal Arena, and queues started snaking their way around the building an hour and a half before the doors opened on Saturday. Huge cheers erupted as the Gotham skaters arrived at the venue, stopping to take pictures with fans and sign autographs.
Leeds Roller Dolls skater Anna ‘Bird of Pain’ Ward said: “It was so amazing to see how many people in the UK really love this sport. The passion of the crowd and excitement of the players was like nothing I’ve felt before. What a privilege to be part of it.”
You can next catch Leeds Roller Dolls in action at the Futsal Arena as part of the Northern Series tournament where they will take on Rainy City Roller Girls on Saturday, July 26. Tickets are already on sale on the Dolls’ website www.leedsrollerdolls.com.
Pictures: Jason Ruffell