New rink rekindles roller derby hopes

THE upcoming construction of a skating rink in Tamworth was welcome news to residents nostalgic for the days of Skatehaven. 

ROLL ON: Tamworth Roller Derby League president Jade Barlow (aka ‘Frankie Spanks’) hopes the new skating rink will end the league’s hiatus. Photo: Gareth Gardner 090714GGB03

ROLL ON: Tamworth Roller Derby League president Jade Barlow (aka ‘Frankie Spanks’) hopes the new skating rink will end the league’s hiatus. Photo: Gareth Gardner 090714GGB03

But for Tamworth Roller Derby League president Jade Barlow, it was positively music to her hears. 

Unable to find a place to call home, the league has dwindled this year, but the establishment of a skating rink at the former Anne St Thunderdome basketball courts has rekindled hope for Miss Barlow. 

“Our biggest hurdle was finding an venue to train at,” Miss Barlow said. 

Miss Barlow said the league had expressed interest in using the new roller rink, due to be completed in December, but she didn’t like to “jump the gun”. 

“We hope that it would be a permanent home, but it’s a matter of ‘wait and see’,” she said. 

She said though locals were keen on derby, interest had waned without a regular place to skate. 

“It’s taken off in Gunnedah, Armidale and Muswellbrook and we’re in the middle of it, and it’s frustrating because we’re the biggest sporting spot in the area,” Miss Barlow said. 

“We’re still on a hiatus – we want to reestablish ourselves and rebuild the league and see if we can start fresh.”

Miss Barlow said she “fell in love” with the sport after watching at match in Coffs Harbour two years ago. 

“The people are amazing – it’s a whole subculture, it’s very unique.”

She said the roller derby was intimately connected with rockabilly from the ’60s and ’70s and was experiencing a retro revival.

Although there is an element of performance to the spectacle, with skaters wearing fishnets, bright colours and playing under an “alter ego”, Miss Barlow said derby is a legitimate sport.

“There’s a bit of stigma with derby – people think it’s too violent or too edgy,” Miss Barlow said. 

“We want the chance to show people that this is a sport, that everyone is welcome,” she said.

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