As the date drew closer I was suddenly struck with two thoughts. Firstly, I was going to be with these guys for a long time. There's nowhere you can hide on the bus. Most of them are larger than life characters whereas I tend to hide in my shell. Secondly, I was beginning to wonder if I had made the step from fan to pain in the arse? I love cheering them on so I go to just about all of their bouts and end up getting invited to a few of their public social events. I just don't want them to start thinking 'ohh it's you again' and overstaying my welcome.
By the time Saturday morning came around I was mega excited even though I was on the road at 4:50am to drive up to Newy to meet up with the rest of them. As more and more people arrived I promised myself I was going to try and be more social and get out of my shell a bit that weekend. What's the worst that could happen? Jilla who had to pull out of the bout due to injury was there to see us off along with her two fur babies Mavis and Henry. Mavis and I share the same shy personality and Henry looks like the dog equivalent of grumpy cat :)
I was sitting next to Bermuda for the trip and my god did she make me laugh. She was an awesome travelling companion. Whether it was her accidently squirting me in the face with her water, making jokes, singing and dancing in her seat, my head almost sliding onto her boob when I fell asleep and just general fun and laughs. It made the LONG trip much more enjoyable.
Given the company on board it didn't take long for the laughs to start whether it was passing phones around and showing inappropriate cake pictures, poor Drop Bear getting stuck for ages but asking hilarious questions trying to guess her celebrity for the celebrity head game, the general funny and inappropriate comments and discussions that popped up throughout the bus. It wouldn't be Newy if there wasn't twerking so where better to twerk than against the bus while we were at a servo fuelling up! These guys were introducing me to all sorts of things perhaps one of the funniest things I experienced on the way up to Lismore was Beaver introducing us to a parody of the Beach Boys singing without autotune. I snorted...a LOT when she played this on the van's speakers!!
On our way through Coffs Harbour we drove past the Big Banana. It was the first time I had ever seen it and it was pretty disappointing I thought it would be bigger. No surprise there was no shortage of sexual connotations from the Newy guys about the Big Banana :D I was laughing so much that I was beginning to wonder if it was possible to die from laughing too much? I'm sure I was coming pretty close to it. There was lots of sing alongs but perhaps the biggest reaction was from this song. I'm pretty sure the bus driver was thinking what he got himself into!
The longer the trip went on the quieter the bus became as people started to drift off and tiredness kicked in. It really was quite a long trip, it got to the stage where some people wanted it to be over and they still had to bout when we got there. We got to Lismore later than expected that it was literally get to the hotel, get changed and go to the bout venue. I was decked out in Newy related and even wore Jilla's team jacket that I won in the auction last year. All the purple and yellow!
The venue for the bout the Lismore skating rink goes down as my all time favourite venue to watch a roller derby bout. It's tiny but has this real old school charm to it. The track and the walls around it remind me of Skatel but this one has wooden grandstands and they had actual lounges around the suicide line. I had seen Northern Rivers bout last year when they came down to Newy to bout the Dames. It was a tight bout with the Dames eventually shooting out to a lead and holding onto it for the win so I expected another close one.
Northern Rivers ran out to a quick and well deserved lead. They were much quicker to everything and it reflected on the score board. I couldn't sit still so I ended up standing up on the grandstand and I remained like that yelling out support and cheering on the Dames for the rest of the bout. I find it difficult fully expressing myself in derby because I have to be careful of what I say because there's kids around and it's not as hardcore in terms of support like it is with football and Liverpool so it's slightly muted cheering from me but it's still more vocal than what I am in real life!
The Dames were missing someone taking charge at the front of the pack and organising them but the likes of Danger certainly helped try and fill the void. The ultimate irony was that Northern Rivers were doing a Jilla on the Dames. Dreaded Cat especially parked herself at the front of the pack and kept holding back the Dames jammers time and time again that would then get swallowed back into the pack and have to start again. Northern Rivers did a great job of breaking up the Dames walls so that the Dames players were left isolated which left gaps in the pack for the Northern River's jammers to get through.
Northern Rivers may have been pulling off a near perfect gameplay but the Dames were slowly getting their feet back into the game and who else but Babycakes pulling off some huge point scoring jams with some great support by her blockers to bring them back into the contest. I've always been the kind of fan who believes their team can win right up until the point it's mathematically impossible and the closer the score got the louder I got that the lady next to me left the grandstand to get closer to the track and away from me haha.
Who know maybe with five more minutes the Dames might have come away with the victory they certainly had the momentum but ultimately Northern Rivers ran away well deserved winners 159-129. My MVP for the Dames was Reggie Ramjet. Not only did she absolutely nail some HUGE blocks, she an awesome blocker overall. I've noticed her blocking while playing for both the Bogey Rollers and the Dames for a while now. No fuss, just goes about doing her job for the team but what an amazing job she does. Completely reliable too. I was proud of them and the handful of us who were cheering on for the Dames that watched the bout more than showed our appreciation for their efforts. While we were waiting for the Dames to de-gear Bermuda said I was Newy's biggest fan. Regardless of whether that was true or not I was grinning from ear to ear hearing that :D
I was also keeping Jilla up to date on the bout through Facebook and once the bout finished she told me to give all her team mates a slap on the arse from her. I looked at my phone like it just grew another head. Was she serious? I couldn't do that! The more I mulled it over I thought stuff it I'll do it! Problem was I completely bottled it as shyness got the better of me and we ended up back on the bus to go to the hotel. While the skaters were getting their gear from the trailer back at the hotel I somehow gathered up the courage to get everyone's attention to tell them Jilla had a message for them. They looked at me seriously until I told them I had to slap them on the arse then all hell broke lose haha. Some of them started lining up while I ran past. I don't really slap people's arses so half way through I was worried I was slapping them too hard and toned it down. Once it was over I couldn't quite believe I had just done that. It was so unlike me haha.
Everyone got ready and then it was off to a local nightclub for the after party. It was here that I hit a hurdle - I can't dance. The only rhythm I have is when I used to play the drums. Being as flexible as a brick wall I have no dance moves so I sat myself on a bar stool and watched the Newy guys tear up the dance floor. I was entertained just watching them dance. Not only could they bust a move they did it without a care in the world and it was evident they were having a great time on the dance floor. Champain was in a league of her own, damn she can dance. I certainly wasn't bored, far from it. I can't believe I'm admitting this but a part of me wanted to get up and join them I just didn't know how to move on the dance floor. When yep you guessed it, Baseline Junkie (I swear that's got to be the Dames theme song) came on Valfreya dragged me onto the dancefloor. I had no idea how I 'danced' I think it was more my technique I use when I'm using a skipping rope. As soon as that song was over I was off the dancefloor quicker than roadrunner!
I was rooming with Bermuda and Hippy and we were one of the last ones to leave. Walking back to the hotel after one in the morning was fun. There was no one else on the streets and we were laughing over stupid shit. Our efforts to quieten down as we approached the hotel probably made us louder than we already were. We joined Baby, Danger and Beaver next door for a little while and once again I was laughing a lot from some of the stories. Bermuda, Hippy and I were outside chatting (probably loudly) until well after 2am. We eventually hit the bed at about 2:30am but I got to know the both of them a bit better so it was well worth the lack of sleep. Next morning Bermuda told me my snoring sounded like Darth Vader. I don't think that's a good thing!
On the way back to Newy most people swapped their seating arrangements. Bermuda and I went to the back of the bus to join Kell, Fannie, Glitter, Champain and Thunder otherwise known as the backseat bandits according to Glitter. If I was laughing to the point of crying on the way up to Lismore, I was laughing and blushing on the way back to Newy with these guys! Glitter was playing some music on her phone and I thought I was going to get thrown off the bus when I asked who sang the Poison song was playing. I kept digging an even bigger hole for myself the more I talked so I promptly shut up! Glitter introduced me to Steel Panther. So wrong BUT so funny. One of the highlights of my trip was Glitter singing a Steel Panther song acapella. If you didn't fully pay attention to the lyrics it sounded real sweet haha.
Just in case I thought I had lost my innocence by this stage on this trip Glitter and ChamPain confirmed it when they showed me the Shrek is love, Shrek is life video clip. If you don't want Shrek to be forever ruined for you DON'T watch this clip! I was part horrified, part laughing, and completely WTF is this? Who comes up with this stuff?
The longer the trip went on, the more at ease I felt and the more I felt I was getting out of my shell. I was getting to know these guys a lot better too. Some completely surprised me in a good way. Personally it has been a pretty shit year, my grandmother's death has hit me harder than I let on but I don't know what it is about these guys. They really make me laugh and I really do enjoy their company. If I had any concerns before the trip about fitting in they quelled those fears by treating me like one of their own the whole time I was with them. Perhaps on the biggest things from that weekend was that they got me out of my shell one sloth claw at a time by exposing me to all sorts of things that I didn't completely go back into my shell after the trip. If anything that weekend finally opened parts of myself that lay dormant for so many years. I may have lost my innocence that weekend but you know what? I liked it! :D At the end of the day my priority will always be with my own league but I do get a kick out of watching and hanging out with these guys too. It's strange and it shouldn't work but somehow it does!
The Great Southern Slam got mentioned on the way back and I said I was going down to Adelaide to cheer them on when ChamPain suggested I stay at the same place they were staying at. Maybe they weren't sick of me yet! I was chatting with Jill on Facebook as we were getting closer to Newy and she asked me if I wanted anything for my drive back to Sydney so when we finally arrived back at Newy at 8pm she was armed with Red Bull and Coke. I was so grateful that I hugged her because I was so bloody tired by that stage and I still had a two hour drive to look forward to. Jill asked if I wanted to go back to her place to freshen up and it was probably the best idea ever because it allowed me to wake up a little and she hit me with more caffeine and sugar which was much appreciated and allowed me to get home in one piece with only four hours sleep before I had to get up for work the next morning. Do I regret it? HELL NO! Would I do it again? In a heartbeat or more acurately TGSS in June. Valfreya said I could room with them again. If all this can happen in just over 24 hours what on earth will happen over 4 days? haha
For me this trip felt like the roller derby equivalent of the movie Almost Famous. I wouldn't change any of it for the world. Thanks again Newy guys for letting me tag along. It's all ogre now ;)