WIRD (Wollongong Illawarra Roller Derby) was established in January 2009. Over the last 5 years, the club has gone from humble beginnings (skating in carparks) to establishing itself as one of the premier derby leagues in NSW. The league formed into two “intra-league” teams for it’s first ever bout “Rock n Roller: First Blood” at the end of November 2009.
The club began with a newspaper ad placed in the Illawarra Mercury and held one of its first social events on Australia Day in 2009. Beginning with 10 keen skaters, the club now boasts a membership of 40 derby girls and refs, with permanent training and bouting venue found at the University of Wollongong Sports Hub.
WIRD played competitively for the first time in March 2010 against Newcastle’s Dockyard Dames in the “Steel City Skate City” series. While the Dames took the trophy, winning 2 out of 3, WIRD honed their skills and played to packed arenas in Wollongong and Newcastle. Roller Derby in the Illawarra had arrived.
2010 was the year of the first Great Southern Slam, the largest Roller Derby tournament held outside the United States. WIRD’s rep team, the Steel City Derby Dolls competed against Townsville Roller Derby and the formidable Sun State Roller Girls.
2010 ended with several important games. In August, WIRD held it’s first “freshie” bout ‘Lambs to the Slaughter’ where about a dozen new WIRDos played for the first time. WIRD also played Sydney Roller Derby League (SRDL) at the Horden Pavillion to a sell out crowd. August saw the WIRDos play at the very first Eastern Region Roller Derby (ERRD) Tournament otherwise known as the “Smackdown” at Wollongong Entertainment Centre. After a gruelling weekend of competition, the Steel City Derby Dolls emerged from tournament in 4th place.
2011 was a year of rapid growth. The WIRDos numbers grew as they bounced around the state playing all manner of teams at all manner of venues. The popular home teams, the Vixens and the Vipers emerged and played a series of 5 games. The Vixens established a standard of high play and seemed to dominate the Vipers, until they found form later in the year. The 2011 season ended with 3 wins to the Vixens and 2 to the Vipers. WIRD’s rep team, the Steel City Derby Dolls, also competed at the 2nd ERRD competition in Penrith, defending their 4th place title successfully.
2012 saw WIRD focus on building a competitive rep team. The Steel City Derby Dolls played off against Victoria Roller Derby’s Queen Bees in April. VRDL are the current Australian champions, so this game was an opportunity for the WIRDos to take stock of their skills and look to the future. Hot off the back of this game, the Steel City Derby Dolls then won their next 3 games against SRDL’s Unicorns, Canberra’s Capital City Brawlers and Northside’s Death Stars (from Melbourne).
The Vixens and Vipers returned to finish off the year in December, playing a final game before permanent retirement. The Vipers continued their great form against the Vixens to snatch another win, equalizing the home team victories at 3 a piece.
WIRD’s Steel City Derby Dolls traveled to Adelaide for the Great Southern Slam in July, realizing the dream sparked at the first Slam in 2010. The Dolls competed against Northern Brisbane and Pirate City from New Zealand. Northern Brisbane went on to take out 3rd place. For many punters at the Slam, WIRD’s game against Pirate City was the highlight of the tournamentwith scores level at half time. Despite this, Pirate City grabbed the win and then went on to place 8th overall. WIRD finished the year with a clear goal to develop its travel teams and continue to become a competitive force in Australian roller derby.