June 05, 2019
While the Philadelphia Warriors received less attention than other Philly pro sports teams, this team exemplified the Philly attitude as well as any of the major franchises. In 1961, the National Roller Derby (NRD), which was later changed to the National Roller League (NRL), introduced a new format that transformed Roller Derby into an intense spectator event. In 1967, 6 years after the inception of the new, more fast paced, and theatrical version of co-ed Roller Derby, the Philadelphia Warriors (also called the Eastern Warriors) were moved cross-country from Hawaii all the way to Philadelphia.
The Warriors may have debuted in Philadelphia in 1967, but the sport had been in the city since 1948. It took a long time for Roller Derby to gain popularity in Philadelphia through the Warriors, however after the introduction of the new rules, Philly began to embrace the new team. The rules provided a speed and physicality that made Roller Derby popular with fans. Matches often turned physical, built on dramatic storylines, and occasionally featured reckless antics from players, coaches, and fans.
The WWE-like entertainment captivated Philadelphia and helped the city earn a reputation as having some of the toughest fans in the league. Early on though, the Warriors were only receiving small crowds despite their successful TV ratings. Soon however, the stands at the Philadelphia Arena (4530 Market Street) began to fill up and the fans began to wild out. Gootch Gautieri, a former New York Bombers player and official said, “I had three bodyguards whenever I came to Philadelphia. One time, I was in a grudge-match race against Ruberta Mitchell, and an idiot fan jumped on the track and attacked me. I kicked him in the face with my skates and put him in the hospital.”
For a visual of just how entertaining this team was, check out this video:
And don't forget to pick up our Philadelphia Warriors women's ringer tee!