The late May bank holiday weekend sees an awesome UKRDA Southern Region roller derby tournament. Taking place at the Great British Tattoo Show in North London’s iconic ‘Ally Pally’ on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th May, the event marks the first appearance in a tournament of the mighty Brighton Rockers. Lining up alongside them are the fearsome London Brawl Saints, Central City Rollergirls from Birmingham, Kent Roller Girls and Bristol Roller Derby. The weekend also sees the first UK Roller Derby Association sanctioned men’s bout as Sheffield’s The Inhuman League take on the Crash Test Brummies. Whether you’ve already got your ticket (yay you!) or just want to know more, we’ve spoken to the tattoo show organisers, tournament organisers and all seven derby leagues involved to bring you this (frankly overlong) preview. Hurrah!
Named after Queen Alexandra (sister of Queen Crystal), Ally Pally sits atop a hill in deepest North East London. There’s loads of free parking (1500 spaces) but we’ve been told you should rely on SatNav (postcode N22 7AY) rather than often misleading road signs to find the place – a friend who lives locally has several sign-followers a week turning up in his cul-de-sac wondering where the Palace is. The nearest station is the conveniently named Alexandra Palace, ten minutes walk away – it’s served by overland trains which run from King’s Cross every 15 minutes at weekends. Stupidly there are no trains back into town from this station on the Sunday due to engineering works; you’ll have to get the train one stop North (New Southgate) and change there to head back into King’s Cross. We’ve no rational explanation for this and we’re not sure First Capital Connect will have one either!
Given the above silliness and the fact that the overland trains get very busy anyway, it might be better to travel to a nearby tube station instead. Wood Green (Piccadilly Line, 20 minutes walk) is the closest and a few other stations – Turnpike Lane and Bounds Green on the Piccadilly; Highgate and East Finchley on the Northern (Barnet/Mill Hill branch) – aren’t much further. Whilst we’d be inclined to walk from the station, the phrase “sits atop a hill” from earlier suggests a bus might be order – the W3 (ten an hour on Saturdays, six on Sundays) drops off right outside the venue and serves Wood Green and the overland.
The event is wristbanded, so if you feel the need to tear yourself away from 18 hours of derby action and the tattoo show for any reason, readmission isn’t a problem – but the substantial size of the Ally Pally grounds (196 acres) means the urban sprawl isn’t as close as it looks. Wood Green or Muswell Hill, a mile to the East/West respectively, are the best bets for shops, restaurants and takeaways. The latter’s delights include Pizza Express, Giraffe, Waitrose, M&S, a chippy and many more. Pub options near the venue include the Gate pub by Ally Pally station (great pizza apparently), The Church (an O’Neills in Muswell Hill), Victoria Stakes (gastro pub to the South, very busy), Three Compasses (Hornsey High Street, real ale crowd) and The Maid of Muswell (to the North, mixed reviews). On a personal note, there are only two pubs in the UK called The Ranelagh; the one in Brighton is the de facto BRATS HQ and we’ve been looking for an excuse to visit its unconnected ‘twin’ in Bounds Green for a while.
There’s also a busy but surprisingly not overpriced pub/restaurant at Ally Pally itself – called The Bar & Kitchen, it has a large outdoor seating area. Other attractions in the grounds include awesome views over London, a boating lake, a bunch of deer and pitch & putt golf. If anyone fancies a bit of skating themselves, albeit of the inferior frozen water variety, there’s a year-round indoor ice rink with sessions priced at £9 for adults (a quid less for kids). We’d put some hotel recommendations here too, but frankly there’s so much going on in London this weekend (including 80,000 German football fans over for the Champions League final) that if you can find anything for less than £100 a night more central than Croydon or Watford, snap it up!
THE GREAT BRITISH TATTOO SHOW
You won’t really need to leave the venue at all, to be honest. There are a wealth of food options – from wraps to pies and pizza to panini – and several bars. The final floorplan hadn’t been finalised at the time of writing, but we’re reliably informed that the derby track will be located at the end furthest from the organ [The Grand Willis Organ is a major feature of Ally Pally] and is a specially laid track funded via a Sport England grant. Away from the derby, there’s loads of other stuff going on, from fashion shows to burlesque, live music to graffiti artists, fire-breathers and street magic. There will also probably be some tattooing going on.
We’ve never been to a tattoo show before, and for the benefit of others in the same boat, we asked BRATS member, Croydon Roller Derby skater and Bad Salad blogger Lily Rae for her tips: “So what can the wide-eyed, peachy-skinned newbie expect from the intimidating world of tattoo shows? Are you confused and terrified by the whole thing? Probably not. Nonetheless, here are Lily Rae’s Nine Golden Rules for tattoo shows… 1. FOOD: Tattoo shows have amazing food. Whether you’re after a kitsch cone full of popcorn or a heaving polystyrene tray of some kind of lumpy ethnic stew, tattoo cuisine is the greatest so get it in you. You’ll need a full stomach – especially if you end up getting inked.”
“2. MERCH: One of my favourite things about tattoo shows is the merchandise. Little weirdo stalls are set up all over the place – you can buy a prosthetic leg, a t-shirt from your favourite tattoo shop, or just a nice sticker. (When I went to the Brighton Tattoo Convention I blew all my money on food in the first ten minutes and bought a nice sticker for my derby helmet with my remaining pennies – there’s a lot to be said for nice stickers.) Take a buttload of cash and BUY STUFF! A warning about stickers, though. When you choose your sticker and pay for it and stick it on your helmet, it’s there for life. It’s a big commitment. You can rip it off (if you suck), but the helmet will never really look the same. A sticker is for life. (Sound familiar?)”
“3. DON’T STARE: You’ve heard the disapproving outraged-of-Tunbridge-Wells types bleating about how all tattooed people are show-offs and exhibitionists and want to be stared at, etcetera. It’s categorically not true. Whether someone has a full suit of tattoos or just a barcode on their bum, it’s their body and their skin. How would you feel if someone followed you around staring intently at your elbow? You’d call the police. By all means, look and admire – even POLITELY ask if you can get a closer look – but don’t stand there slack-jawed. You look weird.”
“4. LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH: I can’t reiterate this enough. LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH. The minute you touch someone’s body without their permission, you are a first class arsehole. I used to work as a cleaner in a big glass office in Brighton. One evening, while I was hoovering and feeling murderous, a hand came out of nowhere and yanked the back of my shirt down, exposing the owl tattoo on my right shoulder. It was an overpaid dudebro with a bad beard and he was poking my back with his overpaid dudebro finger. “AWESOME TAT, MAAAN,” said the dudebro. He very nearly got a face full of Cillit Bang. Yeah, it doesn’t matter if it’s the coolest tattoo in the world. You don’t touch it without asking.”
“5. IF YOU DON’T LIKE SOMEONE’S TATTOO, SHUT UP: While you don’t always have to feign enthusiasm at someone’s painful new skinbaby – I mean, I wouldn’t really want Bruce Forsyth’s face on my leg, but someone else does and that’s OK – it’s outright rude to tell someone if you don’t like it. Remember what that rabbit in Bambi said? “If you can’t say something nice, SHUT YOUR PIEHOLE.” I made the mistake of showing my gigantic, brand new leg tattoo to my aunt and next door neighbour – being very traditional ladies in their 50s, they told me in no uncertain terms that they thought it was horrible and I’d made an awful mistake. This inspired a huge freak-out on my part and my lovely tattoo became a source of doubt and woe for weeks until I finally snapped out of it one day and thought “screw you, it’s great.” Still. How would you feel if someone told you they didn’t like your face? You’d probably either laugh or punch them. So unless you want to be laughed at or punched, keep your negative opinions to yourself.”
“6. IF YOU DO LIKE SOMEONE’S TATTOO, SAY SO: Nothing makes you feel more awesome than a compliment on your tattoo. Make someone’s day and tell them that you think their tattoo is beautiful. Not only do THEY feel great, but you probably get a new friend. Just remember, a compliment is “I like your cat tattoo, it’s really cute” – a compliment is NOT “nice legs, what time do they open?” 7. DON’T INTERRUPT THE ARTISTS: Imagine having to sit your GCSE Maths exam in a football stadium full of people shouting and running around – that’s how I imagine tattoo shows are for the artists. It’s a terrible idea to tap someone on the shoulder whilst they’re busy scratching ink into someone’s skin to say “WOW HOW DO YOU DO THAT IS IT HARD IT LOOKS HARD WHY ARE YOU SO ANGRY.” They’re artists. It’s nice to give them some space.”
“8. IF YOU HAVE TATTOOS YOURSELF, GET ‘EM OUT: Very rarely do you get the opportunity to actually show off your tattoos – most of the time we have to hide them under jumpers and jeans. At a tattoo show you’re in an environment where everyone is into tattoo culture and no-one is going to fire you or judge you for having them. Make use of it. 9. DON’T MENTION KAT VON D: Kat Von Who?”
Shelley Bond (Event Manager of tattoo show organisers Jazz Events): “I’m thrilled to be hosting the Roller Rumble tournament at this year’s Great British Tattoo Show. We have celebrated three years of Roller Derby at our sister event Tattoo Freeze in Telford and it has always been a great attraction. Bringing it to Alexandra Palace and on a much bigger scale has been a challenge and it has all been possible thanks to our work with UKRDA and Sport England. Roller Derby is thrilling to watch and with most of the teams being tattooed there is a really strong link with what we do. This year will be the very first of many Roller Rumbles to come!”
The main tournament features five teams. Assuming the seeding follows the UKRDA rankings on flattrackstats.com – and the schedule suggests that it does – these are the London Rollergirls Brawl Saints (1st seed), Central City Rollergirls (2nd), Brighton Rockers Roller Derby (3rd), Bristol Roller Derby (4th) and Kent Roller Girls (5th). There are four main tournament bouts each day, and these are of the full derby duration, ie two 30-minute periods. Teams can bring a squad of up to 20 in total to select fourteen skaters for each bout from. Given how punishing the schedule is – some teams could play up to five times over the weekend – those extra players could come in very useful! As well as the main tournament, the weekend features the first UKRDA sanctioned men’s bout on the Saturday evening. We’ll preview each bout individually below.
Mistress Malicious (UKRDA Vice President): “All previous tournaments run by UKRDA at Tattoo Freeze, from 2011 to 2013, were one day tournaments and all have taken a different format. The Southern Regional is the first UKRDA tournament to run over two days, consisting of nine full-length games over the weekend, and is also the first tournament to host both female and male teams. We were offered the venue and timings, rather than planning and selecting a venue ourselves, so we had to select a suitable tournament bracket. The bracket is a five team seeded, double elimination bracket with consolation rounds. That means that once a team has lost twice then they are out, otherwise they continue to the next round and it will result in 1st to 5th placing. This bracket also allowed us to fit in the men’s game, which we were very excited about and particularly wanted to include.”
“Do we have a good relationship with the tattoo show organisers? It certainly seems like it, they keep inviting us back! Yes, we have a very good relationship with Jazz Events, the organisers of Tattoo Freeze, the Great British Tattoo Show and many others. There are expected to be around 6,000 people attending the event over the weekend so that is an enormous amount of people for us to be able to showcase our wonderful sport to. Roller derby was very well received by the audience at Tattoo Freeze so we expect the Great British Tattoo Show to be an extension of that. I personally think tournaments are going to be the way forward for UKRDA. Our feedback from members has been for the development of a sanctioning system and official rankings, something we have recently been able to achieve. Tournaments and Championships will be the natural progression from that.”
BOUT BY BOUT PREVIEW
SATURDAY 25TH MAY
BOUT 1 / 11AM BRIGHTON ROCKERS v KENT ROLLER GIRLS
The mighty Brighton Rockers have the honour of opening the tournament at a considerably earlier hour than roller derby bouts normally first whistle at (indeed tomorrow gets underway even sooner – a testament to how much derby action is being packed into this weekend). The South Coast league haven’t had the best of times recently, in all honesty, having been comprehensively beaten in Glasgow and losing a number of prominent A-teamers to injury in quick succession. The addition of Central City to the tournament in place of Big Bucks has made things tougher for Brighton; as 3rd rather than 2nd seeds they’ll likely have to play more bouts than London or Central if they are to make the final. Indeed, one quite realistic sequence of results would see the Rockers having to play three bouts in a row on the Sunday. Crikey!
They’ll certainly need to make full use of their squad in such circumstances, but despite their elite status (currently ranked 8th in the UK) the Sussex side have a fairly small roster of skaters to call upon. With recent injuries plus a few peripheral players transferring to Eastbourne in search of track time, it’s questionable whether they can put a full squad of 20 together, so this challenging tournament could be a real test of the Rockers’ stamina. One silver lining is a strong showing from several B-teamers in a recent bout with Portsmouth; hopefully this tournament will be the platform on which these players get a chance to shine.
Kent Roller Girls are ranked 19th in the UK, making them nominally the bottom seed in this tournament. The league are based on the North Kent coast and will be looking to upset the seedings, starting with what will be a tough opener for them. The Kentish side have been making good progress over the past 18 months, climbing slowly but steadily up the rankings, and will shortly add a rec league to their established A- and B-team set-ups. They come into this bout off the back of good wins against Gloucester and Leicester B. The teams in this tournament are at a whole other level though, so Kent will have to confound expectations right across this busy weekend of derby if they are to win a medal placing that matches the gold of their boutfits.
Hyde N Shriek (Brighton Rockers): “This is BRRD’s first ever tournament, so we’re really excited to be there. It’s going to be a great experience for us to learn more about what tournament play is like and how we need to think strategically across the various games over two days. By all accounts it’s a bit different than playing a single bout. I don’t think we can rule anyone in or out given the nature of tournaments, but LRG and Central City are likely to be our toughest games if we get through to play them. I think stamina and general fitness is going to have a lot to do with the outcomes too – it’s a pretty intense schedule. We’ve been working on our off skates training so hopefully this won’t be an issue for us.”
“We aren’t really going into this with expectations of any outcomes to be honest; we’ve never done something like this before and we want to use the experience to learn and most importantly to enjoy ourselves. We’ve currently got a number of players out to injury going into this, both jammers and blockers, but this has meant that other players from our B-team have the opportunity to play, which is a really great experience for them that will help strengthen our league – it also means we don’t want to pile the pressure on too much. We’re looking pretty strong at training so I’m confident we can do really well. As far as rankings go – we’ll just have to wait and see what happens, we aren’t getting hung up on stuff like that.”
Kent Roller Girls: “KRG are really up for this challenge. We have a built a team that has progressed through the European rankings and are constantly looking for opportunities to face tougher opponents, to push to become better skaters and strategists. Being ranked last means we have nothing to lose, so don’t count us out for an appearance on Sunday; it’s all down to a combination of the hours of training before and performance on the day. We’ve had some great guest trainers too – with Raw Heidi, Ballistic and Juke Boxx all working with the team over the past six months so we feel strong and prepared for the intensity of the schedule.”
“At Tattoo Freeze earlier on this year we ranked a lot higher than expected for Sur5al, so with the advantage of a full squad and some great supporters lets see what we can do! The Brighton Rockers are a great team to be up against first. We’ve seen them play a number of times so know they have a great track record of performance, strong players and sound tactics – I guess for them we’re the unknown quantity which can only be a good thing!”
BOUT 2 / 1PM CENTRAL CITY ROLLERGIRLS v BRISTOL ROLLER DERBY
As mentioned earlier, Central City were late additions to this tournament following the withdrawal of Wycombe’s Big Bucks High Rollers. Whether having less build up time than the other four leagues is a boon or a hindrance we’ll find out over the weekend, but there’s no question that CCR’s A-team the Belles of Centrinnians are a very strong side. Currently holding 6th place in the UKRDA rankings and being one of five UK leagues in WFTDA’s [the main US-based governing body of women’s derby] new third division, the second seeds come to this tournament having arrested a run of surprise reversals by edging past the Middlesbrough Milk Rollers last month. The previous string of losses, all at last November’s Track Queens tournament in Berlin (versus Leeds, Glasgow and Auld Reekie) saw the Midlands league, a long time fixture in the top three, slip down the rankings table. They’ll be keen to put in a strong showing at Roller Rumble to make back some of that ground, and will certainly have one eye on a place in the final.
The first obstacle Central need to clear is the Bristol Harbour Harlots. Ranked 13th in the UK (therefore fourth seeds here), Bristol have one of the largest derby set-ups in the country. Thanks to a merger with another nearby league, BRD can now boast four full intraleague rosters, alongside A- and B-teams, a rec league and merby side. Having a large pool of skaters to choose a squad of 20 from could prove handy in a bout-heavy tournament such as this. The Bristol league come to the tournament on the back of ten straight wins, including a 211-24 demolition of CCR’s B-team, and will be hoping they can keep that run going in the face of tougher opposition.
Lethal Sizzle (CCR Centrinnians Co-Captain): “The Central City Rollergirls’ Centrinnians are thrilled to have been invited to take part in the tournament! We have played a couple of tournaments before. We have taken part in Tattoo Freeze in Telford twice, and were incredibly proud to have been invited to the first WFTDA European tournament in Berlin towards the end of last year. Our first game is against Bristol Roller Derby and the Centrinnians have not met Bristol on track before – however several skaters in our tournament squad faced the Harbour Harlots in a Slay Belles [B-team] game last year.”
“In fact, of all the participating tournament teams, the Centrinnians have only met the Brawl Saints on track before, several years ago when both squads looked very different. This has made preparation for the tournament very interesting! Tournament schedules can be challenging, and this tournament will be no exception. There’s potential for back-to-back games and the same match-up twice! All we know is it’s going to be one hell of a weekend, and we can’t wait to get on track.”
Black Thorn (Bristol Roller Derby League Chair): “To say the Bristol Harbour Harlots are excited to be participating in the Roller Rumble is an understatement! We have been UKRDA members since December 2012 and are honoured to be a part of their first ever regional tournament, especially as that region is the South, which is the birthplace of UK Roller Derby. We have some previous tournament experience having participated in Eastbourne Extreme and Demolition Derby last year, but a year is a long time in roller derby and we have spent that time building a really strong, cohesive team and climbing the rankings and we are keen to show what we are made of.”
“We aren’t daunted by the potentially intense schedule; the Harlots take their fitness and endurance seriously and have been working hard in preparation for this tournament. We have never met our first opponent Central City Rollergirls on the track, but we did have a pretty comprehensive win against their B-team the Slay Belles last September so we are hoping we can give their A-team a challenge. We may come into this tournament as outsiders but we have been on a winning streak over the last year or so and have caused a few upsets in that time, so underestimate us at your peril!”
“We try not to be intimidated by more experienced teams or individual players, but a few of us are definitely ‘excited’ at the possibility of meeting Brighton’s The Mighty Mighty Bash on the track. Keep an eye out for our international star The Blizzard who definitely has tournament experience having played for Team Finland in the Blood & Thunder World Cup and featured in the Finland team that played Team USA last year. Our Antipodean jammer Ruby Whipper will be hoping to go out with a bang; she’s playing her last games for the Harlots on UK soil before returning to her homeland down under next month (and taking her husband our Bench Manager Topper Gnarly with her!).”
BOUT 3 / 3PM LONDON BRAWL SAINTS v WINNER BOUT 1
There is roller derby in the UK and then there is the London Rollergirls. To say LRG operate on a different plain to the rest of British (and indeed, European) roller derby is putting it mildly – with their A-team London Brawling edging one placing closer to the WFTDA Nationals each year (just missing out in 2012) it’s fair to say London are far and away the best roller derby league outside of North America and a beacon for the sport across Europe.
Roller Rumble doesn’t feature London Brawling, of course – with all due respect to the other four leagues, that would be a massacre – but the LRG entrants are still the top seeds and clear favourites for the tournament. Although nominally a B-team, a glance at rankings that usually place the London Brawl Saints as the second best team in the whole of Europe, with only their A-team sisters above them, demonstrates what a challenge they are going to be for the other Roller Rumble competitors. Indeed, the way the tournament is structured, for any other team to triumph they will more than likely to have to face the star-studded London side (and their plentiful hometown support) twice rather than once over the weekend. Eek!
London’s opening bout sees them take on the winner of the earlier Brighton v Kent match. Should that be Brighton, the contest will be a much anticipated rematch of a closed door bout from last summer. The Brawl Saints inflicted the first defeat in the Rockers’ history on that occasion, and if a rematch is anything like as close as that bout (Brighton were edged out 177-180) then we could be in for a treat. Should it be Kent facing off against LRG instead, it will be a top v bottom seeds contest that would seem on paper to be something of a mismatch – but then roller derby isn’t played on paper, wheels wouldn’t grip right if it was, so let’s not try to predict things.
Ruby Rehab (London Brawl Saints): “The Brawl Saints are excited to represent London Rollergirls in the upcoming UKRDA Southern Region tournament. Whilst we’ve played against many teams both in the UK and Europe, this will be the first tournament we are entering with the current line-up. As London Rollergirls’ B-Team we have a constantly evolving squad which puts us at a disadvantage to a lot of other leagues in the UK but lately we have made teamwork and pack focus our priorities. We always aim to play our game on the day and are not going into the competition with any preconceived notions about who should come out on top.”
“We are really looking forward to a possible rematch against Brighton Rockers. They have some really strong blockers, The Mighty Mighty Bash for one, coupled with some excellent jammers like Rose Bleed that make them a force to be reckoned with. Sunday has the potential to be a really long day for at least one team, and hopefully if it’s us our fitness and strength from working with the Dynamic Sports Academy will pull us through to the final game.”
BOUT 4 / 5PM LOSER BOUT 1 v LOSER BOUT 2
This match between the losers of the day’s first two contests is the first elimination bout. The losing side take 5th place in the tournament and will be the only one of the five women’s teams not to feature on the Sunday. Derby being the supportive community that it is, we’re pretty sure the unlucky side will stick around to watch the tournament play out tomorrow. While the women’s teams take a break until the morning, there’s another bout to come on this action-packed Saturday.
BOUT 5 / 7PM CRASH TEST BRUMMIES v THE INHUMAN LEAGUE
Whilst not part of the main tournament, this is arguably the most interesting bout of all; it’s certainly the most historic. Whereas in many countries (particularly the States) women’s and men’s derby are governed by separate organisations – eg WFTDA and MRDA – the UK Roller Derby Association made the decision last December to start accepting men’s teams, changing their logo to feature both female and male skaters in the process. They also have two merbyers – one from each of these two leagues, as it happens – on their board of directors. This contest marks another milestone in the history of British men’s roller derby, being the first officially UKRDA sanctioned men’s bout.
Of the two teams, Sheffield’s The Inhuman League are the favourites and are currently ranked third (behind only London’s Southern Discomfort and top continental merby side Toulouse) in the euroderby.com table. The Crash Test Brummies, from Birmingham surprisingly enough, rank tenth and were beaten 154-243 on home soil by the Yorkshire outfit in February. Many people class the men’s variant of the sport as being “more force, less finesse” – for those who haven’t caught a merby bout before, this match amidst a sea of women’s bouts will give you a chance to make your own mind up about how the unfairer sex compare on the derby track.
Robert Quadriguez (Crash Test Brummies): “Having seen some amazing derby from the women’s leagues at Tattoo Freeze this year, the Brummies are really proud to be representing men’s derby at The Great British Tattoo Show. We hope the weekend encourages more fans and supporters of our sport and of course more people lacing up skates and dishing out eight-wheeled punishment themselves. The Inhuman League are a great team. They play a strong game, have some really skilled players and even bought us cake for The Brummies’ first birthday. Cake aside though, this is gonna be the first UKRDA sanctioned men’s bout, so it’s fair to say both teams are gonna be skating hard to ensure that jam for jam, point for point and hit for devastating hit it’ll be a bout to remember.”
“The fans can keep an eye out for one of our newest players Alligately #989 who will be making his debut at this bout. A lot of people who see men’s derby for the first time usually say that it’s faster and more aggressive but honestly having played a few co-ed games I would really say the only difference is that after skating for 60 minutes the girls aren’t as soggy or stanky with sweat as we are… usually. The women’s weekend tournament is really exciting as all the leagues are real heavyweights. I’m a massive fan of really close nail biting bouts with crazy amounts of lead changes so I can’t wait to see what happens. The Brummies wish all the teams the best of luck! Brummies Smash.”
Stuntman Psyk (The Inhuman League Vice-Captain): “We were very happy to be accepted by UKRDA earlier this year and even more honoured to be invited to take part in the first ever UKRDA sanctioned bout. 2012 was a year of establishment for men’s derby, 2013 is very much about growth and this has been reflected in teams like Southern Discomfort playing in The Big O [a big roller derby tournament in Oregon] and more teams taking part in the Men’s European Roller Derby Championships. That UKRDA are now accepting men’s teams helps towards this growth of men’s derby in the UK.”
“The Brummies are a great team. When we played them earlier this year it wasn’t an easy win by any stretch. The Brummies have a very balanced squad with nippy jammers like Rex Tangle, hard hitters such as Cagey and great all rounders like JCDC. Every time we made some room on the board in terms of points, the Brummies would come back harder and faster. We may have won the game but the Brummies left their mark, mainly in bruises. Can we beat them again? Yes, but it’s not going to be easy, the Brummies have been playing some of the best in Europe since we last played them. Then again so have we. The only certainty is this will be a great game of Roller Derby.”
“Of our squad, keep an eye on Omar Gherd. He’s new to TIL and is one to watch. Doug Hisgrave, our captain, has done a stunning job leading us this year and is one of our best all round skaters. Beat Monkey has rubber ankles which is very useful for jamming and don’t ever look Roller Polar Bear in the eyes! Men’s derby has a reputation for being rather more gung ho, big hits, big risks and big spills. The women certainly seem to have tactics down a lot more but we’re getting there. The tactical play has dramatically improved in a lot of teams, especially since last years euros. Expect some big hits and some crazy falls. In the women’s tournament I’m stoked to be getting the chance to see London Rollergirls. They’ve done a great job setting the bar for roller derby in the UK and also waving the flag for Great Britain overseas. I’m looking forward to seeing them this weekend.”
SUNDAY 26TH MAY
BOUT 6 / 10AM WINNER BOUT 2 v WINNER BOUT 3
The holy day kicks off at an unholy hour as the two big winners from Saturday come face to face in Sunday’s first bout. If the opening day played out according to the seedings, this could mark a meeting of top seeds London and Central. Whoever features in it, this bout – the only non-elimination match of the day – could quite feasibly be a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the same teams facing off again in the final. The winners book their place in that final and a get a chance to rest their wheels for a few hours whilst awaiting an opponent.
BOUT 7 / 12PM WINNER BOUT 4 v LOSER BOUT 3
We mentioned that one team might have to play three bouts in row. If that’s to happen, this is where it would begin! The losers of this match take 4th place in the tournament. The winners just have time to give their wheels a quick wipe before heading back out there…
BOUT 8 / 2PM WINNER BOUT 7 v LOSER BOUT 6
If the tournament plays out according to the seedings – and naturally it won’t (we’re expecting at least one shock result) – then this is the point where Brighton and Central City would meet. Such a pairing, should it happen at any point, could well be the tournament’s toughest most hard fought contest as these are statistically the closest matched teams involved – less than a dozen ranking points separate them. By way of comparison, the gap between other teams ranges from 47 points to several hundred! Whoever is to feature here, the losers must make do with the 3rd place ‘bronze’ while the winners hardly have time to catch their breath before the final bout.
BOUT 9 / 4PM WINNER BOUT 6 v WINNER BOUT 8
London will be expecting to feature in this grand final. Central and Brighton will have strong hopes of featuring, and both Kent and Bristol are more than capable of springing enough surprises to get this far. The only thing we can predict for certain is a packed weekend of derby action. If you haven’t already secured your place, see the tickets link below. Tickets bought online are cheaper (£30 weekend, £22.50 Sat only, £20 Sun only) and allow you in 30 minutes before doors officially open – this is important as the derby is scheduled to kick off right at doors opening time on both days, so you’ll be well advised to get in early to ensure a good viewing position. See you in the suicide seats!
‘BOUT 10’ / 6PM THE AFTER PARTY
You won’t have far to stagger to the after party. Whilst there isn’t a tournament specific one, the tattoo show is hosting an after party at Ally Pally itself. It’s free entry and open to all. The party takes place in the Bar & Kitchen with an outdoor area offering BBQ food, booze and great views over London, whilst indoors in the Palm Court conservatory, DJ Jeff Automatic (Club NME) will be spinning the wheels of steel as the skaters’ wheels of urethane get a chance to cool down. Blimey, this has been a long preview. Sorry about that. Here are some links. Cheers.
LINKS: THE EVENT
BUY TICKETS: http://www.greatbritishtattooshow.com/tickets
ALLY PALLY: http://www.alexandrapalace.com/
TATTOO SHOW: http://www.greatbritishtattooshow.com/
AFTER PARTY: http://www.greatbritishtattooshow.com/entertainment/parties
MEN’S RANKINGS: http://www.euroderby.org/merby/ranking.php
LINKS: THE TEAMS
BRIGHTON ROCKERS: http://brightonrockers.com/
KENT ROLLER GIRLS: http://kentrollergirls.com/
CENTRAL CITY ROLLERGIRLS: http://centralcityrollergirls.co.uk/
BRISTOL ROLLER DERBY: http://www.bristolrollerderby.com/
LONDON ROLLERGIRLS: http://www.londonrollergirls.com/
CRASH TEST BRUMMIES: http://www.crashtestbrummies.co.uk/
THE INHUMAN LEAGUE: http://theinhumanleague.co.uk/
[Huge thanks to everyone who contributed words, photos or logos to this article.]