This weekend sees the mighty Rockers back on home turf for the first time in more than six months. They take on Leeds Roller Dolls’ A-team Rebel Roses on Saturday (21st September) at the Dolphin Leisure Centre, a few minutes walk from Haywards Heath station. Doors are at 2.30pm with first whistle at 3pm, and you’ll find links to the FB event and tickets page at the end of this preview – online tickets are just £10 (free to under 12s) and will likely be taken off sale at some point on Friday, so get in there quick if you haven’t already.
We’ve been looking forward to this bout since it first popped up on LRD’s website calendar a few months ago, as we’re expecting it to be a bit EPIC. There are various ranking sites that rate different derby leagues based on complicated algorithms, but the one we’ve always found the most reliable (and the one the UK Roller Derby Association itself is involved with) is that at flattrackstats.com. They currently rank Leeds as the 7th best league in the UK and Brighton 10th. Given Brighton’s home advantage, that suggests this should be a close one.
Rival rankings site derbydataeurope has more disparity. Although there’s a similar placing differential – Leeds 6th and Brighton 9th – their system gives the Yorkshire league far more rankings points than the Sussex side (426 v 303) compared to the wafer-thin margin on flattrackstats (681 v 661). Prediction wise, both sites favour Leeds. FTS give them a 59% chance of taking the win (so 41% Brighton for those that can’t do the maths!) and, whilst not predicting a specific score, they expect Leeds to score 11 points for every 10 Brighton make, which would equate to a typical derby scoreline of say 200-182. DDE call it 200-142 to Leeds, but both these predictions are well within the huge margin of error such formula-based guesswork entails, so the actual result could – and likely will – differ quite considerably. (The third rankings site, euroderby.org, is currently offline for maintenance incidentally.)
You’ll find interviews with two Brighton skaters (Racey Slamhard, Shambolic) alongside bench duo Mass Janeycide and Maude Fondeo and ref LaserHammer, as well as Leeds skaters Bruise ‘Em Banshee and R.I.Punzel, in our fanzine ‘Turn Left’ available to pick up at the bout. Here are snippets from some of those interviews by way of a bout preview. Knowing that teams taking part rarely offer much more than “we’ll give it our best shot” by way of a prediction, we also got in touch with the five derby leagues who have played both Brighton and Leeds to gauge their thoughts on this match-up. (Not everyone has yet replied, and we’ll be adding any further responses to this piece as and when they arrive.)
“We have our own tactics and game play, but this obviously has to change for various opponents. We always want to work to our strength and play our game, but it’s important to understand the other team’s way of playing too. We may watch other teams, but it’s all done casually and we like to talk about other teams even if we are not playing them. We’re not looking to ‘catch them out’. Leeds are a great team and we are really looking forward to hosting them. As for tricks, we hope to dazzle them with mine and Janeycide’s infamous boutfits. They won’t know what’s hit them.”
MAUDE FONDEO, BRIGHTON ROCKERS
“We have some awesome double threats in LRD, so you might see few of us jamming and making an impact in the pack. Let us know who was your favourite. We won’t be giving away our tactics pre-game though! We like to enter every bout focused on playing our game and working the game to our advantage. We won’t be predicting scores, but you can be certain we will be fighting for points to the last whistle whatever the scoreline.”
BRUISE ‘EM BANSHEE, LEEDS ROLLER DOLLS
“Having played against both Brighton and Leeds I can say that they are both formidable opponents. Particular players to watch out for include double threat Charisse Chapman from the Rebel Roses Leeds A-team. Skating since 2009, she is both a skilled jammer and hard hitting blocker. Bruise ’em Banshee from Leeds is another smart player to watch both in the pack and with the star. Of course Leeds will have their work cut out for them coming up against The Mighty Mighty Bash from Brighton Rockers, a real force to reckon with who has also skated for Team England. Rose Bleed is a nippy jammer to keep your eye out for, she is so quick at juking through the pack she makes it look easy. With such talent on both sides it is hard to determine who will come out on top in their upcoming bout, so it is set to be an interesting match up.”
SARAH OATES, LRG BRAWL SAINTS
“Both teams are amazing, the pack work between them will be out standing and they have both been building in strength for a long time. Players to watch are The Mighty Mighty Bash (Brighton) for her bone shaking blocking and CeCee Slammer (Leeds) for her slippery jamming!”
FONDA CHAOS, LONDON ROCKIN’ ROLLERS
“Two teams GO-GO Gent enjoyed bouting against, two teams with fierce blockers (we all remember The Mighty Mighty Bash) and amazing jammers and unbeatable team spirit. Giving a prediction is hard, so let the best one win! GO-GO ladies!”
GENT GO-GO ROLLER GIRLS
For those yet to experience the delights of the Dolphin Haywards Heath, first be careful which map you use to find the place. A medical centre and pub (whose name has now changed) also appear as The Dolphin on many online maps. The leisure centre is located on Pasture Hill Road, roughly five minutes walk from the train station (10-20 mins journey time from Brighton, 40-50 mins from Central London). Turn left and follow the roller derby arrows stuck to lampposts. The pub opposite the station (the Burrell Arms) isn’t too bad for a station sports pub if you have time to kill. The leisure centre itself is blessed with two bars; a cafe style place also doing bites to eat in the main foyer (with limited outdoor seating for cigarette types) and a small bottle and can bar a few corridor turns past the sports hall.
There will be the usual selection of derby delights in the hall, and the designated charity for the bout is Tree of Hope. The event’s name PUMP UP THE JAM gives away the theme, so wear your finest 80s/90s style hip hop gear if you’re into dressing up and that. As well as the official bout programme, issue two of our unofficial fan magazine will be available to pick up on the day. The after party is back in central Brighton in the legendary Rockers-favoured Marwood coffee shop. Coffee shop? Don’t panic – it has an alcohol licence, as well as a gnarly ‘secret garden’.
FB PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/605594646138851/
BUY TICKETS: http://brightonrockers.com/tickets/