Brighton v Central City bout report

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It’s late November 1899 and with Victorian England engulfed in waves of pre-Millennial fear and expectation, a book entitled Tales of Space and Time is published in London. This is a collection of short stories by H. G. Wells, an author whose earlier works The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds have laid the foundation stones (time travel, alien invasion, etc) for all science fiction to come. This new compendium includes stories that cross the gamut of time, from the Stone Age era to a far distant ecological armageddon.
    Exactly sixty-four… a perfect cube, perfect square… years later, on the 22nd November 1963, on a road skirting a city park in Dallas Texas the 35th President of the United States of America, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, is assassinated [or has his death faked] by one [or more] individuals [or government agencies, foreign powers, criminal organisations]. This event will give birth to the conspiracy theory industry. The very next day, a British television serial largely inspired by the writings of H. G. Wells airs for the first time.
    Fifty years later, as the world’s longest running sci-fi show Doctor Who celebrates its golden anniversary, a sports hall in Haywards Heath sees two teams get together to take part in a sport that entered the world (in its current incarnation) in the same US state that JFK left it. In tops of space-dark black are the Brighton Rockers. Up against them, in virginal white, are the Belles of Centrinnians A-team of Birmingham’s Central City Rollergirls. A Jurassic contest, nearly 200 million years in the making, one might say. This is the story of some, if not all, of the above events…

Things get off to the worst possible start for Brighton. Whilst we were somewhat surprised and pleased to see they had rostered nearly a full squad of fourteen for this bout – a rare state of affairs for the Sussex league – once the skate out commences we realise we can only count eleven Brighton skaters on track. There’s also a ferocious looking bright blue dinosaur bringing up the rear. A quick check of the team list and visible skaters suggests the creature has already eaten Emma the Condemner and Chariot Sophia, and now has its carnivorous eyes on the remaining Brighton players. This dancing procession seem aware of the impending threat, but have chosen to respond to it by pulling studied arm shapes and horrified expressions as they skate slowly around. Whilst this sort of behaviour might look good in a pop video, it’s totally not appropriate WHEN YOU ARE BEING CHASED DOWN BY A 200 MILLION YEAR OLD PREDATOR WHO HAS ALREADY CONSUMED 15% OF YOUR SQUAD.
    “Speed up, gadnammit,” my assistant screams at the Rockers. He starts panickedly rummaging in his rucksack for something to distract the beast with. “What do dinosaurs eat?” he asks me. Brighton skaters by the look of it, but all he possesses is a couple of bags of Haribo Rainbow Stripes, and he seems more keen on eating these himself than using them to rescue the team. Momentarily distracted by his rucksack frenzy, by the time we look up the skate out is over. Somehow the Rockers have extricated their two skaters from the creature’s stomach. The duo now line up alongside their team mates and the carcass of the beast – split apart from neck to tail, presumably as part of the rescue – lies discarded to one side like some hunter’s trophy. THE SCORE SO FAR: Brighton Rockers 1 – Rampaging Primeval Beast 0.
    There are other beasts to be met on the track now though, in the form of the Central City Rollergirls, a long established and well feared derby league from Birmingham that Brighton surprisingly never met in May’s London tattoo show tournament. The Centrinnians boast some formidable skaters. Their jammer rotation includes England’s 2011 World Cup international Hustle’Her and Viv La France from Jenesaispasoù. There’s also diminutive but deadly Tinchy Slider, who could slip through a gap in a pack of cards let alone a pack of blockers, along with Dr InKnockulator who no derby announcer in the country can mention without immediately adding “who is actually a real doctor.” This rotation goes to work on the Brighton pack quick and fast.
    Rose Bleed actually breaks through first for Brighton in the opener, but a track cut on the way sees Tinchy pick up a CCR power jam, although rock[ers] solid defence keeps this down to a single pass 0-5. Still, it took Brighton thirteen jams to get their first penalty call last home bout (and even longer for the first jammer one) so this is an instant return to the penalty heavy play that has blighted them across much of this year. The Mighty Mighty Bash pulls it back to 4-5 in the third but is sent off herself, with pivot Chariot Sophia (possibly still recovering from her time in a dinosaur’s intestines) soon joining her in the sin bin. Ouch. Viv La France puts up a solid twenty in the fourth as the Centrinnians start pulling away. CCR are well known for their small in number but very clean jamming rotation, and that certainly seems to be the case here. In fact, not only are their starheads not picking up any visits to the box themselves, they also seem to be pretending that the jammer box doesn’t exist in general – we rarely see them calling a jam off when their opposite number is standing in the box. This reluctance to take those ten seconds’ jammer advantage at the start of the next jam – let alone prevent the bigger Brighton rotation putting a new starhead into play – may come back to bite the Midlands outfit like an angry T-Rex later on. But not right now. Certainly not.
    It’s so very easy to focus on jammers, but of course there’s another reason that CCR are stretching the differential out to dinosaur-sized gaps now (4-25, 4-45, 4-63) in spite of Brighton’s resilience. That reason is a blocking line-up for whom Bunny Massacre and Woo-Ha are the most easily identifiable; they are, let’s not forget, bracketed alongside the Great Wall of China and Belgian Motorway System as being the only human creations visible from space, largely as they’re halfway up there already. With the likes of Erin Blockhervitch and Boots Manuva adding land support to this air power, the CCR pack are proving as mean as the average value of a set of numbers to the Brighton jammers. Ever feisty Shambolic is picking up multiple penalty box visits for the home team, and the scoreline differential now shows more than 15 CCR points for every one of Brighton’s. [For what it’s worth, seven Rockers points for every six from the Midlanders had been the ranking site’s pre-bout prediction.] The Sussex side look to need a miracle already. Maybe they can resuscitate the dinosaur that chased them in the skate out and get it to eat some of the Centrinnians pack? Thinking about it, Woo-Ha and Bunny would probably end up chasing down and eating the poor dinosaur.

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“One cannot choose but wonder. Will he ever return? It may be that he swept back into the past, and fell among the blood-drinking, hairy savages of the Age of Unpolished Stone; into the abysses of the Cretaceous Sea; or among the grotesque saurians, the huge reptilian brutes of the Jurassic times. He may even now – if I may use the phrase – be wandering on some plesiosaurus-haunted Oolitic coral reef, or beside the lonely saline lakes of the Triassic Age.”
    Bertie, as he has asked to be known, looks up and smiles. I recognise the lines he just read out as the start of the epilogue of The Time Machine. “Yes, and also the prologue to The Time Machine 2,” he retorts. “My great-great-great-I’m not sure how many greats-grandfather wrote a sequel, you see. Never published. Found down the back of a radiator some place he used to live and passed along the generations. To me.”
    I had placed an advert on gumtree, a popular electronic noticeboard, asking if anyone could help provide more information to pad out, I mean complement, my report on a Brighton Rockers roller derby bout. I hardly imagined that a distant relative of H. G. Wells himself would get in touch, yet that’s who my new acquaintance claims to be. He has summoned me here to Woking, a blue-grey stain on the map where the ink of Greater London lands upon the blotting paper of her green belt. I already have reason to suspect that Bertie is not all he claims, particularly when he insists – after ensuring I first purchase him a large mixed grill and five shots of cinnamon whisky – that this public house we are meeting in was once owned by Mr Wells himself. “See, it’s his name above the door,” Bertie insists, as he belches out most of a flat mushroom. I counter that it’s just the name of the pub, and this looks (and smells – by God, the smell) an awful lot like a Wetherspoons. He points out the metal sculpture of Wells in the window that he has been throwing peas at, and also mentions “a statue of one of them bipods from Worlds of War just up the road”, as if these factors might somehow back up his ancestral claims.
    Whilst Bertie’s credentials may be suspect, and the original Victorian manuscript he claims to possess appears – from the few glimpses he allows me – to be written on Pokémon writing paper, I’m still intrigued when he hints at its contents. “Instead of the Eliohos and Murdochs,” he says, glancing down at what appears to a be a Wikipedia page on his smartphone, “the second book is all about two groups called the Roccas and Sentrinians, and their battles take place on roller skates on, uh, Howard’s Heath. Inside a dolphin.” Now I most certainly am intrigued. I share with Bertie my theories that the bout is somehow linked to Kennedy’s assassination, Doctor Who, dinosaurs and more. He grins, scratches himself in several unpleasant places, and tells me to meet him back here in two hours. He has more documents at home he feels would be of interest to me. I lend him twenty pounds for a taxi and some stationery, and bid him an excited au revoir.

Sophia seems to be putting the whole sorry dinosaur dinner thing behind her, racking up a couple of great passes as the Rockers pack hold back Dr InKnockulator, who is actually a real doctor. The 13-63 on the scoreboard suggests there’s a long way to go, but these are Brighton’s first points in five jams so possibly the start of the turnaround? Two England internationals, Bash and Hustle, shoulder up on the jammer line. Bash proves herself Brighton’s driving force with a battling turn in the star as she noushes her way around the track. Drawing penalties from this sterile clean CCR squad is proving tough going, but at least the box is looking a little more grayscale, rather than solidly black tops, now. A power jamming swap over between Rose and Woo-Ha (the latter expertly hit off by Sophia in the process) suddenly sees the Rockers back in it. 50-70. Team time out Central.
    “If there’s anything you don’t understand, ask someone in an ‘Ask Me’ T-shirt,” the announcers announce. People start queuing up with their questions… Where’s the ball? What happened to the blue dinosaur? Why are the CCR blockers so tall? How could the 2014 beta test WFTDA ruleset possibly deal with passive offence purely on the basis of charging already pressurised individual refs to make instant interpretations re perceived deliberate pack destruction? Did H. G. Wells really write a book of short stories called Tales of Space and Time? Is that an invisible bee in your hair? Where can I buy more Haribo?
    Brighton taking lead regularly as the game resumes, but CCR jammers are on their shoulders within a single scoring pass. Some awesome England-on-England action as Bash sends a power jamming Hustle flying, buying Sham valuable seconds to get back on track from her latest holiday in the penalty box ‘J’ seat. The next jam sees Sophia score two, her panicked call off before the ever speedy VLF catches the Brighton pack sees her spin into centre track to send ref Noise Tank flying. There are no bonus points for this under the current ruleset.
    If ever Brighton’s Green-led council want a figurehead for their local campaigns, we suggest they look further afield and call upon Bunny Massacre. After all, the CCR blocker single-bootydly recycles Rose Bleed so many times in Jam 16 that the whole Rockers fanbase starts biodegrading. With Kapow off in the last of this first period’s notably low total (a consequence of CCR rarely calling off during PJs?) of seventeen jams, the Birmingham league sit on the thick side of a 106-65 scoreline. We stagger-saurus, tingly armed and blinking eyed, towards half time libations. Call in the dinosaurs. A monster comeback is needed, but time – that most precious and immutable of resources – is increasingly against the Sussex side.

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Bertie is almost an hour late, and I’m on the point of paying my bill and vacating the pub when a commotion by the doors signals his entry. He seems a little unsteady on his feet, and is to my surprise accompanied by another figure, who takes occasional swigs from a small paper bag as the duo approach my table. They sit down, at the seventh attempt, although Bertie is sitting on the floor rather than a chair, and his colleague is sitting on a horrified old lady at a completely unrelated table. Bertie introduces his friend as ‘Mad Bob’ and insists I furnish them both with gammon and chips plus several large whiskies. It transpires that Bob is the great-great-grandson of “whoever it was that wrote Jurassic Park“.
    “Blockabaptas,” shouts Bob. I look puzzled.
    “We found the manuscript to Jurassic Park 2,” explains Bertie. “Down the back of Bob’s radiator. It was never published.” I explain that I’m pretty sure a sequel entitled The Lost World did come out. “Jurassic Park 3 then, or 4,” says Bertie, “whatever, the important thing is, right, instead of veloceraptors, there’s veblockeraptors, and… [he looks down at crumpled sheets of paper in his hands that appear to be a printout of the Wikipedia entry for ‘roller derby’] … they hunt in packs, see, and they’re relentless, and they try to tear other species and rival packs to shreds. And there’s these other ones. Jammimu..mus, they like run really fast and that. It’s all here in Jurassic Park 3 or 4, the unpublished manuscript.”
    Sensing that I’m not fully convinced, Bertie prods the meat on his plate. “That’s where gammons are involved from.” I assume he means evolved. “Jammimuses. That’s why they have to put pineapple on it; it’s like garlic is to vampires is pineapple to jammers. Look what happens when you take it off.” Bertie removes the pineapple from Bob’s gammon steak and starts chasing him around the tables with the slice of meat, making shrieking dinosaur noises as he whacks him around the ear with it. Conscious that several people in the pub, including the bar staff, are now looking in our direction, I take the opportunity to visit the lavatory.

Half-time ablutions complete, we retake our perches for the second period somewhat apprehensively. OK, the lead isn’t unbridgeable in derby terms. A couple of good power jams would do it. It’s just that Brighton aren’t traditionally renowned for their second half performances. Even during their unbeaten early years, they’d often find big half time leads getting pegged back during the second period, whilst the last home bout, a glorious win over the highly ranked Leeds Roller Dolls, was largely borne of an against-type penalty-free opening twelve jams. [From the point of gaining their first box visit, Brighton actually gave away eleven points for every nine they scored, as per pre-bout predictions, and only prevailed via the 50-point lead they had from those clean opening jams.] We digress, but we have admittedly spent part of half-time preparing things to say if any of the team ask us what we thought of the bout at the after party. “You gave it a good go” is one. “Their jamming is so clean” another. “CCR have such tall physical packs”… “This year was always going to be one of transition for the Rockers”… “We loved the dinosaur”… and so on.
    Because we’re pretty sure there are only three ways that Brighton, with their second period aversions, could win this one. Either (a) Bash goes extra “ape-sh*t” (as the lady in Whip It describes it) on both the CCR pack and jammers, but she can’t play every jam let alone act as both jammer and blocker in them; or (b) the Rockers suddenly get as penalty box shy as they were in the first 20 mins v Leeds, but the likes of Sham and Sophia already seem so comfortable in the box seats you worry they’ve become institutionalised; or (c) a meteorite like the one that extincted the dinosaurs crashes into this Haywards Heath leisure centre, wiping out all humanity, and there is some obscure WFTDA sub-rule that says in such an instance the bout is awarded to the home team. Personally, we’re banking on (c) because (a) or (b) on their own wouldn’t be enough, and there’s no way BOTH (a) and (b) could happen… is there?
    Jam 1: Sophia takes lead, 4 point pass, call. Jam 2: Bash takes lead, 4 point pass, call. Jam 3: Rose calls at 3-2. Jam 4: 3 points Bash. Jam 5: Boots Manuva in the star for CCR, takes lead but has to call when Rose overtakes her. Jam 6: Bash up to jam for Brighton… Wait just a minute, something’s going on here… Not only are the Rockers failing to pick up any jammer penalties, but the team with the small jammer rotation (CCR) are adding to it – eg putting blocking hero Boots Manuva in to jam – whereas the team with the larger rotation (BRRD) are just alternating big guns Rose and Bash, the England star and star-in-waiting, now. Suddenly it’s 88-112 and Brighton have closed the gap again.
    Yet, just as it did in the first period, the comeback hits a brick wall of penalty seats, with jammer Sophia heading up a full Brighton box and fellow dinosaur eatee Condemner forced to circle past. Chariot picks up another track cut on rejoining the track. Oh Brighton, those penalties will be the death of you. Those frozen minutes on lettered seats as fatal as the ice age was to the creatures this ‘Terror-Track-Thrills’ themed bout celebrates. Wait a minute though… CCR jammer Hustle’Her has just picked up a penalty too. OK, she only has to serve the few seconds Sophia just did, but as some Doctor somewhere once said: “oooh, that’s new.”

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When I return to the table, I discover that Bertie and Bob have been joined by another friend. They each seem to have a pitcher of Pimms and rack of ribs in front of them. “We pud id on your card,” says Bertie between mouthfuls. “We also had some champadnes. Hope dat’s OK. Dhis is Brad. He’s Ameridcan.”
    “Er, G’day cobber,” says Brad, “no, poo, that’s French. Uh, howdee pard’ner.”
    “His great-great grandfather was Warren Beatty that ran the Warren Commission,” adds Bertie as he finishes his meal. “They covered up all that JFK stuff.” He puts a photo in front of me. It’s that famous image from Dealey Plaza of Kennedy’s assassination, except this version has three children dressed as gangsters (from the movie Bugsy Malone) clumsily cut out of a magazine and Pritt Sticked in the background. “Except it didn’t stop there…”
    He puts another photo in front of me. It shows Brighton’s The Mighty Mighty Bash skilfully hitting off a Central City power jammer in the 23/11 bout. “Yeah so, she does that all the time,” I tell him, “that’s Bash, she’s amazeballs.” He shakes his head and laughs in my face. Tells me that’s what they want me to think. Goes into a rant about how the whole ‘Lone Blocker Theory’ simply doesn’t hold water. He scribbles various lines on the photo and tells me at least two, maybe three, other blockers were involved – one probably holding/using an umbrella – and they were either working for the CIA or the Boston Mob. For Bash to have done it alone would involve a ‘magic block-hit’ that zipped back and forth across the track before felling the CCR jammer.
    I tell him I think he’s a bit nuts. He tells me that’s what they want me to think. It’s them making him nuts to make him look nuts so everyone thinks he’s nuts but that makes us nuts and him the only one who’s not nuts. “Do you really believe what they tell you about the Twin Towers?” he adds, tossing photos of CCR’s Woo-Ha and Bunny Massacre in front of me. “You think they’d collapse that easily?” I stand up to walk out but am knocked back to my seat by a churning whooshing sound, a gust of wind and the appearance of a man wearing a scarf, bow-tie, trenchcoat, fez and bad morning hair.
    “Hello, I’m The Doctor,” he says.

There are fixed points in time and this is one of those. 23.11.13-BRRD/CCR-P2J10 it’s probably called in galactic terms. Half four on an overcast Sussex Saturday, we call it. The tenth jam of the second half shouldn’t by all expectations be a good one for Brighton. They have blockers in the box, a penalty magnet in the star and the imposing Woo-Ha lined up as opposing jammer. It doesn’t look promising on paper, but then roller derby isn’t played on paper – you can’t get the right duro wheels for such a surface – and this jam will prove to be a barely noticed turning point. Today is ‘The Day of the Doctor’ but which Doctor? Up until now it looked like Dr InKnockulator (who is actually a real doctor), but when Dr Whooligan (who isn’t) and Bash glue- and two-wall Woo-Ha to their backs, and Sham passes fast and clean to pull 92-134 in to 111-134, there is something of a sea change for the seaside league. The scores are still fairly separated, but the mood in the hall and amongst both sides has changed – the fact that Central City call a team time out is further testament to this. Brighton have 17 minutes on the clock. Brighton can do this.
    Bash is jamming every four rather than every two again now. Brighton were missing her in the pack, and now that they have a head of steam behind them her aggressive blocking and defensive jamming blur the boundaries between the different positions anyway. With Viv in the box, Bash pulls it back to a four-point game. Jam 13 might be unlucky for some, but not Brighton as Rose takes the missing four to tie it up at 134-134 as the crowd go, if not wild, then at least happily livid. Both teams seem enlivened by this audience reaction. The Rockers edge up a few jam points from Sham, Sophia and Bash – the latter spinning off turn one into some perfectly placed crash mats that have presumably been there all along for just this moment. The seventeenth sees the Rockers final jammer penalty (one of only three in the entire second period), and with Rose soon joined in the box by blockers Sophia and Racey Slamhard, CCR take advantage and the pendulum swings back in their favour. A strong hit on Tinchy from Bash two jams later helps Rose tie the scores back up at 152-152 with a little over five minutes to go. Oh my!
    Gloriously deranged London Rollergirl The Duchess of Crutches isn’t as might first appear – to co-announcer Mother Mercy, as well as everyone else in the hall – dressed as a frog for today’s announcing duties. She’s one of them Dilophosauruses out of Jurassic Park, apparently; noisy beggars they were, a fitting choice perhaps for an announcer. The majority of the crowd occupy bleacher seating to the North East (we think, we didn’t bring a compass) end of the hall, with a single row of mostly Rockers and [East]Bourne Bombshells types along the right hand wall. There are several banners – mostly home team supporting – amidst the crowd. The hall is, as one would expect, bedecked with dinosaur images and a number of folk have come in suitable fancy dress.
    Oh and what else… oh yes, COME ON ROCKERS!!!
    Brighton have just tied the game for the third time. 156-156. Crikey. All getting a bit breathless here. Just enough left on the clock for two maybe three more jams. Several of the crowd on their feet. Rose in the Sussex stars adds four, a slender lead to take into what, with 1’22” left on the period timer, may well be the final jam. The conclusion of this game is proving so exciting that even one of the Brighton players decides she wants to watch it from the bleachers. Either that or Sophia just fouled out for seven penalty box visits. Luckily she was in the pack rather than wearing the star, and Cake Or Death takes her place in the sin seats. Kapow up in the star for Brighton, Woo-Ha for Centrinnians. Kapow, the star of the bout poster, versus CCR’s captain (deputising for injured Agent Dana Scurry). The Rockers jammer, roughly a quarter of her opposite number’s height, takes lead. Passes once, then again. The period timer has run down and she could call, but this Brighton pack are rock solid. They’ve been superbly marshalled during the second half by the likes of The Hairy Fairy and Whooligan, and the latter alongside Sham and Bash are here keeping Woo-Ha pegged back, so Kapow uses the extra seconds for another pass. 175-151 to Brighton said the score prediction in today’s fan magazine. 175-156 says the official final scoreline. As the players form a victory huddle and the crowd spill down for the laps of honour, I think we’ll let them off shipping those extra five points, yeah?
    Not that we actually saw any of what we described in the previous paragraph. Not really. We had our hands over our eyes, peering through gaps in our fingers for the odd glimpse. Not daring to watch, pretending that we weren’t, hiding from the tension, the fear, the hope and sheer nervous energy of the most thrilling end to a bout in Brighton Rockers history. If we had a sofa here to hide behind we would have, like so many children down the years have done when a particularly scary but exhilarating ‘Doctor Who’ is on.

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I’m actually somewhat relieved that Bertie, Bob and Brad have a medical practicioner to look after them, but I’m not sure this guy’s actually a real doctor (the way Dr InKnockulator is) – especially not when he prescribes breaded scampi and pitchers of strawberry daiquiri all round. “So, have you found all the information you were after?” he asks. Not really, I tell him, explaining that it was a roller derby bout report I was researching, and all I seem to have gleaned is some made-up nonsense about dinosaurs, JFK and H. G. Wells.
    “Made up?” he splutters, as the four of them finish their meals and down their pitchers. “Made up? These guys know more about dinosaurs, JFK and H. G. Wells than you or I ever will. No wait, not I, just you. Primary sources, boy, that’s what you had here. You were just too blind to see it. Anyway, toodle pip. Was it roller derby you said you were writing about? If you bump into that Stefanie Mainey tell her the statue of her in Trafalgar Square is still going strong a hundred years from now; the Kami-ism religion continues to spread; what you know as New Zealand now basks in the name Bash Islands; the Woo-Ha is an official unit of measurement; the many international exploits of players from both Brighton and Central City are the stuff of legend; and dressing like LaserHammer is now legal again. Anyway, gotta dash. Ciao.”
    With that, he drags the others around the corner with him. There’s another sequence of churning whooshes and gusting wind. Then an eerie calm – broken only by a relieved flatulation from the old woman Bob had been sat on all this time – descends upon the Herbert George Wells pub. I glance round the corner. Nothing. Stand and walk round there. My four drinking companions have disappeared. Maybe it’s the shock of being presented with a £666.13 bill when I go up to collect my card, but I swear that I see them in the black and white photos adorning the walls as I make my way out. There’s Brad on the grassy knoll in 1963, Bob talking to Steven Spielberg on a dinosaur-themed movie set, and all the photos of H. G. Wells himself look just like Bertie.
    As for the metal sculpture of a person in the window, which I now view from the front for the first time, it looks for all the world like the doctor who just shepherded my three interviewees back to wherever they had escaped from. I clamber up on the plinth to look at the book in the sculpture’s hand, and in the brief second’s glance I get before security drag me down and kick me out onto the brick tiles of the Chertsey Road, I swear I read “The Time Machine 3: Great daiquiri but the scampi’s off.”

Today’s bout marked the last for Brighton’s awesome Head Ref Scoot’er, who is leaving these shores for a distant outpost of the Commonwealth. It’s a time of great change as the Rockers are also losing their beloved training venue, GYSO in Shoreham, at the end of this year – get in touch with them if you know of any suitable alternatives within easy travel of Brighton. On a more positive note, they have gained a home venue of another sort. The Cornerstone pub, a beige brick island where Elm Grove, Lewes Road and Hanover meet (and the Brighton student ghetto begins) is now the league’s official pub. They’ll be hosting after parties and socials, selling Rockers merch, and they’ve even teamed up with the Downlands Brewery to make a special beer, Off Your Rocker, for the derby team. This dark ruby ale is very nommy – indeed, the first 72-pint barrel is drunk dry within two hours of first whistle at tonight’s after party, the quickest this pub has ever gone through a nine-gallon cask of ale.
    There are several park rangers and dinosaurs here amongst a Brighton team whose aprèsskate costumes have become the stuff of legend in UK derby. The party games will get an outing later, including Rockers classics like ‘bum coin’ and a limbo dancing contest that sees the pole gradually lower from 0.5 to 0.1 Woo-Has above floor level. First, it’s time to prise the ever brilliant Central City ladies from the table football and announce the awards. For the Birmingham side there’s a lot of competition for the Best Blocker accolade, with the talismanic (tailsmaniac?) Boots Manuva seeing off the likes of impressive Rubix Crude and Scarlett McCabre to clinch the title. Viv La France picks up the equally hard to choose Best Jammer crown, with MVP going to Tinchy Slider.
    For Brighton, Hairy Fairy scoops Best Blocker, with the jammer award going to Chariot Sophia. MVP is probably a natural choice given the powerhouse triple threat performance Bash put in throughout the contest. We award ourselves the Longest Boutreport prize of another pint of Off Your Rocker and three shots of Jägermeister – gotta love a pub where the price for three shots is less than the price for two – before heading off back out into what passes for normality in this part of a blue-green chunk of rock spinning inexorably around a giant ball of burning gases.

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“The Sentrinians have been defeated by the smallest of margins, with a last gasp attack from the warrior known as Ka-Pow putting them to the sword. Yet the Roccas have scarce time to lick their wounds and celebrate this success. There are on the horizon, heading towards Sussex or beckoning from elsewhere in the kingdom and across the seas, yet other species, yet more tribes – their names as yet unknown – who will come to do battle with the Roccas in the months and years ahead. As the Time Traveller bids them farewell, he wonders what further adventures this mighty army have facing them. What fearsome challenges and glorious exchanges even now approach, drawing yet closer with every tick of the clock and every turn of the calendar…?” (The Time Machine 2, Bertie Wells)

[Photos by John Hesse and Rebecca Cornford]

A week after meeting Brighton, Central City were in action again, this time taking a comprehensive 241-81 win against the only other UK derby league we know of with its own beer, Sheffield Steel Rollergirls. The Brighton Rockers, meanwhile, will be back on track in 2014, and are still looking for people to join their January ‘Fresh Meat’ trainee intake – contact info@brightonrockers.com for details.

BRRD: http://brightonrockers.com/
CCR: http://centralcityrollergirls.co.uk/

Brighton Rockers v Central City bout preview

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As the sting of an early winter continues taking cold bites out of the Sussex coast, May seems a lot more distant than six months ago. It was a gloriously sunny early summer bank holiday weekend and we were in a People’s Palace atop a North London hill; a palace that had given birth to UK roller skating in 1875 and the BBC in 1936. The inaugural UK Roller Derby Association Southern tournament had brought together five top derby leagues. Central City Rollergirls, whose Birmingham base somewhat muddied the definition of ‘Southern’, had come in as late replacements for Wycombe’s Big Bucks High Rollers.
    Brighton had originally been second seeds in the tournament, but the replacement saw Central City – then ranked slightly higher than the Sussex league – bump them down to third. This presented the Rockers with a trickier, one bout longer path to the final, including an early meeting with the near invincible winners-in-waiting London Brawl Saints. The one match-up almost everyone in the derby hall was looking forward to most was that between Brighton and CCR. Scheduled as the semi-final, should things go as per the rankings, this meeting of the two most closely matched sides in the tournament was sure to be a humdinger.
    Except it never took place. For any number of reasons, such as the patchwork nature of an injury-blighted Brighton squad and the highly charged performance of Bristol Harbour Harlots (playing above ranking expectations in every bout), the Rockers and Central City never did meet that weekend. Facebook and Twitter buzz between the two teams in the following days lamented this and suggested a match-up should be arranged for another time.
    That time is now. Well, Saturday 23rd November to be exact. Doors at 2.30pm, first whistle at 3pm. The location is the Dolphin Leisure Centre in Haywards Heath, now destined to be the Rockers’ only bouting venue with the other, the Roller Central warehouse in Shoreham-by-Sea, due to close at the end of the year. (Given that the Rockers train several evenings a week at Roller Central too, they are on the look out for a new training venue urgently – get in touch with them if you have any ideas.) The bout, entitled Terror-Track-Thrills (equal parts applause and pained looks to whoever came up with that one) has a Jurassic Park theme, and attendees are encouraged to come dressed as their favourite dinosaur.
    The Dolphin is just five minutes walk from Haywards Heath station (turn left and follow the roller derby signs taped to lampposts, walls and small dogs) and the pub opposite the station – the Burrell Arms – is pretty OK for a footbally station pub should you arrive early. There are two bars at the leisure centre itself, a cafe-style one also offering food in the lobby and a small secret one a few corridor turns past the sports hall. The Dolphin contains the usual leisure centre features, such as vending machines, overly hot hand dryers in the toilets and loads of sickeningly healthy-looking people wandering around in tracksuits.
    The after party takes place in the Rockers’ new official home pub, the Cornerstone, located on the corner of Brighton’s Elm Grove, Islingword Road and Lewes Road. The night will also see the launch of the league’s own ale, Off Your Rocker from the Downlands Brewery, featuring a suitably skater bedecked pump clip. Those who have another important event long pencilled in for the 23rd should bear in mind that the bout will be finished well before 5pm and the after party will only really get going later in the evening, so yes, you do have time to go home and watch the 50th anniversary Doctor Who in-between (er, if you live locally that is, probably not so much if you live in the Midlands). Tickets for the bout are priced at £10 (free for under-12s) and available from the link below.
FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/647691741929370/
BUY TICKETS: http://brightonrockers.com/tickets/

ABOUT THE BOUT
Having suffered a few unexpected losses since May, CCR are now placed below the Rockers in the rankings. The official UKRDA table shows the Brummies in 14th place and Brighton 8th, with both teams having recently been nudged down one by Cardiff’s strong Tiger Bay Brawlers finally playing enough UK leagues to be rankings eligible. We tend to place more credence on the alternative Europe-wide table at flattrackstats.com instead, and that suggests this bout will be a nailbiter. They rank Brighton 25th and CCR 27th, and their online prediction calculator gives the Rockers a 64% chance of taking the win (compared to CCR’s 36%) and expects Brighton to score 50 points for every 43 Central rack up. That differential would equate to a result in the region of 140-120, which is insanely close in derby terms.
    This bout comes during an incredibly busy time for CCR, with the Midlanders facing Paris the Sunday before and Sheffield the Saturday after. Will this bout-packed schedule work to their advantage or detriment? We’ll find out on the day. For now we’ll ask skaters from both Brighton and CCR, together with the chair of the Bristol league who faced the two sides at Alexandra Palace, for their thoughts ahead of Terror-Track-Thrills:

“We really wanted to play Central City at Roller Rumble, it just didn’t work out for us that time round. Let’s just say we learnt a lot about tournament play that we didn’t know before that weekend. But here we are and I reckon it’s going to be a really good match-up. In terms of CCR’s squad, I think it’s wise to be a little wary of everyone but not focus too much on one player or you’ll get hung up about it, maybe start targeting them and take your eye off the game. Result-wise, I think making predictions is a bit of a pointless exercise – neither team knows what will happen out there and a single power jam can change everything. I do predict that the after party will be awesome though.”
HYDE ‘N’ SHRIEK, BRIGHTON ROCKERS ROLLER DERBY

“We were really looking forward to meeting Brighton at the tournament, but actually ended up playing both LRG and Bristol Harbour Harlots twice instead! We managed to catch some of the Rockers in action against Brawl Saints and they looked fierce as ever on track – controlled packs and deadly offence made for an exciting game. Off track – what a bloomin’ nice bunch too! CCR are a close crew both on and off track and this is reflected in our play. However, we also have a secret weapon within our ranks. His name is Bret Hart and you’re very likely to see him sitting by our bench on game day (although he’s not as big as he used to be).”
WOO-HA, CENTRAL CITY ROLLERGIRLS

“We came into the UKRDA tournament in May seeded below both Brighton and CCR, knowing that both were very strong teams full of talented skaters.  We ended up playing CCR twice, narrowly losing both times, and came away with a 75 point win over Brighton, upsetting the seedings to take third place in the tournament. Despite these differing results, I think both teams are evenly matched and have had some great results recently, including big wins against higher ranked teams like Gent and Leeds. If you forced my hand I would predict a home win despite (or even because of?) Brighton’s surprise loss to us, but I won’t be surprised if it goes the other way, and regardless of the result of the game you’re in for a treat!”
BLACK THORN, BRISTOL ROLLER DERBY

For a more detailed bout preview, including the thoughts of players from Leeds, Auld Reekie and London Brawl Saints, pick up a free copy of our fanzine Turn Left at the bout. The mag also contains interviews with six Rockers skaters, alongside seven players from other leagues, the world’s most ill-advised roller derby training guide and more. See you there!
BRIGHTON ROCKERS: http://brightonrockers.com/
CENTRAL CITY: http://centralcityrollergirls.co.uk/

[Photo by Rebecca Cornford]

Fear And Lothian: Auld Reekie v Brighton Rockers bout report

ARRGR1
The phenomenon – for that is the only word as would adequately describe it – is one that bewilders this scarcely developed young mind. I had hoped that the Professor, in whose employ I lie and upon whose behalf I compile this journal, might be able to explain it. Yet even he is herewith as confounded and fearful as an urchin in a bathhouse. For this city we now document – Edinburgh, supposedly as civilised an urban area as one might find in this still half-barbarian enclave of Victoria’s glorious empire – bears within its borders the most unlikely, even impossible, quirk of nature.
    Every journey… from the shortest to the longest, the most dallying to that of most import; be it upon foot, horseback, carrying wench or road ball… every single journey in this beautiful yet befuddling place is uphill. One might question the logical boundaries of such an assertion, yet it holds true at every opportunity upon which myself and the Professor have tested it. We traverse the path known as the Royal Mile utilising various modes of transit, both Castlewards and Palacewards, and each journey is entirely upon an uphill gradient.
    Having found all side streets in both the New and Old Towns similarly upwardly inclined from every approach, the Professor turns our attention to the menacing hill to the South East of the centre. He has notions most would consider quite fanciful about this particular object, known locally as Arthur’s Seat. Not only does the Professor believe this stunted mountain (from whose soil emanates a peculiar distant buzzing sound) to have once been a blood boiling volcano; yet also does he claim it still now houses a creature of devlish intent. This creature – one whose name the Professor is too terrified to ever utter let alone set in print – is not the subject of our studies this day. We remain focussed on the notion of upward trajectory. Having scaled halfway to the submit, an arduous enough pursuit had one not also been tasked with carrying the Professor and all his instruments upon my shoulders, we retrace our steps to its base. Yet again, this journey is at odds with all points of logic and science for it too is an uphill struggle, even when aided as it is by the encouraging sting of the Professor’s motivation whip upon my buttocks.
    So what effect does this curious phenomenon of all journeys being uphill have upon the people of this city? The Professor has noted from the provisions stores upon the Royal Mile that the diet here is the same as in other parts of this savage Northern nation; a mixture of haggis (a small pig-squirrel hybrid from whose carcass the national instrument of torture, the bagpipes, is also made), neeps (orangey-yellow mush) and tatties (yellowy-orange mush), followed by a dessert platter of deep fried confectionery products. Yet whereas the indigenous people of other Scottish towns and cities appear slovenly of form and sluggish of countenance, here there is a ruddy health and springbound athleticism to most of the local populace we encounter. This is clearly a result of living in a locale where even a short trip to the petticoat stall will involve an ascent – both there and back – similar to that of the as yet unconquered Himalayas.
    “‘Tis fearful as the men of this place would turn to sport,” says the Professor, “for their uphill-treaded legs would enable them to beat the greatest that even London and the South of England might offer.”
    “Worse still that the women of this city would turn to sport,” I counter, “for they could conquer not just our fine English women, yet perchance our men too, then perhaps Victoria’s glorious empire itself.”
    “Women playing sport?” splutters the Professor. “What sickness must lie in your head to even countenance such a future. Hand me the punishment whip and ready your buttocks.”

Admiral Attackbar drops her left shoulder and hits the Brighton pack, which – quite rarely for this penalty heavy outing – features a full four-wall. The middle two have been looking over their own shoulders to centre track, hoping to see her probable line of attack, but struggling to view her at all through the solid yet ever shifting Auld Reekie defence ten feet behind. There’s often a perception in derby that some blockers can be relied upon more for their physicality and others for their movement, yet these Edinburgh line-ups have largely consisted entirely of skaters who can switch between the two faster than the flap of a bee’s wings.
    The Rockers’ own jammer remains pegged back behind the Scottish pack in darkest black, as she has been for the past minute. Harold Wilson once famously declared that “a week is a long time in politics”. Whilst that might be true, a single minute is a lifetime in derby and Attackbar has already made three passes through the Brighton pack. Score wise it’s the stuff of power jams, and in a way this is a power jam – it’s just that instead of being banished to the penalty box, the Brighton jammer is seemingly banished to a jam’s lifetime of futile duking up against the shoulders, butts and hips of the Reekie pack. There have been one or two golden half-chances of breaking through, sure, but each one has been crushed by a blocker’s last ditch hit and a much longer than it seems trip from the inner or outer track to the bottom of the Edinburgh recycle bin.
    Attackbar’s first pass was an apex jump, the second around the outside, the third a feigned inside line and dart through the middle of a split Brighton wall. This fourth happens so fast we don’t really know which way round the pack she went, and we’re not entirely sure the Rockers defence did either. It was more through them than around, probably. In all honesty, we don’t know. We likely never will.
    ARRG’s Twisted Thistles pack boasts amidst its various line-ups the likes of perfectly named Crazylegs, the tactically commanding Ciderella, feisty Velosidy, Mo B Quick, Minnie Riot… and that’s just those from the Team Scotland 2011 World Cup squad. It’s a defence bristling with experience, both from international competition and regular bouts against tough USA and Euro sides, from a league whose playbook runs to several times that of teams like Brighton. There’s a reason why Auld Reekie are ranked #1 in the first official UKRDA table, and this pack is confident enough in their own abilities to regularly leave just two holding back the rival jammer whilst the other one or two run interference, hitting the back of the Brighton pack just before their own jammer arrives.
    They didn’t do that this pass though. There’s no reason why they didn’t. They surely could have. Maybe Brighton were expecting them to. Maybe that’s why Attackbar got through so easily and so cleanly, barely a drop of sweat blemishing her game face (paint). That speaks volumes about the tactical talents of this Scottish side. When you realise that the ARRG Twisted Thistles can run interference by *not* running any interference – knowing that doing nothing at such a point in the jam/game will most likely interfere with the other pack’s expectations even more – well, you know…
    A man in a film once said: “We run the plays, we win the games. There are only ten of them. It’s not rocket science.” As far as the Auld Reekie playbook is concerned, there seem to be about a thousand and ten of them, and yeah, some of them look pretty close to rocket science to us.

ARRGR3
Deep inside the volcano, The High Priest Of All Evil rubs his hands together and cackles. His minions, Minion One and Minion Two – or, as they’d rather the High Priest call them, Frankie and Rabbie – grin at each other. THPOAE surely only cackles like this when there’s real evil afoot. What could it be? A plague of locusts eating their way through the entire Amazon rainforest? A tidal wave decimating West Coast USA? Or the biggie – nuclear armageddon? The High Priest cackles louder still and conjures up a live image of the subject of today’s malevolence. The Minions stare at the scene before them, more than a little confused.
    “Uh,” says Frankie (or Rabbie).
    “That looks like a car parked on a hard shoulder,” says Rabbie (or Frankie).
    “Aye,” says THPOAE, smiling a smile that would look like one of pure evil even without the bits of spinach stuck in his teeth. “Burst tyre. I did that. Invisible bees. Better still, I made it so all the roadside assistance vans nearby are on other jobs. Two hours they’ll be waiting there.” The minions look on blankly, unsure as to the purpose of this – at best –  slightly diabolical act. “Some of them are playing roller derby up here tomorrow,” the High Priest explains, “and they’ve barely left the South Coast, hahaha.”
    “What’s roller derby?” asks Minion One (or Minion Two, whichever’s the one without a beard)
    “It’s a modern revival sport primarily played by women. Two teams of five roller skate anti-clockwise round an oval track in a series of periods called ‘jams’ lasting up to two minutes each. One on each team has a star on her helmet and scores a point for each opponent she passes. The other four have to try and hold back the opposing team’s star-clad ‘jammer’ whilst aiding their own.”
    They way he delivered it sounded like it was a pre-prepared speech THPOAE made several times a week, largely to tourists and locals asking about the T-shirt he always wears. This is pretty much lost on the Minions, however. They have always assumed the ‘ARRG’ text on their master’s top referred to the cries of pain from those he curses to the eternal fires of Hellfire and Damnation. Not that they’ve seen him do much, if any, of that. Bursting a car tyre was about standard for the level of evil the Minions had witnessed since starting their jobs, here in the bowels of Arthur’s Seat, three months earlier.
    “I’m going to mess with their Sat Nav when they hit the Midlands,” adds the High Priest as the Minions start slowly backing away; the duo nodding nervously as one would to someone on the bus who tells you their feet are possessed. “That’ll add another two hours. Then wait and see what I’ve done to the hostel they’re booked in. I’ve filled the walls with mice. When the invisible bees start on the mice around 2am… squeak, squeak, squeak. They’ll barely get a wink of sleep. And when they discover I’ve made everything around here uphill… hahaha.”
    The tail end of THPOAE’s speech echoes along the corridor behind as the two Minions hurry out for lunch. The following day they will meet to watch a football match up the road and discuss the new jobs they start on Monday – jobs that will give them a chance to do some proper evil for once. They haven’t dared tell THPOAE they’re leaving. He doesn’t take that sort of thing well, apparently.

Shambolic sits in the penalty box, a pivot panty atop her head. It’s not an unnatural habitat for her, to be honest. Particularly not when she’s putting in the kind of ‘popping up all over the track’ hard fought performance today’s über tough challenge requires, one for which she will take home the Best Blocker medal. Last time out though, against Leeds five weeks ago, her (and indeed the whole Brighton team’s) first box visit didn’t come until Jam 13. This time it comes sooner. In all fairness, Sham had an event packed (burst tyre, Sat Nav probs, etc) fourteen hour trip up here – many others in the Brighton roster had not far short of that – followed by half a night in the noisiest hostel room ever. It’s almost as if her journey up was cursed. Still, Brighton are fighting back now.
    Their best moment may have come before first whistle. A well choreographed and Enya soundtracked skate out, all swirly arms and spins; it looked for all the world like the lovechild of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights video and Starlight Express, but it was pretty damn awesome and put the Edinburgh side in the shade. Once the bout starts, the reverse is true, at least for the first nine jams. Brighton are doing what they can, but the Scots are 19-0 up after Jam 1 and the next few exchanges rattle past in quick succession. Pass and call, pass and call. Some awesome work through the pack by Rose Bleed in the third takes Brighton up to fourteen points, but six successive scoreless jams for the Sussex league see the Twisted Thistles up to 79.
    A quick three pointer with Sham in the star breaks the Rockers’ scoreless streak and sets up a resilient fightback. The Mighty Mighty Bash puts up some big numbers and some big hits in a power jam twelfth as the Scottish pack start using the same revolving door to the sin bin Brighton were previously bogarting. There are long official timeouts between almost every jam now. Sham takes a whip from Bash in Jam 14 to edge down the differential some more. Rockers pack starting to get more of a handle on the ARRG jammers now, holding back Lilo & Stitches as Kapow breaks through, forcing Stitches to call.
    As Bash and Imperial Bint shoulder up on the jammer line, a game that had looked to be running away from Brighton is much closer. The Scots’ early 65 point lead has been pegged back to a circa 40 differential, holding around there jam by jam as the scores accumulate… 46-87. 58-99. 61-101. The Sussex side are giving Auld Reekie a run for their [brightly coloured and not accepted by most Brighton pubs] money now, their jammers drawing penalties from the Scottish pack to create a more evenly matched – rather than primarily cyan – penalty box.
    Jam 17 is arguably the biggest of the game. Rose takes lead and looks to be in a position to close the gap further still, but she’s sent off, as is blocker Cake, and Edinburgh take advantage, stretching their muscles and lead over the last few jams of the half to go in 139-69 up. This car-lagged Brighton side are missing a couple of key players, and although relatively new additions like Emma The Condemner and Kapow are putting in good battling performances, we fear this opposition – a European derby powerhouse eager to impress in front of a home crowd in their last bout of the calendar year – may well be preparing to turn the screw in the second half.

ARRGR4
The drums. Good Lord, the drums. The relentless echoing rattle, rat-a-tat-tat, reminds Jack of Vietnam. Those were dreadful days. Serves him right, really, for choosing the cheapest backpackers’ dorm room available – one with paper-thin walls and a hard house nightclub just the other side – but even so, he could no longer handle the sound of drums. Even when played as well and joyfully as by the eleven-person troupe (Counterpoint Drummers) providing the half time entertainment in this Scottish sports hall.
    Jack heads up the stairs, past the huge banked rows of bleacher seating that occupy the North side of what must be one of the most impressive roller derby venues in the whole of Europe. He still doesn’t quite understand what roller derby is, but he has a job to do. Cub reporter for one of the country’s more scurrilous newspapers. Not a sports reporter, as it happens, just general crime and scandal. There might not be much of that going on here at the moment – apart from the Edinburgh jammers pickpocketing points from Brighton on almost every pass – but he has a brief to find some, in or around today’s event.
    What would his great great great grandfather make of it all? A well respected London-based Professor, triple great gramps Fenchurch had written one of the most infamous anthropological studies of the Scottish capital back in the Victorian era. It was a book full of ridiculous claims, such as the assertion that all journeys in Edinburgh are uphill. Jack laughs at the thought as he struggles to climb the steps down to the Mezzanine, where windows overlook a Scottish FA Youth Cup match between Leith Athletic and Bishopton (a barnstorming 6-4 win to Leith, someone on the sports desk will later tell him).
    On the next level down, around twenty steps further uphill, the Brighton roller derby team are holding a half-time post mortem and offering up suggested tactical changes for the remainder of the match; a secret meeting audible only to themselves and all those using the toilets or watching the football as their voices echo round the cavernous stairwells. So what would the Professor – hardly a fan of women at all, let alone the idea of women’s sport – have made of this fast-moving counter-cultured new sport? Most likely he’d be horrified. Who knows? Later academics claimed old Fenchurch was just plain mad, of that Jack is well aware. His ancestor’s book on Edinburgh would certainly suggest so, packed as it is by talk of a Devil-like entity living inside Arthur’s Seat; an entity that apparently sends invisible bees to attack its opponents, particularly those who quit said entity’s employ.
    Jack laughs to himself at he walks back through the merch area – glancing at the varied stylish offerings from the Edinburgh and Brighton teams, whilst puzzling at the strange buzzing sound around the cupcake stall – before heading up the stairs back down to his seat for the start of the second half.

Team talks spoken, skaters refreshed, what will the second period bring? It starts much as the first did, with a series of quick jams; Thistles taking lead in most and calling before the Brighton jammer gets on a scoring pass. The Scots are using a smaller jammer rotation now – primarily just the Big Three of Attackbar, Stitches and Bint – and it’s working in their favour as they start stretching their lead at quite some pace. The Brighton pack are battling hard, with Hyde ‘N’ Shriek, Derby McGee, Cake Or Death, Hairy Fairy, Bash and others putting in some solid physical challenges. Shambolic regularly spreads herself wide as the last line of defence, pegging back the Edinburgh jammers for as many seconds as she can.
    The problem with this physical blocking, of course, is that penalty calls are always going to be a by-product, and the more Brighton chase this game, the more blue shirts are ending up in the box. ARRG have upped the differential to well over a hundred and we’re barely five minutes into the period. A series of Scottish power jams and full Rockers boxes follows. At the end of a sequence of nine pointless jams, Brighton find themselves on the skinny side of a 300-85 scoreline and in all honesty are now playing to keep the final points gap to as few hundred as possible. Sham sneaks a single point in Jam 17 of the second period, Rose adds three in the twentieth. They look to add more two jams later as the impressive Chariot Sophia breaks through first, but it wasn’t a clean pass and Attackbar clears the Brighton pack to call it off. With no more scoring opportunities, the Sussex side have to settle for a total points haul of 89.
    The Edinburgh league have added Skinn’er Alive back into the rotation for the last quarter of the bout, and their four stellar jammers have swooped inside, swooped outside, apex jumped, duked, ducked, hustled, bustled and weathered big hits from Bash and others to storm their way to one shy of 350 points as the final whistle sounds. Whilst that’s testament to the awesome strength of the Scottish rotation, perhaps more telling is how few points (twenty) Brighton managed to put on the board in this second half. Indeed, a casual observer would mistake LaserHammer – jam reffing Brighton this period – for a Black Power protestor, so often does he raise a clenched fist.
    The Auld Reekie pack aren’t just tough, they’re super tough. A dynamic, fast reacting, deceptively physical and tactically flexible offensive defence. One born not just of the practice halls of the Scottish capital, but on the bouting floors of London, Berlin, Toronto, Philadelphia and everywhere else these skaters have sharpened their skills and ground down their wheels across ARRG’s storied five and a half year existence.
    Anarchick and Pukeahontas lead the celebrations on the Edinburgh league’s bench. Over on the Brighton one, coach Mass Janeycide and Mistress Von Über Vixen (deputising as line-up manager for the absent Maude Fondeo) have no time to reflect upon the result right now. Such reflection comes later, days down the line. Boozing and long uphill walks come first. When that time for reflection does arrive, one hopes it will focus on one truism of this so young, so rapidly developing sport: You don’t get better by playing teams you can easily beat, you get better by playing teams that will more than likely beat you (and learning from that experience).
    It’s an avenue Brighton have increasingly gone down in 2013. For the first couple of years of the Rockers’ bouting existence, some quarters of the UK derby community accused them of only picking contests with weaker opponents. That accusation certainly can’t be levelled at the Sussex side now. This year they took on the three toughest opponents feasibly available to them; Glasgow, LRG Brawl Saints and Auld Reekie. Whilst those matches all ended in defeat, there was a lengthy period in both of the latter two where Brighton were matching their tougher opponents point for point and starting to build up a head of steam. Interestingly, it was the second half of the first period in both cases, as the Rockers closed in what looked like unassailable scoreline gaps, shaking up the Saints and Thistles and going into half time just a couple of power jams behind on the tallies. If the Sussex side can channel the resilience of those fightbacks and spread them out across more of a bout, then that list of “teams that will more than likely beat you” – already a pretty small list, a dozen at best in the whole of Europe – will get smaller still. I certainly wouldn’t like to be their next opponents, Central City. The can of whup-ass that is the Brighton Rockers just got shook up in Edinburgh, and you know what happens when you open a shaken up can…
    As for the Twisted Thistles, they end their 2014 bouting season on a high, having just racked up the highest points haul in their history. Defending ARRG’s position at the top of the UKRDA rankings, with neighbours Glasgow breathing down their necks, is a priority. So too their WFTDA ambitions – they currently lie 103rd in the overall rankings, tantalisingly close to the Top 100, and 15th in the 72 league third tier. With the breadth of talent and experience across this A-team roster and beyond, an impressive bouting venue and the best chant in UK derby, the opportunities the next couple of years will bring for the Edinburgh league – and indeed, the whole of derby – are limited only by their ambitions. Auld Reekie, you are indeed so fine, and there’s a whole continent out there across the Atlantic whose minds you will soon be blowing.

ARRGR5
I’m a bee. (I don’t mean I’m an overacting drama student running from side to side in a black-walled studio, fingers flapping up by my shoulders as I make unconvincing buzzing noises. No. I’m an actual real actual bee.) Oh yeah, I’m also invisible. My name’s Miriam. My mate’s called Buzz (his parents were well unimaginative). I don’t know what you’ve heard about invisible bees, but we’re a couple of the good guys. Today we were assigned to work in the heads of the duo announcing some roller skating contest in Scotland. It was supposed to be (or ‘bee’ – geddit!) a simple job. If it looked like they were running out of things to say, we’d buzz around a bit, stirring up the thought bobbles of the brain.
    It probably would have been a simple job if not for Anthony. He’s an invisible bee too, but he works for the other side, he works for YouKnowWho. We couldn’t see him (he’s invisible, yeah) but we sensed he was around, and we soon worked out what his job for the day was. He was buzzing about at floor level, chewing on the black and yellow tape that marked out the skating area. Every time he chewed up a bit so much it frayed, some guys in stripy tops had to pause the match for a while. Our commentators couldn’t stop talking though. They had to fill up that gap in the action, which often ran to several minutes. That’s where me and Buzz came in.
    Say something about the officials’ shirts, Buzz told his announcer… Make a joke about the kit check looking like a dance routine, I told mine… Talk about it being Auld Reekie’s last bout of the year… Mention the wire that runs under the track tape… Plug the craft and merch stands… Mention the cupcakes (mmm, cupcakes)… Shout “make some noise”… Both announcers did a damn good job filling the time with things we suggested, but all that buzzing about in their heads was terribly tiring for Buzz and I. Damn Anthony and his tape chewing ways.
    We bumped into him at the cupcake stand at the end of the bout (heard, not saw him, at first, obviously) and he was very excited. Said he’d got a “really big job” that evening at a nearby pub. Him and seven other evil invisible bees. Wouldn’t tell us what the job was, of course, but we pity the intended victims. Poor souls.

AULD REEKIE ROLLER GIRLS
Best Jammer: Admiral Attackbar
Best Blocker: Crazylegs
MVP: Imperial Bint

BRIGHTON ROCKERS ROLLER DERBY
Best Jammer: Chariot Sophia
Best Blocker: Shambolic
MVP: The Mighty Mighty Bash

THE WINNERS
Skate out: Brighton Rockers
Bout: Auld Reekie
After party: Brighton Rockers

ARRGR2
SKATE-FUL: DEPRAVED ‘PARTY’ SHOCKS ONLOOKERS
The Scottish Stun on Sunday investigates the murky world of ROLLER DERBY: This sinister new sport, devised by TATTOOED FEMINISTS and OTHER DEVIANTS, has really taken off in Scotland, with the country boasting the TOP TWO TEAMS in the recent UK RANKINGS TABLE.
    Whilst this might be a source of NATIONAL PRIDE to some, those who have witnessed this ‘sport’ in the flesh might find it a source of NATIONAL SHAME. Women, some of whom hold down respectable professional jobs, VIOLENTLY KNOCK OTHER WOMEN TO THE GROUND in front of a BAYING AUDIENCE.
    As sickening as this spectacle may sound, it doesn’t end there. This sport – which many have likened to A PAGAN CULT – has its own language and slang, deliberately designed to be indecipherable by outsiders, or ‘NORMS’ (normals) as they are known. Those who partake adopt SICK PSEUDONYMNS to hide their true identities from the authorities. When these ‘WOMEN’ talk about JAMMERS, BLOCKERS and ZEBRAS are they using their own slang terms for DRUGS, SPELLS and RITUAL SACRIFICE?
    After a roller derby match (known, due to its high level of violence, as a ‘BOUT’) the players then hold a secretive ‘AFTER PARTY’. This newspaper infiltrated one such event in an Edinburgh public house over the weekend. Although several players from the local AULD REEKIE team were present, most of those involved were members of a team from BRIGHTON – a city well known to be the UK capital of SEXUAL DEVIANCE, SATANISM and VEGANS. In order to hide their affiliation to the roller derby cult, they had come dressed as tennis players, using said conventional sport by way of DEVIOUS DISGUISE.
    Several onlookers, many of whom had innocently wandered in from a Hibernian football match, were REPULSED by what they saw. “There was this thing like a tennis ball, aye,” said Frankie McDonnell, 27, from Galoshes, “except it probably wasn’t, it was probably a MONKEY’S BRAIN or something. And these women were passing it between each other using only their NECKS, and they were LAUGHING about it. Well, they may get up to that sort of shenanigans in Brighton, but we’ll nae be havin’ it in Edinburgh, I’ll tell ye that.”
    His friend Rabbie Wilson, 29, from Lochatherayre, added: “Then they did this thing with a coin, where they took turns placing it in their BUTTOCKS, waddling around like ducks then dropping it in a cup like they were doing a JOBBIE. A coin of the realm! That’s QUEEN ELIZABETH HERSELF they’re doing that to, as good as. I was fair disgusted.”
    Wilson and McDonnell, until recently employed by a ‘private contractor’ in the Arthur’s Seat area and due to start work as ATOS advisers on Monday, then both started to yelp in pain and shout about being ‘stung’. We watched in horror (but didn’t help) as BIG RED WELTS started to spring up all over their ARMS and FACES. Then they both SCREAMED and raced for the door.
    This newspaper is not one to leap to assumptions, yet what we just witnessed on those poor souls was clearly a PLAGUE OF LESIONS, a well known CURSE used over the centuries by WITCHES. A warning, no doubt, to any men who might criticise this new ‘sport’ and the secret and sinister culture that surrounds it. McDonnell and Wilson are surely just two more innocent victims of the menacing DARK WORLD of ROLLER DERBY, and the HELL-WOMEN who partake in it. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
    REPORTER: JACK HALIBUT-JONES

Auld Reekie Roller Girls 349 – Brighton Rockers Roller Derby 89

Photos by SCOTT CARROLL
    https://www.facebook.com/ScottCarrollLivePhotography

BRIGHTON ROCKERS are next in action on November 23rd, when they take on Birmingham’s Central City Rollergirls in Haywards Heath.
    https://www.facebook.com/events/647691741929370/

On the same day, AULD REEKIE will be hosting one of their popular Edinburgh boot camps, with a few places still available.
    https://www.facebook.com/events/555244554542884/