This weekend saw another awesome double header of roller derby action in Haywards Heath. The mighty Brighton Rockers All-Stars took on Hot Wheel Roller Derby from Leeds in what was a super close battle with multiple lead changes. The game marked the final appearance of Rockers founder and UK derby legend The Mighty Mighty Bash, and the day also saw the public debut of the Rockerbillies, Brighton’s shiny new B-team, who took on a mixed league opposition. We’ll have a report on the day’s events, as well as long overdue reports on Brighton’s last two British Champs games, up on this site in the next few days. In the meantime, if you missed out on a copy of our fanzine from Saturday, click on the image above to read the online version. (Or get yourself to the Evening Star pub from 8pm today if you want to pick up one of the final few physical copies.)
1. Tickets are STILL AVAILABLE and they are SUPER CHEAP!
A double header for a single header price? Hell yeah! This Saturday (23rd May) you can catch the Brighton Rockers A-team against Leeds side Hot Wheel Roller Derby PLUS the public launch of the new Rockers B-team against a mixed opposition, all for £8 per adult ticket (£7 for students, free for under-12s). Not just that, but you can get four for the price of three. Snap them up now at the Rockers website, Brighton Fringe website or Fringe box office. Ticket sales end at 4pm on Friday. Though we expect there to be some available on the door, you won’t be able to use the 4-for-3 deal there. The venue as ever is the Dolphin leisure centre, five minutes walk from Haywards Heath train station. Doors are at 2pm, first game is at 2.50 and second game at 5.00. The leisure centre cafe sells booze and the Burrell Arms opposite the station is OK and has a huge beer garden. There’s also a big Sainsbury’s halfway between the station and venue.
2. It’s your LAST chance to watch Bash make opponents CRY!
She’s undeniably the Brighton Rockers’ most famous player. A huge driving force, Bash was the only founder member to have played the sport before, and she has been the key A-team coach pretty much throughout. She’s also the only Brighton Rocker to have played for Team England in a Roller Derby World Cup [although she skated for London Rockin’ Rollers at the time]. If you ever mention the Brighton Rockers to a derby player from anywhere in the UK, the first word they will say in reply is almost always “Bash”, usually accompanied by shuddering and the occasional whimper. Bash is quitting derby and returning to her native New Zealand after Saturday’s game, so this is your last chance to see exactly why the Rockers legend inspires fear and awe in so much of the British roller derby world; as she sends opponents flying into floors, walls and each other with terrifying glee.
3. It’s your BEST chance to see Bash herself CRY!
Like some wheeled Kiwi Terminator, Bash is a machine, but as a hundred Hollywood movies have shown us, even machines can feel emotion. Particularly when they’re getting the fantastic send-off they deserve from teammates, opponents and fans on the occasion of their last ever game. We suspect it’s gonna get a bit, y’know, emotional.
4. It’s NORTH v SOUTH in a break from CHAMPS action!
Both teams have seen 2015 dominated by their participation in British Championships, the 72 team (thirteen division) national tournament that is taking place all year. The top six teams in the country are taking part in the Tier 1 National Division, below which are two Tier 2 divisions, South and North. Brighton currently place fourth in the South division with one win and two losses in their games so far. Where are Hot Wheel in the North division? Fourth also, with the same one win and two losses record. Holy smokes Batman, this may not be an official Champs game but it’s gonna be a darn good test of the respective strengths of the Dirty North and the Sexy South. Especially given that both teams admit to knowing “absolutely nothing” about the other.
5. The STATS NERDS reckon it’s going to be SUPER CLOSE!
The Rockers currently place 14th in the UKRDA ranking table with 625.7 points, while Hot Wheel are 11th on 651.4. The online prediction machine at Flattrackstats gives the visitors 64% chance of the win and predicts a differential of 51:44 in their favour. This would equate to a typical scoreline in the region of a 176-204 away win, which is close enough to be “too close to call” in this sport. This match-up has been a long time coming (indeed there were attempts to put it on last year) and is sure to be well worth the wait!
6. Racey is BACK ON TRACK and itching for a FIGHT!
As the Rockers bid farewell to one of their Antipodean stars, another returns to the track. It’s welcome back to the A-team for former captain and director Racey. She said she intended to return to skating then training then the All-Stars roster as soon as possible after babying, and we make it about twelve weeks in total. Normally when people talk about a “competitive mum” they mean in relation to their offspring’s achievements. We suspect the phrase has a different meaning where Racey’s concerned. You can find out by watching her dispense the awesomes on Saturday!
7. There’s a whole NEW GENERATION of Rockers to MEET!
You will have seen a few new Rockers in the mixed opener if you attended the Team Dragon game in February. This time round there’s going to be even more on display as we get to meet some fairly new to bouting members of last year’s Fresh Meat intakes. Skate Bush was part of the A-team squad (and jamming roster) against Windsor in British Champs earlier this month, alongside other up-and-coming skaters such as Obliviator and Irish Mist. With Bash departing and others taking time out there are gaps to fill in future All-Stars squads. Here’s your chance to check out some of those vying for these places, whether they’re playing for the A-team or for… see next paragraph.
8. There’s a BRAND NEW Rockers team to CHECK OUT!
Oh yes indeed. The last time a Rockers B-team (the Bruisers) played an open door game in Sussex was 805 days ago – more than two years. The league hasn’t had any sort of B-team for much of the intervening period, and this Saturday sees the first public appearance of a brand new B-team. The Rockerbillies will feature a few A-teamers, such as Chaka Carnage (who many have described as “a Bash in the making”) and jamming star Kapow, who is returning to action after “getting injured by some books” (ie a studying break). There will also be a raft of new and newer skaters to catch up with. Their mixed opponents have been drawn from teams across the South East plus, er, the Canary Islands. Be sure to give the Rockerbillies a rousing reception; Brighton have been without a B-team for far too long…
9. You can pick up a FREE COPY of issue ten of OUR MAG!
Yep, somehow our tawdry fanzine has made it to double figures. Hurrah! Inside this issue several Rockers stars share their own Top Tens with us; we have an exclusive interview with Bash about her Rockers career; there’s all the info you need from Hot Wheel; predictions from someone who recently played against both sides; several B-team interviews and much more. Find out which Rocker said “they use wee to keep their clothes shiny” and who exactly they are talking about, which B-teamer elicits a “phwoar” from Cake or Death, and who has “a wonderful drunk eye”. All this and more in the new Turn Left – the only place to pick up your free copy is on the door at Saturday’s event.
10. There’s NOTHING MORE EXCITING you could do on Saturday!
Er, unless you’re planning to skydive from a burning orbital space station, free falling as you karate kick your way through six flocks of pterodactyls armed with head-mounted lasers, before landing in an erupting volcano, successfully rescuing a family of talking squirrels from a swarm of vampire Bonos, then disabling an Armageddon advice using only your nose (with just one second to spare). Even then, we think the derby probably edges it.
[Photos by Jason Ruffell of http://www.roller-derby-on-film.co.uk/]
BUY TICKETS HERE: http://www.brightonrockers.com/#!shop/cttr
OR HERE: http://boxoffice.brightonfringe.org/events-and-film/9045/live-roller-derby-brighton-rockers
FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1427972870840449/
HOT WHEEL: http://hotwheelrollerderby.co.uk/
This Saturday (May 9th) sees the action resume in the Tier 2 UKRDA National South division of British Champs. The more astute amongst you might have noticed that we haven’t actually posted our report on the previous game day in Southend yet. Er, we’re saving it up to post as a double report alongside our write-up of this weekend’s awesomes in Bristol, yeah? (We will put it up soon, promise.) Suffice to say Royal Windsor continued their inexorable haulage of points to cement their place at the top of the division, whilst Brighton went down to regular tournament nemesis Bristol by the tiniest of margins.
Saturday’s action takes place on the University of the West of England campus close to Bristol’s Parkway station in the far North of the City. Doors open at 1.30pm, with the hosts taking on Portsmouth Roller Wenches at 2.30 followed by Brighton v Royal Windsor Roller Girls. Tickets are available online until midnight today (Friday) priced £8 adults and £4 kids. They should be available on the door too. It’s probably too late to offer public transport tips now. Suffice to say Bristol is in a Westerly direction and if you bought train tickets early enough you could do it for about £12 each way. There are at least three ways to get there by train from Sussex; into London and out from Paddington, via the Gatwick-Reading corridor, or along the coast changing somewhere in Hampshire.
Portsmouth have only played one Champs game so far, but place above bottom due to the Seaside Sirens’ heavy points against column. Bristol are just above in fourth place after their win over the Rockers. The Wenches could actually leapfrog the Westerners if they win by 28 or more points. Royal Windsor have taken full points so far and sit on top of the table with just shy of a +500 points differential, so this will be a tough game for the third place Rockers. Unfortunately we can’t give you the usual prediction percentages for these games from Flattrackstats as their online predictor isn’t working right now. Gah! So let’s hear from some of the teams instead…
BLACK THORN – BRISTOL ROLLER DERBY CAPTAIN
Hi. You currently lie mid-table in the National South with one win and one loss. Has your Champs campaign gone the way you were expecting?
We felt strong against LRR and knew we had a good chance against Brighton. We made it hard on ourselves and our supporters in the crowd by reducing a 20 point lead to four points in the last jam, but are delighted to have a win on the board. We came into this group ranked the lowest of the six teams after a poor run of results through 2014, so one of our aims was to prove we were stronger than our ranking suggested and that we deserved to be in this tier. We think we have achieved this.
You’re taking on Portsmouth Roller Wenches, who are currently without a win. Have you met them before? What do you know of them?
You know that poor run of results in 2014 I was just talking about? The Portsmouth game came smack in the middle of this, and remains a low point in my personal derby career. We were in a massive transitional period. We had some great new players, but hadn’t quite worked out their roles in the team, and I gave what is perhaps the worst half time speech in history. Needless to say, Portsmouth won! The actual game is a bit of a blur, but we are aware that they have some big names and great players that we have come across on the mixed scrim/bootcamp circuit, and we are looking forward to pitting our strongest selves against them.
Any particular Bristol players or tactics people should keep an eye out for? Would you care to predict the result?
I’d like to give some love to our bench team of Shi No Kamo and Haley Flammable. If you’re interested in tactics in roller derby, then keep an eye on them and how they control the run of the game with their decision making and responsiveness. The importance of an astute and consistent bench team is very underrated in roller derby, but our ability to turn a game around (or more recently to not completely squander a lead!) is in a large part down to this pairing. And no, I wouldn’t care to predict the result!
The day’s other game sees Brighton take on table toppers Royal Windsor. How do you expect that one to go?
This will be a fascinating match up and we’re all looking forward to relaxing and enjoying our birthday whilst watching. Windsor dominated over Seaside in Southend in the most convincing of fashions, and we are very familiar with Brighton’s strengths. It’s hard to ignore a performance like Windsor’s versus Seaside, but for our prospects in the future of this tier we’re hoping for a Brighton win!
You’re hosting Saturday’s event, which we understand is also your fifth birthday bash. What can you tell us about the venue? Anything special planned for the day?
The venue is the University of the West of England’s Centre for Sport. It’s a return to an old venue for us, having played most of our open games recently across the dual carriageway at the Wise campus. UWE lacks a few of the benefits of Wise (for example no tiered seating), but we have some creative chair layout plans to make up for this, and the venue has the benefits of a larger car park and a hall big enough to fit the merch stalls (which are relegated to the foyer at Wise). The hall itself is unlicensed, but an attached shop sells booze – you’ll just have to drink it on the grass outside. As for special plans, if you thought we were loud with thirty people in London, then wait to see the level of noise we can generate on our home turf.
What can we expect from the after party? Is Stokes Croft really as full of hipsters as people think?
Absolutely. Feared by franchises and chain stores and adored by hipsters, Stokes Croft is Bristol values in a nutshell. Just down the road from the after party you can put your head around the door at the Art for Africa Auction (https://www.facebook.com/events/1556780017924664/) and witness some of Bristol’s graffiti writers and artists in action. Banksy will be there. Probably.
NO REPLY RECEIVED – PORTSMOUTH ROLLER WENCHES
SWANN, GIN ATOMIC & DERBY McGEE – BRIGHTON ROCKERS
The Rockers currently sit in mid table in National South with a win and a (very narrow) loss? Has your Champs campaign gone the way you expected so far?
We’ve had a lot of player movement this season, with some usual suspects taking breaks and some new faces popping up, so it’s been a bit of an experimental year so far. As such we’ve not really had any expectations re our performance in the tournament. One highlight was definitely the last few minutes of the Bristol game – two final jams, a handful of power line ups and a mega close score!
You’re taking on the divisional leaders Royal Windsor on Saturday? Any particular RWRG players or tactics you’ll be looking out for?
We played Windsor when we first started as a closed door game. We were very green and it was a fantastic game. A lot has changed since then. Windsor are an experienced, well trained and cohesive team. They played in the States recently and that shows them to be an ambitious and successful league. We have been studying their players and have our eyes on a few, but really it is their teamwork that people will notice.
Any particular Brighton players people should keep an eye out for on Saturday?
We’ve got a few newer faces on the roster this time, so I’d definitely say it’s worth looking out for them. They’ve all worked really hard and have been doing a lot of training outside of regular practice, so I’m sure they’ll impress!
The day’s other game sees hosts Bristol take on Portsmouth Roller Wenches. How do you expect that one to go?
I think that’ll be a great game to watch. Both teams have some really solid blockers and really agile jammers. Whatever happens both teams are real fighters, so will be giving everything they’ve got right up until the last whistle.
Finally, what are your hopes for the rest of the 2015 Champs campaign?
Obviously we want to score all the points and do all the winning. Isn’t that what all teams want?! We’re also looking at working with our new team dynamic over the next few games and really cementing our teamwork.
ROLLIN STONE R – ROYAL WINDSOR ROLLER GIRLS COACH
Windsor currently top the divisional table, having scored a whopping 760 points in two games. Things going the way you expected?
We didn’t expect that! But we’re really pleased with how it’s gone so far.
What do you know of Saturday’s opponents, the Brighton Rockers?
Brighton played our B-team once. We know that they’re awesome. We will be watching out for Bash!
Any particular Windsor players or tactics people should keep an eye out for?
Our main tactic is teamwork so we hope that all of our players will be a threat. Our goal is to take the victory, but we know that Brighton could end our winning run.
Any thoughts on the Bristol v Portsmouth game?
Both are really strong teams and it’s anyone’s game. Blizzard is deadly and RIP McMurphy is a double threat.
Finally, what are your hopes for the rest of your Champs campaign?
We hope to keep winning but we’ve got tough games to come. We never count our chickens!
[Photos by John Hesse]