The Rockers have hosted a lot of exciting derby events, but perhaps none as pivotal as the ones coming up at the Dolphin this Saturday (11th July) and Sunday 9th August. British Championships is a 72-team thirteen division national derby tournament which launched this year. Brighton are in one of the two second divisions (Tier 2 South) and are hosting this division’s final two Game Days. These are the events that will confirm which two of T2 South’s six teams will progress to Playoffs (meeting T2 North sides in the hope of promotion to the top flight) and which two will be relegated to the third tier.
Although the final day, Game Day 7 which features all six of the divisional sides in a mammoth triple header event, might seem the bigger deal, in fact an awful lot could be decided at this Saturday’s Day 6. For starters the first game sees the two unbeaten sides, London Rockin’ Rollers and Royal Windsor Rollergirls, face off. One of these will lose their unbeaten status whilst the other will all but guarantee their spot in Playoffs. The second game pitches the hosting Rockers against Portsmouth Roller Wenches. If Brighton win this game they guarantee at least safety from relegation (plus a fairly remote chance of making Playoffs) whilst simultaneously relegating Portsmouth and Southend’s Seaside Sirens. Ouch!
A win for Portsmouth would give them a slightly better chance of final day survival than the Rockers, since the Wenches have an easier final game (v bottom place Sirens) than Brighton, who will face LRR. Sirens and Bristol Roller Derby are sitting out this day, but will no doubt be following events closely – particularly Bristol, who have an eye on pipping LRR to the second Playoff place. The action takes place at the Dolphin in Haywards Heath, with doors at 2pm. Tickets are £10 for adults, £8 students, free for under 12s. These are available online via the link at the bottom of this piece (look for the double header ones, as August’s £12 triple header is also on sale) until 4pm tomorrow Friday 10th. They can also be bought on the door for the same price, but a “4 for the price of 3” deal is only available online.
Before we hear from players, neutrals and prediction computers about Saturday’s two epic games, we’ll give you a quick summary of the last T2 Game Day, which took place three weeks ago in Havant. Although Brighton sat that day out, the results have set the table up in the exciting way it is going into Saturday. (NB: If you’re wondering why we don’t have a write-up of the Rockers’ May friendly against T2 North’s Hot Wheel RD on this site, we felt Bash’s swansong deserved a wider local audience, so we wrote it up for our friends at Brighton Source instead. You can find a link to it at the bottom of this piece.)
DAY 5 REPORT: HAVANT @ 20TH JUNE 2015
Attendances at this season’s Champs games have fluctuated wildly, and today’s crowd in Hampshire is much smaller than we were expecting. Of course, there’s simply so much derby happening in the UK these Champs-packed days that potential spectators are becoming increasingly thinly-spread. Indeed, the two Game Days Brighton will host both clash with high profile London Rollergirls events. We rather suspect that the Government has something to do with today’s low crowd, though. A quarter of a million people are marching through London to protest against austerity, and given the typical demographic of roller derby folk (particularly in terms of politics and professions) it’s highly likely some are missing from the crowd today due to that.
First up on track are hosts Portsmouth and LRR. With three players (including Betty Swollox) recently retired, and iconic Jack Attack watching from the sidelines with a strapped-up leg, LRR are going through one of those ‘transitional’ phases that derby leagues have. Saying that, there’s still enough top level talent on track for them to jam in two points for every one the Wenches get in this first period, which ends 117-60 to the visitors. Rammit responsible for a fair chunk of those, with Nina Nunchucks and RIP McMurphy hitting back for the Wenches.
It’s a very physical game with the likes of Von Bitch and Obnoxious Li putting it about for LRR, and Dropkick Molly and Wheelma Flintstone steely in defence for PRW. McMurphy picks up a broken nose from VB, acquiring a hockey mask and losing her face paint as a result, then plays a big part in a spirited second half Wenches fight back. It’s not enough and LRR take the game 207-144 to maintain their unbeaten record and stay just behind Windsor on points difference in the table.
We find some signs pointing towards a leisure centre bar, and excitedly follow them to find a proper bar with tables and comfy chairs and… its shutters down. There is a cafe attached that’s open, but despite the server’s best efforts on our behalf, his supervisor won’t let him unlock the bar bit to sell us a beer. We’ve often moaned in these reports (perhaps misunderstanding the point of leisure centres in the process) about venues that don’t have bars. Now we’ve discovered something even worse. One that does have a bar, but won’t open it. Aaagh!
After a brief libation at Wetherspoons (five minutes down the road and home to today’s after party) we return for the Bristol v Sirens game. The former have been responsible for the season’s key surprise result so far – a squeaky (four point) victory over Brighton on Day 3 – and they’ll pull out another surprise today. Not that they weren’t expected to win against Sirens, with the numerically disadvantaged Southend side propping up the division after a series of heavy losses. It’s the scale of Bristol’s win that comes as a surprise. Force Ten Gail and Ella Gnaw eke out what points they can for the Seasiders, but tough Black Thorn and all-over-the-track President Garfield defend hard.
Meanwhile, Delta Strike, Lil’ Miss Bloodlust and others power Bristol to a 498-122 win. Yowsers! That’s better even (differentially) than league leaders Windsor managed against Sirens, and it’s a shame there are so few BRD fans here to see it. They normally travel in numbers and volume, so their scarcity at what must be their closest away venue (in this division) is striking. Maybe they’re all shouting at Big Ben. The loudest support in the second game comes from the LRR squad cheering on Sirens. A look at the table suggests why. Bristol’s huge margin of victory takes them above LRR and into second place. There’s still everything to play for at Game Days 6 and 7. Speaking of which…
DAY 6 PREVIEW: LRR V ROYAL WINDSOR (2.40PM)
JACK ATTACK, LRR: “We’ve played Windsor a few times over the years and I think they are going to be the most challenging of all the Champs games. We’re totally prepared for it, though, so I think it’s going to be a really good close game. I certainly can’t predict the result as you never know what might happen on the day, but we’ve got a brand new All Stars team with some great new talent as well as veterans.”
CLE-BLAM-O, WINDSOR: “We’re looking forward to playing LRR. They are a lovely team, but we know we need to watch out as they are also a tricky team with some really good players. At Royal Windsor we’re all about the team work. You’re only as strong as your weakest player, but luckily all of RWRG are FIERCE. Bring it on!”
ELLA GNAW, SEASIDE SIRENS: “Windsor’s Riley Cyrus is relentlessly strong backwards blocking and the packs waterfalling made it very tough for our jammers when we played them. They also have a tactic of running the jam clock on to get the points on the board. LRR are just lovely to watch on the track and they look like they enjoy every second. Deadly DeVito’s offence for her jammers is difficult to ignore, and the team’s ability to switch to offence is quick and effective.”
FLATTRACKSTATS.COM: The continued lack of a neutral option on the online predictor means we had to run this through twice, with each side at home, then split the difference. RWRG are ranked 7th in UKRDA on 663.6 points, with LRR in 15th (625.1). Windsor are given an 80% predicted chance of victory with an expected differential of 3:2. This would work out as something like a 270-180 win to the Berkshire side. A prediction based on the European or WFTDA rankings actually favours Windsor even more (90% win chance and 44:27 differential). The above differs from the predictions in Saturday’s fanzine, which are based on marginally older rankings.
DAY 6 PREVIEW: BRIGHTON ROCKERS v PORTSMOUTH (4.45PM)
SWANN, BRIGHTON: “We’ve only played at the same Game Day at PRW once this year, so we’ve not seen too much of them lately. I seem to remember them having some quite aggressive offence the last time we played them, so we’ll be looking out for that. Dropkick Molly is my one to watch. She’s really consistent and clean and that’s all very valuable in a good player. Our ones to watch? Skate Bush and Irish Mist are coming on in leaps and bounds; they impress me more with every game.”
ADMIRAL, PORTSMOUTH: “We know Brighton really well and have seen them grow since their foundation. For obvious reasons we can’t say too much about strategy, beyond saying that we will be expecting the Rockers to deliver tough walls, hard hits and great jamming. Wenches will be bringing their usual mix of character, flair and spirit. We are super excited to have Peggy Peril back with us, and our newer skaters have really been doing great stuff. Tactics wise, the crowd will have to wait and see!”
BLACK THORN, BRISTOL RD: “I think there are more similarities than differences between these two teams. Their jamming styles are physical and their blocking is brutal. Both teams managed to disrupt our slow controlled defence when we played them, and they forced us into a more physical style of play, resulting in higher than average penalty counts. Both teams also came away with not too different results against Windsor. I’m expecting a physical and relatively evenly-matched game.”
FLATTRACKSTATS.COM: Using the online predictor on the second game, with Brighton given home advantage, sees the Rockers (16th in UKRDA on 620.8 points) given 84% chance of victory over Portsmouth (23rd, 588.2). Expected differential of 17:11 would equate to something like a 204-132 home win. The European rankings give a fractionally different prediction of 83% Brighton win on a 47:31 differential. Obviously, all these predictions are based on past performances, and don’t reflect which players may or may not be available on the day. Again these numbers differ slightly (by 1-2%) from the earlier version in Saturday’s fanzine.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY (MANY THANKS TO)
Game Day 5: Graeme Willetts
Final Pic: John Hesse
FACEBOOK EVENT FOR SATURDAY
TICKETS FOR SATURDAY (PAGE 2 ‘DOUBLE HEADER’ ONES)
THE ROAD TO PLAYOFFS
BRITISH CHAMPS WEBSITE
SATURDAY’S LIVE TWITTER FEED
ROCKERS V HOT WHEELS (MAY 23RD) REPORT