Brighton Rockers AllStars v Newcastle B Preview (inc Batter C Report)

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PREVIEW: SATURDAY 30TH APRIL
BRIGHTON ROCKERBILLIES v HOODLUM GANG B
BRIGHTON ROCKERS v NEWCASTLE WHIPPIN’ HINNIES

You wait five months for a Brighton Rockers home event then two come along in a row. Yes, following on from this Saturday April 30th’s double header in Haywards Heath, the Rockers will be back in action 22 days later (on Sunday 22nd May) against local-ish rivals Croydon. We’ll have a full preview of the May game closer to the time, but for now let’s look at what to expect from this coming Saturday. Tickets are available online until some point tomorrow (Friday 29th) priced at £10 adults, £8 students and free for under-12s. Although there will be tickets available on the door, a special 4-for-the-price-of-3 deal is only available online.
    Doors open at 2pm at the Rockers’ usual venue, the Dolphin in Haywards Heath. Anyone who hasn’t been to the Dolphin before, it’s one of the top roller derby venues in the country (the likes of Eastbourne, Croydon and Men’s Team England have also used it) and is seven minutes walk from Haywards Heath station. Turn left in front of the station and follow signs stuck to lampposts, or point your Sat Nav at RH16 1LY if driving. There’s a cafe in the lesure centre lobby – although it will run out of booze before the end of the first game – along with vending machines. There’s also a big Sainsbury’s with ATMs halfway between the train station and venue.
    Unlike the previous home double header the B-team Rockerbillies are scheduled to be the first game this time. They’ll be taking on the Hoodlum Gang (a mixed league challenge team run by the Hoodlum Fang fashion label) at 2.35pm. This will be Hoodlum Gang’s first ever game, so we don’t have any way to predict a result for this one. Teams such as Dorset, Suffolk and Southampton are represented in the Hoodlum squad, and the Rockerbillies are giving debuts to several new players, so it should be an interesting match-up all round and a chance to look out for stars of the future.
    The day’s main event at 4.40pm sees Brighton’s A-team AllStars take on the Whippin’ Hinnies B-team of Newcastle Roller Girls. Newcastle’s A-team are the highest ranked English team in the UK Roller Derby Association and have already won the 2016 British Championships (with two gamedays to go!), so it’s fair to say their B-team are going to be a tough challenge for the Brighton AllStars. The Whippin’ Hinnies are currently ranked 60th in Europe on 592.0 points, whilst the Rockers are 69th on 580.3. These positions have changed slightly from those in our fanzine (61st/67th) but the points and thus predictions remain the same. Hinnies are given 53% chance of the win with an expected differential of 49:47 equating to something like a 141-147 away win. Wowsers!
    Brighton have high hopes going into the Newcastle game. The Rockers performed above rankings expectations in their previous outing, last month’s game away to Batter C Power in Tottenham. We have a full report on that match-up below, so give it a read and we’ll see you on Saturday. Don’t forget to pick up your free copy of our fanzine Turn Left on the door. This issue features exclusive interviews with Rockers stars Skate Bush, Speedy Gonzalex and Bionic Betty, plush several Whippin’ Hinnies and the boss of Hoodlum Fang/Gang. There’s also an inside report from our spy in the current Rockers Fresh Meat and loads more. Now printed on 15.38% thicker paper!

APR 30TH FB EVENT:
https://www.facebook.com/events/582731168559262/
APR 30TH TICKETS*: http://www.brightonrockers.com/#!shop/cttr
*It’s the second row of tickets (seagull image) – top row is May 22nd

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REPORT: SATURDAY 12TH MARCH
LRG BATTER C POWER v BRIGHTON ROCKERS
LRG BRAWL SAINTS v VAGINE REGIME UK

London Rollergirls events have a habit of selling out. Although this one has left it a bit late (there were a dozen quickly-snapped-up tickets remaining when the doors opened) it’s the crowdedest we’ve ever been at a derby game. Sure, we’ve been to bigger venues, but not ones where people are standing five deep behind packed rows of seating. For several Rockers players this Tottenham Green Leisure Centre audience is easily the biggest crowd they’ve played in front of.
    Flicking through the programme, whilst waiting for first whistle, there’s one name that springs out from the London Rollergirls C-team roster Brighton are facing: Thelma Track. Is that the same Thelma Track who two years ago – in the colours of Paris – put in one of the best jamming stints we’ve ever seen against Brighton? It certainly is, and we have a feeling she could be a thorn in the Rockers’ side again (although Brighton did very narrowly beat her Paris team). Sure enough Thelma is first up in the star for Batter C and hits fourteen without reply in the opening jam. Oh la la.
    Rose Bleed is first to put some points on the wall for Brighton, but the gap is sizeable at Rockers 3 – Batter C 25. It isn’t helping Brighton that they had to submit their roster for this game over a month ago. The Sussex side have had a number of injuries since then and weren’t allowed to add anyone new to the squad. Consequently the Rockers are fielding just eleven players rather than a full fourteen this evening. Gin Atomic with a great apex jump as London call it, but the points gap is still north of twenty. Batter C haven’t picked up a single penalty in the first half dozen jams, but their jammer is off now and Emma the Condemner takes advantage.
    Brighton are putting up some good defence here, but some of their skaters (Racey in particular) are quite penalty heavy in these opening exchanges. Trigger Scrappy really tenacious in the London star, whilst O’Malley (ex-LRR) throws big hits to send Shambolic flying. 59-13 to Batter C midway through the first period. Gin, Rose and Skate Bush picking up points for Brighton now, but penalties are an ongoing concern for the Rockers – Irish Mist and Obliviator the only blockers on track against Scrappy now. Big jam from Thelma Track puts London within touching distance of triple figures. Rose picks up a good haul in the final jam of the period and it’s 45-94 at half-time.

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The prediction computer expected a good London win here, and at the break Batter C are actual doing better than the predicted 8:5 differential. (45-72 rather than 94 would match the prediction.) Given that the Rockers are three short of a full squad, and that reduced squads tend to fare worse in second periods as they tire and pick up penalty foul-outs, the home team seem on course for victory by well over a hundred points here. Nobody seems to have told Brighton this though. Not only do they keep the gap below fifty for the first few jams of the second period, but they then start to reduce it. Successive scoring jams from Skate, Sham and Gin, combined with really tough Sussex walls, sees the Rockers close it down to 71-110 with twenty minutes left.
    Batter C starting to pick up a lot of jammer penalties now with the impressive Van Hustling and Scrappy off in quick succession. Brighton playing it canny. Calling the jams off with the London starhead standing; giving the next Rockers jammer those vital few seconds of power jam start. 88-128. Gin spinning around on the inside of turns one and two now as the LRG blockers chase her dust. 97-128. Tough blocking from Dr Whooligan, Chaka Carnage, Emma, Racey and others is making life hard for the London starclads. This tough blocking gets a little *too* tough as a clockwise block from Chaka is deemed ‘egregious’ (whatever that means) and she is expelled from the game. Oops.
    Just ten players now for Brighton with eight minutes left on the clock. Gin makes it 125-154, but Batter C get the better of the final five minutes and take the game by 172 points to 132. It’s a defeat for the Rockers, but a defeat that feels very much like a victory. Not only did they effectively win the second half 87-78* but the final score’s differential is roughly half what the rankings suggested. Indeed, this loss will actually see Brighton climb three places in the European table overnight (from 70th to 67th). “Wow, that’s the best I’ve seen Brighton play in ages,” one Sussex based neutral tells us. We can but concur. So how will the resurgent Rockers do against the B-team of British Champions Newcastle this Saturday? We can’t wait to find out.
[*NB that’s a palindromic number which, according to roller derby tradition, means everyone reading this now has to neck a tequila or something.]

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For now – jumping back to March in Tottenham in this time travelling narrative – we settle down to watch LRG’s B-team Brawl Saints take on LGBTQ challenge side Vagine Regime UK. These two teams met at the same venue last year. VRUK took the win then by the narrowest of margins: 133-130. Initially this one looks like it’s going to be a more definitive affair, VRUK racking up seventeen without reply, but the first lead change of the day (23-22 to LRG) quickly tilts expectations back to it being super-close. There are lots of well known faces from London’s other league LRR in the Vagine squad, and many of these – Jack Attack, Rammit, Hunter and Pand’Assassin – will form the heart of the visitors’ jammer rotation.
    It’s a very defensive game here with Brawl Saints co-captain Sophia Ho Chee particularly sturdy in the home packs. VRUK’s own captain is London Rollergirls blocking icon Raw Heidi, whose knowledge of the home side’s squad could prove useful here. Brawl Saints are starting to dominate now with the likes of Magic Beanz and Thelma Track (back on track after a great game against Brighton) gathering a decent haul of points. The tough packs on both sides are keep scores fairly low in general, though. LRG go into the break with a 69-57 lead.
    The home team’s other co-captain, Carley McAdam, is arguably their biggest jamming threat. She gets the second period underway with a six point jam against England star Vic Tori Bee. 75-57*. [*Drink more tequila.] Rammit proving very resilient in defence for VRUK, but Thelma is ducking and diving through their packs. Tori Bee backwards skating her way through the London pack now. Rammit takes a jam 17-8 but Brawl Saints are leading 116-86 with half a half left. Power jam for Pand’Assassin with Beanz off and all of a sudden Vagine have pulled it back to 116-105!
    119-114 now. Though it’s a home game for Brawl Saints, around two thirds of this crowd, including most of the Rockers contingent, are cheering for the visitors. 124-118. Official review changes it to 124-119. LRG still keeping their noses in front, but only just. Momentum is with VRUK with six minutes left. Lola Vulkano (a Brawl Saint here playing for Vagine Regime) has the crowd on their feet as she takes the visitors into the lead. 124-126. Next jam and another lead change. 128-127 to London. Time for another? Seconds left. 136-137 to Vagine now. Ohmigawd. Whistles sound. No-one but the refs 100% sure what the score is. Wait for the board to update. VRUK have taken it 143-136 in the very last jam. Wow!
    As everybody drifts off to the nearest pub to get their breath back, let’s wind forward to the present day to remind you of this: If the online predictor is right then this Saturday’s Brighton Rockers v Newcastle Whippin’ Hinnies game is going to be just as close and exciting as the Brawl Saints v VRUK match-up we just described. So buy a ticket. And bring some Valium.

APR 30TH FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/582731168559262/
APR 30TH TICKETS*: http://www.brightonrockers.com/#!shop/cttr
*It’s the second row of tickets (seagull image) – top row is May 22nd

[Photos by John Hesse]