LIVE DERBY OUTDOORS – Two Rockers Teams At EASTBOURNE EXTREME This Saturday!

The mighty Rockers have a super busy summer ahead. On August 5th they will be skating in the Brighton Pride parade. On July 22nd (Saturday week) they’ll be hosting a special fundraising music and quiz night at the Latest Musicbar – see the links below for details. Before both of those events, however, this very weekend they will be taking part in Eastbourne Extreme. Europe’s only outdoor roller derby tournament takes place over two days (Saturday and Sunday) on Eastbourne seafront. This year the Rockers A-team and B-team will both be in action on the Saturday. That’s this Saturday, July 15th.

The B-team Rockerbillies kick off proceedings with a game against a specially formed Eastbourne Extreme Team (players from a variety of leagues) at the early hour of 10am. The A-team Rockers AllStars will take on Eastbourne Roller Derby’s Bourne Bombshells at 4pm. In between there are games featuring Eastbourne’s men’s, juniors and co-ed teams, with two sevens tournaments (women’s and open to all) on the Sunday. See the flyer halfway down this preview for the full schedule.

The event takes place on public sports courts at Fisherman’s Green on Eastbourne seafront, roughly halfway between the Pier and Marina. Admission is totally free for spectators, with toilet facilities and food outlets close by. You can bring in your own booze etc – there’s a Spar, Tesco Express and Co-op about four minutes walk inland – and sun cream is advisable. There’s a ticketed after party (£8) right by the derby venue on the Saturday, whilst Sunday’s (free entry) is at the Crown & Anchor pub near the Pier.

Trains from Brighton to Eastbourne are at 32 and 52 past on Saturday. The 32 is much faster (takes half an hour) but is usually only two carriages and can get quite busy, so arrive early for a decent seat. A day return is £7.20 with a railcard or you can get the number 12 bus (which takes much longer) for £6.50 return. The venue is around 25 mins walk from the train station. Point your map app at BN22 7AA. There’s a big car park adjacent (£4.80 all day) as well street parking on inland side streets.

PREDICTIONS AND THAT
[Skip this section if you don’t want to know how the prediction sites expect these games to go.] Since the Rockerbillies are facing a challenge team specifically created for the event, we have no way of predicting the result of that one. As for the Rockers v Bombshells contest, using the UKRDA rankings on Flattrackstats the Rockers (23rd place on 595.0 points) are huge favourites over the Bombshells (58th on 422.7). Brighton are given 98% chance of victory with a 26:5 differential working out as something like a 260-50 Rockers win. The European rankings on FTS have the Rockers 72nd (593.4 pts) and Bombshells 233rd (479.3). Using these figures the prediction drops slightly to 95% chance of a Brighton win, with a 29:10 differential suggesting a 232-80 type scoreline.

The Scottish Roller Derby blog’s worldwide rankings (Brighton 383rd, Eastbourne 1109th) suggest pretty much the same as Flattrackstats. It should be pointed out, however, that this will be the first outdoor game for most of the Rockers, whereas Eastbourne have hosted and played in a number of games at this venue already this summer. The prediction algorithms are geared up for traditional sports hall games, rather than the variables that outdoors and tarmac bring into the mix, so we’re expecting a much closer game. But what do the Rockers expect? Let’s find out…

RACEY – BRIGHTON ROCKERS

Last month’s trip to Ireland resulted in two Rockers wins: 173-157 v Limerick and 453-65 v Belfast. That Belfast result is Brighton’s biggest points haul and margin of victory EVER. What are your thoughts on those games (and the trip overall) and were you expecting such a big win?
Aren’t we the best!? Still on a massive high from that weekend. We knew Limerick was going to be the tougher game, so to get that win under our belts first meant we were on cloud nine. We went into the Belfast game super confident. We had been working really hard for months on our defensive walls and offence. To see it all come together brilliantly in those games was so satisfying. The weekend as a whole was cracking; we managed to survive our murder house accommodation and snagged the only hot sunny weather Ireland has seen since 350BC.

This Saturday sees both the A-team and B-team in action outdoors at Eastbourne Extreme. The Rockerbillies face a mixed league opposition at 10am. Any thoughts?
I’m expecting big things from our Rockerbillies! Their skills have really developed over the past few months especially, and they are now playing at a really competitive level. One of their major strengths, I think, are their derby brains; they are super switched on when it comes to tactics and reading the game.

The A-team face the Bourne Bombshells at 4pm in probably the highest profile game of the entire Extreme weekend. What are you expecting from that contest?
I don’t really like to go into games with any expectations. I just want us to play our best game and the results will be what they will be. We haven’t played Eastbourne in a very long time, and most of us haven’t skated Extreme before so it is a bit of an unknown. They are our derby neighbours though and we know each other well so it is going to be a fun game to play for sure.

How does playing roller derby outdoors on tarmac differ from games in sports halls?
Well, I’ve skated outdoors a whole bunch of times, but never actually played derby outside. I’ve been wanting to play Extreme for a long time to have a chance to try it out. I imagine sharp stops are going to be interesting. I know we get to wear sunglasses, which is fabulous.

What are your expectations for Eastbourne Extreme in general (both on and off track)?
I’ve been to Extreme a bunch of times and it is always such a great day out. Sunshine, skating, seafront – what else could you want?

[Photo by John Hesse]

LINKS
EASTBOURNE EXTREME 15TH & 16TH JULY
FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1124805250982415/
BRIGHTON ROCKERS FUNDRAISER 22ND JULY
FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/286286108483695/

ROCKERS vs BELLES and BEES – Looking Ahead To This Sunday’s Derby Action!

The mighty Brighton Rockers are back in action in Haywards Heath this Sunday (14th May). The A-team recovered from their heavy loss at home to Vienna in March, thumping Portsmouth away a few weeks later to get back most of the ranking points they’d shed since the start of the year. They will be taking on the Hell’s Belles from Hertfordshire at 2.35pm on Sunday, with the B-team Rockerbillies facing Suffolk Bees (the Suffolk Roller Derby B-team, obvs) at 4.55pm. Doors are at 2pm and tickets are available online from the link at the bottom of this piece, priced £10 adults, £8 students, free for under 12s. There will be tickets available on the door, but the special 4-for-the-price-of-3 deal is online only.

The venue is the Dolphin Leisure Centre. Car users should point their Sat Navs at RH16 1LY, while it’s only five minutes walk west from the train station. This being a Sunday, engineering work means there are fewer trains to Haywards Heath than usual, just two an hour from Brighton (and a couple more via Hove). The pub outside the station, the Burrell Arms, is OK for a pint or two, and the nearest ATM is at the big Sainsbury’s halfway between the venue and station. Whilst the cashpoint is outside, should you need anything from the supermarket itself, bear in mind that it shuts at 4pm (ie before the end of the first game) on Sunday. Enough blather, have some stats…

FLATTRACKSTATS.COM PREDICTS
Skip these two paragraphs if you don’t like to know predictions ahead of a game. Having reclaimed most of their lost ranking, the Rockers A-team currently place 99th in Europe on 554.4 points. Hell’s Belles are not far behind in 102nd (553.9 points). FTS give Brighton 56% chance of victory here, with a 13:12 predicted differential suggesting something like a 195-180 home win. Switch to the UKRDA ranking system – which doesn’t factor in Brighton’s recent big losses to European sides – and the Rockers (24th) are given a whopping 86% chance of beating the Belles (38th). Predicted differential here is 29:16 which is a 232-128 type victory margin.

Moving on to the second game, the B-team Rockerbillies place 307th in Europe (454.9 ranking points), below the Suffolk Bees who are 279th (463.7). Home advantage almost bridges that gap, but not quite! FTS reckons this is going to be a close one, with the visitors given 51% chance of victory and the closest predicted differential we’ve ever seen: 78-77. That suggests something like a 234-231 away win. Yowsers! Now let’s hear from the teams…

“I used to know a bit about Hell’s Belles back in my days with the Milton Keynes Concrete Cows, but that was many years ago and a lot has no doubt changed. I’ve had the customary check on Flattrackstats and see that they’ve recently played against Rebellion. Now we lost to Rebellion by one point, whereas Hell’s Belles played them and lost by 204 points. Make of that what you will, I ain’t sayin’ nuffin’. The crowd should look out for Fellen E Assault and Cruelty Spree on track – this will be their first open door A-team game.”
KAPOW – BRIGHTON ROCKERS

“I know the Rockers are a driven and dedicated team. I’ll be watching out for all their players and tactics. I played one of my cherry poppers at Brighton when they played Hot Wheel, so it will be awesome to see how their game has changed in the last two years. The audience should look out for Candy CaneHer in the Hell’s Belles ranks – she’s a crowd pleaser!”
STINGS LIKE ABBIE – HELL’S BELLES

“The Rockerbillies face the Suffolk Bees. Predictions? Let’s just see what happens. Playing regular games for B-teams is super important for all areas of game development, from learning the rules to putting your skating skills into practice under high pressure situations.”
KAPOW – BRIGHTON ROCKERS

“Brighton are something of an unknown quantity. We’re really just looking forward to a fun day out, a new challenge and extending some Suffolk love out into Sussex (which is where I’m from originally).”
ASTERISK – SUFFOLK BEES

Don’t forget to pick up your free copy of our magazine Turn Left on the door – this one’s a special issue in which we talk to twenty former Rockers stars!

[Photo by John Hesse]

LINKS
FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1257070474390968/
TICKETS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/shop
ROCKERS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/
HELL’S BELLES: http://www.hertsrd.co.uk/
SUFFOLK: http://www.suffolkrollerderby.com/

THE SOUTH COAST DECIDER – Portsmouth Roller Wenches v Brighton Rockers Preview

This Saturday 25th March (ie tomorrow) sees the final instalment in what has become an almost three years long best of three series between south coast roller derby titans Brighton and Portsmouth. The action takes place at Havant Leisure Centre from 3.25pm (doors at 3) with the epic A-team decider up first, followed by a first ever open door meeting between the two leagues’ B-teams. Tickets are £7 (including booking fee) from the link at the bottom of this piece. Online sales close at midnight or you can pay £8 on the door tomorrow.

Havant is on the Brighton side of Portsmouth, so it’s a short trip of around an hour by road or rail. Car users should point their Sat Navs at PO9 2AY, whilst direct trains from Brighton are at 12 and 42 past the hour. A day return to Havant costs less than £9 with a railcard. Please note that the after party is at the Wave Maiden craft beer bar in Osborne Road, Southsea, around 20 minutes walk from Portsmouth & Southsea station. Anyone travelling by train who is thinking of hitting the after party would be well advised to spend an extra quid or so to get their ticket to Portsmouth & Southsea rather than Havant (breaking your journey is allowed).

Havant Leisure Centre (NB Google may try to trick you into going to the Horizon Leisure Centre in Waterlooville instead) is around seven minutes walk north of Havant station, set amidst various civic buildings as the name Civic Centre Road might suggest. Pubs in the area are generally a bit rough and ready – the best is probably the Parchment Makers (Wetherspoons) five minutes walk south west from the station, nine from the venue. Although it’s an away game this is actually the second closest roller derby venue to Brighton (after Haywards Heath), so we hope as many Rockers fans as possible can travel across for tomorrow’s games.

PREDICTIONS & PAST RESULTS
[Skip the next two paragraphs if you don’t like reading predictions before a game.] Portsmouth’s A-team currently place 22nd in the UKRDA on 597.3 points, with the Rockers a smidgeon behind in 24th (595.0). The prediction machine at flattrackstats.com gives the Wenches 57% chance of victory here, with an expected differential of 32:29 working out at something like a 192-174 home win. FTS also offers a prediction based on the Euro rankings, but given how spangled Brighton’s placing is after recent games against continental sides we don’t dare press the button for that!

We have to use Euro rankings for the B-team game though, and these suggest the Rockerbillies are in for a challenge. Portsmouth’s B-team place 157th on 516.1 points, with the Brighton Bs 362nd on 436.4. The hosts are given a 93% chance of victory here, with an expected differential of 55:23 working out at something like a 275-115 win for Pompey B. It’s worth noting that these B-team rankings are based on a small number of games – the home side’s last ranked match was around a year ago – so they’re probably not that great an indicator re tomorrow’s second string game.

We don’t just have the FTS computer for guidance when it comes to the A-team match-up. Do past results hold an indication of what to expect? The first public game between the two leagues was exactly two years and five months ago on 25th October 2014 in Havant. The final score then was Portsmouth 159 – Brighton 221. The two sides didn’t have long to wait for a rematch. This was a British Champs game in Haywards Heath on 11th July 2015 which saw the Wenches upset the odds to effectively relegate the Rockers from Tier 2 South. Final score: Brighton 150 – Portsmouth 215.

It’s notable just how similar the scores from those two games are. A lot of time has passed since the most recent match-up, but if past scores are anything to go by both leagues have reason to be confident. Brighton can point to the fact that they are the away team – both previous games saw away wins. The Wenches meanwhile have the upper hand overall, albeit by a tiny amount. The current aggregate score is Portsmouth 374 – Brighton 371. So how is tomorrow’s decider going to play out? Head on over to Havant Leisure Centre to find out. In the meantime, let’s hear what members of both leagues are expecting…

THE DUCHESS OF CRUTCHES – PORTSMOUTH ROLLER WENCHES

On the off-chance someone reading this doesn’t know of the Portsmouth Roller Wenches, can you give us a quick summary of your history and achievements to date?
We are a six year old UKRDA league and came up alongside Brighton as “south coast sisters”. We count our growing comprehensive Fresh Meat program as one of our recent achievements, alongside spreading the word of roller derby in our local area through promotion of the league. We played two seasons in Tier 2 of British Champs but left the format to travel and play more European games. We are ranked in the top 12% of the European table and we’re big in Japan.

What are you expecting from Saturday’s A-team game against the Rockers? Care to predict the result?
I don’t think past Wench/Rocker results will be any indicator of what’s to come tomorrow. Both teams have evolved and changed so much since they last met. I can predict that both teams will want it and both teams will fight for it.

Being an hour apart on the coast the two leagues presumably know each other fairly well. Any particular Brighton players or tactics you’ll be looking out for tomorrow?
We don’t have a tendency to give too much thought to individual players, just the big picture. We are familiar with the Rockers’ most recent game play as we were able to watch them play against Vienna earlier this month.

Similarly, any particular players or tactics the audience should look out for from the Wenches A-team?
Um, I obviously won’t be divulging anything specific tactically, only to say that what we have been working on is looking tight and right. I’m sure the audience will clock the marvellous new talent we have making their A-team home debuts in this game.

The day’s second game sees a first ever meeting of the Portsmouth and Brighton B-teams. How are you expecting that one to go?
I hope this will be a fun and fulfilling game for both B-teams. Our leagues have a lot of history and these skaters are the future of both the Rockers and Wenches, so I hope they carry on the tradition. Look out for some of our Bs who are also making their Wench home debuts.

Finally, for those Rockers fans travelling across to Havant on Saturday, what can we expect from your venue? And from the after party?
There will be fabulous merch stalls including Hoodlum Fang, Skate Station and more, along with great raffle prizes and baked goods. There will be a bar and food available upstairs at the sports hall, and if we’re all lucky our sponsor Nando’s Gunwarf will be sending the Nando’s Chicken along to cheer us on! The after party takes place in the best bar in Southsea, which is of course The Wave Maiden. We really hope everyone can join us after the games for some refreshing craft beer and delicious homemade food in this skater owned and operated pub. Chances are there will also be dancing and whisky slaps. Yes, this also happens to be my bar! 🙂



SKATE BUSH – BRIGHTON ROCKERS

Care to predict the result of Saturday’s A-team game against the Wenches?
We always enjoy playing Portsmouth – they are an amazing team with super strong players – but we’re gunning for the big win. We are working on getting our rankings back this year and this is a good place for us to start.

Being south coast neighbours you presumable know the Portsmouth league quite well? Any particular players or tactics of theirs that you’ll be looking out for?
We do know each other really well. We even trade players occasionally, eg Little Miss Demeanor :o) If they’re playing we’ll be looking out for people like Nina Nunchucks, Dropkick Molly and Valkyrie Pain – she’s a brutal blocker and jammer – but we’ve been practicing taking the big hits so we are ready for them all.

Any players or tactics to look out for from the Rockers in the A-team game?
We’ve been working really hard on our walls (nothing new there) but recently we’ve taken to being really flexible in the way we form them. We’ve always been an adaptive team but that’s really improved recently. Having Finn McCruel join us last year has really upped our blocking and offensive work – so watch out for some super strong walls and some killer offense.

Any thoughts on the first ever meeting of the Portsmouth and Brighton B-teams?
Our B-team is really strong at the moment. We’ve got some amazing new players coming up through the ranks and our crossovers are a force to be reckoned with. Watch out for Farmergeddon – she’s been teaching us some of Brawling’s tricks of the trade recently.

Hopefully as many Rockers fans as possible will make the short trip along the coast on Saturday. Any message for them?
We love you. It makes such a difference having our fans cheering us on and our fans are obviously the best – plus they help us smash the after party.

Finally, any other games/events (that you can tell us about) on the horizon for the Rockers in 2017?
Our next game is away to Norfolk Brawds in April and then we’ve got a few exciting games in the pipeline but nothing confirmed yet. We’ll announce the games when they’re confirmed on our website and Facebook page, so keep an eye out.

THERE’S ANOTHER PREVIEW OF TOMORROW’S GAMES (INCLUDING THE VIEWS OF OTHER BRIGHTON AND PORTSMOUTH SKATERS) ON PAGE 14 OF OUR LATEST FANZINE. CLICK HERE FOR THE ONLINE VERSION.

[Photos by John Hesse]

LINKS
TICKETS: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2858244
FB EVENT PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/1228722217209474/
FB AFTER PARTY: https://www.facebook.com/events/1368304253189741/
ROCKERS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/
WENCHES: http://www.portsmouthrollerwenches.com/

BRATS Review Of 2016: PART THREE – The Road From ROCKCITY To The CENTRE of BRIGHTON!

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If you haven’t caught the previous instalments in our Review of the mighty Brighton Rockers in 2016, check out PART ONE (Jan-June) here and PART TWO (July-Oct) here. This third episode covers the absolute frenzy of events – virtually one every weekend – that marked the end of the year in Rockersland… Early NOVEMBER and it’s another double header in Haywards Heath for the hard-working Rockers. The A-team AllStars face Eindhoven’s Rockcity Rollers in a rematch, the Dutch side having beaten Brighton 167-140 in the playoffs of February’s Slip It tournament in Normandy. The visitors get off to a flying start, with jammers Dolly Deathstar and Marcie B helping to put them 22-0 up after four jams. Gin Atomic gets Brighton on the scoreboard in the fifth, but it’s not until a feisty 15-point power jam from Shambolic halfway through the period that the Rockers start closing the gap. Rockcity calling a team timeout when 46-36 up. The visitors have a small but very loud travelling support here, who cheer them on to a strong finish to the half (90-45) with Sham the only Brighton jammer to have really got the better of the Dutch defence.

The second half starts out the same as the first with Rockcity taking a couple of dozen points without reply, before Gin steps up to the plate. Brighton pack keeping Cat Galore back well as Gin puts almost 30 on the board. Cut track call on Dolly sees Kapow close the gap a bit more. The visitors only have eleven players here. Side effects of a small roster include not just increased tiredness in the later stages of the game, but also an increased risk of fouling out. Sure enough, Rockcity lose a player to the seven penalties rule. The slight disruption to their line-ups caused sees the Rockers clawing it back to 131-159. It’s a question of Brighton’s persistence v Eindhoven’s stamina now. Cake Or Death and Finn McCruel super tough in the black packs, Gogozilla and The Brickster likewise in the purple. The visitors have enough Dutch courage to keep their wheels in front and roll out 185-151 victors.

The Rockcity match is Gin Atomic’s last before being exiled to Japan, whilst today’s B-team game is a final Rockers showing for Lab Wrath who is moving to another league. The Rockerbillies’ opponents are a mixture of Southampton City Rollers and Basingstoke Bullets, with the two Hampshire teams having recently decided to join forces for scrims and games. We’ll call them Basinghampton and they prove sterling opposition for the Rockers Bs. It’s one of the closest games we’ve seen with the scoreline bouncing around the level (67-67, 84-85, 89-89) before some great jamming from Slap Dash edges Brighton into a 101-97 half time lead. The likes of Toil N Trouble, Evil Kin Evil and Billy Horroday throwing down hard in the white packs, with Noonz, Dolores Diablo and others hitting back for Brighton.

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Farmergeddon putting in the sort of performance that will result in an invitation to join A-team training before the year is out. Jager BombHer proving solid in the star for the visitors, reacting to a thirty point Brighton lead by taking the next jam 19-0. Jager will star up against Lab Wrath in the final jam of the game. Lab’s final game for the Rockers ends in the penalty box, but were enough Hampshire hips passed before the foul was called? Everyone nervously eyes the scoreboard as it updates with the official final score… the ‘billies have taken it 195-194 and the crowd goes super wilds. SQUEE! It’s an awesome end to a busy fortnight for roller derby at the Dolphin (Croydon staged a double header here last Saturday and Eastbourne the week before). For the Rockers AllStars, next weekend offers a small expeditionary force an intriguing trip to Basinghampton’s part of the world…

BRATS couldn’t make it to this next event, so Emma The Condemner has kindly supplied us with a report: “Avast! Mutiny On The Bouty! A derby sevens tournament hosted by Portsmouth Roller Wenches in Andover, Hampshire. True to Rockers style, our septet arrive slightly panicked (due to tremendous traffic diversions) without much of a clue of the format. It turns out there are two separate four team knockout tournaments – independent and advanced – with the Rockers seven taking part in the latter. With six games today in total, each will consist of just one 30-minute period. We get to watch two former Rockers, Bionic Betty and Feisty McGee, up against each other in the opening intermediate match, before we take to the track against the A-team of hosting PRW. We’ve come up against the Wenches on a fair number of occasions and are relieved at the absence of RIP McMurphy (now playing in the States), although we still have to contend with the likes of Nina Nunchucks, who is as terrifying and brilliant as ever. I can’t remember the score (sorry) but we take the victory. I win MVP and don’t know who else won anything because I’m massively self obsessed… and forgetful.

“The other advanced semi-final sees Team Spektacular – who only feature players wearing glasses and have the best team name we’ve ever come across – defeated by the co-ed team Hoodlum Fang Advanced. We’re becoming increasingly nervous at facing a co-ed side for the first time ever. In our favour is the fact that they’ll be coming straight off the back of a hard-hitting game against Spektacular, whereas we’re a little rested but full of lunch. The prospect of playing against a team of massive boys (and two equally scary girls) makes it very obvious to us that we have to go in for the kill from the very first second. It brings out the best in us and we play a really strong game. We know we have to keep the inside line locked down because we saw Hoodlum’s Tenacious P (the lovely announcer at Rockers home games) nip through on numerous occasion in the previous match.

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“We have Finn in lane one who really does lock it down, with one amazing hip check sending an apex jumping Savage Hun crashing to the ground. Hairy Fairy gets weirdly protective of us all and starts smashing the poop out of the opposition – which is great! Hairy later takes a much deserved MVP award for this game. Our defensive walls are working really hard all game. We know we have to battle together and keep everything as slow and controlled as possible if we’re going to be in with a chance. The nice grippy floor makes this easier. Again, I can’t remember the exact score but – while we lose – it’s by a tiny handful of points. They may have taken the win but we made them work super hard to get it!”

Thanks Emma. BRATS pick up this write-up in early DECEMBER as Haywards Heath plays host to another Rockers double header (a mere three weeks since the last one). The A-team AllStars face Milan Harpies in the first game. The crowd is fairly small today, which is to be expected since the SUPER EXCITING THING HAPPENING NEXT WEEK has meant the Rockers cannibalising their own attendance. One factor when hosting teams from overseas is that they’ll often bring a squad of fewer than fourteen – numbers reduced due to issues of travel costs, time off work, etc – especially now that Brighton are WFTDA apprentices and players must presumably come from each team’s official international roster? Rockcity had it tough (despite their victory) last month when they arrived with eleven skaters, but Milan are here with… NINE! This could get messy.

The Rockers get off to a flying start and are 76-35 up halfway through the half, as the referees tell announcer Tenacious P to be a bit quieter (the skaters can’t hear the penalty calls). Kapow v the visitors’ most effective jammer Electric Lemon next. Milan are getting plenty of lead jammer statutes here, but they’re almost always picking up a track cut straight after. Early in the second period, with Brighton 130-62 up, those penalties are making their mark. The Harpies are down to seven players now, with two fouled out and sat in the crowd. They’re not going down without a fight though, and battle their way back to 149-108 with some great jamming from Martattack. Electric is next to foul out for the Italians with Martattack following soon after. Not only have Milan lost their two biggest jamming threats but they now have only FIVE players left. The remaining Harpies must play out every jam – and the cleanest games of their lives – for the ten minutes left of this match. It’s a fantastically resilient performance from them, slightly aided by a little touchline advice from the foulees, which head ref LaserHammer tells them off for. Somehow the Fantastic Five match the Rockers point for point in the final jams, with a great apex jumping call off from Baby Razor closing out the game. Brighton take a surprisingly narrow 195-159 victory. Great work from the five Harpies.

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The day’s second game sees the Rockerbillies facing Eastbourne Roller Derby’s brand spanking new women’s B-team, the Cherry Bombs. Scorewise this is similar to the ‘billies outing against Basinghampton, with lead changes aplenty in a first half that ends with the Brighton team 91-90 in front. Crikey! Mistress is bench coaching both the A- and B-teams for the Rockers today. Eastbourne’s CalEmity fouls out early in the second period, with Obliviator (the ‘billies most dangerous jammer today) racking up a number of 10-0 jams. InnsterSlam and Elle Hound are amongst the Bombs starheads keeping things close here. Great jamming from the unyielding Chloe Colossus – back from a litany of shoulder injuries – sees Brighton establishing a 25-point lead as another Cherry (Newmatic Drill) is plucked from the penalty seats to the crowd for a foul out.

Jumping Jack Smash and T-Wrecks battling hard in the purple packs, Cruelty Spree and Jackie Jerkheart likewise in the Brighton black, as some great jamming from the likes of Yorkshire Brew-ser and Elle Hound sees the visitors claw back the lead and build one of their own. It’s 172-182 to ERD as we start the final jam. Obliviator v Brew-ser. Brighton defence super tough. Two full passes for the home starhead ties things up at 182-182. As the seconds tick down is there time for a final Rockerbillies pass? There is as the B-team ‘billies take the win by a tiny margin (186-182) for the second game in a row. Wow!

One week later and the Rockers A- and B-teams are back in action. This time they’re playing against themselves as the league splits into two factions – Team Blue and Team Black – for an exhibition game at the Corn Exchange. This is the first time roller derby has ever taken place in front of a crowd in Brighton itself… and what a crowd it is! This event is a sell-out and the packed seats cheer, scream and Mexican Wave along to the events on track as first the B-team, and then (in the second half) the A-team AllStars, battle it out in a slightly cut down – due to the size of the venue – version of derby. We won’t go into detail here as we’ve written a full report for our friends at Brighton SOURCE (click here for that) but suffice so say it’s a crazy exciting event with a super narrow victory to Team Blue, who claw back a 37-point half time deficit to win by three. This epic event might mark the end of the calendar year’s Rockers games, but it’s not the end of our Review of 2016. Keep an eye out for the final instalment (Part Four) where we’ll be cracking open the ballot box and revealing who YOU voted for as your Brighton Players of the Year…

[Photos by John Hesse]

The first EVER Sussex roller derby derby (Brighton v Eastbourne) is TOMORROW and entry is FREE!

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Crikey! The two longest running Sussex roller derby leagues are finally playing a public game against each other. It takes place tomorrow (Saturday 16th July) and is going to be amazing for all kinds of reasons, not just that it’s the first time these leagues will meet in front of a baying crowd. The game is also OUTDOORS and on the SEAFRONT (in Eastbourne) with FREE admission. You can also – unlike that pesky Dolphin these days – bring in your own cans of beer. The game takes place tomorrow lunchtime (first whistle is at 12.30pm, so set your alarms) and pits Brighton’s B-team Rockerbillies against Eastbourne Roller Derby’s Bourne Bombshells. This HISTORIC match is part of Eastbourne Extreme’s weekend long outdoor roller derby tournament (the only such event in Europe) and we have full info – including interviews with both sides – below.

[NB IF YOU WANT INFO ON THE WHOLE WEEKEND, WHICH FEATURES MORE THAN TEN DERBY GAMES, A BOOT CAMP FROM ROCKERS CAPTAIN GIN ATOMIC AND MUCH MORE… CLICK HERE FOR A FULL PREVIEW FROM OUR FRIENDS AT ERDBY.COM]

HOW TO GET THERE
The action takes place at the Fishermans Green Tennis Courts. That’s a mile along the coast heading North East from Eastbourne Pier – use the postcode BN22 7LH in maps apps. There’s car parking adjacent, it’s 25 minutes walk from Eastbourne train station (Southern trains aren’t as bad on weekends as they are during the week, so you should be able to get from B-town to Ebo in a little over 30 mins, fingers crossed) and several local buses stop nearby. Admission is totally free. As well as the roller derby, Extreme has roller hockey, skateboard/scooter ramps and lots of other extreme sports to check out. There are public toilets right by the derby area (expect long queues for the ladies at half time) and a few food outlets along the seafront. The nearest shop for booze and munchies is Spar on the corner of Beach Road and Seaside (about five mins walk). There are also after parties both evenings – a roller disco on the Saturday and pub takeover on the Sunday – if you fancy making a day/weekend of it. The Bombshells v Rockerbillies game runs from 12.30pm-2pm tomorrow, Saturday 16th, and several Brighton players (both A- and B-teamers) are taking part in various mixed games on the Sunday.

PREDICTIONS AND SUCH LIKE

We trust the online predictometer at Flattrackstats.com about as far as we can throw it, and since it’s a digital entity with no physical form we can’t throw it any distance at all. We also understand that lots of derby folk don’t like reading predictions before a game. If that applies to you, please close your eyes until you’ve scrolled past the rest of this paragraph…………….. Still here? FTS are calling this quite heavily in favour of the Bombshells. They rank the hosts as the 265th best team in Europe (467.9 ranking points) compared to 338th place (437.7 points) for the Rockerbillies. Including home advantage, Eastbourne are given 78% chance of taking the win here, with an expected differential of 3:2 suggesting something like a 180-120 home win. Bear in mind though that the ‘billies ranking is based on only two full games (v Iceland and Lille’s Switchblade) and FTS doesn’t have a button for ‘this game is outdoors’. So this prediction is extra prone to variables in either direction! Still, enough of that, let’s hear what the two teams are expecting tomorrow…

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THE PHILOSOFEAR – BOURNE BOMBSHELLS

In case any Brighton fans don’t know the Bombshells, briefly what’s your history?
The Bourne Bombshells’ first bout was in March 2013 against Basingstoke Bullets. Before that we’d only had a few scrimmages. About half the team who played in that first bout are still bouting for the team and a few others are still with us as officials.

And the history of roller derby at Eastbourne Extreme?
Roller derby first appeared at Eastbourne Extreme in 2011 – there was an indoor scrimmage and a few jams outside as a demonstration (which I attempted to ref badly!). In 2012 the Bombshells ran a one-day tournament at Extreme. We didn’t take part as we weren’t bout-ready – most of the team hadn’t yet passed minimum skills. In 2013 we were ready to participate. That year we had a tournament on the Saturday for newer teams like ourselves, then one on the Sunday for more established sides. From there it’s grown every year. Now that we are Eastbourne Roller Derby we like to use Extreme as an opportunity for all of our different teams to play, which means it’s the biggest event in the ERD calendar. But we also have mixed team games – a whole day of them on Sunday this year – which give skaters from all over the country (and a few from the continent) an opportunity to skate at Extreme.

How have the Bombshells themselves fared at past Extremes?
We’ve tended to win half of our games at Extreme and lose half. We always make sure that we pick teams for Extreme that will give us a challenge and no one like to watch a blow out. This has resulted in some VERY close games – at last year’s Extreme we lost to Surrey Rollergirls by six points, then won against Big Bucks Rough Diamonds by eight points in an overtime jam!

How different is playing derby outdoors to indoor derby? Any particular pros/cons?
We’re used to it as we train outside in good weather for a few months before Extreme. There’s very little difference to playing indoors as the Extreme track is so smooth. Ploughing is a bit harder and toe stops wear down easily. Leggings are a wise choice. In 2012 one of the teams playing in the tournament arrived in hotpants with no leggings – they left some of their skin on the track! It can get windy on the seafront so that can be problematic too, and we do end up with a lot of people playing in sunglasses.

Although both the Bombshells and Rockerbillies took part in last year’s tournament, you didn’t get to play each other. Are they a team that you know pretty well?
I’d say we know the Brighton Rockers league pretty well in general (especially as I’m an ex-Brighton player). A lot of us attend their bouts regularly and quite a few of them have been to our scrimmages. Their B-team Rockerbillies have a few newer players on their roster that we’re not so familiar with, but there are a lot of skaters playing on Saturday who are well-known to us.

Any particular players or tactics on either the Brighton or Eastbourne sides that people should look out for on Saturday?
For Brighton, I’d say that Lab Wrath and Van Hayley are skaters to watch out for. I’ve seen both of them play a few times and they’re strong. We’ve also heard that the Rockerbillies have a transfer skater from Helsinki who is a good jammer. For the Bombshells, Beast and Smash’er Fierce are both great blockers who are very hard to get past. Bullet Bomber is a brilliant all-rounder. And Crash’s jamming has been on fire lately. As for tactics – I’m not telling!

What are your expectations for the game and for the Extreme weekend as a whole?
I don’t think we really have any expectations for the Bombshells v Rockerbillies game. For the Extreme weekend as a whole we expect sun and sunburn. Every year people underestimate the Eastbourne sun and get burned to a crisp. Bring factor 50 and a hat!

Do the Bombshells have any plans for the rest of 2016 (and beyond) derby wise?
We have a game in August against Oxford Wheels of Gory. And then in October we have a double header (the Bomb S’Quad are also playing) and we’ll be up against Wiltshire. We’ve also been looking into playing some teams in Northern France and we have a few games under discussion there.

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VAN HAYLEY – BRIGHTON ROCKERBILLIES

For any non-Brighton fans reading this, can you give us a brief history of the Rockerbillies?
We’d all played together in scrims and mixed games, but I think our first game as the Rockerbillies was in May last year. We had to draft in a couple of A-teamers as we didn’t have enough people for a full roster, but the league has grown so much since then that we’re spoilt for choice now. There are a few of us from that original roster playing at Eastbourne Extreme, but a lot of the current Rockerbillies are newer additions. It’s really exciting and fantastic to see people starting out at our Fresh Meat sessions and just getting more and more confident as they move up to the B-team.

You took part in last year’s Eastbourne Extreme tournament. What was that like?
Last year’s Extreme was crazy! Three games in one day, all in the blazing sunshine. It was really tough and very intense, but it was a great experience. There were a few casualties but we all learnt a lot, and there was loads to see when we weren’t playing. There was just so much going on! I cracked one of my plates and ended up with some pretty funky tan lines, but it was really good fun.

How different is playing derby outdoors to indoor derby?
The tarmac is super grippy so it really favours fast, jukey jammers. It also chews through wheels and toe stops pretty quickly! I’ve heard some horror stories about tarmac-related injuries too, so it’s long leggings all the way for me. We all found our feet pretty quickly, though. I think you just get used to adapting to different kinds of floors at away games. Being outside in the sun by the sea beats being inside a leisure centre any day, even if we did all get a bit burnt last year.

The Bombshells were also in that tournament last year, but you didn’t get to play against them. Are they a side you know pretty well?
We love the Bombshells! We’ve played a lot of scrims and closed door games with them and it’s always great. They always give us a run for our money. They’re a really tough team, but they’re so much fun to skate with – we’re really lucky to have them so close by! They’re great to hang out with, too. We didn’t get to play them at Eastbourne Extreme last time because of the way the tournament format worked out, so we can’t wait for this year. Watch your backs Bombshells!

LAB WRATH – BRIGHTON ROCKERBILLIES

Any particular players or tactics on either the Brighton or Eastbourne sides that people should look out for?
Well we’re not going to give away our secrets now are we! I’ll just say we’ve got some up-and-coming rising stars on the team that I and the rest of the league are really excited about fielding.

What are your expectations for the game and for the Extreme weekend as a whole?
We definitely expect FUN all weekend. And of course it goes without saying that none of us will get a penalty and all our practised moves to go perfectly every time… And constant sun, of course.

Do the Rockerbillies have any plans for the rest of 2016 (and beyond) derby wise?

Damn, I need to check. I think we might have a double header coming up. Stay tuned!

[Photos by John Hesse]

THE GAME IS HERE AT 12.30PM TOMORROW: https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Fisherman’s+Green+Tennis+Courts/@50.7777313,0.3062278,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x6545daa5ced75dc7?sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjc_rOM3PPNAhVEAsAKHQzTANMQ_BIIbjAK

PS IF YOU CAN’T MAKE IT THERE SHOULD BE A LIVE STREAM ON THIS FACEBOOK PAGE: https://facebook.com/EastbourneextremeRD/

Brighton Rockers AllStars v Croydon Riot Squad Preview (inc recap of both teams’ last games)

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The mighty Brighton Rockers AllStars take on their ‘friendly rivals’ Croydon Riot Squad at the Dolphin in Haywards Heath this Sunday 22nd May. A home game for Brighton on a Sunday is something of a rarity (we can only think of one previous occasion) so be sure to take advantage of this opportunity for a post-roast festival of sport. ‘Festival’ being the operative word, since the game, despite its geographical remove, is part of Brighton Fringe Festival.
    Doors open at 4pm (first whistle is at 4.30) and tickets are available online for £10 adults, £8 concessions and free for under 12s. You can also get four adult tickets for the price of three. Tickets are available from both the Brighton Rockers and Fringe Festival websites, but we recommend the former as there’s a small fee added at the latter. We have a full preview of this epic game lower down, but first off we’ll recap two other derby events that have taken place at the Dolphin in the past couple of weeks. Given that these two events were hosted by Brighton and Croydon respectively, they provide useful clues for what to expect on Sunday…

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SATURDAY 30TH APRIL: BRIGHTON V NEWCASTLE B REPORT
Coming in off the back of a great display – albeit a small loss – away to London’s Batter C Power in March, the Rockers AllStars round off April by facing the Whippin’ Hinnies B-team of Newcastle Roller Girls. Newcastle’s A-team is the top ranked English team in UKRDA and has already won this year’s British Champs with two months left to go, so it’s no surprise that their second team are favourites here. Flattrackstats expect the Hinnies to win but by the tiniest of margins (six or seven points). Seven jams in and the margin is invisible. It’s a tied game at 20-20, Joanna Bruisin’ and Blackjack Belle doing much of the damage for the Geordies, with Gin Atomic and Shambolic scoring well for Brighton. Hairy Fairy and Obliviator doing good work to peg back Mills & Boom now as Skate Bush edges Brighton ahead.
    Our companion is disappointed that Newcastle don’t play in black and white stripes – “make the refs play in green or something” – as fantastic jams from Sham and Skate give the Rockers an unexpected 48-21 lead. Sham is back in the star a few jams later, ducking and diving through the Hinnies pack to chalk up 25 points. After an extended break for travelling a year or so ago, the nimble ninja is back to her best as she helps Brighton to a chunky 107-42 interval lead. The second half sees the Rockers continue to dominate. Khal Jojo and Pretty Skate Machine are amongst the standout blockers for Newcastle, with Hairy, Gin, Emma The Condemner and others proving super solid for the home side.
    With the scores at 134-67 there is an extended stoppage for treatment to tough Brighton blocker Chaka Carnage. She will play no further part in the game and her injury takes some wind out of the Rockers’ sails. The Hinnies take advantage of Brighton’s slight loss of momentum to start clawing back at the lead; the home side have started picking up noticeably more blocker penalties now. Another Rockers injury sees ever impressive starhead Skate Bush bowing out of the match. With further Brighton skaters such as Sham picking up knocks, the home side are glad to make it to the final whistle with a decent victory margin still intact. This 170-143 win is the Rockers’ first open door success since beating Leeds side Hot Wheel, also by 27 points, in May of last year. Without the injuries we would have likely been looking at closer to a three figure differential here. Rest assured that this win not only builds upon the performance against Batter C, but (especially coming after seven straight losses) also marks a turning point for the rapidly improving AllStars.
    Today’s proceedings began with the B-team facing the Hoodlum Gang, a mixed league side organised by the Hoodlum Fang fashion label. That match ended in a 168-223 defeat for the Rockerbillies and saw a great performance from both sides. For Hoodlum the likes of Chunder Woman, Grace Bopper, Ore Raura and the appropriately named Hench were amongst the standouts. In the Rockerbillies ranks, plaudits go to Lab Wrath, Bionic Betty (here playing her final game for Brighton), fast jamming Shakesbeer and many others. No doubt there’s a whole slew of future A-team regulars in the ‘billies ranks. Indeed, B-team MVP Hippy Hippy Skate put in a great stint for the As today too. The day ends with Gin Atomic’s 30th birthday celebrations, a surprise on track marriage proposal for Cake Or Death (many congrats to her and Phil), and a suitably messy after party back in Brighton.

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SATURDAY 14TH MAY: CROYDON V LRR REPORT
With barely time to catch our breath, the sound of clacking derby skate wheels returns to the Dolphin two weeks later. Last year three teams in the British Championships (Brighton, Eastbourne and Croydon) hosted games here. With the first two having withdrawn from the 2016 tournament, today’s Croydon hosted double header is most likely the only Champs action that Haywards Heath will see this year. First up is Bristol Roller Derby v Portsmouth Roller Wenches. Based on last year’s Tier 2 South results we’re expecting Bristol to dominate this one. Flattrackstats agrees, but it’s the Wenches who are fastest out of the gates, taking a 20-3 lead over the first few jams. Nina Nunchucks and Psyclone DestroyHer particularly effective in the Pompey star, but a power jam sees Bristol clawing their way back. Hard N Sharpe and Delta Strike are chalking up points for BRD, with RIP McMurphy hitting back for the Wenches. Lead change! 46-45 to Bristol.
    Great blocking from the likes of Valkyrie Pain and Rosie Rocketpants for PRW; likewise from Black Thorn, President Garfield and others for Brizzle. Portsmouth’s blockers in particular are picking up a lot of penalties here. In fact, Valkyrie picks up her seventh with a quarter of the first half still to go, leaving the game. Successive power jams from Psyclone and Nunchucks sees the Wenches snatch a half time lead of 123-117. Pompey extending their lead at the start of the second, but Bristol peg them back to 169-160. Delta Strike and The Blizzard jamming in points for BRD. McMurphy and Elke Dickson sturdy in the Wenches defence. Jammer switcharoos aplenty and Rosie becomes PRW’s second foul out. That means more jams (and more penalties) for those left, and the domino effect sees two more Wenches sent to the stands, with at least one Bristolian joining them. What’s left of the Pompey squad holds firm for an unexpected 306-276 win.
    It’s hosts Croydon Riot Squad v London Rockin’ Rollers next, and the latter go into this one as firm favourites. We think this game can’t possibly be as exciting as the last one, but it turns out we’re very wrong. There are three lead changes in the opening few minutes, but that’s not unusual as teams feel each other out before one side starts to impose themselves. It seems that side could be LRR as a well used power jam sees them take a 21-11 advantage. This looks like being a fairly low scoring contest with two very solid defensive units at play. Total Bevlam, Smashasaurus Bex and Polly Filla amongst the standout defenders for Croydon here; Miss Justice, Von Bitch, Rammit and others proving equi-tough in the London packs. LRR look like they might run away with things with the scores at 50-13, but the Flying Kiwi and Dyduch are amongst those putting in great turns in the star for Riot Squad. Suddenly London’s lead is a single point (54-53). It’s not often that there’s only one point between the sides during a roller derby game, but this margin will be repeated several more times before the game is done. Starting with a lead change that puts Croydon 62-61 ahead.
    The Croydonians stretch this to a seven point gap (75-69) at the interval, but this game has plenty of drama to come. Queen Mob, Rammit and Jack Attack putting in some ferocious turns in the London star, with Jacks chalking up another lead change and single point margin. LRR leading 90-89 and starting to pull away now, but Croydon are fighting hard and keeping in touch. Riot Squad icon Apocalex, here playing her last game for the side, amongst those battling in the purple packs. Meanwhile, Agent Cooper is being let off the leash more in the Cronx star, swooping and sweeping at speed through the walls of red. CRD keeping within ten or fifteen points of the Rockin’ Rollers here. Ten to fifteen points being that sweet spot in derby differentials – the gap it can just take a 30 second power jam to close. Riot Squad battle hard but LRR keep their noses in front, taking the game by a much closer than predicted margin: 151-137.

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SUNDAY 22ND MAY: BRIGHTON V CROYDON PREVIEW
So what have we learned from those very recent Brighton and Croydon games? Firstly, both sides fared better than the rankings computer had predicted, suggesting that both leagues are currently on an upwards trajectory. Though there have been a few closed door games between Brighton and Croydon, the A-teams have only met once before in public. That was in July 2014 (at, where else, the Dolphin) and the Rockers took the win that time 163-151. Super close! So what’s expected this time?
    ***SPOILER ALERT: If you don’t like knowing Flattrackstats predictions ahead of a game then skip past this paragraph*** There are two different rankings systems on the FTS website. The UK Roller Derby Association one is, as you’d expect, based on the results of UKRDA sanctioned games only. Brighton currently place 19th in the table on 602.3 points, with Croydon just behind in 20th (599.5). FTS gives the Rockers 58% chance of taking the win here, with an expected differential of 51:46 equating to something like a 153-138 Brighton win. Switch to the Europe-wide rankings system, however, and Cronx place higher. They’re 45th on 619.2 points, with the Rockers 69th on 584.8. Run those stats through the predictometer and there’s 69% chance of a CRD win. Predicted differential of 17:13 suggests something like a 170-130 Riot Squad victory in this case. In other words, this one really could go either way!
    The venue is as ever the Dolphin in Haywards Heath, which is seven minutes walk from the train station (turn left and follow the signs stuck to lamp posts). Point your Sat Nav at RH16 1LY if driving. The pub opposite the station, the Burrell Arms, is OK for a pre-game pint, if a little football geezer-y. There’s a very large Sainsbury’s (with ATMs outside) halfway between the station and leisure centre. Be warned that this closes at 4pm on Sunday, so get any provisions prior to doors opening at the roller derby. The last two events have seen the Dolphin move their stash of booze from the lobby cafe to a table in the sports hall itself. This is awesomely convenient, but we suspect is largely aimed at not having a queue of green-haired derby types scaring off parents arriving to drop off kids at the pool. Expect to pay between three and four quid for a bottle of beer/cider/wine, and please leave the London Pride for us (there’s never enough). The after party is at Idelwild, a bistro bar on Haywards Heath Broadway, about twelve minutes walk from the Dolphin.
    Snap up your tickets for this epic rematch in advance from the link below. There will also be tickets available on the door. Don’t forget to pick up your free copy of our unofficial Brighton Rockers fanzine Turn Left on your way in. Sunday’s issue is jam-packed with stuff including… Best mates Gin Atomic and Agent Cooper (playing on opposite sides for the first time in an open door sanctioned game) have a huge banter-off ahead of the contest. Mass Janeycide and Noise Tank trade tips on bench coaching the Rockers. Emma the Condemner selects the programme for a Brighton Rockers themed arts festival. We also hear from Croydon captain Dyduch and others, plus the latest news from all six Sussex roller derby teams and more. See you there!

[Photos by John Hesse, except CRD v LRR by Neil Biggs]

LINKS
BUY TICKETS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/#!shop/cttr
FB EVENT PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/767370616727093/
BRIGHTON: http://www.brightonrockers.com/
CROYDON: http://croydonrollerderby.co.uk/

You VOTED – They did ALL the WINNING: Meet Your 2015 ROCKERS OF THE YEAR!

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As a very busy 2015 draws to a close in Rockersland, it’s time for us to empty our shiny box all over the table and tot up the votes for the annual Turn Left/BRATS Rockers of the Year awards. These awards debuted last year, although the 2014 process just involved three of us sat in a pub deciding who the winners were. This year we made things infinitely more democratic by giving out voting forms with copies of our fanzine at the last Rockers event of the year (the games v Gent and Lille on Nov 28th). When we picked up the glittery ballot box at the end of the day it was stuffed to the brim – overflowing in fact – with votes. This weekend we set to work tallying up the choices on the dozens and dozens of voting slips. We were unsure what to expect, and (to be honest) were pondering whether we could get away with faking the result if the electorate did anything we vehemently disagreed with. Happily, over half the categories (including most of the ‘biggies’) saw our own choices triumph, so these results are 100% above board. The Electoral Reform Society can come and look at the slips if anyone doesn’t believe us! If you’re one of the winners, we have a certificate and badge for you; get in touch if you want them and we’ll work out how to get them to you. If you’re not a winner then better luck next year. (PS see the bottom of this piece for how to be eligible for next year’s awards if you’re not currently a Rocker.) Millions of thanks to all those who voted. Here are the results:

***TURN LEFT/BRATS AWARD WINNERS 2015***

‘OTHER’ OF THE YEAR: MASS JANEYCIDE
Our most strangely named category for sure, but we hope the winner bears their ‘other’ title with pride. This was basically a catch-all category for people to vote for their favourite Rockers person of 2015 who *isn’t* a player or official. Media types (announcers, photographers, etc) as well as the league’s amazing bench crews picked up the votes here. Some of the more left field selections included our confused fanzine (un-)advertiser Mr Séamus and, for some reason, Croydon Roller Derby’s Agent Cooper. Once all the votes were totted up, aces team photographer John Hesse took second place, but a victory for Brighton’s awesomesauce A-team bench coach was never really in doubt.

OFFICIAL OF THE YEAR: NOISE TANK
This category was open to referees and NSOs, and it’s perhaps testament to how few officials Brighton really have (clue: they need more, please get in touch with the league if you’re interested) that this award had less names put forward by voters than any other. Indeed almost 75% of the votes cast were split between just two candidates. Said votes were very closely divided, with the contest between head ref LaserHammer and his sidekick (?) Noise going to the latter by a single vote.

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ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: SPEEDY GONZALEX

Results haven’t really gone the Rockers’ way this year, either on an A-team or [huge win in Southampton aside] B-team level, but there is much to celebrate in terms of league development. Most specifically, this summer saw the largest graduation of Fresh Meat in the league’s history with around two dozen skaters passing their minimum skills. Many of these were thrown straight into the lion’s den of the burgeoning new B-team, a valuable stepping stone for this new generation of potential Rockers stars. The likes of Sutherland, Mighty Mouse and Feisty McGee scored highly in this ‘newbies’ category, but super swift Gonzalex jammed in more than twice as many votes as her nearest rival, leaving her team mates (like her opponents on track) trailing far behind.

B-TEAMER OF THE YEAR: BIONIC BETTY

This was probably the most hardly fought category of all, with a mixture of A/B-crossovers, B-team regulars and newer additions all in the running for the award. There were a dozen nominees in total and more than half of these picked up several votes. Eventually, it came down to a three way tussle between Lab Wrath, Irish Mist and Bionic Betty, with the latter – a blocking superstar in the making – taking the win by a narrow margin.

ICON OF THE YEAR: SHAMBOLIC
We’ll be honest; we weren’t entirely sure what the category of ‘Icon Of The Year’ really meant when we put it on the ballot paper. “The most inspiring Rocker on or off track” was the advice on the form, and this category saw votes for more different people than any other. Well over a dozen names were put forward. The likes of Dr Whooligan and Racey scored well, but this ended up as a two-way battle between folk who actually spent most of the year on the other side of the world. Maybe a true icon is as noticeable by their absence as their presence? Either way, whirling dervish Sham triumphed here with one vote more than the much-missed Bash.

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BLOCKER OF THE YEAR: HAIRY FAIRY
Many names were put forward here, with the likes of Hyde N Shriek, Sham, Bash and Bionic Betty [the three main player awards aren’t necessarily A-team specific] all picking up multiple votes. The result wasn’t much in doubt though. In fact it was clear after we’d counted just one of the four different dayglo colours of voting slips; yeah, we counted them colour by colour, we’re a bit OCD like that. In fact, pack warrior Hairy picked up as many votes here as the five next highest scorers combined. She is also (SPOILER ALERT) the only winner from our 2014 awards to retain their crown. Can she make it three in a row in 2016? Never bet against this amazing defensive powerhouse.

JAMMER OF THE YEAR: SKATE BUSH
This and our final category (Player of the Year) each saw votes for around ten different people, but in both categories around 70% of the votes cast were split between the same duo. It’s no exaggeration to say that Skate Bush has had probably the fastest rise from rookie to A-team superstar of anyone in the Rockers organisation since the league’s earliest days. She made her home debut in a mixed opener in February, before being instantly propelled into the All-Stars for their super tough British Champs season. Totally un-intimidated she quickly made a name for herself both in the packs and the star. It’s in the latter that she’s made the most impact with the viewing (and voting) public, and the relatively new Rocker takes this well deserved top jammer award.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: GIN ATOMIC

As we mentioned above, the final two official awards – the ‘top’ awards we suppose (although the British Union of Blockers will argue theirs deserves equal billing with the jammer one) – were both closely run things between the same two players. Our 2014 Player Of The Year Dr Whooligan came third in this year’s contest. She was the only Rockers player to feature in the 2015 British Champs top tens (appearing in all three of the Tier 2 best jammer tables) so the two players who polled higher must have had super special seasons, as indeed they did. Skate Bush takes second place here to the Rockers almighty captain, Gin Atomic. Super tough and feisty in the star and twice so in the packs, Gin’s ‘never say die’ attitude has been a constant positive on track in what has been a tough year (results wise) for the Brighton All-Stars. Her benching and coaching of the B-team has also gained plaudits all round. It’s no surprise to learn that the summer of 2014 transfer from Croydon also won the Rockers’ own top award for the year. Given that our voters also gave gongs to her housemates Noise and Sham, we can only hope that said household has a suitably spacious trophy cabinet to hold the fruits of their awesomeness.

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…AND TWO EXTRA AWARDS

Our voting form only included eight categories, but when it came time to order the winners’ badges we realised there was a minimum order of ten. So we’ve randomly invented another couple of categories. Firstly, one for the person who accrued the most votes in total. Although she didn’t win an award (coming close in B-Teamer) this skater picked up votes in *every* category, suggesting that she’s either multi-skilled or had some very big fans in the crowd on the day of the poll. For picking up more votes in total than anyone else, we award MOST VOTED FOR: LAB WRATH.

If friends of LW voting for her in every category seems a bit shameless, that’s nothing compared to our own shamelessness when it comes to the second additional award. Yes, the 2015 Turn Left Awards proudly awards FANZINE OF THE YEAR: TURN LEFT. It’s a Christmas miracle! Heck, we paid eight quid for the badges – the least we deserve is to get one ourselves, right? No? Ah, whatever.

HOW CAN I WIN ONE OF THESE AWARDS?
If you’re a member of the Brighton Rockers then be even more awesome in 2016 and hopefully the crowd will recognise that aceness when it comes to next year’s vote. If you’re not a member of the Brighton Rockers (but play derby) then ask about a transfer, yeah? If you’re not a roller derbyer, but are based in/near Brighton, female and aged 18+, then drop an email to info@brightonrockers.com to ask about their 2016 Fresh Meat intake. The programme begins on Sunday 17th January, with the final taster/tryout day next Monday (4th). Book your place now and who knows, this time next year it could be YOU staring bemusedly at a badly printed award certificate. (Loads of 2015 nominees and at least one winner only took up the sport at the start of this year.) And if you don’t want to skate or you have a stray Y chromosome – but you’re still desperate for a 2016 winners’ badge to impress your friends – then get your name in the pot for the ‘Other’ or Official categories by talking to the Rockers about opportunities in NSOing, announcing and much more. Cheerses and Merry New Year.