BRATS Review of 2016: PART ONE – Tracking BRIGHTON from CAEN to CROYDON

16rev11

As 2016 comes to an end, we look back on twelve months in the life of the Brighton Rockers. The year before was dominated by British Championships, a seven month rollercoaster ride across Southern England that provided a structured schedule to the Rockers’ 2015, but a notable lack of variety. Brighton (like a number of teams) decided not to return to Champs in 2016, citing a wish to face more European sides – as well as develop the new B-team Rockerbillies – as their focus for the year. It turned out to be a busy one. So much so that we’ve had to split this preview into several parts. This is part one…

2016 begins, as many years do, in JANUARY. For the Brighton Rockers the New Year nowadays means new blood, with the league using the winter to defrost their annual Fresh Meat intake. It’s another bumper crop of freshies. They’ll spend much of the year learning the sport, with many of them making their way into the B-team ranks in the summer and autumn. At least one will find herself invited to train alongside the A-team before the year is out.

As baptisms of fire go, a six-team European tournament in Normandy ranks as pretty flamey, despite being held in the coldest hall on Earth. FEBRUARY‘s Slip It tournament in Caen sees several of last year’s Fresh Meat making their A-team debuts as part of a fairly makeshift Rockers squad (with a number of regular AllStars not travelling over). There’s a full report on Brighton’s three Slip It games in this thing we wrote so here we’ll just summarise. First up, at what feels like 6 in the morning, a bruising encounter with Brussels Derby Pixies. Scores are low and close in the first half as both sides shake their sleep out of their eyes, but the Pixies assert themselves in the second to win 217-121.

16rev12

Next up for the Rockers are the hosts, Roller Derby Caen. The Leopard Avengers (to give them their Sunday name) have been the surprise package of previous Slip Its, performing well above ranking predictions, so by now people shouldn’t be surprised by the surprise. They roll over the Rockers 236-145, which means Brighton will face Eindhoven’s Rockcity Rollers in Sunday’s play-offs. This is the AllStars’ closest game of the tournie, with the Sussex skaters never more than a power jam behind, ending in a battling 140-167 defeat.

Brighton will tempt Rockcity over to Haywards Heath later in the year in a quest for revenge, but the French trip ends with the Rockers finishing sixth from six in the tournament. Clearly they enjoyed it, though – or maybe realise they can’t do any worse – since Brighton will be taking part in the 2017 Slip It too. This is just a few weeks away (28th & 29th January) with opposition coming in the form of the Kallio Rolling Rainbow B-Team (Helsinki), Hellfire Harlots (Nottingham), Amsterdam, Madrid and the hosts. Keep an eye on this website for some sort of preview in the next few weeks.

After their trip to Caen, 114 miles due South of Brighton, the Rockers keep things similarly simple on the compass front for their second road trip of the year, heading 54 miles due North in MARCH to face Batter C Power in Tottenham. The Rockers had narrowly beaten said London Rollergirls third team in Shoreham four years ago, but four years is a lifetime in derby and both squads are radically different for this belated rematch. Although the Londoners take a 172-132 victory (full report here) this is widely acknowledged – by Rockers fans as well as the skaters themselves – to have been Brighton’s best performance in a fair old while.

16rev13

Spring sees the league switch their attention from road trips to home events. Their first outing of 2016 at Haywards Heath Dolphin comes at the end of APRIL as the Rockers face the B-team of Newcastle Roller Girls. The Geordies’ A-team has already won this year’s British Champs title (with several months of the season to go) so their B-team are clearly going to be a challenge. Despite losing a few players to injury, Brighton take the game to Newcastle and roll out 170-143 winners (full report here). This marks the AllStars’ first victory in almost a year. The day also sees a narrow Rockerbillies defeat to the Hoodlum Gang, a 30th birthday celebration for Gin Atomic and a wedding proposal for Cake Or Death.

A mere three weeks later, in the merry month of MAY, the AllStars are back at the Dolphin to face long-time friendfoes Croydon Roller Derby. This game is part of the Brighton Fringe Festival and proceedings are suitably dramatic. The likes of Gin and Emma the Condemner give the Rockers an early 30-17 lead, but Dyduch and Agent Cooper hit back for Croydon, the latter taking advantage of a full Brighton penalty box to make it 38-31 to the visitors. The lead change seems to hit the Rockers for six as they suddenly stop picking up any points at all. All of a sudden the South Londoners are 74-31 up with ten minutes left of the half.

Cometh the Hour, cometh Dr Whooligan, who trades power jams with Dyduch in a flurry of passes and penalties that finishes 20-4 (in points, not passes… or penalties) to the Rockers powerhouse. The fact that Whoolie starts the next jam in the sin bin doesn’t prevent her winning that ‘un too, 18-0 no less. It’s 69-84 on the totalisers now. Brighton’s bench crew are ordering in ketchup to eat up more of that Cronx lead. Or something similar which actually works as a metaphor. Imagine a clever line involving ‘Deliverooligan’ or something. You might have noticed that this end of year review has started getting more detailed (ie rambling) now we’ve reached the first of the games we forgot to actually write up at the time. Half time: 72-86.

16rev14

Second half. Second wind or seconds out? Pass and call from Skate Bush against Coop in the opener sees Brighton close it to ten points. Keeping it at that for a while. Hitt Bull and Inara Terra neutralising Dr W now though, Croydon pulling away 99-79. Emma off for a track cut next. CRD bench dude screaming at his pack to keep Shambolic separate from the rest of the Rockers defence as Dyduch makes it 111 for CRD. Gin pulling a whole bunch back for Brighton against her old teamies, but the gap is holding at a 20-ish tally. Both teams using time outs. Cake, Chaka Carnage and Sham throwing every hit they’ve got at Dyduch now, but she’s made out of concrete blancmange.

Gin closing things back up, but Brighton are picking up a lot of blocker penalties. Sham fouls out and goes straight to the bar table for a bottle of cider – good skills. 160-136 to Croydon with eight minutes left. Gin sends Canelator flying in a bit of jammer on jammer. The South Londoners are doing a good job of splitting the Brighton pack every other jam now, with Inara and Polly Filla proving particular effective in the purple packs. Irish Mist and Hippy Hippy Skate amongst the sturdiest defenders for Brighton, but the Cronx lot finish strong to take the win 181-142. They attempt to kidnap Gin at the final whistle and sign her back to CRD, but Rockers bench coach Mass Janeycide drags her away, flicking Vs at her opposite number. Blocking awards go to Smashasaurus Bex and Cake, with Coop and Emma picking up the starhead gongs and wholly unsurprising MVP nods to Dyduch and Gin. With a game-free JUNE we reach half time in the Rockers’ 2016…

…and leave things there. Keep an eye out for Part 2 of the BRATS Review of 2016, which encompasses the first ever Sussex derby derby (Brighton v Eastbourne), a double header against two challenging challenge teams, plus away adventures in the capital of Wales and the mysterious land of Houghton Regis. Yay!

[Photos by John Hesse except Caen by Vinciane Piérart]

Advertisements

Turn Left Issue 15 Now Online

TL15_coversmall

A battling performance for the Brighton Rockers AllStars against their friends Croydon Riot Squad in Haywards Heath yesterday (May 22nd) saw the South Londoners edge ahead in the last quarter to take the game 181-142. Report to follow. There are a few copies of our fanzine from this game available in the flyers area of various Brighton pubs, including the Evening Star and Ranelagh, from tonight. Or simply click on the cover image above to read the online version. This issue includes an almighty banter-off between Gin Atomic and Croydon’s Agent Cooper; Mass Janeycide and Noise Tank trade tips on bench coaching the Rockers; Emma the Condemner outlines her programme for a Brighton Rockers themed arts festival; and much more! Special thanks to all our lovely interviewees, photographer John Hesse and our awesomes advermatisers including http://www.meadowyurts.co.uk/ and http://www.thewick.pub/ Cheers!

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

crd2p1

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…

crd2p2

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.

crd2p3

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.

crd2p4

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/

Yes, No, Maybe… Brighton Rockers All-Stars v Bristol Harbour Harlots report

BHHR1

20TH SEPTEMBER 2014

YES: COLD BOOZE
We may have mentioned in our report of the previous Brighton game (against Croydon) that a ‘bar in the hall’ initiative from the new leisure centre overlords resulted in the hell of lukewarm cider on a scorching weekend. In fact, we may have spent more time ranting about this than actually describing the game, but the ‘Power of the Press’ seems to have worked. “You’ll be pleased to hear there’s no bar in the hall this time,” we are told as we arrive to drop off fanzines on the door. The foyer cafe has expanded its range of bottled boozes greatly and it’s all blissfully cold. Unfortunately the queues are epic, especially when selfish people start ordering food and coffee and all sorts of other things that, frankly, leisure centres shouldn’t even sell. We yearn for the days of the secret backroom gym bar. Is it still there? The sign on the door now says gym members only. Is it worth joining the gym just to drink booze there on Rockers game days? Hmmm…

NO: ANNOUNCER
Maybe we’re a bit slow on the uptake here. It’s probably a good three or four jams into the contest before we become aware that something’s different today. We can hear what the players are shouting at each other, what the bench are shouting at the players, what the players are shouting at the bench (all surprisingly unsweary, as it happens)… How come? Finally we twig that this game has no announcer. Bout co-ordinator Mistress called out the squads during the skate outs, but for the game itself there is no commentary. Last minute cancellation, we later learn. Whisper it, but it’s actually quite refreshing not to have constant dialogue (one second too loud to understand, the next too quiet to hear) accompanying every moment of on-track action. What other sport has a live announcer calling out every play? Not many. Why does derby? Tradition, presumably. Originally it would have been to describe the new sport to an unfamiliar audience. Whilst there are still derby virgins out there, here in Haywards Heath – in a venue that sees nearly ten games a year and (like almost all derby venues) falling rather than rising attendances – surely there aren’t really enough newbies present to necessitate announcers. Perhaps the only reason we still have them is… no, we’ll stop there. The Association of Flat Track Derby Announcers is as feared and connected a Union as Jimmy Hoffa’s Teamsters. Best keep schtum (us not them, obvs). Best move on.

MAYBE: AN UPSET ON THE CARDS

Initial stats-crunching suggests Bristol are going to have a tough time of this. They’ve lost most of their recent open door games by a couple of hundred points, and the online predictometer has Brighton hitting just shy of double the Harlots score today. The Somerset/Gloucestershire/Avon (whichever of those Bristol is currently part of) league have already overturned similar odds to beat the Rockers in London last year, and have been working hard to turn around their recent form. We’re still expecting Brighton to take and build upon an early lead here today, though.

BHHR2

YES: BRIGHTON TAKE AN EARLY LEAD
Successive lead jammer statuses for Rose Bleed and The Mighty Mighty Bash, with Shambolic at the heart of defensive duties, sees Brighton racking up the first points. It seems pretty feisty out there, with the crowd “oo”-ing at a steady procession of floorbound clatters. (It’s only later we realise that we’re noticing these player bumps and crowd gasps more because there’s no announcer.) Visor-clad Til Thrillster picks up a few for Bristol in the third, calling as Rose edges her off track. 10-4. Sham up next in the star for the Rockers, hurtling around as BRD’s Raven Lunatic is knocked about by a very physical Brighton pack. A skate problem that sees Raven spending time on the outfield doesn’t help – a star pass to Lil Miss Bloodlust follows, but the damage is done. 27-4. Brighton in control, but Bristol clawing things back now through Ophelia Pain. Rockers lead 31-27. Closer than expected now. Power jam Sham. Great burst of speed through the pack, but zombie-jawed (face paint not medical condition) Vile Shadow knocks her back. Brighton pack jumping in to assist, Sham off for a track cut, new jam, Bash knocking Ophelia off as Sham returns. Dr Whooligan with a power jam start, but straight off. Fleur Rocious running interference on the Rockers wall as Ophelia racks up a single pass before calling. Bash off, power jam Ophelia, Brighton close it down well, but Bristol have narrowed the gap to 88-71. Whooligan, Swann and Sham take successive leads as the Rockers hit the ton with nothing more conceded.

NO: REST FOR THE WICKED
Official time out. The entire Rockers line-up fixing the track tape. Those on the Brighton bench singing “we love you Racey” at their off-skates teammate in the bleachers. The computer powering the scoreboard explodes (or at least crashes) and whiteboards and marker pens are dug out. Given the game now lacks both scoreboard and announcers, it’s only a couple of degrees of ‘old school’ away from being a closed door. Whooligan spends the final two jams of the period going back and forth from track to penalty box. It’s been a battling performance from the Harbour Harlots – the likes of Vile, The Blizzard, Black Thorn and Da Silva Surfer preventing Brighton from getting much benefit from their power jams. The Bristol starheads have found it equally tough going, but must surely be happy with a far closer that expected half-time deficit of 125-107.

MAYBE: THERE SHOULD BE A LIST

What beers do you do? “London Pride, Newcastle Brown, John Smiths, Peroni, Stella, Carling…” Next customer: What beers do you do? “Newcastle Brown, Peroni, Stella, John Smiths, Carling, London Pride…” Next customer: What beers do you do? Last game’s lukewarm beer bar had a printed list. Maybe this chilled beer bar should have one too, for the sake of the server’s sanity and queuing time? Just a suggestion, King Dolphin…

BHHR3

YES: WE’RE BACK IN ACTION
12-10 say the little numbers on the now working again scoreboard. We’ve always wondered what those numbers represent. Jams won? Lead jammer statuses attained? Bananas eaten? Ah, who cares. Recent transferee Swann up against Raven as the action resumes. Swann takes lead and a couple of points. Kapow up in the star next for Brighton, putting up a string of great scoring passes. Very physical blocking from Vile, throwing shoulders at Whooligan almost non-stop throughout the jam, the latter not wilting under the onslaught. Bash takes the star and Brighton are starting to edge away now. Sham v Bloodlust. Rose trying to take out the Harlots jammer, but ‘no pack’ is called, so Sham swoops in and does it herself. 161-110 to the Rockers. Brighton maintaining the 50 point differential as the period progresses, with Hairy Fairy, Derby McGee and Enyo Face amongst the standouts in the Sussex packs. Official time out sees Mistress on the turn one corner leading the Rockers bench in dancing to ‘Living In America’. (Strangely ’80s-themed playlist here today, instead of the more usual riot grrrl fare.) Lots of Sham passes in the next jam, with Hyde ‘N’ Shriek, Cake Or Death and Whooligan doing a good job of holding the starheaded Harlot back. 206-125. That’s on par with photographer The Philosofear’s predicted 80-point Brighton win, but there’s still half a half to go.

NO: RUNAWAY LEAD
The South Westerners are mixing up their jammer rotation more now. Gremilyn goes star-clad but a penalty call just past the sin bin sees her off track for a while as Swann jams in just shy of twenty. Next up Kapow, who is pocketed by the Bristol blockers, and eventually passes the star to Rose. The problems the former had with the rival pack are nothing compared to the difficulties the latter has getting the jammer panty on. Twenty seconds (and three passes) of trying, but the whistle goes before she manages it. Rose looks suitable chastened, but everyone else enjoyed the Mr Bean-esque comedy of it. Bristol resurgent now, getting a procession of leads to close the gap a little. Rockers time out at 241-172. Sin bin switcheroos from Kapow and Raven as the game resumes. Track cut on the whistle for the latter and Bash takes full advantage of a PJ start. Two minutes left and it’s 266-184. Sham edges up Brighton’s lead, then Swann dons the star against Raven for the final jam of the game. Penalty called on the Rockers starhead. Bash and Hairy battling to hold back Raven, but she’s putting a fair few points on the board now. Swann back on and sending the imposing Vile Shadow flying, to cheers from the crowd. Both packs resilient and each side must be happy (in their own way) with a final scoreline of 277-209.

MAYBE: THE REAL VICTORY FOLLOWS
The Victory in capitals, that is, as the central Brighton pub is hosting a Rockers after party for the first time today. The Sussex league pick The Blizzard as Bristol’s Best Blocker, with Ophelia Pain and Vile Shadow taking the Jammer and MVP awards. The Harlots, meanwhile, select Sham as Brighton’s MVP, with Hairy as Best Blocker and Swann picking up the first Best Jammer award of her derby career. “We were expecting a really tough, physical encounter,” one of the Harbour Harlots later tells us, “and we weren’t disappointed. The Rockers are a very powerful, drilled and well organised team, so we went into the game knowing that there would be no mercy. Despite the score, we were really pleased with how the team played and how we kept the points differential much closer than predicted. Plus, the Brighton Rockers were such lovely hosts and genuinely nice people – it was a derby win for everyone!”

BHHR4

YES: BOTH TEAMS ARE BACK IN ACTION ON 25TH OCTOBER
For Bristol, Saturday 25th sees a first home open door event since June. This one’s a double header with Bristol taking on South West Angels of Terror (from Taunton/Exeter) whilst neighbours Bath face Wales’ Neath Port Talbot. Flattrackstats call both games as close, giving Bristol a 52% win chance with a squeaky close 55:54 points differential, whilst Bath have a slightly better 60% (9:8) over NPT. Find more details of this event in the link below. The Brighton Rockers, meanwhile, are also heading “out West” on the 25th, albeit only 40-odd miles along the coast, as they face off against Portsmouth Roller Wenches. The Wenches are one of the fastest rising leagues in the South and have already seen off Brighton’s B-team in the latter’s only public home game, back in March of last year. FTS gives the Rockers a 64% win probability with a 41:35 ratio, so this one could go either way. This event’s also a double header, with the other game seeing Portsmouth’s B-team take an 87% chance (27:16) into their game with Essex newcomers Killa Hurtz. The action takes place at Havant Leisure Centre from 2pm and tickets are £7 in advance, £8 on the door. See the link lower down for more info.

NO: BRIGHTON HOME GAME FOR A WHILE
We can’t emphasise enough how much we recommend Brighton fans make it over to the Portsmouth away game, which we’ll have a full preview of on here in the next few days. It’s by far the nearest away match geographically the Rockers have ever played. You don’t even need to go into Portsmouth itself; Havant is to the east of Pompey and only an hour by train from Brighton, with a day return with a railcard costing less than a tenner. We have a feeling it’s going to be an epic (and very close) game. It’s also the closest to home you’ll be able to see the Sussex side in action for a while. There was a double header at Haywards Heath planned for the following Saturday (Nov 1st) with both Brighton and Croydon up against continental opposition. Unfortunately, the Rockers’ opponents had to cancel, so the Brighton game is off. Croydon’s game against One Love from Antwerp is going ahead though, with a 1.45pm start at the Dolphin. If we treat this as a semi-neutral venue for CRD (who have played here before on occasion), Flattrackstats’ prediction works out at an almost unprecedented 50% win chance for both teams, so it should be a doozy. It will also be Gin Atomic’s last game for Croydon as she’s transferring to the Rockers shortly afterwards. More details on the game at the link below.

MAYBE: AN ACTION PACKED 2015

For a long while now people have been bemoaning the lack of a structured league programme in roller derby. When all games are effectively randomly decided ‘friendlies’ and often only announced a couple of weeks in advance, it’s somewhat hard to follow a team’s progression, at least compared to more structured sporting schedules that have fixture lists etc. It looks like all of that will change next year. The word on the street is that the Heartland Series, which started out as a tournament for teams in the South Midlands, is being expanded into an official UKRDA competition with regional leagues, play offs and so forth. For a sample of the current incarnation of Heartland, get up to High Wycombe on Sunday 2nd November as six sides, including Eastbourne’s Bourne Bombshells, meet to decide the final 2014 South East league table. There will be a much bigger tournament packed with top UK derby sides next year, and as the highest ranked league South of the Thames (if we ignore Royal Windsor, who are based right by the river) we can surely expect the Brighton Rockers to be involved. With the likes of Croydon and Eastbourne also now using Haywards Heath for some of their games, it looks like 2015 is shaping up to be a packed year of roller derby in Sussex. That’s in the future, though. For now: see you in Havant on the 25th.

BHHR5

[Photos by John Hesse]

LOADS OF LINKS

SAT 25TH OCTOBER: PORTSMOUTH v BRIGHTON @ HAVANT
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/events/696301107128151/
TICKETS: http://www.portsmouthrollerwenches.com/tickets/

SAT 25TH OCTOBER: BRISTOL v S.W.A.T. @ BRISTOL

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/events/1401670140055377/
TICKETS: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/872994

SAT 1ST NOVEMBER: CROYDON v ONE LOVE @ HAYWARDS HEATH
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/events/498776193593358/
TICKETS: http://croydonrollerderby.co.uk/events/event/planet-of-the-apex/

SUN 2ND NOVEMBER: HEARTLAND SE (inc Bombshells) @ WYCOMBE
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/events/291813547693603/
TICKETS: Link on Facebook page above

BRIGHTON ROCKERS ONLINE
WEBSITE: http://www.brightonrockers.com/
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/brightonrockers
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/BrightonRockers

The A-Z of Brighton Rockers v Croydon Roller Derby

crdr1

HAYWARDS HEATH @ 26TH JULY 2014

A is for Alcohol. Call us rambunctious old soaks, but one of our big concerns going into this game is ‘how will things change under the new regime?’ Not the Rockers’ regime – although the league has undergone a major directorial switcheroo – but the venue’s. Freedom Leisure have lost control of the Dolphin to DC Leisure, whose yucksome ‘Places for People’ brand name has us a little fearful. Will the ‘secret’ gym bar no longer be usable by derby fans? Indeed so. Good news though: There’s a bar inside the hall itself for the first time. Bad news though: It’s a trestle table with a shoebox fridge that seems to make things warmer rather than colder, and a selection of drinks that can best be described as eclectic. It looks like they gave the bloke working the bar thirty quid and told him to get what he could from Sainsbury’s. Shades of student house party kitchen detritus. The two bottles of lukewarm Bacardi Breezer sat in the defridgerator will be amongst the leftovers, and we’d like to think the Dolphin staff will tip all of the unsold cans and bottles into one big bowl, call it ‘punch’ and hammer through it at the end of their shift.

B is for Brighton’s squad. A number of factors, such as impending wedness, wanderings and workloads, have shorn the Rockers of a chunk of their squad recently. Some of the missing players are in the room, but in trackside roles such as line-up manager (Racey) or merch-peddler (Ultrafoxx). There are two ‘new’ additions to the Rockers fourteen, however, in the form of a recent transferee and an injury returnee. More on those individuals later – we have another 24 letters to fill.

C is for Croydon’s ambitions.
Great they are. Indeed so. As Yoda might say if he followed English roller derby and was slightly less fictional. The South Londoners have stopped fare dodging on trams, burning down their own town and [insert your own lazy Croydon stereotype here] for long enough to build one of the country’s fastest rising derby leagues. A couple of years ago the Rockers would have wiped the floor with CRD, but now (as a couple of battling closed door games demonstrated) the gap between the two sides has shrunk greatly. Given the sparsity of leagues south of the Thames, the two sides are effectively neighbours. The close derby friendship between Croydon and Brighton – very different to their relationship in most other sports – merely adds to what’s at stake/skate here. Oh yes, we’re in for a humdinger!

D is for Derby McGee.
There’s a temptation as a semi-savvy spectator to sometimes think of Brighton’s packs as ‘The Mighty Mighty Bash and three others’, even though the iconic Rockers taliswoman will likely feature in less than half a game’s defensive line-ups (and more like 25% if she’s being called upon to jam regularly). Largely that’s down to how much harder the role of a blocker is to understand than that of a jammer. “The blockers are the sods who slow down the game and stop people scoring, yeah,” as a friend watching their first match remarked to us, “before being sent off for some seemingly arbitrary reason.” It’s hard to argue with that analysis, which is why we recommend audience members spend one or two jams a half not following the lead (or Rockers) jammer, but following a Brighton blocker. One who isn’t Bash, as you’ll likely see even more nuances of her play (it’s not all just knocking people over!) from the way she interacts with the person you’re following. We’d suggest someone like Hairy Fairy, Dr Whooligan… or Derby McGee.

crdr2

E is for Estimated result. Croydon aren’t members of national governing body UKRDA, so we had to turn to the European rankings to see how this one was predicted to play out. 82% chance of a home win, they said. 195-130 or thereabouts to Brighton, they said. They were off by quite a margin.

F is for First whistle.
Blowing the first whistle is the roller derby equivalent of bowling the ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game. US Presidents, celebrities and others have done the latter, and we’ve seen plenty of confused provincial Mayors attempt the former. Today’s game sees the de facto ‘guest of honour’ going one step further and jamming the first jam. As pleasing as it would be to see the Mayor of Haywards Heath on skates and up against the Croydon pack – and to be fair to Mrs Ellis, we reckon she’d give it a go – today’s (sort of) ‘guest of honour’ is actually Mistress, one of Brighton’s top jammers, here playing in her final A-team game. It’s perhaps testament to how close Brighton think this one might go that it’s the first rather than last jam of the game she’s taking the star of honour in – the Rockers want to keep their options open for the endgame. We’ll gloss over the jam itself (penalty call, power jam, 13-0 to Croydon) out of politeness.

G is for Gin Atomic. One of a handful of CRD players who actually live and work in Brighton, which is another reason why such a lot rests on the result of this game. There’s been plenty of good-natured banter, on Facebook and in the flesh – in bars and on beaches, across skate parks and supermarkets – in the run-up to today. There will also, of course, be bragging rights aplenty available to the victors. “Bring it!” as they say.

H is for Haywards Heath station.
The trains are monumentally spangled today. Up to an hour’s delay on the 15-minute journey from Brighton. A lot of people being told to change at Hove. Trains from East Croydon gubbered as well. That’s not the reason for the delayed start to today’s proceedings, although this is helpful for those struggling to get here. The track laying equipment arrived late. This always seems to happen, at every roller derby event ever held, anywhere in the world at any time in history. Meanwhile, train troubles (and geography) might be one reason that most of the Croydon posse will hold their own after party in the pub opposite HH station, rather than join the official one back in Brighton. Also: giant Jenga.

I is for Into the action. Brighton have chalked back a few points, with Rose Bleed, Bash and Whooligan taking the star in quick succession, but the CRD Riot Squad are staying a fair way ahead. A lot of that’s down to Vikispeedia, a regular in the Croydon star, who might sometimes take a while to get past the Rockers pack, but once through she turns on the pace that her name suggests and forces a quick call. Do Or Dyduch takes advantage of a power jam (Bash sin binned) to edge it up to 24-9. Bash back on next jam, up against Gin, and Rockers pivot Shambolic is having an on-off relationship with the floor, as tough blockers like Inara Terror and Mosquito set to work. Sham gets some measure of revenge in the next jam, starring up and taking the inside line to pull it back to a six point game. Another jammer penalty against Bash and a PJ start for Viki sees CRD double the gap, before a single pass for Whooligan pulls a little back. Team timeout Brighton.

crdr3

J is for Jam 12. More aggressive here from the Rockers as the game resumes. Rose v Gin, the former taking lead, the latter being recycled well and inadvertently pegged back by her own pack. Brighton could close things here, but there’s a penalty called on the Sussex starhead, and it goes the full two minutes with CRD extending their lead. Rockers take LJ again in the next jam, with Bash sending Nikki Blocker Glory flying as Sham swoops through, before picking up the almost inevitable track cut. Full two-minute jams in this heat must be quite the marathon out there, and we’re getting plenty of them. Whilst the jammers are picking up a fair few penalties, the sin bin’s blocker seats seem to be even more in demand. This is a tough, physical game – you feel that whichever side can keep a better lid on their blocking offences will probably take the win. Polly Filla held back well as Brighton claw back to near parity, but a fantastic apex jump (and accompanying punch of the air) from Dyduch in Jam 17 sees Riot Squad edging away once more. She, Gin, Polly and Viki keep banking points as the first half comes to a close. Croydon sit on the smiley side of a 66-91 scoreline.

K is for Kelvin. Which is basically Celsius (or centigrade if you’re old like us) but 273.15 degrees higher. We’d estimate the temperature in the hall today at around 320 degrees Kelvin, ie it’s sweltering. Thank goodness then that the fridge on the bar is keeping the drinks they sell at a temperature roughly akin to swigging directly from a freshly boiled kettle. Gadnammit.

L is for Losing at home.
Something the Rockers have only ever done once in front of an audience. That was last time out against Middlesbrough’s mighty Milk Rollers. Losing at half time, on the other hand, has become something of a habit recently. We wouldn’t normally be concerned, therefore – they’ve pulled it back from far bigger intermission deficits than this one – but then again, those haven’t been quite the (good natured) ‘grudge’ match that this one is. In summary: Eep!

M is for Mistress Von Über Vixen. The veteran (in terms of skating service not age, obv) Rockers star is back from a year’s injury lay-off and is turning out for the All-Stars for the last time today. The milestone of her retirement duly formed the focus of the Brighton team’s skate out, with the whole squad donning cardboard Mistress face masks – apart from Mistress herself, that would be a bit too meta. The players were also announced with their numbers, but her name: “number five, Mistress Von Über Vixen… number six, Mistress Von Über Vixen…” and so forth. Somehow the others managed to keep this whole fiendish plan secret from the legendary lady herself. There may have been some tears.

N is for Neutral views.
There aren’t many of those to be had at a derby derby such as this. Announcer Rolling Thunder is being as faux neutral as announcers can be, but we know he’s Croydon so we ain’t falling for that one, and we can’t find his co-caller Mother Mercy. It takes a cluster of Bourne Bombshells, a smattering of derby first timers, and the odd passing lifeguard, to offer up unbiased half time opinions in the Dolphin lobby. “Riot Squad seem to want it more.” Brighton are just toying with them.” “I think they’ll start using Bash in the pack more second half.” “They need pacier jammers, CRD’s are catching up too fast when Brighton gets lead.” “Do you think anyone’s going to buy those Bacardi Breezers?” “I reckon the Rockers will win by 50.” “Croydon will sneak this, possibly on the final jam.” “Don’t know what you’re talking about mate, I’m a lifeguard.”

crdr4

O is for Off we go. Very few points poached in the second period’s opening jams. Sham battling through on the inside line, but Dyduch on her tail. Bash running into a tough Croydon wall. Smashasaurus Bex, Turbo Chick, Inara and Total Bevlam amongst the standouts in the Riot Squad packs, resplendent in CRD’s purple-grey gradient team tops – if there’s a snazzier uniform in UK derby, we’ve yet to see it. Agent Cooper starting to feature in the Croydon star in the second half. Vikispeedia besting Bash now, before being taken out by Sham. Resilient blocking from the likes of Emma The Condemner, Chaka Carnage, Cake Or Death and Anti-Gravetty in the Brighton black, but something needs to change. CRD aren’t letting that differential slip.

P is for Pace. As someone mentioned in the interval, Croydon’s starheads seem to have that extra bit of pace to close Brighton’s down. With Cooper added to the rotation, they’re if anything even pacier this period. The Rockers will use Bash more sparingly in the star for the middle portion of this half, with debutant Swann taking over a few of her jamming stints. Bash’s physicality in the pack is a key weapon in slowing the Riot Squad jammers down. Brighton are missing a few jammers here, and pace-wise Kapow! and Chariot Sophia are the most notable absentees. Rose is as sprightly as a sackful of squirrels though, finding inside lines amidst speed skating passes. Starting to feature a lot in the star now. Rose, Whooligan, Rose, Swann, Rose it goes. Battling two-wall of Emma and Bash keeping Cooper pegged back as the rest of the Rockers pack sit it out in penalty box. Sussex side clawing things back, jam by jam. 101-110 now. Touching distance. Croydon, visibly rattled, call a team timeout.

Q is for Quarter (final).
The game resumes with less than fifteen minutes left on the period timer. Sham holding up Polly, jammer on jammer, lining her up for Hairy Fairy to knock her off. Hairy, Bash, Whooligan and Hyde ‘N’ Shriek forming up as one of the toughest Brighton packs available, playing Polly like a pinball ball, as the Rockers take a 114-110 lead. Swann v Cooper, two penalties in one jam to the former, lead change to the latter. 114-129. Hairy has fouled out on seven penalties. Emma will take her place in the power defence. Enyo Face battling to contain a zippy Viki. Aborted star pass sees the latter making a scoreless pass. 132-140. It’s intense. It’s Bacardi Breezer intense, but the bar bloke is wheeling everything out of the hall to start mixing the punch.

R is for Racey.
Taking the place of Maude Fondeo as line-up manager alongside regular bench coach Mass Janeycide, the erstwhile Rockers captain’s loud, undisobeyable voice is perhaps a missing piece of the on track jigsaw. An announcement later in the summer confirms a long period off skates for the Aussie whipsmith. Elsewhere, Sophia remains MIA, and rumours emanating from Rockers Towers suggest other big names are preparing to take a step back. There’s some inevitability to this. The Rockers, like most competitive UK derby leagues, were formed in 2010. Almost everyone seems to be in a transitional phase four years on, as it seems that’s the limit before a derby team has to regenerate. So where are the replacements coming from to plug those gaps (be they temporary or permanent) in the Brighton roster? The Rockers have almost year-round Fresh Meat programmes these days, from which more gems will surely emerge. What of transfers? That’s something opponents Croydon actively pursue, with players coming in this summer from the likes of Eastbourne, Brighton (non A-team) and elsewhere. The Rockers have but a few. They could do with a few more. This is, after all, the most transient of transient towns.

crdr5

S is for Swann.
A case in point. Many other leagues have skaters that travel to training from 50-odd miles away. Until the Hastings-based former Bombshell joined the Rockers this summer, Lewes and Worthing were about the furthest afield Brighton had recruited from. Swann – golden of helmet, concrete of shoulders – is supported here by a phalanx of Bombshells, all waving handmade signs saluting her awesomeness. It’s been a mixed game (penalty heavy when jamming) but simply being rostered here, scant weeks after joining the league, is indicative of how important the Rockers believe their new arrival could be over the coming season.

T is for Thwack!
Bash sends Dyduch flying into a wall at circa 80 miles an hour. Penalty called. Against Dyduch not Bash. “Rule 5.11.137(g) damaging opponent’s venue by being propelled into it is an offence.” Or maybe it was a track cut.

U is for Underdogs.
Croydon, on paper, at the outset. Brighton, on track, for much of the game. The South Londoners have put up quite a battle. The pace of Viki and Cooper, wiliness of Gin and Dyduch, and ferret-tough battling of Mosquito, Bevlam and others have brought them to the brink of winningness. Are the Rockers prepared to let slip a second home defeat in a row? Sham bags the lead change as Dyduch sits in the sin bin. 142-140. Bash v Gin. Sham tussling one on one with the Croydon jammer, knocking her off, dragging her back. Rose v Dyduch. Sham v Viki. Rose v Dyduch. CRD bench coach Herbielicious calls a team timeout with 27 second left on the clock, forcing one final jam.

V is for Victory.
Bash in the Brighton star. Viki in Croydon’s. Bash takes lead. Could call straight away for the win, but wants to at least try for a point. Hits the pack. Taps her sides. Four whistles. Swirly hands and more whistles. Game over. Brighton take it 163-151. Victory for the Rockers. Victory. (Which is also the name of a Brighton pub with CRD connections that is hosting the Bristol after party, but we digress.)

W is for Winners (of Awards). Total Bevlam picks up CRD’s best blocker award, with best jammer going to Vikispeedia, and Polly Filla bagging MVP. Brighton’s gong winners are Derby McGee (blocker), Rose Bleed (jammer) and Bash as MVP.

X is for X-ray.
Fortunately the game is injury-free, so none of the players need one. None of the players need a xylophone either. Heck, no-one ever needs a xylophone.

Y is for Yagermeister (phonetically, at least). Which is not as chilled as we’d like, here at the after party in the Marwood – we’re used to those machines that spit it out colder than a politician’s smile – but after the Dolphin bar anything without steam coming off it is damn well cold enough. There is party games. There is dancing. There is post mortems of the contest. Mostly, for us at least, there is Jägermeister. Or maybe there isn’t. Maybe they don’t sell it, and we’re just drinking tiny glasses of cough medicine flavoured coffee. By this stage in proceedings we can’t really tell.

Z is for Zoom! Another game already! (And not just because we’re so damn late with this report, oh no, not at all.) The Rockers are back in action in Haywards Heath this Saturday (20th September) against Bristol’s Harbour Harlots. Whilst the South West side are ranked a fair way below Brighton, they’re actually the only lower ranked team to have ever beaten the Rockers – although Croydon gave it a damn good go. So will Brighton get their revenge? Or will Bristol shock the Rockers once again? A full preview will appear on this site very soon. In the meantime, go get your tickets from the link below.

BRIGHTON ROCKERS 163 – CROYDON RIOT SQUAD 151

[Photos by John Hesse]

LINKS
TICKETS V BRISTOL: http://www.brightonrockers.com/#!shop/cttr
FB EVENT V BRISTOL: https://www.facebook.com/events/260828327459718/
BRIGHTON ROCKERS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/
CROYDON ROLLER DERBY: http://croydonrollerderby.co.uk/

Turn Left Issue 7 online

ISSUE 7 ONLINE

If you missed out on a copy of the the fanzine we produced for the Rockers recent home game against Croydon Roller Derby’s Riot Squad, you can click on the cover above to view the online version. Unfortunately we don’t have enough print copies left to put any in pubs/shops this time around. Huge thanks as ever to all the interviewees, photographers and lovely advertisers. Cheerses.

Brighton Rockers All-Stars v Croydon Roller Derby Riot Squad preview

CRDP1

It seems like ages since the Rockers were last in action. In fact that game against Middlesbrough was only ten weeks ago, but this feels like a huge gap given how spoiled we were by three home games in three months running up to it. This Saturday’s match (July 26th) will be well worth the wait, though. It’s arguably the most eagerly anticipated Rockers match-up ever. Croydon Roller Derby have already taken Brighton on twice before, but those games were designated as potentially so awesome that the public weren’t allowed in to watch them, in case people in the crowd exploded from excitement. At last suitable insurance and medical provision have been sourced for a Brighton v CRD game to be legally viewable by a paying audience. Yay!
    The match takes place at Brighton’s regular venue, the Dolphin in Haywards Heath, with doors at 2.30pm and first whistle at 3. Tickets are £8 each, or you can pick up four for just £24 (six quid each) online in advance. Children under 12 go free. Check out the bottom of this piece for more info about the venue and links to tickets, FB pages and more. In a moment we’ll hear about the game from members of both sides – Riot Squad captain Apocalex and Brighton’s Mistress – but first, here’s a little number crunching…
    As Croydon don’t belong to the UKRDA we’ll have to use the European rankings at flattrackstats to compare the sides. CRD were briefly ranked one place (and 0.3 points) above the Sussex league, but this was due to a mixed team Rockers game in Lille being categorised as A-team, an error that has since been rectified. Brighton currently place 21st (on 647.4 points) and Croydon are up to 26th (632.8). That’s an eleven place jump for CRD since we last checked, which just goes to show how fluid/random derby rankings can be. The site predicts the Rockers have a 72% chance of taking the win, with an expected score differential of 40:31. This would equate to a typical derby scoreline in the region of a 200-155 home win.
    With the other European rankings sites no longer updating, we have nothing to compare this prediction to. These ‘computerised guesses’ are often spectacularly wrong as they obviously can’t factor in events on the day, player availability and suchlike. Certainly, these two sides know each other well, and a lot of bragging rights rest on the result of the game. Only one league has met both of these sides in open door competition this past year. That’s Central City Rollergirls, whose Ghouldielocks tells us: “Croydon are a tough and dynamic team who are full of surprises, making them a strong side. Brighton are a powerful and established force in the UK and certainly pack a punch on the flat track. If our last meets with these respective teams are anything to go by, then this game is going to be a battle of epic proportions with neither side wanting to concede a loss. I think it will come down to the final jam.” Crikey!

CRDP2

MISTRESS VON ÜBER VIXEN – BRIGHTON ROCKERS ALL-STARS

We hear you will be retiring from competitive derby after this game. Was that a tough decision and have injuries been a factor?
It has been a very tough decision and one that took me a long time to reach. Yes, my injuries did play a large role. I have sustained many over the years, but I was determined to come back from the broken leg I suffered last year. I felt I might have cheated myself had I not tried. This game is the culmination of all of the hard work required to get back to All-Stars level play, and I’m immensely proud of that. I no longer have anything to prove to myself in that regard, and I feel extremely fortunate that I’m able to leave competitive play on my own terms.

The Rockers have met Croydon twice before behind closed doors. Presumably you learn more about an opponent’s strengths and weaknesses the more you play them?
The Croydon Roller Derby Riot Squad are an excellent team who work hard to constantly improve. They’ve come on in leaps and bounds with their performances in the last year. We are quite familiar with many of their long-standing players, but they have quite a few players who have moved up from the B- to A-team that will be a challenge for us. We have made the mistake of underestimating teams in the past and that’s not something that we care to repeat. We’re going to give everything we’ve got for this game!

A few Croydon players live in Brighton and CRD have played a couple of home games here at the Dolphin. Will that benefit them?
Compared to our other opponents? Possibly only in that they will be familiar with the floor at the Dolphin. However, compared with our last few home games, Croydon will definitely have more crowd support here in the hall, as their fans are more likely to travel with them.

Do you have any new tactics or line-ups prepared to counter the Riot Squad threat?
You know we’re not going to give away any secrets! We have been working hard on some new tactics and have watched Croydon’s constant improvement in both offence and defence, so we’ll be ready for them. As far as line-ups go, we have our methods to create the strongest packs possible and we’re sticking with that.

Care to predict the result?
I don’t like predictions, as any team is only as good as they are on the day, but I do think that this will be a hard-fought, close contest and another thrilling game for our fans to watch!

CRDP3

APOCALEX – CROYDON ROLLER DERBY RIOT SQUAD

CRD have played Brighton in home and away closed doors. Presumably the teams know each other well?
Croydon love playing Brighton! These games are always lots of work but also very enjoyable. Of course some names are a little more well known around the derbyverse, but what makes Brighton great is that all of their skaters are a formidable threat.

Will you be adapting your own play/tactics based on what you learned from previous games against Brighton? Any CRD players the crowd should look out for?
We have been working on a few new tactics that we hope to debut in this game. Given how strong the opposition jammers are, we have really been working on our defence. Strong walls are key! As for star players, everyone on Riot Squad has earned their spot on the team, and in my eyes that means they are all ones to watch.

Some of CRD live in Brighton and you’ve used this Haywards Heath venue for a few home games. Are there benefits to such local knowledge?
I don’t think our Brighton-based skaters could tell us anything about the Rockers we don’t already know, having played them twice. The encounter can be summed up by saying that they are very tough and the game will be super hard. Haywards Heath is not our usual venue, though we have played a couple of games there, so I don’t think we’ll get much of an advantage from that.

Would you like to predict the result of the game or after party?
We don’t hold too much by the rankings and their accuracy, though we are happy to state that Brighton are a VERY tough team to play. Regarding the game, much depends on what happens on the day. Given the status and reputation of Brighton, as long as we play our best and work as hard as we can, I’ll be happy with the outcome. As for the after party… WATCH OUT EARTH… this could get messy!

CRDP4

VENUE INFO ETC
Many of those attending will know the Dolphin leisure centre well, but for those who don’t the postcode is RH16 1LY and there is a decent sized car park attached. Those travelling by rail should make for – unsurprisingly – Haywards Heath, which by fast train is just one stop from Brighton (13 mins) and two stops from East Croydon (27-30 mins). The venue is about seven minutes walk; turn left on leaving the station and follow the ‘roller derby’ signs stuck to lampposts, trees and small dogs. The Burrell Arms pub opposite the station is OK as townie sports pubs go, with a large back garden should you require a pit stop on arriving. There’s also a large Sainsbury’s store en route to the leisure centre.
    The Dolphin actually changed hands on the 1st July, moving from Freedom Leisure to DC Leisure. The new owners have promised changes to catering facilities, so apologies if the following information is now out of date. The centre has a cafe bar in the entrance foyer, which does food and soft drinks, but only limited types of booze. There are also vending machines in this area. We personally favour the second bar, which is a few corridor turns past the sports hall. This is small and attached to a health club. It has a strange system where you have to order and pay one side, then take your receipt round the corner to get your drinks. Queues can develop at both outlets, but this ‘secret’ bar has wider booze options (though no food) compared to the foyer one.
    Be sure to check out the vendors in the hall; particularly the Rockers merch stall, which sees the official launch of various new Rockers branded items, such as badges, keyrings and magnetic bottle openers. There are also a wide range of T-shirt designs, and you have a chance of winning one in a competition the league are currently running on Facebook. To enter, take a photo of yourself by one of the Rockers stickers stuck up around central Brighton and upload it to the league’s FB page. Can’t find a sticker? Check out the BRATS Facebook page for clues to some locations where we’ve spotted them. Also, don’t forget to pick up a free copy of our fanzine Turn Left alongside the programmes at the ticket desk. It’s our most packed issue to date. As well as a four page preview of the game, there’s a guide to the Rockers’ twelve nearest neighbouring leagues, an article explaining how Brighton v Middlesbrough was the first derby match bookies took bets on, plus interviews with Rockers stars current and future.
    The after party will take place back in Brighton, and as we understand it will be on the upper floor at the Marwood coffee shop (one of the league’s sponsors), which is staying open late for the event. Though traditionally more geared up for queues of foreign students ordering double skinny half-wet decaf recaf iced banana mocha capuccinos, the Marwood does have a booze licence and things will get suitably rowdy whatever the result!

[Photos by Dave McAleavy, Rebecca Cornford and Chris Bell]

LINKS
BUY TICKETS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/#!shop/cttr
FB EVENT PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/630604297025123/
BRIGHTON ROCKERS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/
CROYDON ROLLER DERBY: http://croydonrollerderby.co.uk/
ROCKERS FB (inc T-shirt competition): https://www.facebook.com/brightonrockers
BRATS FB (inc sticker clues!): https://www.facebook.com/brightonbrats
AFTER PARTY: http://www.themarwood.com/