Rockers Derby Sevens: Online Magazine and YouTube Video

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Our regular magazine Turn Left only appears at traditional Brighton Rockers home games, but we put together a special eight-page mini-mag for Sunday’s epic Derby Sevens event hosted by the Rockers. Click on the image above for the online version of it, or pick up a physical copy on the flyer/games shelves in Brighton’s Evening Star and Bierhaus pubs. Special thanks to all our lovely interviewees, photographers and awesomes advertisers.

Or click below if you want to check out our short (3’40”) YouTube vlog on the event. Yay!

Mr Adam Reports : Roller Derby

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OMG They Made Roller Derby EXTRA CHAOTIC! Get To ROCKERS SEVENS This Sunday!

Roller derby rolls back into Haywards Heath this Sunday (27th August) as the mighty Brighton Rockers host their first ever Derby Sevens tournament. Here’s everything you need to know about this awesomes and extra hardcore derby event…

SEVEN FACTS ABOUT ROCKERS SEVENS

1. WHERE AND WHEN
It’s taking place this Sunday, the 27th (a date that ends in the number SEVEN) of August at the Dolphin Leisure Centre in Haywards Heath, with doors from midday and a roughly 6pm finish time.

2. GETTING IN
Tickets are priced (in keeping with the theme) at SEVEN pounds for adults, free for under 12s. Get yours from the link at the bottom of this piece. They should be available on the door too.

3. GETTING TO
The venue is almost exactly SEVEN minutes walk from Haywards Heath train station – turn left and head on in that direction, following roller derby signage attached to lampposts, dogs and passers by.

4. ON THE WAY
There’s a decent enough pub (The Burrell, which is SEVEN letters) opposite the station, and a big Sainsbury’s roughly halfway between the station and venue (it shuts at 4pm on Sundays but has an ATM outside – there’s no ATM at the venue).

5. BAR BOOZE
There are bar facilities in the venue and bringing in booze from elsewhere is very much frowned upon. There will probably only be SEVEN bottles of London Pride in the fridge though, and we’ve bagsied five of them. Just saying.

6. PARTY TIME
The official after party is at the East Street Tap in Brighton. Whose address is 72 East Street. Which is a number that starts with SEVEN, yeah?

7. MAGAMAZINE
We only produce our fanzine Turn Left for traditional Rockers home games, but we made a late decision to do a one-off mini-mag for this event. Pick it up on the door. It’s exactly SEVEN pages long (if you don’t include the cover).

SEVEN QUOTES ABOUT ROCKERS SEVENS

1. EMMA THE CONDEMNER, BRIGHTON ROCKERS
“There just isn’t the time to ‘find your feet’ and if you start to give away points there isn’t the time to recoup them later!”

2. TORI BEE, FOR 7s SAKE

“It’s like those scrimmages where hardly anyone shows up and you have to play every jam! It’s a test of endurance for sure, but you play a whole lotta derby, the fun keeps going and you can stay in your groove.”

3. BULLET BOMBER, BOURNE BOMBSHELLS

“Depending on how the line-ups work, you could be doing one on then one off as a jammer, or be blocking three or four jams in a row before sitting one out.”

4. CAZ VEGAS, JACKALS
“The games are shorter, but you need to remember that it’s not just an hour’s game with two halves and that your opponents change!”

5. FELLEN E ASSAULT, 7 DEADLY SINS
“It takes less penalties before a foul out, but that absolutely definitely never happens to any of us, so I’m sure that wont be a problem, yeah?”

6. AMPERSAND WHAT, WE ARE ALL LOVE
“There are no timeouts nor any extra players if you need one, so there’s no time to get a moment’s rest. It’s good for upping your endurance and seeing all the amazing things your body can do under pressure.”

7. EMMA THE CONDEMNER, BRIGHTON ROCKERS
“A player will foul out after four penalties instead of the normal seven and there are no timeouts. Basically it’s going to be a really fast-paced day packed full of derby!”

[Photos by John Hesse]

LINKS

FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1378515305601263/
TICKETS: https://www.brightonrockers.com/shop-cttr

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/

WHO Will RULE Under The NEW Rules… As VIENNA Waltz Into BRIGHTON?

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The mighty Brighton Rockers have their first home event of 2017 this Saturday 4th March at the Dolphin in Haywards Heath. Both the A-team and B-team will be action against their equivalents from Vienna Roller Derby. Tickets priced £10 adults, £8 students and free for Under 12s are available from the link at the bottom of this piece or on the door. There’s also a special online only deal of four adult tickets for the price of three, so round up some chums for a bargain price. Doors are at 2pm. If things follow the usual format of Rockers double headers we expect the A-team game first at around 2.30, followed by the B-team match at 4.30-ish.

If you’re one of the many who caught the Rockers in action for the first time at December’s exhibition game at the Corn Exchange, the venue in Haywards Heath is actually pretty easy to get to from Brighton. Drivers should point their Sat Navs at RH16 1LY – there’s parking at the leisure centre. A train from Brighton to Haywards Heath takes around fifteen minutes (£4.55 return with railcard) and the leisure centre is seven minutes walk west of the station. There’s a reasonable pub by the station (Burrell Arms) and a big Sainsbury’s on the way to the venue. There are ATMs at the station and Sainsbury’s but none at the leisure centre itself, so bring some cash for the bar and merch stands. Rail users from west of Brighton should note that the trainline between Brighton and Littlehampton is completely closed on Saturday, so allow a little extra time for a rail replacement bus to Brighton.

[Skip this paragraph if you don’t like to know predictions ahead of a game.] Brighton’s A-team didn’t have the best of starts to the year, going down to three heavy defeats in a tournament in Normandy at the tail-end of January. That has hit their ranking and is reflected in the Flattrackstats predictions. Vienna are rated 82nd in Europe on 565.5 points, whilst the Rockers place 113th on 536.2. The visitors are given 66% chance of victory, with an expected differential of 46:37 working out at something like a 184-148 away win. Vienna’s B-team place 252nd (472.4 pts) with the Rockerbillies 317th (449.5). The Vienna Beasts are given a 62% victory chance here, with an expected differential of 7:6 equating to something like a 175-150 win for Vienna B. It’s worth noting that Brighton are fielding full size squads (fourteen players) in both games, and we’re expecting them to fare far better than these predictions suggest.

This will be both leagues’ first open door games under the new WFTDA ruleset. The world governing body introduced no fewer than thirty rule changes two weeks ago, the biggest changes to the rules in around three years. See if you can spot what’s different on track. Or better still, pick up your free copy of our magazine ‘Turn Left’ on the door. Inside Rockers Head Ref LaserHammer talks us through the rules changes, whilst Finn McCruel and Shambolic look back on the last three months of games. The mag has full previews of not just Saturday’s games v the Austrian capital, but also the away trip to Portsmouth later in the month (Sat 25th) and much more. Enough blatant plugs for our tawdry zine, let’s hear from both leagues involved this Saturday…

“We’re going into the A-team game with a full roster and in theory, if we can do our magic, we can get all of our ranking back. We dropped down a lot because of results in Caen, but a good win over Vienna will put us back up there. So yeah, I’m hoping we beat them by a hundred points to get our old ranking back!”
SHAMBOLIC, BRIGHTON ROCKERS

“For the sake of harmony I would hope that both leagues win one game each. But as bench coach I really hope that Vienna Roller Derby wins both games. I leave the predicting to Flattrackstats and whatever they say is not written in stone either. It’s roller derby, so anything can happen!”
VENOM IN FURS, VIENNA ROLLER DERBY

[Photo by John Hesse]

LINKS
TICKETS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/shop
FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1249739501774598/
ROCKERS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/
VIENNA RD: http://www.viennarollerderby.org/

BRATS Review Of 2016: PART FOUR – You VOTED, We COUNTED, They WON… the 2016 AWARDS!

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If you’ve missed the previous instalments, we’ve been summarising all the events (eleven A-team, five B-team and three special games) from an action packed 2016 in the world of the Brighton Rockers. Check out our recap of the year at these links: PART ONE (Jan-June) / PART TWO (July-Oct) / PART THREE (Nov-Dec). This fourth and final part of our Annual Review is a little different as we crack open the ballot box from the BRATS/Turn Left end of year award voting. Last year’s box only appeared at one event (and no e-mail votes were cast), whereas this year it was gobbling up voting forms at three different locations – the games v Milan and Eastbourne in Haywards Heath on Dec 3rd, the Rockers exhibition match at Brighton Corn Exchange on Dec 10th, and that evening’s Christmas after party – as well as a flurry of votes by e-mail.

There’s a shiny badge and an equally shiny certificate for each winner, so please get in touch with us to arrange delivery if you’ve won one of this year’s awards. We’ve also listed the names of past winners for each category in this rundown. Bear in mind that while the 2015 vote was conducted in the same way (voting forms in the fanzine) as the 2016 one, the 2014 awards – which also had some different categories – were selected by half a dozen drunken BRATS folks in a pub. Many thanks to the gabillions (well, going on for a hundred) of you that voted this year. Without further ado, here’s who YOU chose as your top Rockers of 2016…

OTHER OF THE YEAR – TENACIOUS P
This one’s for all those folks whose roles aren’t covered by the other award categories, ie everybody except the players, refs and NSOs. A dozen different names picked up votes here, including some surprising choices – we’re not sure exactly what impact wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin had on the Rockers’ year. Our voting form mentioned bench crew, photographers and announcers as the sort of people this category covers, and this year saw a three-way race between one of each for the gong. Tied in second place were bench coach extraordinaire Mistress and top snapper John Hesse, whilst mic wielding loudmouth (ie awesomes announcer) Tenacious P took the prize by just half a vote! And if you’re wondering how we got a half-vote, someone put “the announcers” so we split that point between Phil and co-host Charlie.
Past winners: Mass Janeycide (2015)

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OFFICIAL OF THE YEAR – LASERHAMMER
Seven names picked up nods in this award for referees and NSOs. Curiously, last year’s winner Noise Tank didn’t garner a single vote (in this category at least) this time around – serves him right for moving to Japan, yeah? There was a strong showing from K-Tea, but in the end it was a two-way tussle between NSO (and A-team skater) Hippy Hippy Skate and Rockers Head Ref LaserHammer, with the latter edging ahead by a handful of votes to reclaim his crown from Noise.
Past winners: Noise Tank (2015), LaserHammer (2014)

ICON OF THE YEAR – FINN McCRUEL

The voting form lists this category as being for “the most inspiring Brighton Rocker on or off track” and fifteen different names were put forward, including players, announcers, bench crew and a ref (you got a vote here Noise!). This award largely favoured people involved in the league’s coaching set-up. Fresh Meat tenderisers Hairy Fairy and Kapow both picked up a load of support, as did last year’s winner Shambolic, but in the end it was the transfer from Finland, Finn McCruel, clinching the prize here by a single vote over Gin Atomic.
Past winners: Shambolic (2015)

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR – FARMERGEDDON
There were eight skaters put forward for this category, but the result was never in doubt. Farmergeddon’s rise through the Rockers ranks has been meteoric. Having only taken up the sport as part of the 2016 Fresh Meat intake, ‘geddon will be in the A-team squad the league send to a tournament in Normandy later this month. Fellen E Assault takes second place in this category, but with over 70% of the total votes cast, Farmergeddon rolls out the most convincing victor across the entire 2016 Awards… and will be looking to follow last year’s winner in becoming an established A-team AllStar.
Past winners: Speedy Gonzalex (2015)

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B-TEAMER OF THE YEAR – CRUELTY SPREE
The electorate selected a dozen names in this Best Rockerbillies Player category, with almost all of those picking up multiple votes. There were strong showings from Lab Wrath, Polly Dartin’, Fellen E Assault and Chloe Colossus, amongst others. Rookie award winner Farmergeddon finished second here, but Cruelty Spree took the win by a comfortable margin.
Past winners: Bionic Betty (2015)

BLOCKER OF THE YEAR – HAIRY FAIRY
Ten names picked up nods in the poll for Brighton’s best defensive player of the year. Hairy Fairy took the win by a handful over Finn McCruel, becoming the first player to retain their 2015 award. Cake Or Death and Irish Mist were amongst those picking up sizable voting tallies here, but the result was never really in doubt.
Past winners: Hairy Fairy (2015), Emma The Condemner (2014)

JAMMER OF THE YEAR – SHAMBOLIC
Despite being one of the main awards, this category actually saw the fewest different players voted for in the entire ballot, with just six names written in for this jamming prize and some very surprising omissions. Dr Whooligan, Mighty Mouse, Gin Atomic and Emma The Condemner picked up a few votes, but in the end around 75% of the ballot cast was split between just two people. 2014 winner Kapow has to settle for the runners-up slot here, with Shambolic taking a narrow (three votes) win.
Past winners: Skate Bush (2015), Kapow (2014)

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PLAYER OF THE YEAR – GIN ATOMIC
Moving to Japan may have reduced Noise Tank to just one vote in the entire ballot, but it doesn’t seem to have done Gin Atomic any harm. Gin joins Hairy Fairy as the only person to retain their 2015 award. It was a fairly close run thing in what (with sixteen names in the running) was the most heavily contested category of all. Cake Or Death, Finn McCruel and B-teamer Cruelty Spree picked up a fair few votes here, but in the end it was former housemate Shambolic who Gin edged out by a couple of votes to triumph.
Past winners: Gin Atomic (2015), Dr Whooligan (2014)

That rounds up the eight categories on the voting form, but (as happened last year) the fact that the company who make our winners’ badges have a minimum order of ten means we’ve rustled up a couple of bonus gongs. The first is our MOST VOTED FOR award, which goes to the person who picked up the most votes across all of the categories without actually winning any of them. Lab Wrath took this one last year, but here it’s a three-way race, with the bronze going to Cake Or Death, silver to Hippy Hippy Skate and the WINNER – KAPOW taking the gold. Where gold means a tacky badge and certificate.

Finally we have our new FRIEND OF BRATS award. Although it says 2016 on the badge and certificate, this is more a Hall Of Fame type thing for someone who has really helped BRATS out over the years. There are loads of potential names in the frame here – heck, our website and fanzine have featured interviews with well over a hundred skaters (from the Rockers and elsewhere) so far, on top of all the awesome advertisers and photographers who have contributed. Special shout outs to the amazeballs John Hesse – recently voted best photographer in a national derby poll – and our ever reliable if confused advertiser Mr Séamus (yes, he really does pay us full price for his fanzine ads, even after moving to Devon). In the end this inaugural award has to go to the person who appeared on the cover of the very first Turn Left, providing us with inordinate help re interview wrangling etc over the years, most recently sourcing tributes to Gin for Issue 17 and being the main interview in Issue 18. We’re referring of course to the well deserved WINNER – MISTRESS.

So ends our BRATS Review of 2016 (somewhat later than planned, due to that lurgy wot’s going around). The Rockers kickstart their 2017 season on the 28th & 29th of this month, when they face Caen, Amsterdam and one from Madrid, Hellfire (Nottingham) and Kallio B (Helsinki) in Normandy’s Slip It tournament. Here’s hoping they can improve on last year’s last place! If you can’t make it out to Caen for that one, the next event at Haywards Heath Dolphin sees the AllStars take on Vienna on Saturday 4th March. If 2017’s even half as action-packed as 2016 it’s gonna be a belter. Laters, yeah…

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]

BRATS Review Of 2016: PART TWO – Starting off EXTREME until it’s TIME for BED(S)

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Did you check out Part One of our Review of 2016 last week? Click here if not for the full story of January to June in Rockersland. We pick things up in Part Two (slightly delayed due to a bout of flu in BRATS HQ) in the seaside sunshine… The month of JULY saw one of the longest awaited match-ups in British derby. Brighton and Eastbourne have both had roller derby leagues for several years. Although the two have scrimmed with and against each other many times behind closed doors, there has never been a public game between them. All that changes on the Saturday of Eastbourne Extreme 2016 as the Brighton B-team Rockerbillies face off against Eastbourne Roller Derby’s Bourne Bombshells in the lunchtime sunshine on Ebo seafront.

These two sides narrowly missed out on meeting in the playoffs at last year’s Extreme tournament and both are much changed twelve months on. Brighton are giving a few of their 2016 Fresh Meat intake a first taste of action in front of a crowd, whilst Ebo (who are having a quiet year in terms of open door games) also have a number of new skaters in their ranks. The Rockerbillies have the better of the opening exchanges, with the likes of Mighty Mouse, Lab Wrath and Hippy Hippy Skate jamming them into a 35-14 lead. Despite the scoreline, which soon extends to 76-24, the ‘shells are getting as many lead jammer statuses as Brighton here. Track cut penalties are in abundance, however – as they would be on an outdoor surface with no perimeter wire to warn you – and these seem to be hitting the purple jammers harder.

Lily Malicious donning the Eastbourne star for the first time today. Hates jamming apparently, but her haul of fourteen marks the hosts’ best jam so far. Scoreless outings for Crash, Von Stackit and Amazing Graze follow as the Rockerbillies take a 122-48 lead into the interval. Polly Dartin and Speedy Gonzalex giving good defence for Brighton in the second half, with Smash’Er Fierce and The Philosofear both as hard-hitting as ever for Bombshells. Cruelty Spree fouling out for the ‘billies now. “You only get seven penalties in roller derby,” intones Tenacious P on the mic. “So make them good ones,” adds Mother Mercy. Smash’Er sending the entire pack (Brighton and Eastbourne) flying now. A number of high scoring jams for the impressive Mighty Mouse have made the difference here, as ‘billies bench coach Mistress celebrates a 207-142 win.

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The Rockers keep things chill over the summer, with their only public outing on skates in AUGUST being in the Brighton Pride parade. Early SEPTEMBER brings a double header in Haywards Heath against two challenge teams. First up the A-team AllStars face Team No Fuss. Captain Gin Atomic gives the hosts an early lead, before a great turn in the No Fuss star from Beat’her Parker (dancing along the outside line on her toe-stops) puts the visitors 25-16 up as Brighton call a team time out. Kapow is having a really good game today, battling hard to put more points on the board for the Rockers, but the No Fuss defence – particularly Wheel Deal and Liannarchy – are super resilient. Game tied at 40-40. Beat’her off for a while being treated for an injury. LRG’s O’Malley now donning the star every other jam for No Fuss and hitting Brighton hard, but some great starhead outings for Velvet Bottom, Gin and Shambolic round off the half with Brighton 93-50 up.

Half time sees a woman angrily berating a group of fans with a ‘Kick Her In The Face’ banner. “That’s not in the spirit of the sport,” she rails. Er, apart from being the Rockers team’s pre-game chant. Beat’her is back in action in the second half. She and Liannarchy are putting in good stints in the No Fuss star, but Brighton are racking up roughly double the visitors’ points haul here. Super tough blocking from Finn McCruel as Kapow hits another nineteen without reply. Further Kapower jams follow. Janey calls a team time out with one second left on the clock. Gin spins in a few more passes in the bonus jam as the AllStars roll out 240-113 winners. Curiously there are no victory laps and slaps, with Bomb S’Quadder Chasin’ Status the only member of the crowd to line up by the track tape. Maybe the ethos of ‘No Fuss’ is contagious?

Rockerbillies v Team Dragon now, a final game for ‘billies co-captain Van Hayley before her transfer to Bristol Roller Derby. The Rockers B-team are low on numbers here, so five Bourne Bombshells have joined their ranks. Several No Fuss skaters are back on track in Dragon colours. Things start out close, but a little messy. Dragons’ Tinkahell is expelled from the game for entering the penalty box at a dangerous speed. Janarchy, Amazing Graze and Hippy (the ‘billies best jammer so far) edging Brighton into a 30 point lead, but Dragon pull it back to 95-82 at the half time whistle. The Rockerbillies start the second half with their jammer in the box and Streets Of Rage takes advantage to make it a three-point game. Solid jamming from Lab, Hippy and Speedy, together with tough blocking from Van Hayley and Dolores Diablo, sees the hosts take a 142-100 lead with half a half left. Velocity Kendal, Streets and Rumpleteaser battling hard for Dragons, but the only question now is whether Brighton will make 200 before the final whistle. A power jam from Hippy sees them do just that with the final pass of the game: 200-118.

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The B-team sit out OCTOBER, whilst the A-team AllStars head off on two road trips, beginning with the Rockers’ first meeting with Welsh opposition as they take on the Tiger Bay B-team. We like Cardiff, mostly as it just seems to be one giant pub. The Wetherspoons by our hotel has THIRTY real ales on at £1.99 a pint. With Tiny Rebel, Brewdog and Waen Brewery bars in the same street, we leave this road only twice over the weekend, both times for visits to warehouses in the docklands area. The Doctor Who Experience is Sunday’s destination, whilst Saturday’s is Cardiff Central Youth Club. This is Tiger Bay’s first game in this cavernous venue, but a sudden threat of closure (Brains brewery wants to relocate to the site) means it could also be one of the last, gadnammit.

Tiger Bay’s A-team were ranked #1 in the UK Roller Derby Association on several occasions in the past few years, so their B-team is always going to be a tough proposition. The game starts off surprisingly clean, with no penalties (we think) for anyone in the first four jams. No sooner have we written this in our notebook than Cake Or Death becomes the first of a whole sequence of Rockers blockers taking a seat as the hosts rack up a 35-5 lead. Two five point passes for Gin makes things look more presentable for Brighton, but the likes of Hello Reeshi, Boba Fettish and Wild jammerise the hosts into a 102-62 half time advantage. The Rockers have been getting a reasonable number of bites of the lead jammer cherry – with Sham a particularly effective starhead today – but the Welsh packs are super hench.

Half time sees a demonstration of junior derby (Tiger Bay are probably the UK’s leading exponents of under-18s derby) as we enjoy the cheapest bar table we’ve ever encountered – £2 for a can of Guinness is practically offie prices! Those blocker penalties we mentioned come home to roost as Hairy Fairy – usually one of Brighton’s cleanest defenders – fouls out in the first jam of the second period. The announcer gets so excited by this that he blows up the PA; the remainder of the game will have a background of just music. Mighty Mouse does well in the Rockers star as the bar table runs out of Guinness and presents us with a Hobson’s Choice of shandy or Carling. The Sussex starheads are not getting much chance to take advantage of LJ status here, with the Welsh jammer almost always immediately at their back. Tiger Bay B-Bombs take it 227-147 and the Rockers retire to the thirty ales Wetherspoons.

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A mere two weeks (and one day) later and the AllStars are back on the road. This time the destination is Houghton Regis, a cluster of estates outside Luton that takes longer to get to on public transport than Cardiff – waaah! Rebellion Roller Derby are the hosts and they get off to a flying start with Boris and Dew Drop Her hitting Brighton for 17 without reply. The former is Rebellion’s biggest jamming threat, whilst Mayh’Em throws down tough blocking as the likes of Skate Bush and Sham struggle to break through. 48-11. Gin and Juno running master classes in apex jumps for their respective sides. Hench hitting Bush so hard she goes back in time. Never known a half with this many official time outs. It’s a squeaky close 145-122 to the hosts at the break.

Rebellion’s bar is even cheaper than Tiger Bay’s. In that it’s free. In that there isn’t one. “A venue with no alcohol means a quiet crowd,” one Rocker solemnly predicted, but the atmosphere’s actually pretty good. Superstar performance in the star from Sham at the start of the second and suddenly it’s 151-141. Rebellion keeping ahead through the period but only by a power jam’s distance (fifteen-ish). Brighton 217-235 down with 1’15” left as Gin lines up against Boris (who is starclad every other jam now) for the umpteenth time. Apex jump. Track cut. Track cut. Apex jump. Track cut. Super tough Brighton pack. Suddenly it’s 235-226. Is there time for two passes from Gin before the jam clock ticks out? There is. Takes it 236-235 in the final second as the Rockers go wild….

…only to go somewhat less wild ten seconds later as the two points Rebellion’s jammer banked before her final penalty box visit hit the scoreboard. Brighton haven’t won by a point, they’ve LOST by a point: 236-237. Ah poo. Still, an epic game, and the day’s second match sees the surprise re-appearance of ex-Brighton and Eastbourne skater Swann, here debuting for her new team, the Kent-based Apex Predators, after a long break from derby. Speaking of taking a break, we’ll pause our Review of 2016 there. At the end of October? Are we crazy? Yes, but so are the Brighton Rockers, and their November and December were so packed full of derby (eight games in a four week period!) that they demand an instalment of their own. See you soon for Part Three of our round-up…

[PHOTOS: Eastbourne by John Hesse. Cardiff by Adam Chard. Rebellion by Daz Wilson.]