The MIGHTY ROCKERS take on DRAGONS and the NOT FUSSED! Full Preview


This Sunday (4th September) sees the Brighton Rockers hosting an epic double header at the Dolphin in Haywards Heath. Both Rockers sides will be facing challenge teams composed of skaters from various different home leagues. The A-team AllStars are facing a super tough Team No Fuss roster, whilst the B-team Rockerbillies lock toe-stops with a very different Team Dragon squad to the one that defeated the AllStars at the Dolphin in February of last year. One aspect in which challenge teams differ from home leagues is that Flattrackstats, whilst recording (some) challenge team scores, doesn’t include them in any rankings system. As a result, their computer won’t come up with predicted win percentages or scorelines for games involving challenge sides. So we really have no idea what’s going to happen in the games. You’ll have to pop along to find out!

Doors open at 2pm with the A-team game up first at 2.30 and the B-team battle following at around 4.30. Tickets are £10 for adults, £8 students and free for under 12s. Online sales have closed, but tickets will be available on the door. The Dolphin is about seven minutes walk from Haywards Heath station (turn left and follow the signs on lampposts) and Southern have forgotten to have any Sunday engineering works affecting the station this week yay! There’s parking at the leisure centre and a big Sainsbury’s (shuts at 4pm) between the venue and station if you need supplies. You can’t bring in your own booze, but there will be a table selling beer, wine and cider in the hall. The after party takes place at the Star pub at the bottom of Broadway, about 15 mins hike from the leisure centre (walk back past the station and hang a right).

Sunday sees our tawdry Brighton Rockers fanzine become the (tied) longest running – in terms of issues – British roller derby magazine of all time. The only place you can pick up this (obviously historic, yeah?) sixteenth issue of Turn Left is on the door at the venue. As ever the magazine is free of charge. Inside you’ll find interviews with members of all four teams, a report on the Rockers’ Brighton Pride shenanigans, the inside story on our mysterious advertiser Mr Séamus, an ‘I-Spy at a Rockers Game’ contest, and more. Enough shameless self-publicity, what can we expect from the games themselves? We’ve no idea. Luckily, we spoke to some people who do. Here’s brief extracts from our fanzine interviews with the teams taking part…


Founded by former Bourne Bombshells bench coach (and most recently manager of men’s Team England) Polka Dotty, No Fuss these days includes skaters from across Sussex, Kent, Hampshire, Essex, London and far beyond. This will be the first time a No Fuss team has faced a Brighton side, at least in public. With a huge roster of skaters on their books (70+) it will be interesting to see who takes to the track for No Fuss today.

“I also play for Team No Fuss, but I’ll be rocking the Brighton blue and black today. Looking at the No Fuss roster, it’s a beast of a squad. Look out for Mother Mercy – she’s hilarious and my favourite thug. LRG’s O’Malley is brilliant with mad skills. Evil Badger is another super solid skater. From a Rockers perspective, we’ve got old favourites and new. There’s Shambolic with her crazy fast spinny footwork, Emma the Condemner’s brilliant defense… We’ve also got some new transfers from Finland and France taking part today. Finn McCruel joined us from Helsinki Roller Derby, whilst Velvet Bottom comes from Roller Derby Rouen. Both have played derby for many years. I think they’ll quickly establish themselves as crowd favourites. I won’t make any predictions for the score. People will score points. I hope I score some of them.”

“No Fuss now have over 70 members from between ten and fifteen different leagues. We are mainly from the South but fairly spread out, and have recruited some talent from a bit further North. Today we have a very strong, although not fussy, roster. Not that we are fussed, but we’re expecting some tough derby from Brighton. I’ve come up against them a couple of times with my home team Portsmouth and they form killer walls and have awesome skaters. I’ll be watching out for our No Fuss teammates, some real double threats on track from Brighton. Gin Atomic is always one to watch.”


The day’s second game sees the Rockerbillies joined by several skaters from Eastbourne to take on Team Dragon. TD were founded by former London Rollergirls Recreational League bench coach Max Rees. Although Max has since moved to Canada, the team still has LRG rec league skaters at its score. This game is a Brighton swansong for B-team captain Van Hayley, who is transferring to Bristol Roller Derby.

“Five Eastbourne skaters (Bullet Bomber, Hell Block H, Amazing Graze, Drag N Fly and myself) are all playing for the Rockerbillies today. We got an e-mail asking if any of us were free to skate as they were a little low on skaters. We jumped at the chance – there were about ten of us who wanted to play! In the run up to today we’ve attended their training a couple of times, so that we can be on the same page with regards to tactics. The Eastbourne skaters playing today are a mixture of blockers and jammers. Bullet Bomber is a great double threat and always one to watch. At this year’s Extreme, two Rockerbillies who impressed me were Mighty Mouse and Hippy Hippy Skate. Mighty Mouse’s jamming was fast and agile, whilst Hippy Hippy Skate is amazing at pushing walls forwards out of play – she was very hard to hold back! Max Rees who set up Team Dragon also used to bench coach the Bombshells. As a result we’ve played against them quite a few times. I’ve also played against TD before with Team No Fuss and Team Crazy Legs, though I’m not sure who is playing for the Dragons today.”

“Only one of our skaters (Long Tall Scally) played for Dragon against the Rockers A-team last February. Since then we’ve recruited a whole host of new talent who will hopefully impress. Keep an eye out for Dragon’s famous cool, calm and collected style. Unusually for a challenge team, most of TD get to skate together on a semi-regular basis. Because of the nature of our derby background (mostly recreational skaters) we still face challenges when skating as a team. We don’t get to train together in packs and practice specific tactics, but we have the advantage of knowing each other on and off track, which really does help create that team feeling. We expect to be thoroughly challenged by the Rockerbillies today.”

[Photos by John Hesse]


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


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…


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.


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.


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]

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



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

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*It’s the second row of tickets (seagull image) – top row is May 22nd



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


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


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

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*It’s the second row of tickets (seagull image) – top row is May 22nd

[Photos by John Hesse]

Turn Left Issue 13 Now Online


This weekend saw the mighty Brighton Rockers host two teams from over the water. The A-team AllStars took of Belgium’s Gent GO-GO Roller Girls, whilst the B-team Rockerbillies faced Switchblade Roller Grrrls of Lille, France. We’ll have a full report on the action in a few days (or months, if our recent slovenliness is any indication). In the meantime click on the image above to check out the online version of the newly redesigned fanzine that we gave out at the event. Inside you’ll find three big interviews – with Shambolic, Irish Mist and referees Noise Tank and LaserHammer – plus a festive quiz, news from all six Sussex derby leagues and more. There will be a few physical copies in the Evening Star pub from tonight if you’re after one. Also, of you want to vote in our Player Of The Year poll (which took place yesterday) e-mail your picks for some or all of these categories – Player, Jammer, Blocker, B-teamer, Rookie, Icon, Official and Other – to by Sunday 13th December. Cheers.

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Brighton Rockers v Gent GO-GO Preview (inc Champs Day 7 Report)


The inaugural British Championships season, which began in early January, finally came to an end last weekend (Nov 21st & 22nd) as events in Dunstable, Barnstable and Preston brought the lowest rung, Tier 4, to a close. The level Brighton played at this year, Tier 2, actually saw its season end in mid-September with playoffs at the London Rockin’ Rollers home venue, Newham Leisure Centre. There was an air of inevitably about that final day. We’d been saying all year in our fanzine and online previews that the deck was stacked heavily against the Southern division, with those taking part in the Northern bracket generally of a much higher ranking.
    So it proved as T2 South winners Royal Windsor and runners-up LRR came unstuck against Nottingham’s Hellfire Harlots and Newcastle Roller Girls respectively, both by convincing margins (80 and 154 points). Unless the rules are altered to allow the mighty London Rollergirls to enter their B-team, it seems unlikely that we’ll see a team from Southern England in Champs Tier 1 any time soon, with Northern sides yo-yoing between T2 North and the top flight destined to become an annual tradition. There were quirks elsewhere in the pyramid too, such as Brighton’s friends Croydon winning their T3 division with five straight (mostly big) wins, only to be denied promotion via a playoff with Birmingham Blitz Dames at the latter’s home venue.
    Such regional discrepancies are something that British Champs may need to address when tweaking the tournament’s format for 2016, but these aren’t a factor in the Rockers’ withdrawal from the competition. Brighton formally confirmed that withdrawal on their Facebook page the day before they hosted August’s Champs triple header. Whilst it’s clearly something the league had been discussing for a while, we at BRATS only became aware of it (like others) via that Facebook announcement, although if we’d paid more attention to Dr Whooligan’s interview replies for our magazine we might have realised earlier! A member of another league suggested to us at the triple header that “hashtag don’t like losing” might have been in a factor in Brighton’s decision, and it’s true the Rockers went into Champs ranked favourites for the second playoff spot, only to place fifth and be relegated.
    Developments since then have certainly silenced the cynics though. Brighton said they were quitting Champs to concentrate on building their B-team, and since then the Rockerbillies have travelled to Southampton City Rollers (for that league’s home open door debut) and then flown a 4,000 km round trip to face the Icelandic national side in Reykjavik! Brighton also said they were leaving Champs to concentrate on European rather than domestic competition, something that begins with this weekend’s home match against the highly ranked Gent GO-GO and continues through a February tournament in Normandy (featuring French, Dutch, Belgian and Danish sides) and beyond. It seems that without Champs the Rockers are actually going to be busier than ever! We have a preview of Saturday’s Gent game lower down, but first let’s recap Brighton’s last home event…



The day gets off to a bad start when a wasp drinks our pint. We take a seat outside the Burrell Arms opposite Haywards Heath station for a pre-derby livener, but we haven’t even placed our first Guinness of the day on the table before a wasp flies straight into the head of it and starts taking big glugs. Being rightly scared of wasps, we step back a few paces. By the time we tentatively creep back up to the glass there’s already over an inch of it gone and the wasp shows no sign of slowing down. We explain this predicament to the landlady, hoping that she will replace our drink in response, but she just calls us wusses and returns to emptying the glass washer. Perhaps this will serve as some sort of metaphor for the day, although we’re buggered if we can work out how. Any sting in the tale of Champs for the Rockers was administered long ago by Bristol and Portsmouth, who both overturned the rankings to defeat the Sussex side.
    Today’s opponents on this final day of Tier 2 South are Brighton’s ‘sister league’ (and sponsor of their WFTDA Apprenticeship) LRR. The Rockers are fielding a makeshift bench crew of Noise Tank on shouting and Lab Wrath on clipboard, but the strong London walls make it heavy going whoever they send out there. LRR take lead in every one of the first ten jams and are already nearly 50 points ahead. Dr Whooligan puts in a good shift in the star, winning a jam 18-12 despite sitting some of it out in the penalty box, and the Rockers are starting to make inroads into LRR’s lead. Chaka Carnage throwing some big hits the way of LRR starhead Rammit, but even when Brighton get their jammer out first, the Rockin’ Rollers packs hit the turbo button to minimise any scoring opportunities. A half time score of 122-46 to the visitors demonstrates the gradient of the mountain Brighton must climb in the second period. Despite a spirited fightback, with some strong jamming from Rose Bleed and Gin Atomic amongst others, the rowdy travelling support have a 207-141 victory to celebrate.
    Up next are the table-topping Royal Windsor against surprise package Bristol Roller Derby. (Although given how many tournaments Bristol have been a ‘surprise package’ in, maybe we should stop being so surprised.) The Wild West side’s fans are typically loud – at times the hall is a cacophony of ‘B.R.D.’ chants and bell ringing – whilst Windsor’s are typically sparse, but it’s the latter who will have most to sing about when the final whistle sounds. RWRG’s Culverhouse shakes off the Bristol hits as Trashbag dispenses heavy blows in return. Bristol’s Lil Miss Bloodlust and Windsor’s Vix have identical stats in Champs this season, but the latter is getting the better of their starhead match-ups today. With a half-time tally of 174-104 to the regals, BRD will need to up their game in the second period. This they do as some fantastic jams from Delta Strike help close the gap to under 50 points. Vix takes a 25-5 win over Bloodlust to put Windsor back in control, with the lead jammer status stats currently 9-7 in the Berkshire side’s favour. The final twenty minutes see RWRG stretch that to 19-10 in leads. The reward for BRD’s battling is keeping the differential below triple figures (just) at 328-229.
    LRR kept Windsor to the exact same 99-point margin in the previous game day, so a battle for league placing between the London and Bristol sides could well be a highlight of next year’s Champs. For now, Windsor and LRR get the chance to be spanked by T2 North in playoffs. The day’s final game sees Portsmouth up against the Seaside Sirens of Southend. To say the latter have had a tough year in Champs is something of an understatement. They’ve lost their previous four games by an average of 258 points and the Wenches are looking to heap on more misery. It doesn’t start well for the Essex side, with an injury to Pegasus in the very first jam (and her ensuing treatment) reducing the already small Sirens squad to just nine players. They’ll end the game with even fewer, numerical disadvantage – through league size, injuries and foul outs – being a dominant feature of their Champs season. It doesn’t help when the opposition has starheads like Rosie Rocketpants, who takes one first half jam 29-0. Force Ten Gail is Southend’s best player here and is responsible for most of the few lead jammer statuses Sirens eke out. Whatever Gail can chalk up points wise, the likes of RIP McMurphy, Nina Nunchucks and Rosie are returning with interest though, and despite a battling performance from the Seasiders, Portsmouth take it 281-109.



So that was Champs. It remains to be seen if other leagues join Brighton in withdrawing, but it would be understandable if some of those who topped their divisions – only to miss out on promotion due to a tough playoff draw – might be considering it. Here at BRATS we were very much fans of Champs, largely as it set up most of a year’s worth of fixtures in advance, which we found very handy in terms of planning away travel/hotels and managing fanzine deadlines. It’s fair to say that committing to five or more fixtures so far in advance was less beneficial for the league, though, in terms of managing player availability and so forth. We’ll have to see what the next year brings in terms of games, but things get off to a strong start with this Saturday 28th’s double header in Haywards Heath. The Rockers A-team will face Gent GO-GO Roller Girls from Belgium, whilst the B-team take on Switchblade Roller Grrrls from Lille (France). You can find a separate preview of the B-team game (including a summary of recent Rockerbillies travels) HERE.
    Saturday’s action kicks off at 2.35pm (doors at 2pm) with the A-team game up first. Tickets are priced £10 adults, £8 students and free for Under 12s. These will be available on the door, but we usually recommend getting them in advance from the link below if possible. Rustle up a crowd of four adults and one of the tickets is free (online only) with internet sales ending at 4pm tomorrow (Friday 27th). The venue is the Dolphin Leisure Centre, which is around six minutes walk from Haywards Heath train station. Trains take just around 15 mins from Brighton and 45 mins from London. Turn left outside the station and follow the roller derby signs stuck to trees and lampposts. The pub opposition the station – the Burrell Arms – now does craft beer and is OK for a pre-game pint, although they might be showing rubbish football (Charlton v Ipswich) on TV. Halfway between the station and leisure centre is a big Sainsbury’s with cash machines etc. There are fizzy pop and snack machines in the Dolphin’s lobby, along with a cafe bar that habitually expects a dozen bottles of Peroni and six miniatures of wine to be enough stock for a sizeable roller derby crowd. The after party will be back in the heart of Brighton, upstairs at The Western (formerly Western Front) right next to Churchill Square.
    As for the game itself, Brighton and Gent met in Belgium in March 2012, with the Rockers triumphing 169-140. This was only the second open door away game in Brighton’s history and one of Gent’s first home open doors. Much remembered for its raucous after party and the strange system of having to buy lottery tickets to get served at the sports hall bar, the two teams have changed far too much for us to make any prediction based on that past game. Instead we’ll consult our old friends, who tell us that Brighton are currently rated the 49th best team in Europe with 610.4 ranking points. Gent GO-GO, the top league in Belgium, place higher at 27th on 652.9. FTS give Gent 77% chance of taking the win, with a predicted score differential of 48:35 working out at something like a 240-175 away win. This game is certainly going to be a test for the Rockers AllStars as they begin a year of European contests, so make sure you’re at the Dolphin to see how it pans out. Don’t forget to pick up your copy of our new look (very orangey) fanzine on the door – this issue includes a voting slip to vote for your Rockers Players of the Year. Cheers!

[Photos by John Hesse]

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Brighton Rockerbillies v Switchblade Roller Grrrls Preview (inc B-team round-up)


If you do all of your roller derby watching in Haywards Heath you’ll have only seen Brighton’s new B-team the Rockerbillies in action once before. That was back in May when they took on mixed opposition as part of a double header. Since then, the Bs have been buzzing away from home, with a fledgling side taking on a tough outdoor tournament in Eastbourne in July. (There’s a report on that on Page 9 of THIS.) Other away excursions have included providing the opposition for the home debut of the new Southampton league, together with an epic excursion to the edge of the Arctic Circle to take on a whole country! This Saturday (28th November) sees what could be their toughest challenge yet, a home game against Switchblade from Lille. We’ll preview that contest in a moment, but first a recap of the team’s last two open door outings…

There’s a certain twisted genius to the Hythe Ferry. Instead of a ticket counter at the Southampton terminal there’s an ancient machine. This requires you to (a) work out how much you think the fare is going to be, then (b) insert the exact right money for a tiny till roll style receipt that gets you on the boat. Fair enough, except the ‘exact money’ caveat requires the ferry firm to hire two full-time staff who sit at a desk a few yards away solely to (c) give you the change you need. Just a minute, why not get rid of the machine and get those dudes to sell the tickets? We’ve forgotten about this weird arrangement by the time a super cute pier railway deposits us in a beer garden on the other side of the water. It’s still a 25-minute hike to the venue and we arrive right on first whistle. This event feels more like a warehouse party than a sports event. Not because it’s so busy – although there is an impressive crowd for this, SCR’s first home open door – but because the PA is set to an ear-bleeding volume. Particularly if you arrive as late as we did and the only seats left are right by the speakers on Turn 3. The music level is proving a problem for those on track too, with players unable to hear calls from the referees or benches. The intervention of an NSO after four very confused jams results in a more conducive volume.
    It’s 19-8 to Brighton at this stage and that gap is just going to increase as the noticeably more bout-fit Rockerbillies tire out their Hampshire opponents. The likes of Hippy Hippy Skate, Polly Dartin’ and Van Hayley provide tough blocking for the Sussex side, with Lab Wrath and Obliviator amongst those chalking up big hauls in the Brighton star. White Lightning puts in some great blocking shifts for SCR, but the ‘billies go into half-time 119-66 up. A mammoth 35-0 eight pass jam from Irish Mist early in the second period sets the tone for how the game will play out. The impressive Speedy Gonzalex, one of the newest skaters in Brighton’s ranks, adds a 25-0 jam of her own (after Southampton take lead jammer status, no less) and the home support are pretty subdued now, with almost all the noise coming from the small Sussex contingent. The hosts go several jams without scoring before Ja Cruel puts five on the board. Foul outs are coming thick and fast for SCR now. The Brighton bench crew of Gin Atomic and Swann – suitably bedecked for this Ru Paul’s Drag Race themed event – call a time out to force one final jam and the Rockerbillies roll out 365-106 victors.

Unfortunately, BRATS can’t make it out to sunny Reykjavik for this one, largely as it’s on the same weekend as the Iceland Airwaves music festival. Having attended this a few years ago, we know what it does to the price of flights/hotels (triples them, basically) so the trip is sadly too spendy for the current state of our wallets. Indeed, only nine Rockerbillies are able to make the journey out there. At 2,000 kilometres each way it’s more than three times further than any Brighton team has previously travelled for a game! Those that do make it out there, together with a bench duo of Rose Bleed and Racey, put up a good showing against what is essentially the Iceland national team. (Officially called Ragnarök, this is the only derby side in the entire country.) Things are pretty close for much of the game, but the difference in squad size see the hosts impose themselves on the tiring ‘billies late on. Iceland takes the win 171-129. Unfortunately, the game also sees Chloe Colossus re-dislocate the shoulder that popped out at Eastbourne Extreme. Get mended soon Chloe!

On to this Saturday’s action then, and it’s true to say that this is going to be a really tough challenge for the Brighton B-team. A few Rockers folk were unsure as to whether it’s the A- or B-team Roller Derby Lille are sending over, but the French league have confirmed to BRATS that it will be their first team, the super strong Switchblade Roller Grrrls. A mixed level Brighton side went down 171-136 to Switchblade in France last summer and a similar result will be good going for the Rockerbillies. ranks the visitors 108th in Europe on 535.3 points. The Brighton B-team are finally ranked themselves (as a result of the game in Iceland) and place 312th on 446.2. The prediction computer at FTS reckons the Lille side have 94% chance of taking the win. An expected score differential of 59:27 would equate to something like a 236-108 away win.
    In the face of such imposing odds, the Rockerbillies could do with as many fans as possible cheering them on this Saturday. The venue is the Dolphin leisure centre in Haywards Heath. Tickets priced at £10 adults, £8 students and free for Under 12s are available on the door, or you can buy online (up until 4pm Friday) to take advantage of a 4-for-3 offer. Doors are at 2pm, with the A-team facing Gent GO-GO first at 2.35pm, before the ‘billies take on Switchblade at around 4.40. You can find more details plus a preview of the A-team match HERE. Don’t forget to pick up your copy of our new look (very orangey) fanzine on the door – this issue includes a big interview with Rockerbillies captain Irish Mist about the B-team’s adventures in 2015. Cheers!

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Turn Left Issue 12 Now Online

tl12_cover_small copy
Sunday saw the mighty Brighton Rockers hosted the final day of British Championship Tier 2 South action. Playoff and relegation places were decided as the Rockers took on the London Rockin’ Rollers, Royal Windsor Rollergirls did battle with Bristol Roller Derby, and Portsmouth Roller Wenches faced the Seaside Sirens. We’ll have a full report on the day’s events in the next week or so. Did you miss out on a copy of the fanzine we gave out on at the game? It features interviews with all six competing teams, loads of stats (including top jammer and blocker tables for all the sides), a report on the Brighton B-team’s Eastbourne Extreme debut and more. Click on the image above to read the online version. All the physical copies were snapped up on the day, so unfortunately there are none in the Evening Star this time. Sorry!

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British Champs UKRDA National South Final Day Preview (inc Day 6 Report)


This Sunday (9th August) sees the British Champs Tier 2 South season reach its crescendo at the Dolphin in Haywards Heath. In most divisions there’s often nothing to play for on the final day. Here in T2 South there’s *everything* to play for. Three teams (Royal Windsor, Bristol and London Rockin’ Rollers) are vying for two playoff places, whilst another three (Brighton Rockers, Portsmouth and Seaside Sirens) are fighting to stay in the division – two of the latter trio will be relegated to Tier 3. We have a full preview of Sunday’s action, with predictions plus quotes from all six teams taking part, further down this piece. We begin though with a look at how things went in the previous T2 South Game Day, also in Haywards Heath, last month…

People have said we often concentrate more on a venue’s beer selection in these reports than on the actual roller derby. Whilst we don’t think that’s the case, WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THE DOLPHIN CAFE TODAY? Usually it has a selection of bottled ales and lagers, and although these will run out during the day, there’s always at the very least a few ciders or Bacardi Breezers left at the end. Not today. The first game hasn’t even started as we bound up to the bar. “What fine ales do you have, o Yeoman of the Caff?” we ask. Blank look. “What beers are you selling?” A shake of the head. “Lager? Cider?” More head shakes. “What alcohol do you have?” Our server gestures to four bottles sat atop the fridges. Two miniatures of white wine, one of red wine and one Smirnoff Ice. Our faces drop at the realisation this is all they will be selling today. Then drop even further when we realise these aren’t a display of the drinks they stock, these *are* the drinks they stock. Just these four warm (no-one thought to put them in the fridge) bottles. That’s it. We buy the whites and Smirnoff Ice, leaving just one 187ml bottle of red wine for everybody else in the hall to share.


First up on track is the all conquering Royal Windsor versus the London Rockin’ Rollers. LRR have big playoff aspirations this season, but such is RWRG’s dominance of the division that the main aim in this game is surely to keep the differential down. LRR are just 17 points worse off than second place Bristol differential wise, but every point that Windsor beat them by here will add to that gap. The first few jams are low scoring as the two sides test out their opponent’s defences. With things standing at 15 points apiece seven minutes in, the division’s star jammer Cle-Blam-O sets to work, effortlessly driving in 20 points with Rammit picking up none in return. It’s 35-15 to Windsor, but good work from Pand’Assassin sees LRR close back to 34-42. The likes of Mimika Mayhem and DisorderLee putting in tough blocks for the Londoners, but Windsor’s jammers – particular Cle-Blam-o and Culverhouse – are super wily, and the Royals go into the break 123-83 up. That’s damn near spot on the predicted 3:2 differential.


The second half sees LRR rally. Some great apex jump sprinkled jammer outings from Rammit, taking advantage of a bigger than usual blocker penalty accruement from RWRG, and the ladies in red have closed the gap to 137-171. Star pass problems for Miss N Link put Windsor back in the ascendancy, but LRR are keeping the gap down to the 40 points they were behind at the break. They are also gaining lead jammer status way more often than anyone else has managed against Windsor in Champs, just 14-16 behind in leads midway through the second half. Culverhouse powering through again and again now, taking advantage of her low centre of gravity to dip straight through the middle of the London pack for a series of natural fives. “Let’s go London, let’s go…” chants from the rowdy travelling support, who are small in number as indeed is the crowd in general. (London Rollergirls are hosting an event in South London that has leeched a fair chunk of today’s potential audience.) Windsor holding the LRR jammers back through tough blocking from Laptalis, Hillsdon, Riley Cyrus and others. We can’t help noticing that half the Windsor squad are single named, with the rest rarely more than eleven characters. RWRG must have the lowest ‘letters on the back of shirts’ expenditure in UK derby. Von Bitch throwing hits at Cle-Blam-O left right and centre, but the Windsor jammer is through. Rollin Stone R calling a team timeout with the clock on fifteen seconds to force a final jam, and the 3:2 prediction turns out remarkably close with a final score of 296-197 (we make that a differential of 3:1.99662).

The day’s second game, featuring the hosting Brighton Rockers up against Portsmouth Roller Wenches, is a biggie. Should Brighton win they will guarantee their own survival whilst sending Portsmouth and the Seaside Sirens to Tier 3. Victory for the Wenches will make PRW favourites for survival due to having the easier final game (v Sirens). Rockers picking up a lot of defensive penalties in the early stages, with Mass Janeycide calling an early team timeout in response. Wenches sending out really tough packs here, with the likes of RIP McMurphy, Dropkick Molly and Halcyon Daze proving a challenge to pass. The Duchess of Crutches is a particular ‘last line of defence’ annoyance to the Sussex jammers, with Brighton forced into quite a few star passes over the course of the game. The Rockers are battling hard – Hairy Fairy and Chaka Carnage sturdy in the packs as Swann trades hits with McMurphy on a regular basis – but the Wenches defence is taking it out of the Brightonians. Sussex starheads looking knackered as PRW call a team timeout with a 74-26 lead. Skate Bush toughing it out well against Duchess as the impressive recent A-team addition claws some back for the Rockers. Final jam of the period is a masterclass of staying in bounds from Dr Whooligan, who shakes off tough hits to score eighteen without reply. It’s 91-56 to Portsmouth at the break.

As a line forms at the cafe – do they not know we drank all the booze? – we do a bit of maths. There’s two ways this could go. Brighton could produce one of their famed second half revivals to send Portsmouth down. Or the Wenches could hold on for the win. The latter would put these two sides level on points, with only differential separating them. At the interval the Rockers are 89 points better off on -113 compared to PRW’s -202. Every point more or less than the current 35 scoreline gap that Portsmouth win by here will add or subtract two from that 89. Each point is worth two since it’s +1 to one side and -1 to the other. Yikes! Things start out better defensively for Brighton as play resumes, with Hairy Fairy sending Nina Nunchucks to ground as the Rockers packs fight to keep Duchess out of their own jammers’ way. Gin Atomic takes advantage of a penalty call on RIP McMurphy to win the fourth jam 23-4. Rockers have closed it to 97-112. McMurphy off now with what looks like a recurrence of the nose injury she picked up in Pompey’s previous Champs game. Wenches 120-100 up with twenty minutes to go. Psyclone DestroyHer putting up some good points for PRW now, before Molly takes advantage of a power jam start to open up a bigger gap for the visitors. Portsmouth timeout as they lead 189-135. “Gin, Gin, Gin, Gin” chants from the Rockers bench – hopefully whoever stocks the cafe is listening, but they’re actually chanting for Atomic, who claws a few back. There’s not enough time left for a Rockers rally though, and the Wenches close out a 215-150 win.


HOW THINGS CURRENTLY STAND: The Rockers and Wenches repair to the beer garden of Brighton’s Hobgoblin pub for an old school after party with pot luck panties, limbo dancing, gin roulette and more. We sit in the corner with a calculator working out how things stand ahead of the final divisional Game Day (this Sunday). Essentially the Tier 2 South is now split in half. The top three could all finish in any of those positions (1st, 2nd and 3rd) with the top two progressing to Playoffs against two Tier 2 North sides in LRR’s venue, Newham Leisure Centre, on September 19th. Similarly, the bottom three could all finish 4th, 5th or 6th. Only the team finishing fourth will remain in Tier 2, with the other two sides relegated to Tier 3.

It’s fairly unlikely that Windsor will miss out on Playoffs or that Sirens will stay up, so the real battle is between LRR and Bristol (both currently on nine points) for the second playoff place, and between Brighton and Portsmouth (both on three points) for fourth place survival. If these pairs match results – eg both LRR and Bristol lose on Sunday – then placings are decided on score differential. Bristol are currently 116 differential better off than LRR, with Brighton 29 (not 31 like we maths wrong in Sunday’s fanzine) better off than PRW. What happens if two sides finish up on the same points *and* same differential? We put the question to Champs Tournament Head NSO Pettichoke, who tells us, “it’s then decided by the result when those two teams met.” This gives LRR (who beat Bristol) and Portsmouth (who beat Brighton) the edge in ties. If you understand all of the above, well done. Please can you explain it to us.

This weekend’s event, the final Tier 2 South Game Day, is something of a first for Brighton as hosts. The first time (we think) they’ve hosted an open door on a Sunday, and the first time (we’re sure) they’ve hosted a triple header. As you’d expect, fitting in three games means a fairly early start. Doors are at 12.30pm with the first game whistling off at 1.05pm. We advise early arrival since the first game is Brighton v LRR, which is likely to be the day’s closest match-up and will also set up what the teams in the other two games need to achieve to make Playoffs or avoid relegation. Tickets are available online from the link at the bottom of this piece, priced at £12 adults, £10 students, free for under 12s. There’s also a 4-for-the-price-of-3 offer. Tickets will also be available on the door (same price, but no 4-for-3).

The Dolphin is situated seven minutes walk from Haywards Heath train station (turn left and follow the signs) and has parking out front. Somehow National Rail have forgotten to schedule any engineering work – yay! – but bear in mind that trains will be fewer and a little slower on a Sunday. There’s a Sainsbury’s (with ATMs) halfway between the station and leisure centre. The supermarket itself shuts at 4pm due to Sunday trading laws, so let’s hope the Dolphin has remembered to stock up on booze, grub and soft drinks. The after party is taking place at the Witch Inn Sergison Arms Savannah Cafe Bar, which is around fifteen minutes walk from the Dolphin; head back to the train station and hang right at the roundabout just past the station – it’s on the left five mins down the road.

Don’t forget to pick up your free copy of our fanzine Turn Left on the door on Sunday (and mentally rewrite any reference to the differential gap between Brighton and PRW as 29, rather than the 30, 31 or 32 we wrongly state on different pages!). It includes interviews with players from all six teams, tables listing the top performing jammers and blockers on each side, a report on last month’s Eastbourne Extreme tournament which featured the Brighton B-team, and much more. We’ll leave you with the thoughts of participants, neutrals and prediction computers on all three of Sunday’s games…



WHAT TO EXPECT: Although all three of the day’s games are important ones with plenty at stake, this first game is arguably the most important as it sets up what the teams playing later will need to do. The most interesting result would be a Brighton win, as this would then set Bristol a target that they must lose by less than against Windsor (to beat LRR to a playoff place) and also set Portsmouth a target they’ll need to beat Sirens by to survive relegation at Brighton’s expense. This game looks like it could be a close one, with Flattrackstats giving LRR a 57% chance of victory and a predicted differential of 29:27. That would equate to something like a 203-189 win for the visitors, which is super close in derby terms.

DR WHOOLIGAN, BRIGHTON ROCKERS: “Shambolic is back for this one. Straight from her adventures abroad, Sham has dug out (and hopefully Febrezed) her skates and returned to the track. We also have Rose Bleed back in the pack. Skate Bush is back on jamming; she’s had an amazing Champs, jamming straight away from her first game with the Rockers. LRR are very similar to us on and off the track, and we always have a great game. We have no special tricks planned, just the aim of an empty penalty box and super strong walls to stop those slippery LRR jammers.”

MISS N LINK, LONDON ROCKIN’ ROLLERS: “We’ve lost a few skaters this year due to retirement and injury. Our captain Jack Attack is still off skates and will be leading us from the bench. We’ve played the Rockers a few times over the years. Last time was a couple of years ago, where the score was a close one. We always love meeting these ladies on track, so we’ve been really looking forward to this match-up.”

“Brighton has some double threats, such as Gin Atomic and Swann, who can rack up the points as jammers or form a solid wall as blockers. However, Rammit was a strong jammer when we played LRR and their walls were tough, so it will be an interesting game to watch.”

ADMIRAL, PORTSMOUTH ROLLER WENCHES: “LRR v Brighton is too hard to call. The predicted outcome is 57% chance of an LRR win. That’s a slim difference, and Brighton will not want to be relegated any more than we do.”



WHAT TO EXPECT: As these teams currently place first and second in the group, this game ought to provide the highest overall quality of derby from today’s matches. If LRR lost the opener, then there’s a good chance that these will be the division’s two entrants to Playoffs (battling two teams from Tier 2 North for promotion to the top flight). If LRR beat Brighton, but by less than 116 points, then Bristol will need to beat Windsor here to nip LRR to that second playoff spot. The only way Windsor could miss out on Playoffs is if Bristol beat them by 190+ points, which is highly unlikely. FTS give Windsor 85% chance of the win, and a predicted differential of 50:31 suggests something like a 300-186 win for RWRG.

POISIN CHERRY, ROYAL WINDSOR ROLLERGIRLS: “We are extremely proud of all of our skaters that have taken part in the British Champs and we wouldn’t be where we are now without every single one of them. Bristol have put in a strong performance in Champs and we know that they are going to be just as strong today. Their walls are tight and their jammers determined, so I’m sure they will keep us on our toes.”

SOMEONE, BRISTOL ROLLER DERBY: “Keep an eye out for Lil Miss Bloodlust who has been having a good tournament. We also have a few new players join our squad, so keep an eye out for Rip Tease, Bear Thrills, Hard n Sharpe and Lex Lethal, who may make their tournament debut. We aren’t worrying about individual Windsor players because they’re strong throughout their squad. They are a very well drilled team with strong jammers, solid walls and stinging offence. But so are we. This will be a good game!”

“Royal Windsor have been such a dominant team in Champs. Culverhouse is the jammer to watch – she’s so strong and has very agile footwork – and Riley Cyrus is a tough backward blocker. I think Bristol will definitely give them a run for their money though; they are hot on their heels in the table. The Blizzard knows how to run rings around the opposition.”

“Windsor have been incredibly strong in this group and really know how to take advantage with the scoreline, but Bristol have been getting stronger and stronger all year, so it really could go either way.”



WHAT TO EXPECT: The opening game will have set Portsmouth a target for this one. If LRR beat Brighton then the Wenches only need to win against Southend’s Sirens to ensure their survival and Brighton’s relegation. If Brighton beat LRR things get more complicated. Add the number of points Brighton won by to 29 (the advantage the Rockers had over the Wenches in the table prior to today). That’s the minimum number PRW must beat Sirens by to finish above Brighton. Seaside, meanwhile, will only stay up if they beat Portsmouth by 430+ points. That’s probably not gonna happen, especially given that FTS have this as 85% chance of a PRW win. Expected differential of 27:16 equals a scoreline such as 243-144 to the Wenches.

“We’re obviously hoping for a high scoring win today, to secure both three game points and also a good differential, but we know the final outcome will also depend on Brighton’s result v LRR. Sirens have had a tough season, but will come and play to win. We saw their game against Bristol. Despite it being high scoring for Bristol, the game also saw Sirens put 122 points on the board, which means we shouldn’t underestimate their jammers. Force Ten Gail in particular has been a strong performer for them.”

“We played the Wenches last year and I think we just scraped a win last time we met [150-147] but things have changed a lot for us, so we really don’t know what to expect. We’ll be watching out for Duchess and RIP McMurphy. For the Sirens, Who?Rae! has been on great form since returning to us earlier in the year after a tib-fib break followed by a ‘nine month injury’. She has been jamming quite a bit recently, which is great to see. Our priority is to enjoy the game and play our hardest. That’s all we can do.”

“Portsmouth v Sirens should be a great match-up. Portsmouth’s team has been working so hard to get to the level they currently play at. RIP McMurphy is always great to watch. The Sirens have been working hard on playing cleaner (they were down to six players when we played them) so it should be a close game!”

POISIN CHERRY, ROYAL WINDSOR ROLLERGIRLS: “Both Portsmouth and Sirens have a good mix of players, with Nina Nunchucks and Force Ten Gail high on the jammer performance tables. There should be a lot of skill displayed with hard hits and maybe even an apex jump or two.”

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[Photos by John Hesse]

British Champs UKRDA National South Day 6 Preview + Day 5 Report


The Rockers have hosted a lot of exciting derby events, but perhaps none as pivotal as the ones coming up at the Dolphin this Saturday (11th July) and Sunday 9th August. British Championships is a 72-team thirteen division national derby tournament which launched this year. Brighton are in one of the two second divisions (Tier 2 South) and are hosting this division’s final two Game Days. These are the events that will confirm which two of T2 South’s six teams will progress to Playoffs (meeting T2 North sides in the hope of promotion to the top flight) and which two will be relegated to the third tier.
    Although the final day, Game Day 7 which features all six of the divisional sides in a mammoth triple header event, might seem the bigger deal, in fact an awful lot could be decided at this Saturday’s Day 6. For starters the first game sees the two unbeaten sides, London Rockin’ Rollers and Royal Windsor Rollergirls, face off. One of these will lose their unbeaten status whilst the other will all but guarantee their spot in Playoffs. The second game pitches the hosting Rockers against Portsmouth Roller Wenches. If Brighton win this game they guarantee at least safety from relegation (plus a fairly remote chance of making Playoffs) whilst simultaneously relegating Portsmouth and Southend’s Seaside Sirens. Ouch!
    A win for Portsmouth would give them a slightly better chance of final day survival than the Rockers, since the Wenches have an easier final game (v bottom place Sirens) than Brighton, who will face LRR. Sirens and Bristol Roller Derby are sitting out this day, but will no doubt be following events closely – particularly Bristol, who have an eye on pipping LRR to the second Playoff place. The action takes place at the Dolphin in Haywards Heath, with doors at 2pm. Tickets are £10 for adults, £8 students, free for under 12s. These are available online via the link at the bottom of this piece (look for the double header ones, as August’s £12 triple header is also on sale) until 4pm tomorrow Friday 10th. They can also be bought on the door for the same price, but a “4 for the price of 3” deal is only available online.
    Before we hear from players, neutrals and prediction computers about Saturday’s two epic games, we’ll give you a quick summary of the last T2 Game Day, which took place three weeks ago in Havant. Although Brighton sat that day out, the results have set the table up in the exciting way it is going into Saturday. (NB: If you’re wondering why we don’t have a write-up of the Rockers’ May friendly against T2 North’s Hot Wheel RD on this site, we felt Bash’s swansong deserved a wider local audience, so we wrote it up for our friends at Brighton Source instead. You can find a link to it at the bottom of this piece.)



Attendances at this season’s Champs games have fluctuated wildly, and today’s crowd in Hampshire is much smaller than we were expecting. Of course, there’s simply so much derby happening in the UK these Champs-packed days that potential spectators are becoming increasingly thinly-spread. Indeed, the two Game Days Brighton will host both clash with high profile London Rollergirls events. We rather suspect that the Government has something to do with today’s low crowd, though. A quarter of a million people are marching through London to protest against austerity, and given the typical demographic of roller derby folk (particularly in terms of politics and professions) it’s highly likely some are missing from the crowd today due to that.
    First up on track are hosts Portsmouth and LRR. With three players (including Betty Swollox) recently retired, and iconic Jack Attack watching from the sidelines with a strapped-up leg, LRR are going through one of those ‘transitional’ phases that derby leagues have. Saying that, there’s still enough top level talent on track for them to jam in two points for every one the Wenches get in this first period, which ends 117-60 to the visitors. Rammit responsible for a fair chunk of those, with Nina Nunchucks and RIP McMurphy hitting back for the Wenches.
    It’s a very physical game with the likes of Von Bitch and Obnoxious Li putting it about for LRR, and Dropkick Molly and Wheelma Flintstone steely in defence for PRW. McMurphy picks up a broken nose from VB, acquiring a hockey mask and losing her face paint as a result, then plays a big part in a spirited second half Wenches fight back. It’s not enough and LRR take the game 207-144 to maintain their unbeaten record and stay just behind Windsor on points difference in the table.


We find some signs pointing towards a leisure centre bar, and excitedly follow them to find a proper bar with tables and comfy chairs and… its shutters down. There is a cafe attached that’s open, but despite the server’s best efforts on our behalf, his supervisor won’t let him unlock the bar bit to sell us a beer. We’ve often moaned in these reports (perhaps misunderstanding the point of leisure centres in the process) about venues that don’t have bars. Now we’ve discovered something even worse. One that does have a bar, but won’t open it. Aaagh!
    After a brief libation at Wetherspoons (five minutes down the road and home to today’s after party) we return for the Bristol v Sirens game. The former have been responsible for the season’s key surprise result so far – a squeaky (four point) victory over Brighton on Day 3 – and they’ll pull out another surprise today. Not that they weren’t expected to win against Sirens, with the numerically disadvantaged Southend side propping up the division after a series of heavy losses. It’s the scale of Bristol’s win that comes as a surprise. Force Ten Gail and Ella Gnaw eke out what points they can for the Seasiders, but tough Black Thorn and all-over-the-track President Garfield defend hard.
    Meanwhile, Delta Strike, Lil’ Miss Bloodlust and others power Bristol to a 498-122 win. Yowsers! That’s better even (differentially) than league leaders Windsor managed against Sirens, and it’s a shame there are so few BRD fans here to see it. They normally travel in numbers and volume, so their scarcity at what must be their closest away venue (in this division) is striking. Maybe they’re all shouting at Big Ben. The loudest support in the second game comes from the LRR squad cheering on Sirens. A look at the table suggests why. Bristol’s huge margin of victory takes them above LRR and into second place. There’s still everything to play for at Game Days 6 and 7. Speaking of which…



JACK ATTACK, LRR: “We’ve played Windsor a few times over the years and I think they are going to be the most challenging of all the Champs games. We’re totally prepared for it, though, so I think it’s going to be a really good close game. I certainly can’t predict the result as you never know what might happen on the day, but we’ve got a brand new All Stars team with some great new talent as well as veterans.”

CLE-BLAM-O, WINDSOR: “We’re looking forward to playing LRR. They are a lovely team, but we know we need to watch out as they are also a tricky team with some really good players. At Royal Windsor we’re all about the team work. You’re only as strong as your weakest player, but luckily all of RWRG are FIERCE. Bring it on!”

ELLA GNAW, SEASIDE SIRENS: “Windsor’s Riley Cyrus is relentlessly strong backwards blocking and the packs waterfalling made it very tough for our jammers when we played them. They also have a tactic of running the jam clock on to get the points on the board. LRR are just lovely to watch on the track and they look like they enjoy every second. Deadly DeVito’s offence for her jammers is difficult to ignore, and the team’s ability to switch to offence is quick and effective.”

FLATTRACKSTATS.COM: The continued lack of a neutral option on the online predictor means we had to run this through twice, with each side at home, then split the difference. RWRG are ranked 7th in UKRDA on 663.6 points, with LRR in 15th (625.1). Windsor are given an 80% predicted chance of victory with an expected differential of 3:2. This would work out as something like a 270-180 win to the Berkshire side. A prediction based on the European or WFTDA rankings actually favours Windsor even more (90% win chance and 44:27 differential). The above differs from the predictions in Saturday’s fanzine, which are based on marginally older rankings.



SWANN, BRIGHTON: “We’ve only played at the same Game Day at PRW once this year, so we’ve not seen too much of them lately. I seem to remember them having some quite aggressive offence the last time we played them, so we’ll be looking out for that. Dropkick Molly is my one to watch. She’s really consistent and clean and that’s all very valuable in a good player. Our ones to watch? Skate Bush and Irish Mist are coming on in leaps and bounds; they impress me more with every game.”

ADMIRAL, PORTSMOUTH: “We know Brighton really well and have seen them grow since their foundation. For obvious reasons we can’t say too much about strategy, beyond saying that we will be expecting the Rockers to deliver tough walls, hard hits and great jamming. Wenches will be bringing their usual mix of character, flair and spirit. We are super excited to have Peggy Peril back with us, and our newer skaters have really been doing great stuff. Tactics wise, the crowd will have to wait and see!”

BLACK THORN, BRISTOL RD: “I think there are more similarities than differences between these two teams. Their jamming styles are physical and their blocking is brutal. Both teams managed to disrupt our slow controlled defence when we played them, and they forced us into a more physical style of play, resulting in higher than average penalty counts. Both teams also came away with not too different results against Windsor. I’m expecting a physical and relatively evenly-matched game.”

FLATTRACKSTATS.COM: Using the online predictor on the second game, with Brighton given home advantage, sees the Rockers (16th in UKRDA on 620.8 points) given 84% chance of victory over Portsmouth (23rd, 588.2). Expected differential of 17:11 would equate to something like a 204-132 home win. The European rankings give a fractionally different prediction of 83% Brighton win on a 47:31 differential. Obviously, all these predictions are based on past performances, and don’t reflect which players may or may not be available on the day. Again these numbers differ slightly (by 1-2%) from the earlier version in Saturday’s fanzine.


Game Day 5: Graeme Willetts
Final Pic: John Hesse







Top Ten Reasons why YOU CAN’T MISS this Saturday’s ROCKERS v HOT WHEEL GAME!


1. Tickets are STILL AVAILABLE and they are SUPER CHEAP!
A double header for a single header price? Hell yeah! This Saturday (23rd May) you can catch the Brighton Rockers A-team against Leeds side Hot Wheel Roller Derby PLUS the public launch of the new Rockers B-team against a mixed opposition, all for £8 per adult ticket (£7 for students, free for under-12s). Not just that, but you can get four for the price of three. Snap them up now at the Rockers website, Brighton Fringe website or Fringe box office. Ticket sales end at 4pm on Friday. Though we expect there to be some available on the door, you won’t be able to use the 4-for-3 deal there. The venue as ever is the Dolphin leisure centre, five minutes walk from Haywards Heath train station. Doors are at 2pm, first game is at 2.50 and second game at 5.00. The leisure centre cafe sells booze and the Burrell Arms opposite the station is OK and has a huge beer garden. There’s also a big Sainsbury’s halfway between the station and venue.

2. It’s your LAST chance to watch Bash make opponents CRY!
She’s undeniably the Brighton Rockers’ most famous player. A huge driving force, Bash was the only founder member to have played the sport before, and she has been the key A-team coach pretty much throughout. She’s also the only Brighton Rocker to have played for Team England in a Roller Derby World Cup [although she skated for London Rockin’ Rollers at the time]. If you ever mention the Brighton Rockers to a derby player from anywhere in the UK, the first word they will say in reply is almost always “Bash”, usually accompanied by shuddering and the occasional whimper. Bash is quitting derby and returning to her native New Zealand after Saturday’s game, so this is your last chance to see exactly why the Rockers legend inspires fear and awe in so much of the British roller derby world; as she sends opponents flying into floors, walls and each other with terrifying glee.

3. It’s your BEST chance to see Bash herself CRY!
Like some wheeled Kiwi Terminator, Bash is a machine, but as a hundred Hollywood movies have shown us, even machines can feel emotion. Particularly when they’re getting the fantastic send-off they deserve from teammates, opponents and fans on the occasion of their last ever game. We suspect it’s gonna get a bit, y’know, emotional.


4. It’s NORTH v SOUTH in a break from CHAMPS action!
Both teams have seen 2015 dominated by their participation in British Championships, the 72 team (thirteen division) national tournament that is taking place all year. The top six teams in the country are taking part in the Tier 1 National Division, below which are two Tier 2 divisions, South and North. Brighton currently place fourth in the South division with one win and two losses in their games so far. Where are Hot Wheel in the North division? Fourth also, with the same one win and two losses record. Holy smokes Batman, this may not be an official Champs game but it’s gonna be a darn good test of the respective strengths of the Dirty North and the Sexy South. Especially given that both teams admit to knowing “absolutely nothing” about the other.

5. The STATS NERDS reckon it’s going to be SUPER CLOSE!
The Rockers currently place 14th in the UKRDA ranking table with 625.7 points, while Hot Wheel are 11th on 651.4. The online prediction machine at Flattrackstats gives the visitors 64% chance of the win and predicts a differential of 51:44 in their favour. This would equate to a typical scoreline in the region of a 176-204 away win, which is close enough to be “too close to call” in this sport. This match-up has been a long time coming (indeed there were attempts to put it on last year) and is sure to be well worth the wait!

6. Racey is BACK ON TRACK and itching for a FIGHT!
As the Rockers bid farewell to one of their Antipodean stars, another returns to the track. It’s welcome back to the A-team for former captain and director Racey. She said she intended to return to skating then training then the All-Stars roster as soon as possible after babying, and we make it about twelve weeks in total. Normally when people talk about a “competitive mum” they mean in relation to their offspring’s achievements. We suspect the phrase has a different meaning where Racey’s concerned. You can find out by watching her dispense the awesomes on Saturday!

7. There’s a whole NEW GENERATION of Rockers to MEET!
You will have seen a few new Rockers in the mixed opener if you attended the Team Dragon game in February. This time round there’s going to be even more on display as we get to meet some fairly new to bouting members of last year’s Fresh Meat intakes. Skate Bush was part of the A-team squad (and jamming roster) against Windsor in British Champs earlier this month, alongside other up-and-coming skaters such as Obliviator and Irish Mist. With Bash departing and others taking time out there are gaps to fill in future All-Stars squads. Here’s your chance to check out some of those vying for these places, whether they’re playing for the A-team or for… see next paragraph.


8. There’s a BRAND NEW Rockers team to CHECK OUT!
Oh yes indeed. The last time a Rockers B-team (the Bruisers) played an open door game in Sussex was 805 days ago – more than two years. The league hasn’t had any sort of B-team for much of the intervening period, and this Saturday sees the first public appearance of a brand new B-team. The Rockerbillies will feature a few A-teamers, such as Chaka Carnage (who many have described as “a Bash in the making”) and jamming star Kapow, who is returning to action after “getting injured by some books” (ie a studying break). There will also be a raft of new and newer skaters to catch up with. Their mixed opponents have been drawn from teams across the South East plus, er, the Canary Islands. Be sure to give the Rockerbillies a rousing reception; Brighton have been without a B-team for far too long…

9. You can pick up a FREE COPY of issue ten of OUR MAG!
Yep, somehow our tawdry fanzine has made it to double figures. Hurrah! Inside this issue several Rockers stars share their own Top Tens with us; we have an exclusive interview with Bash about her Rockers career; there’s all the info you need from Hot Wheel; predictions from someone who recently played against both sides; several B-team interviews and much more. Find out which Rocker said “they use wee to keep their clothes shiny” and who exactly they are talking about, which B-teamer elicits a “phwoar” from Cake or Death, and who has “a wonderful drunk eye”. All this and more in the new Turn Left – the only place to pick up your free copy is on the door at Saturday’s event.

10. There’s NOTHING MORE EXCITING you could do on Saturday!
Er, unless you’re planning to skydive from a burning orbital space station, free falling as you karate kick your way through six flocks of pterodactyls armed with head-mounted lasers, before landing in an erupting volcano, successfully rescuing a family of talking squirrels from a swarm of vampire Bonos, then disabling an Armageddon advice using only your nose (with just one second to spare). Even then, we think the derby probably edges it.

[Photos by Jason Ruffell of]