British Champs UKRDA National South Day Two Preview: LRR v Bristol & Rockers v Sirens

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February 2015 is dominated by three important Saturdays in a row for the mighty Brighton Rockers roller derby league. On the Saturday before last (7th) they staged their first home double header in two years, with half a dozen Brighton players making their public debuts as part of a mixed opener, before the A-team All-Stars took on a Team Dragon side bolstered by a number of international derby stars. You can find our full report on those events in a clickable link at the bottom of this preview.
    The following Saturday was more symbolic than participatory, with 14th February 2015 marking the official Fifth Birthday of the Brighton league, who were founded on Valentine’s Day 2010 in the Lion & Lobster pub. It’s perhaps in keeping with the notion of half a decade’s derby history that this Saturday coming (21st) sees the Rockers take on the Seaside Sirens. Brighton’s first ever public bout/game was away to this Southend league back in 2011, and the result that day remains the Rockers’ biggest margin of victory to date.
    Saturday’s game is all the more symbolic for marking Brighton’s first appearance in British Championships. This tournament makes its debut in 2015, having grown out of the largely regional Heartland Series tournies. A whopping 72 women’s leagues are taking part, divided into thirteen divisions in four tiers. (There’s also a three division men’s tournament.) The Rockers are competing in the chunkily named ‘Tier 2 UKRDA National South’. This is one of two divisions that form the second tier, its members all hoping for promotion to the very top Premier Division above.
    You’ll find links at the end of this piece to a brief preview of all seven Nat South game days (from the online version of our fanzine) as well as a full report on Game Day One. This took place on the 24th January. Brighton and Bristol sat the day out, with hosts Royal Windsor beating Portsmouth (those two sides are sitting out this Saturday) before the London Rockin’ Rollers took a big win over the Seaside Sirens. LRR are hosting this Saturday’s event, which is taking place at Newham Leisure Centre in East London.
    Doors are at 2pm, with Brighton v Sirens at 2.30pm and LRR v Bristol around 4.30pm. The games are followed by a roller disco after party (free entry and skate hire to Champs attendees) that goes on to a very nocturnal 2am. Tickets are £12 in advance or £15 on the door, with cheaper tickets for children and family groups – see the links below to buy online. Travel wise, the District line is closed east of Aldgate. Thameslink trains have resumed stopping at London Bridge at weekends though, so people travelling up from Brighton by public transport are advised to change there for the Jubilee Line to Canning Town, from whence a 300 bus will ‘whisk’ you to the venue.
    The leisure centre is sandwiched between schools, parkland, a hospital and the A13. Although there are a couple of shops and a caff, the nearest pubs are a good mile away along the Barking Road, off New Barn Street or back in Canning Town. These tend to be a little rough ‘n’ ready, and the pubs we’d especially recommend lie even further afield (eg in Stratford or East Ham) thus too far from the venue to really be practical. Therefore we suggest making full use of the bar in the sports hall itself instead. Hell yeah! OK, time to fire up the statsometer…

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RANKINGS AND PREDICTIONS
The London Rockin’ Rollers kicked off their Champs campaign with a big win over the Sirens last month. LRR currently place 12th in UKRDA on 634.3 ranking points. Saturday’s opponents Bristol Roller Derby haven’t played an open door A-team game since winning at Liverpool in November. The Harbour Harlots lie in 25th place (the lowest ranked side in the division, for what it’s worth) with 571.2 points. These two sides haven’t met on track before, and the predictometer at flattrackstats gives the home side a whopping 94% chance of taking the win here. The expected differential of 44:21 in the Londoners’ favour would equate to a typical derby scoreline in the region of 264-126.
    Whilst using UKRDA rankings for a UKRDA sanctioned tournament seems logical, we’ve run these match-ups through the prediction machine using the European rankings too. Here LRR rank 21st on 663.5 points, whilst Bristol are 44th on 605.0. (Brighton, meanwhile, place 27th – below several teams they rank higher than in UKRDA – on 649.1, with the Seaside Sirens 53rd on 592.9.) The Euro prediction for this game is a tiny bit kinder to the Bristol side, giving the Rockin’ Rollers Allstars a 93% victory chance on a 2:1 differential, eg a 250-125 LRR win. Bristol will be looking to prove the prediction computer wrong on all counts here.
    Moving on to the day’s opening game, the Sirens dropped a few places after last month’s Champs defeat. They currently sit 23rd in UKRDA with 643.6 points. Brighton’s only game so far this year was the recent home defeat to Team Dragon. The Dragons included one Tiny Temper in their ranks, and she’ll be facing the Rockers again just two weeks later in the colours of Southend. Will meeting Brighton with the Dragons have helped her recce the Sussex jammers for the Sirens? Or will the Rockers take advantage of gaining insight into one of SSRG’s top blockers? Hmmm…
    Either way, Brighton currently place 10th in UKRDA on 643.3 points. Splitting the difference between home and away predictions (as there’s no neutral option) gives them 90% chance of the win, with a 51:27 differential equating to something like a 255-135 Brighton win. A prediction based on European rankings is slightly less emphatic, giving Brighton 87% chance and a 56:33 (eg 224-132) differential. Given the current transitional nature of the Rockers squad, a result that differs from these predictions wouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Still, that’s enough of the confusing statistics. Now let’s hear from players from all four of the teams taking part on Saturday…

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2.30PM: BRIGHTON ROCKERS V SEASIDE SIREN ROLLER GIRLS

DR WHOOLIGAN & DERBY McGEE – BRIGHTON ROCKERS

Are the Rockers looking forward to the challenge of taking part in the first ever British Championships? What are you hoping for from the season?
We’re looking forward to it a lot. We know that every paper or magazine we’ve spoken to about derby always asks where we are in the league, so it will be nice to finally have an answer! It’s also a great excuse to get to know the other Southern teams better on and off the track. We’re obviously hoping for straight wins across the board, but failing that, we hope that every game is hard fought and helps us improve the skills and plays we are working towards perfecting.

Your only previously experience of tournament play was at the UKRDA Southern tournament at Alexandra Palace in 2013. Obviously these are very different tournaments – that one was over a weekend, this one’s over a year – but is there anything you learned from Ally Pally that you’ll carry over to Champs?

Work on your fitness! I (Whooligan) personally only played one day of that Southern tournament and that was enough. We are all working hard to up our endurance for the Champs season.

You kick off your Champs campaign against the Seaside Sirens in Newham on Saturday. Last time you played the Southend side you won by 265 points. What are your expectations this time around?
The previous Sirens match was a great early game for us. We played with a squad of nine and won. However, that was a long time ago and a lot has changed for both teams. Champs is a really exciting tournament which we’re proud to be in. As we’ve just entered the WFTDA Apprentice Program, we’re planning ahead for the whole year – so we won’t be focusing on this game as an individual match, but as the start of how we develop as a team over 2015.

This month’s game against Team Dragon featured a much changed Brighton side. Care to predict the result of the Sirens game or that of the following LRR v Bristol match?
Playing the Dragons was a great way to start 2015 and turning five years old was a big achievement we’re really proud of. The Sirens are an awesome league and we love those ladies. It’s gonna be a cracking game. They’ve got a lot of really talented, experienced players, and plenty of big personalities. We’re also looking forward to the LRR v Bristol game afterwards. We’ve played both recently and will be rooting for some great derby, as well as obviously scoping out two upcoming opponents!

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ELLA GNAW – SEASIDE SIREN ROLLER GIRLS

Your first British Champs game saw defeat to LRR. Are there any particular things you feel you learnt from that game that will be useful for the rest of the tournament? What are your hopes and aims for the Champs season?
Taking on LRR again so soon after playing and beating them by a mere three points was always going to be fun and a challenge! But as Sirens we went in knowing that we would fight for every point that we put on the scoreboard. It was a very fun game to play. The LRR team are brilliant opponents and it will be great to see them taking to the track against Bristol on Saturday. The Sirens have grown from strength to strength throughout the last two years and fought hard last year to climb the rankings thanks to the hard coaching from our team members. So for us, entering the Champs was just the next step and a new goal to strive towards. It’s exciting taking part in a tournament and watching all the competing teams grow and adjust as it progresses.

You’re up against the Brighton Rockers on Saturday. We believe you’ve only played them once before and that was almost four years ago. Presumably a lot has changed since then?
When we played the Rockers in Southend all them years ago it was our second open door bout and, if I remember correctly, their first ever open door. What a game, it was an eye opener for the team! The play was fast, so fast, and this rematch will be very interesting. Generally speaking, the game of roller derby has slowed down since then and become about taking off speed in order to control the jammer. There has been that complete shift in gameplay, and also both leagues’ rosters have changed too. We will do what we always do; keep our heads up, keep calm and fight for every point we put on the board!

Finally, the day’s other game sees hosts LRR take on Bristol Roller Derby. Any players people should keep an eye out for in that game?
Well, for Game Day One we gave our awards to LRR’s Deadly Devito (best blocker), Jessica Rammit (best jammer) and Jack Attack (MVP). They were all brilliant on the day!

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4.30PM: LONDON ROCKIN’ ROLLERS v BRISTOL ROLLER DERBY

JESSICA RAMMIT & BEAT GIRL – LRR ALLSTARS

This weekend sees the London Rockin’ Rollers hosting a British Champs double header. What encouraged you as a league to take part in this tournament?
We were approached by the organisers last year and were very interested in an event that would unify UK roller derby. Usually we have to organise several bouts throughout the year to play against UK teams and this event gave us the huge opportunity to play against several similarly ranked UK teams and gain further tournament experience in the process. As it’s also UKRDA recognised that’s another bonus. The London Rockin’ Rollers Allstars are aiming high and want to move up more in the rankings in 2015. This will help pave the way for our bigger plans in 2016.

You got off to a flyer against the Seaside Sirens on Jan 24th and now sit strongly on top of the table with +210 points differential. What do you attribute that big win too? Do you think your experience of tournaments in general (more than most other UK sides) was a factor? Who stood out for the Sirens?

Our last tournament was at SKOD in May 2014 and we have played a lot more games since then. We are attributing this win to training really hard. It was a re-match since we last played the Sirens in September 2014. SSRG won that one 150-147, so we were determined to come out on top this time. The Rockers need to look out for captain Frocky Balboa, who is a solid player at the centre of every Sirens wall, and Tiny Temper for her speedy drag backs.

Your Game Day Two opponents are Bristol Roller Derby. Are we right in thinking you’ve never played them before? What do you know about the Bristol side? Any particular players or tactics people should look out for?
The London Rockin’ Rollers B-team, the Badasses, recently faced the Bristol Bees in a closed door bout, but you’re right, our A-teams have never played each other before. From what we know about Bristol we are expecting it to be a close match. We might have the odd trick up our sleeve, but we don’t want to spoil any surprises before the day.

Finally, for the benefit of those travelling up to the event, can you tell us a bit about your venue? What can we expect from the roller disco after party? And is it true that LRR have the rowdiest home fans in UK derby?

The audience at Newham Leisure Centre can choose between sitting on the raised bleachers for a great view of the track or get close to the action on the floor in the suicide seating area. Bring cash if you plan to buy tickets on the door, shop the merch stalls or buy food and drink at the venue as there are no card facilities available. The bar at the venue sells tinned beer, cider, soft drinks and snacks. There are a couple of newsagents nearby in case the audience manage to drink the bar dry! For the after party we have partnered with Skating Haven who hold regular roller discos at the leisure centre. Skate hire is included in the Championships ticket price, so we hope lots of the audience will be staying to party with us. Yes, our fans never fail to cheer the loudest! An after party rarely passes without a gravity defying human pyramid from the LRR fans.

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RAVEN LUNATIC – BRISTOL HARBOUR HARLOTS

What aspects of British Champs encouraged Bristol to take part in the tournament? What are your hopes, expectations and aims for this 2015 Champs season?
The great city of Bristol had to be represented in Britain’s first nationwide roller derby tournament and we actually have two teams in the competition; our women’s A-team and our men’s team, Vice Quad. The Championships have given us a real focus as a league and we are all really excited to be taking part. In 2014, our A-team went through some fairly big changes, with some old favourites retiring or producing the next generation of derby talent. Our new A-team has been together a few months now and we’ve a great balance of experienced players, alongside some newer (but really strong and developing) skaters. Competing in Tier 2 South of the Championships is a huge privilege. We’ll be up against some of the best teams in the South, so we are expecting it to be tough, but it will be an amazing experience and will really help develop us as team.

Your first Champs game is away to the current divisional leaders LRR. Do you know much about the London side? Any particular players or tactics the crowd should look out for?
LRR is a huge game for us to open with, but we are fully prepared and ready for the challenge. We’ve never met on the track before but our B-team have played their Bs a couple of times, so we have an idea of their style of play. We’re obviously aware that the Allstars have some outstanding players who we will be keeping a close eye on. But Bristol can also boast a couple of skaters who attended the World Cup in Dallas in December so keep an eye out for The Blizzard (Team Finland) and Da Silva Surfer (Team Portugal). Other crowd pleasers are team captain, Black Thorn, and the understated but immensely fierce EZ Roller.

Finally, the day’s other game sees the Brighton Rockers take on the Seaside Sirens. How do you see that one going?
We played the Sirens a few years ago but we’re guessing that the team looks very different now, so we don’t have much insight into their game. We’ve obviously had the enormous pleasure of lining up against the Rockers on a couple of occasions and so are more familiar with the strength and tenacity of the Brighton athletes. Although we understand their current squad is much changed too, so anything could happen!

[Brighton v Bristol photos by John Hesse. LRR v Sirens photos by Mindy Cherry Photography.]

THINGS YOU CAN CLICK ON:
FACEBOOK PAGE FOR SATURDAY’S CHAMPS EVENT

BUY TICKETS FOR SATURDAY’S CHAMPS EVENT
READ OUR REPORT ON T2 SOUTH GAME DAY ONE
READ OUR REPORT ON BRIGHTON V TEAM DRAGON
CHECK OUT OUR FULL CHAMPS PREVIEW (PAGES 16-18)
BRITISH CHAMPIONSHIPS WEBSITE

SKATING HAVEN ROLLER DISCO
MINDY CHERRY PHOTOGRAPHY

British Championships UKRDA National South Division: Game Day One report

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This year sees the launch of the UK’s first nationwide roller derby tournament. British Champs features a total of 72 women’s teams split into a pyramid of thirteen divisions. (There’s also a twelve team men’s tournament.) The mighty Brighton Rockers are competing one tier below the very top division, in what’s called the UKRDA National South. The first of their seven divisional game days took place a few days ago (Sat 24th Jan) in Windsor, and BRATS were there to watch the tournament get underway. The Rockers themselves – along with Bristol Roller Derby – weren’t taking part in this first game day, but it presented a great opportunity to check out four of Brighton’s upcoming opponents, as well as to to get an early taste of Champs in general…

Windsor is posh. Very posh. From the moment we detrain – and yeah, we’re quite posh ourselves, we use words like ‘detrain’ – at Riverside station until the moment we depart, we’re forever expecting someone to tap us on the shoulder and say: “now now, you really shouldn’t be here should you?” Nobody does. Instead they seek to disconcert us by being almost obsequiously polite. Hammering back pre-derby Jägermeisters in the Wetherspoons opposite the Castle, the bar staff insist on constantly referring to us as ‘Sir’. Back in Brighton, the only time anyone calls us ‘sir’ is when we’re being arrested. We’re on more familiar ground when we reach the derby venue itself. The suburban leisure centres that host this awesome sport – from Reykjavik to Rio, Wellington to Windsor – are all reassuringly much of a muchness inside. Wherever you encounter a left-open turnstile, a paper sign taped to it shouting out ‘roller derby’ in 120-point Impact font above an arrow; the semi-distant sound of clacking wheels, the semi-distant smell of cupcakes… you know you’re on safe ground.

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The Royal Windsor Roller Girls have hosted both the most chaotic and the most low-key derby events we’ve ever been to. The former being those Sur5al all-dayers where fifteen different sets of garishly coloured skaters and fans flit in and around every corner of the hall, like dayglo mosquitoes at an 80s beach party. The latter was an RWRG intraleague in Staines where we were amongst just four [£2] paying customers. Today’s event, not unnaturally, lies somewhere between the two extremes. Perhaps a smaller crowd at the moment than we might have been expecting, but there was a fairly late change of hosts for what [alongside today’s Tier 3 event in Halifax] is the first day of the whole women’s tournament. Of course the calendar year itself is still in its early stages, and much of the UK derby community sees January (events wise) the same way BRATS see midday on a Sunday. Yeah, we know it exists – for other people.

A few things suggest this event may have come a little early in the year for the hosts. There are photocopied rather than printed programmes, replete with white borders and hand folding. The projector screen scoreboard is notably small, although it’s supplemented by a delightfully old school (cricket pavilion-esque) numbers on cards version. Most gallingly of all, there doesn’t seem to be a bar here, nor any form of after party. Or at least they’re not telling *us* where the bar or after party are. [Heck, someone was going to act on that memo eventually.] Everything’s fully and awesomely present and correct on track though, and the hosts are up first against Portsmouth Roller Wenches. Not many skaters from the second game in the crowd as the opener gets underway – there are a bunch of London Rockin’ Rollers around, but it seems most of Southend’s Seaside Sirens will be arriving fashionably late today.

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There’s a star pass in the very first jam for the Wenches. Recipient RIP McMurphy is likely to be a key player for Pompey today, with Royal Windsor very much the favourites in this game. (The hosts currently rank 10th in the UKRDA, whilst defeat to Manchester at Tattoo Freeze has seen PRW drop to 19th.) Fairly evenly matched in the early stages though, with Cle-Blam-O, Vix and the rangy Sutton starclad for Windsor; Psyclone DestroyHer, Nina Nunchucks and RIP taking early jamming opportunities for the Wenches. First few jams have been incredibly light on penalties, but now McMurphy and pivot Awesome Wells are both off for Portsmouth. Cle-Blam-O making the most of the opportunity to give Windsor a foothold on the game. 38-5 to the hosts. Wenches clawing some back now, but the Berkshire pack is proving resilient. Trashbag in particular has the navy blue jammers pegged well back. The granite strong RWRG blocker was recently called up as a reserve netminder for Team GB ice hockey, the announcers announce. If three inch rubber pucks can’t get past her, what chance do the Pompey starheads have?

Both teams employing very fast packs for much of this game, although things turn completely stationary for a long 15 seconds as McMurphy and the off-track Sutton stare each other down in a recycling standoff. An official time out shortly afterwards sees the PRW line-up challenge Windsor’s to a Cotton Eye Joe hoedown-off. Portsmouth win this, but the game itself is slipping away from them a little here. Great on-the-whistle apex jump of pretty much the entire left side of track from Psyclone, but the Wenches are picking up the majority of an increasing tally of penalty calls. It’s 115-68 to Windsor at the half time break. Having been unable to find a bar on site, we decide to see if it’s possible to run the length of Alexandra Park, neck a pint and shot in Wetherspoons, and make it back through the park in time for the second half. Short answer: No. The scoreboard reads 146-77 on our return. PoiSin Cherry is on a power jam for Windsor now. She has more experience of a tournament like this than most on track – having featured prominently for Basingstoke Bullets in last year’s Heartland Series – and must be relishing making her RWRG debut against fellow Hampshirians.

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Portsmouth captain the Duchess of Crutches battling to hold the Wenches packs together as Windsor’s strong jammer rotation continue to edge up the lead. Halcyon Daze, T-Wrecks and Wheelma Flintstone amongst the standout blockers for the navy blues, but the home town defence – particularly Riley Cyrus, Melvin, Muscle Crowe and the ever terrifying Trashbag – are giving it back with interest. The strength of the RWRG packs forcing a number of star passes and jammer penalties from the navy blues, but Pompey hit the ton mark with Windsor around 75 ahead. The Royals react in the best way possible, with the likes of Vix, Cherry and captain Cle chalking up 50 without reply. 230-104. About six minutes left. Wenches try to take advantage of a PJ but the Windsor pack are giving away very few points here. A few (mostly short) jams and a final whistle follow. Windsor’s 252-130 win roughly matches pre-game expectations – the differential is a little smaller than a prediction based on UKRDA rankings, but a little bigger than the Euro prediction – and RWRG top the table after the first game of National South. There’s still another fourteen divisional games to go, of course, with the first of those in just 30 minutes time…

It turns out that what wasn’t possible during half time *is* possible during the break between games, and we get back from ‘spoons suitably refreshed in time for the second game’s skateouts. The sizable and stylish London Rockin’ Rollers travelling support seem equally refreshed, but don’t they always? Seaside Sirens 3-0 ahead after a quick hit-and-quit first jam. A relentless tide of scoring passes from the LRR starclads follows, with Jack Attack, Beat Girl and captain Rammit building up a hefty London lead. It’s 54-4 with less than ten minutes gone as the steaming Rollers flatten their Essex opposition. Von Bitch and Betty Swollox particularly effective in the red packs, both rocking in a lot of offence to sweep Sirens out of the London starheads’ way. Killer Bite is probably Southend’s most threatening jammer at the moment, but she – along with the likes of Ella Gnaw, Force Ten Gail and Pegasus – is finding it punishing going against the LRR packs. 114-7 says the scoreboard now. A far cry from the previous time these two teams met, four months ago in Southend, when the Essex side edged the game 150-147.

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The Rockin’ Rollers have a lot more experience of tournaments (albeit weekend ones) than the vast majority of UK leagues, and they’re clearly aiming to get off to a flyer in British Champs. Despite the best defensive efforts of Sirens captain Frocky Balboa, WhoRae, Hell De Jour, Gail, Gnaw and more, the LRR jammers bag almost every lead status and continue wreaking havoc… Jacks grinning to the Rockin’ Rollers fans on scoring passes, as is her way… Rammit going jammer on jammer to edge off rival starheads… Beat Girl, arguably London’s most effective starclad in this first half, proving as sprightly as a truck full of Sprite… Rebel Rebel starring up to good effect too… With 216-65 on the board at the interval, the Sirens will need a miracle to pull this one back, and it’s not to be. Southend do actually fare a bit better in the second period, but whilst Pegasus, Bite and Gnaw are bagging a fair few leads, tough blocking from Flash Bang Wallop, Deadly Devito, VB and others keeps the Essex jammers from profiting much. Final score: London Rockin’ Rollers 372, Seaside Sirens 162. Slightly more than double the predicted differential.

So LRR sit atop the table after the first National South game day, their +210 differential putting them above fellow victors Windsor on +122. The Rockin’ Rollers have a great chance to further cement their top spot later this month. Not only are LRR hosting the event on Saturday 21st February, but they’re taking on Bristol Roller Derby – the lowest ranked side in the division – whilst second place Windsor don’t have a game. The day’s other match-up sees the mighty Brighton Rockers kick off their own campaign. The Sussex side will be hoping to take a leaf out of LRR’s book as they face off against the Seaside Sirens. All this awesome action is taking place at Newham Leisure Centre, a short bus ride from Plaistow tube (easily accessible from Sussex by jumping the District line at Victoria or Blackfriars). Tickets are £12 in advance (£6 kids) from the link below, with doors at 2pm, derby from 2.30-6pm and a roller disco after party to follow. ‘Bring it!’ as they say.

[Photos by Mindy Cherry Photography]

LINKS
BRITISH CHAMPS: http://www.britishchamps.com/
CHAMPS FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/BritishRollerDerbyChamps
CHAMPS TWITTER: https://twitter.com/BritChampsLIVE
21ST FEB FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1376880975944236/
21ST FEB TICKETS: http://www.wegottickets.com/event/306219
MINDY CHERRY PHOTOGRAPHY: https://www.facebook.com/mindycherryphotography

NATIONAL SOUTH TEAMS
BRIGHTON ROCKERS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/
ROCKIN’ ROLLERS: http://londonrockinrollers.co.uk/
SEASIDE SIRENS: http://www.seasidesirenrollergirls.com/
BRISTOL RD: http://www.bristolrollerderby.com/
PORTSMOUTH: http://www.portsmouthrollerwenches.com/
ROYAL WINDSOR: http://windsorrollergirls.com/

Auld Reekie v Brighton bout preview

drr1v2ARRG v BRRD: THE BOUT
On Saturday the 26th of October the mighty Brighton Rockers face arguably the biggest challenge in their history. They’ll be taking on the multiple award winning and majorly feared Auld Reekie Roller Girls on the latter’s own well defended Edinburgh turf [for turf read polished wood]. The Scottish side hold first place in the recently released (first ever) official UK Roller Derby Association quarterly rankings. Brighton place seventh, but go into the bout on a high having last month beaten third place Leeds Roller Dolls in Haywards Heath.
    The bout takes place at Meadowbank Sports Centre, which is located on the A1 (London Road) around two miles East of Waverley station and well served by Lothian buses. “Our bouting venue is pretty large with plenty of seating,” ARRG’s Double D’Struction tells us. “We’ll have a great vendor village with fantastic cakes (seriously the eats on this stall are not to be missed), merch, crafts from Edinburgh’s craftiest ladies and gents and we usually have stalls with skate stuff too. We definitely recommend bring along some cash because you really won’t want to miss the cake. Unfortunately there is no bar because of the licensing law constraints but we do go to the pub after where the drinking will commence with gusto!”
    Tickets, priced at a super reasonable £5.95 (including booking fee) and free for under-14s are available from the link below.
TICKETS: http://arrg.co.uk/events/event/twisted-thistles-vs-brighton-rockers/
VENUE: http://www.edinburghleisure.co.uk/venues/meadowbank-sports-centre/facilities
BUSES: http://lothianbuses.com/

ARRG v BRRD: OTHER INFO
Recommending air travel may not please the environmental lobby, but it works out cheaper than the train. The latter is £127 from London (plus whatever it costs to get to the capital) and takes going on for five hours, six plus from Sussex. Depending on what days and times you plan to travel, at the time of writing you can fly return from Gatwick starting at around £100 on Easyjet with British Airways a tenner or so more. We heartily recommend BA by the way, as it’s one of the few airlines in the world still offering unlimited free booze on domestic economy flights. [Psst, sit near the front so you get served first; it’s only a short flight and six double vodka and cokes each is the best we’ve managed, but that more than covers the price differential over Easyjet.] Skyscanner is the best bet for comparing flight prices.
    Hotel-wise, Trip Advisor remains the go-to place for comparing the various booking websites (booking.com, hotel.com, lastminute, expedia, etc) and their few pence of price difference. As you’d expect for such a hugely popular tourist destination, the central area – Old Town, New Town, Haymarket – is pretty pricey, around £100 a night being standard. Edinburgh’s not a huge place though, being about twice the size of Brighton & Hove, so even the suburbs rarely put you more than 20-30 minutes bus/drive away from the centre. You can pick up rooms in B&Bs from about £40 in the suburbs. There are also a number of centrally located dorm-room hostels.
    Can’t afford to travel up? Can’t get the time off work? Doing something else that Saturday? Whilst excuses for not travelling all the way up to Edinburgh to cheer on the Rockers may be acceptable, there’s no excuse for not doing the next best thing. The Sunday beforehand (20th October) the Rockers host a pub quiz at Brighton’s Cornerstone, a derby friendly pub at the bottom of Lewes Road and Elm Grove. It’s £3 entry with a maximum five in a team, there’s a school night friendly 6pm start, and all proceeds go towards the Rockers’ Edinburgh travel fund. So while you’re waiting for Brighton’s next bout on home wood (against Central City on November 23rd), get your thinking caps on and take on your favourite skaters in a quiz. See the link for details.
FLIGHTS: http://www.skyscanner.net/
HOTELS: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/
OCT 20TH PUB QUIZ: https://www.facebook.com/events/208697702642275/

drr1v1INTERVIEW: DOUBLE D’STRUCTION (ARRG)
Can you give us a summary of ARRG’s history and achievements to date, and your future plans? We’ve been together since April 2008 and recently celebrated our fifth birthday. In those years we’ve grown from a group of women meeting up to talk about derby into a full WFTDA member league with over 80 members. We have two travel teams: The Twisted Thistles and The Cannon Belles; three home teams: The Leithal Weapons, Cherry Bombers and The Skatefast Club, and a stellar referee and NSO crew. We’re currently first in the UKRDA rankings and after the Brighton bout, and our School of ARRG Knocks 2 bootcamp on 23rd Nov, we’ll be refocusing and looking at our plans for next year and beyond.
    Any particular Brighton players you’re wary of? Any ARRG players/tactics to look out for? We saw Brighton play and fight hard against our neighbouring league Glasgow Roller Derby earlier on this year so we know there are some fantastic skaters to look out for. Someone told us that our skater Unprotected Bex looks like one of the Brighton skaters too. Everyone at ARRG is awesome so we’ll let you pick your favourites. As for our tactics we work hard to be focussed on track, work as a unit and work with a hive mind.
    What kind of after party can we expect? Sorry, the exact details of the after party will be kept under wraps until nearer the time. Rest assured we love to Party ARRG, we recently had a very exciting dancefest with LRG after their bootcamp up here so maybe we’ll recreate that vibe. It would be best to bring your dancing shoes and be prepared for ‘taps oan’ or ‘taps aff’ as we say in Scotland.
    For any travelling fans making a weekend of it, do you have any suggestions for other things to see and do? Obviously there is the usual touristy things like The Edinburgh Castle, wandering down The Royal Mile, ghost tours, bus tours, lots of free museums and galleries, The Edinburgh Dungeons… the list goes on. As for pubs and clubs, let’s just say Irn Bru is good for treating hangovers!
ARRG: http://arrg.co.uk/
NOV 23RD BOOT CAMP: https://www.facebook.com/events/555244554542884/

INTERVIEW: ENYO FACE (BRIGHTON ROCKERS)
For any ARRG fans reading this who might not be aware of the Rockers’ history to date, can you give us a quick summary? We’ve been around for four years in February, bouting for almost three. In that time we’ve gone from undefeated to badly beaten to doing OK. So fingers crossed we’re now on a steady rise.
    Any Brighton players or tactics people should particularly keep any eye out for at the bout? I would be killed for sharing any of our TOP SECRET tactics but the usual Rockers stars will be there to cheer on, such as The Mighty Mighty Bash, Rose Bleed, Shambolic and Chariot Sophia.
    What do you know of ARRG? That they’re awesome.
    Any particular players in their ranks you’re wary of? Admiral Attackbar 11:11 – great jammer, great leggings!
    The first official UKRDA rankings recently came out and Auld Reekie are ranked first in the country. Does that make you extra eager to get one over on them? Hmmm… a little. We always aim to play well and have fun. Then we’ll leave happy.
    Brighton are ranked seventh in the UKRDA table, but you recently beat third place Leeds. What lessons/experience are you taking from that bout into the Auld Reekie one? Never go into a bout assuming anything – in the case of Leeds that we would lose. Always play our best, always wear black!
    Are you looking forward to seeing Edinburgh in general. Any touristy plans, or are you too focused on the bout for anything else? The after party is always something we look forward to and lots of Rockers are hanging around for a day or two after to see the sights.
    What other events do the Rockers have coming up this year and beyond? Our next home game is against Central City on the 23rd November – early bird tickets are on sale now – and we’re looking to have a few European guests next year. Oh and there’s a pre-ARRG pub quiz on 20th October – details are on our Facebook page.
BRRD: http://brightonrockers.com/
NOV 23RD BOUT: https://www.facebook.com/events/647691741929370/

drr1v3 copyARRG v BRRD: PREDICTIONS
The inaugural UKRDA quarterly rankings (up to 30th Sept) were recently released, with some noticeable absences, primarily the London Rollergirls and Cardiff’s Tiger Bay who both failed to play any UK A-team bouts over the past year. Auld Reekie are top of the table with 724 points, Brighton are placed 7th with 654 points. The predictometer at flattrackstats.com gives Brighton just a 5% chance of winning this bout, compared to ARRG’s 95%, and they expect the Scots to score nine points for every four the Sussex league picks up. That would equate to a scoreline in the region of 180-80 in Auld Reekie’s favour. Derbydataeurope’s formula offers a wider difference in ranking points (825 v 368) but a very similar predicted scoreline of 200-89. Still, the whole point of predictions is they’re more often wrong than right, yeah? We asked a few people who have faced both sides for their own thoughts…
    “Auld Reekie are a really strong team who have upped their game even further in recent years through playing loads of tournaments including one out in the USA. Players to watch are Crazylegs and Mo B Quick from Auld Reekie. Brighton’s The Mighty Mighty Bash is another one to look out for with her bone-shaking challenges.” Fonda Chaos, London Rockin’ Rollers
    “We’d probably say the biggest similar threats would come from ARRG’s Crazylegs and Brighton’s Mighty Mighty Bash. Both are formidable hard hitting blockers but extremely agile and smart pivots. Brighton were an amazing team to play and we had the best fun at the after party with them so I think paired with Party ARRG it will be a great experience both on and off the track.” Mona Rampage, Glasgow Roller Derby
    “I think this is a really tough game to call. Brighton are a team moving quickly up through the ranks and have shown their skills and determination to succeed in every bout they’ve played this season. Auld Reekie are an established machine however, with super skilled blockers and some incredible jammers. My money is on Auld Reekie to take it, but I think it’ll be a hard hitting and action packed game. Players to watch out for: Auld Reekie old favourites, super blocker Crazylegs and Ciderella and fleet footed ninja jammer Admiral Atttackbar. I think Brighton’s Mighty Mighty Bash will give them a hard time though, both as a super agile blocker and a strong pushy jammer. Both teams play tight-walled dynamic defence and I really think it’ll be a close call between the two.” Magic 8-Brawl, Leeds Roller Dolls
RANKINGS: http://flattrackstats.com/rankings/ukrda
LEEDS: http://leedsrollerdolls.com/
GLASGOW: http://glasgowrollerderby.com
LRR: http://londonrockinrollers.co.uk/

DD photo by Laura MacDonald courtesy of http://www.arrg.co.uk
Enyo pic by Jason Nightall of http://www.leicesterskaters.co.uk