British Champs UKRDA National South Day Two REPORT: Rockers v Sirens, LRR v Bristol

ns2r1

There is a chance (albeit slim) that the Brighton Rockers could win this, their first British Championships game, 300-0. Considering that their much stronger than predicted opponents, Southend’s feisty Seaside Sirens, took a 98-68 lead into half time, this might seem mathematically impossible, but that’s not necessarily the case. Are the Rockers themselves aware of this potential outcome? We can’t help but notice several Brighton players, led by captain Swann, spending a few minutes in the half time break studying the penalty tracker boards. Is it their own accumulated trips to the naughty seats they’re looking at? Or Southend’s?
    If it’s the latter this would echo our own scrawled summary of the first period: “Sirens not playing clean enough for a team that has only rostered ten players.” That’s not to say the Essex side are playing a particularly penalty heavy game, just that these offences become much more of an issue when playing short. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, everyone on the roster plays an equal number of jams and picks up an equal number of penalties. For a team that has a squad of ten rather than fourteen players, average trips to the penalty box for each player go up by 40%. That means the chances of fouling out (for seven penalties) are 40% higher too.
    As it happens the Brighton Rockers are skating short today also, although their roster of twelve only equates to 16.66% above average penalty acquisition. The other important thing to note about a roster of ten, of course, is that this is only enough for two alternating line-ups. The first foul out means skaters will have to start regularly playing consecutive jams. This in turn increases the chances of them picking up more penalties, not just due to the extra track time but also increased tiredness. The net effect – as we’ve often seen when teams skate short – is ‘foul out dominoes’ as each consecutive departure increases the chance of another. So when, halfway through the second period, the Sirens’ imposing captain (and most effective blocker) Frocky Balboa takes the “walk of shame” into the crowd, we’re not expecting this to be Southend’s only foul out of the day…

ns2r2

Sure enough, a few jams later, Tiny Temper joins her in the bleachers – well, actually, in the queue for the bar, but you know what we mean. A couple of jams further down the line and two more Sirens, Force Ten Gail and Bazooka Salt, foul out within seconds of each other. Like we said: dominoes. The six remaining Southend players will now be accumulating (even ignoring extra tiredness, etc) penalties at more than 2.3 times the rate of a squad of fourteen player. It will only take one more foul out from the Sirens to trigger WFTDA rule 8.2.7: “The Head Ref may declare a forfeit if a team has five or less players still eligible to participate in the game.”
    And what’s the British Champs tournament policy on a team forfeiting? As we understand it, the game is awarded to the opponents by a scoreline of 300-0, or if said opponent is already leading by more than 300, by that differential to nil. So, yes, it *is* technically possible that Brighton could win this game 300-0, even though the Southend league now have around 170 on the scoreboard. Or is it? As it happens, there’s only enough time left for one more jam, and the Sirens will finish with a squad of six, but would the possible forfeit have actually been enforced anyway? We check in with one of the referees the next day. He thinks the Head Ref would only really have imposed that (discretionary) WFTDA rulebook forfeit “if it became a safety issue, such as the remaining skaters being so tired they were causing a hazard to themselves or the other team.”
    We also check with Champs head office re the 300-0 rule. They confirm this is the case where a team elects to forfeit but they “will check” if it applies to an enforced forfeit. “It may not be something they’ve actually considered,” another referee suggests. One thing’s for certain: The Sirens are the latest in a long line of teams (including Brighton themselves on a few occasions) who should be grateful that UK derby is governed under the ruleset of WFTDA rather than its rival organisation, USARS. The rulebook of the latter states that a Head Ref MUST enforce a forfeit when a team is reduced to EIGHT players. Jeebers!

ns2r3

After a somewhat smaller than expected crowd for the first UKRDA National South division game day (four weeks ago in Windsor), it’s reassuring to see that Newham Leisure Centre is packed to the gunnels for today’s action. Indeed, the crowd is a sold out capacity 300 and – despite LRR’s best efforts to publicise this fact via social media – many ticketless people will be turned away at the door. Technical problems are a common feature of roller derby events, but today’s are mostly related to the announcer’s radio mic giving up for large swathes of the opening game. It also takes us a while to spot the scoreboard, projected as it is at a jaunty angle above the bar, which is itself horrifyingly closed! Said bar’s eventual opening, during Brighton’s first team time out, raises one of the biggest cheers of the day, despite the initial 15-minute long booze queues.
    Out on track, some super tough defending from the cyan Sirens blockers sees the Southenders build up an early lead. A power jam nine for Force Ten Gail, followed by two five point passes for Pegasus as Dr Whooligan wrestles with the Essex walls, puts the Sirens 19-0 up early doors. Brighton sneak a couple of points on the board through ever sneaking (through packs) Kapow, but Southend are giving away very little here. Whooligan struggling to get past the forceful Gail, as Pegasus sits in the box, before she eventually makes it through for three passes. Big jam for Brighton there. 26-20 to the cyans as the bar opens and Mass Janeycide orders that black ‘T’.
    A recent addition to the Rockers jammer roster, Emma the Condemner is up against Ella Gnaw next, with both starheads spending much of the jam being dragged back around the track. Swann taking advantage of a short delay in proceedings to point out the number on her back and ‘C’ on her arm to the announcers, who have been under the impression that Kapow was captaining Brighton today. The Rockers cap taking heavy hits from her Southend counterpart now, on what is a very slippy track. The granite tough Frocky Balboa is proving a tough obstacle for all the Sussex starheads here, with the likes of Hairy Fairy and Emma having to run regular offence against her to help them through.

ns2r4

Tiny Temper, Gail and Hell de Jour are amongst the standout blockers in these sturdy Sirens packs, with jammers Ella, Gail, Temper and Pegasus edging up the lead for the Essex league. Possibly more photographers here than we’ve ever seen at a domestic derby game, or maybe LRR’s hi-vis media tabards just makes them stand out more? Still, there’s a good eight or nine here, supping on their teas in the half time break. What is the collective noun for a group of photographers anyway? An “exposure of…”? A “composition of…”? Back in the bleachers, the atmosphere is fairly flat for this opening game, with the exception of a small cluster of Sirens fans and a similarly sized cluster of Rockers fans (largely Brighton rookies) in the bleachers.
    One of the Sussex fans gets told off for being too loud by someone sat nearby. She’s not being loud, she’s being Canadian – admittedly this is largely the same thing. Ironically, the complainant will be far louder himself during his team Bristol’s game. Other noisy support for Brighton coming from the Rockers merch table, which includes one Gin Atomic among its staff. She can’t play today for red tape reasons, but should be joining the Sussex roster for the rest of their Champs campaign. The Rockers get off to a flyer at the start of the second period, with Chariot Sophia jamming in 27 points versus 12 from Gail to cut the deficit in half. 95-110 now. Swann, Whooligan and Emma all follow this with scoring jams of their own to trigger the game’s first lead change. It’s 125-122 in Brighton’s favour now as a knock to Swann sees a short pause in the action.
    The Rockers are bagging lead jammer status far more often in this half, having only managed a handful in the first period. Hairy, Swann, Emma, Whooligan and Sophia amongst those putting in good defensive stints for the Sussex side, but a jamming penalty call on the last of these sees Southend regain the initiative to go 131-125 ahead. Kapow then Whooligan as the lead switches back to Brighton. 141-135, 150-149 now. Rockers time out and the Sussex squad are building up a head of steam. Slippery starhead Sophia looks to have taken lead, but she’s off for an elbow instead. Gail against Swann, the former taking the points. Lead change again! The crowd would probably be getting more excited by all this epicness if the announcer’s mic was working. Sirens now 156-150 ahead and there’s an official time out. Refs and NSOs confer. Look at the penalty board. Frocky Balboa leaves the box… and the game.

ns2r5

It’s difficult to ascertain exactly what impact their captain’s departure has on the Southend league’s play. What we do know for sure is that the ever impressive Dr Whooligan (BRATS 2014 Player of the Year) racks up a whopping 27 points for Brighton in the next jam, as the game’s fifth and final lead change sees the Rockers go 177-160 ahead. Sirens still not giving up. Feisty jamming from Gail, followed by a penalty box switcheroo with Emma. Swann side-surfing her way both into and out of trouble. The Essex side aren’t just playing roller derby now, though. They’re also playing FOD (foul out dominoes) and the resulting procession of departures is accompanied by a widening points gap, with the final whistle sounding on a 253-175 Sussex victory.
    The numerically disadvantaged Southend side certainly shouldn’t be downhearted by such a result though. They fared around thirty points better than the pre-game predictions suggested. Both these sides are at transitional points in their history, with the Sirens having lost a number of players – some to the newly bouting Killa Hurtz of Chelmsford – over the past year or so. Similarly, the Rockers line-up in today’s programme differs greatly from the players Brighton actually have available at present, with at least three of these currently on a break from derby. Said programme also suggests that Bexorcist was line-up manager for both these teams, and that a penalty box visit still lasts one minute, which certainly explains a few puzzled looks at wristwatches from derby virgins in the crowd today.
    Still, these are very small niggles for what is a typically well organised LRR game day, which even features awards (Crowd Favourite) voted for by the fans in attendance. Swann picks this up for Brighton, with the Sirens gong going to Hell de Jour. The Rockers select Force Ten Gail as Southend’s best jammer, with Tiny Temper best blocker and Ella Gnaw as MVP. The Essex side dole out their awards to Brighton’s Kapow (jammer), Hairy Fairy (blocker) and Chariot Sophia (MVP). We barely have chance to get our breath back before hosts London Rockin’ Rollers and opponents Bristol Roller Derby take to track for the day’s second game…

ns2r6

We weren’t expecting their fans to be quite so loud. Sure, LRR have something of a reputation for rowdy supporters, and their fans do form the majority of those in the hall today. The thing is, we’re not talking about the LRR fans here, but Bristol’s. A cluster of a thirty or more who are waving signs, shouting encouragement and puncturing the air with rousing chants of “BRD” for much of this second game. The announcers are trying to rally the local support, telling them they can’t remember LRR being out-sung like this at home before, but as loud as the London fans get, the very vocal Bristol contingent “take it up to eleven” (to paraphrase Spinal Tap). As away fans in any sport go, they’re pretty damn awesome.
    This support is even more impressive given that BRD are in the lead for approximately two minutes of the entire game. This is from the point Delta Strike (up against Jack Attack in the opening jam) takes a single pass and call, until roughly halfway through jam three, which sees a typically blistering-paced charge from Beat Girl, whose 19 point haul gives the Londoners a 22-10 lead. “BRD, BRD, BRD…!” Jacks, Beat and captain Rammit form the core of the LRR Allstars’ small but highly experienced jammer rotation, and the Bristol side are finding them difficult to contain. Long-time Harbour Harlots captain Black Thorn is at the heart of a tough BRD defence – sending Beat to ground on the inside of the track, then seconds later on the outside – but the LRR starheads are an ever resilient bunch.
    Raven Lunatic, Ophelia Pain, Lil Miss Bloodlust, Delta and Til Thrillster forming the major part of the Harlots rotation here. Or the Bristol Roller Derby A-team rotation, that is to say, with the Harbour Harlots name seemingly soon retired, along with the accompanying kit, which is being worn for the last time today. Thrillster pulls it back to 53-64 for BRD as the South Westerners call a team time out. There’s solid blocking here from the likes of The Blizzard, E-Z Roller, Gremilyn, Vile Shadow and others for Bristol. The home team have plenty of super tough blockers of their own on show, though, such as Rebel Rebel, Flash Bang Wallop, Betty Swollox and the ever terrifying Von Bitch.

ns2r7

Delta puts in a single pass to take BRD within five points of the Allstars. 80-75 to the latter in points scored. 11-8 to the former in lead jammer statuses gained. LRR jammers chasing Bristol’s down too quickly for them to gain much advantage from those extra leads though. Home pack holding Ophelia back really well as the rampant Rammit spins in three passes without reply. A penalty call at the whistle sees the visiting jammer start the next one in the box, with Jack Attack putting 17 points on the board as the Londoners build some breathing space. It’s 111-77 (which must equate to something brutal in the roller derby drinking game) at half time.
    Two jammer penalties in the first jam of the second period against Delta, and the Somerset (or Gloucestershire or Avon or Wessex or Unitary Authority, depending on what year your map was made) side are starting to slip further behind now. Beat Girl takes fifteen without reply to put LRR up 151-86. Both teams rostering a full fourteen here, so even if the penalties pick up – as they are starting to now, with both teams beginning the next jam with two blockers seated – the risk of foul out dominoes is pretty low here. Rammit dancing through on the outside line, jamming in twenty without reply, as Von Bitch repeatedly introduces Bloodlust to her shoulder.
    Bristol fans chanting Delta’s name, then E-Z’s. Jacks spectacularly taken out mid apex jump by one of the BRD blockers, but the home side are picking up LJ status with more consistency now. Rebel Rebel struggles with some extra tough defending from the Bristolians, passing the star to Obnoxious Li now as the clock ticks down. The London pivot passes through the pack with star in hand rather than on head, and BRD take the jam 8-0. The crowd has thinned out considerably now, as often happens at double headers – some people have homes to go to, apparently. 18-15 to LRR in lead jammer statuses (statii?) currently as Demolition Darcy and Swollox chip in with great defence for Jacks to crank it up to 224-150. Home side one shy of 50% more points than their opponents with only enough time for one more jam now. Can Bristol keep it below that 50%? Beat v Ophelia. Ophelia takes lead. Passes the star to Black Thorn to cheers from the Brizzle crowd. Black Thorn on a scoring pass. Then another. Beat Girl is scoring too though. The final whistle sounds.

ns2r8

LRR have taken the win 235-164. We make that 43% more points than Bristol. Certainly less than the 50% we’re sure no-one but us was hunched over a calculator watching out for at the end. It’s considerably less than the predicted margin of victory, which suggested around a 2:1 differential in favour of the Londoners, so BRD have much to be proud of from their opening game in British Champs. Til Thrillster takes the Crowd Favourite award for them, with Beat Girl picking up the one for LRR’s Allstars. The Bristol side pick out Jack Attack as the home team’s best jammer, with Betty Swollox as best blocker and Rebel Rebel MVP. LRR give their awards to Bristol’s Thrillster (jammer), Black Thorn (blocker) and Blizzard (MVP).
    In a controversial move, we BRATS swerve today’s official after party. Largely because it’s a roller disco. Even three months of lessons from the head coach of Team GB’s national figure [roller] skating squad have left us unable to skate a single stride (“talk to your doctor about flat feet” was his parting shot) so donning wheels now, after ten cans of beer, would be a huge recipe for disaster. Instead we jump on a bus and hold our own unofficial after party in LRR’s usual venue, a former local of ours, the King Eddy in Stratford. There is much Jägermeister drunk and indecipherable notes are stared at, whilst grumpy pet owners refuse to let us attempt a “human pyramid of dogs”.
    So where next for the Tier 2 UKRDA National South Division then? Geographically speaking, this show moves 32 miles down the A13 to a leisure centre near Southend. Royal Windsor take on the hosting Sirens on March 21st, knowing that a big win (by 160+ points) will see Windsor leapfrog LRR to top the table, whilst the Essex side will be hoping for a first Champs win of their own. The day’s other game sees the mighty Brighton Rockers (who currently place third, not far behind RWRG on points difference) taking on today’s impressive Bristol team in what we feel will be one of the best match-ups of the tournament. We’ll have a full preview of said National South Day Three online in a couple of weeks, and we hope to see as many Rockers fans as possible there on the day – if only to tell that bloke from Bristol to keep his voice down!

[Photos by John Hesse]

THINGS YOU CAN CLICK ON:
FB PAGE FOR DAY THREE @ SOUTHEND MAR 21ST
TICKETS FOR DAY THREE @ SOUTHEND MAR 21ST
BRITISH CHAMPIONSHIPS WEBSITE
BRITISH CHAMPIONSHIPS FB PAGE

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

ns2p1

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…

ns2p2

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…

ns2p5

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!

ns2p6

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!

ns2p3

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.

ns2p4

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