As the mighty Brighton Rockers gear up for Saturday’s trip to face London Rollergirls side Batter-C Power in Tottenham [tickets still available – see the link at the bottom of this piece] we look back on Brighton’s five most recent open door games. In keeping with their summer promise to “face more European opposition” all five of these games were against teams from across the Channel. The first two took place in Haywards Heath in November and the other three a couple of weekends ago in Normandy.
    Our story begins in Haywards then with home rematches of two foreign trips from past years. Gent GO-GO Girls are the challenge facing the Rockers A-team AllStars and what a challenge they are. The Belgian side has come on in leaps and bounds since the Rockers played them in 2012. Indeed, outside of Scandinavia and France, Gent are now the second highest ranked team in the entire rest of Europe (only Berlin’s Bear City place above them). Flattrackstats expects the Belgians to take the win by around 100 points here, so a first jam that sees Skate Bush triumph 17-11 over Olga Volt is a good start for the Sussex side. Meanwhile Shambolic, in only her second open door game back since an extended break from the team, re-establishes a tradition by being the first Rocker to visit the penalty box.
    Some tough blocking and bracing from the likes of Chaka Carnage and Gin Atomic allows Kapow, Rose Bleed and others to keep Brighton noses in front for the next few jams. There is a sense though that, as often happens in derby, the stronger side are simply scoping their opponents out over the first four or five jams here, ready to switch up their tactics and regain the initiative. Gent’s very tough jammer Martacus has seen enough now and a 13-0 jam against Dr Whooligan sees the lead change. It’s now 34-27 to the visitors. A succession of jammer penalties for Brighton will see the Belgians add another fifty to their tally before the Rockers score again. The height of the challenge facing the home side here is demonstrated when Brighton’s biggest threat Gin takes lead, puts in a fantastic apex jumping starhead performance that has the crowd on its feet, yet still somehow loses the jam 11-12. GO-GO are GOOD.
    The sentence “even when Brighton look to have got the better of them, Gent win the jam on points” appears several times in our notes. Other scrawled highlights include “Gent bench coach is very smartly dressed – more bench coaches should wear waistcoats”, “GO-GO’s Moodswing Baby is a super tough blocker” and “we are entirely surrounded by noisy Switchblade fans – are they all wearing denim ironically or is it still fashionable in France?” There’s one moment towards the end of the game where we’re pretty sure Olga Volt picks up three jammer penalties in a single jam, yet Brighton still only manage four points. That pretty much sums the contest up. The Rockers battle hard and give them a game, but Gent are a class above and roll out 258-116 winners.


The day’s second game isn’t strictly speaking a rematch. Although a Rockers side travelled over to Lille to take on Switchblade Roller Grrrls the previous summer, that was a mixed A/B-team Brighton squad, whereas today it’s specifically the B-team Rockerbillies taking on the Lilloise team. The fact that the mixed side lost (albeit not by much) means the B-team could really struggle here. “When the Rockers said they were arranging a game for the B-team against Switchblade I suggested they request Switchblade’s B-team,” one non-player in the Rockers ranks tells us, “I really hope to God they haven’t sent over their A-team or it will be a massacre.”
    They have indeed sent over their A-team. Two jams in and it’s 17-0 to the French side. While Gent brought very few fans across for this event, the league from Lille are represented by a good 20+ in the crowd here, most of them bearing cardboard shields, banners and the like. They’re a fantastic support and damn loud too with a repertoire of chants that would put every UK derby league’s fans to shame. Out on track Sham, playing in both of today’s games to get her track time up after a break from derby, is first to put up points for the ‘billies. A strong jam from captain Irish Mist drags Brighton back into contention – up from 11-27 to 25-27 – before Speedy Gonzalex gives the Sussex side a 35-34 lead. A track cut calls sees Speedy start the next jam in the box and Switchblade take full advantage to post 23 without reply.
    The French side are going with a super small jammer rotation here. For pretty much the entire game it’s only Fille De Satan and Honey Boo Boo donning the Switchblade star, but it’s working well for them. Satan in particular is tearing the Rockerbillies apart jam after jam. Pinkie Buster is amongst the standout blockers for the Lilloise. The likes of Lab Wrath and Van Hayley battle well for Brighton but the French packs dominate much of the proceedings. Jammer penalties are hitting the Rockerbillies hard too with Switchblade taking one jam at the end of the first period 48-0 as Sham looks on from the sin bin. Ouch. It’s 37-195 at the interval and one plucky member of the Lille travelling support agrees to shave his head if Switchblade make it to 400 points. Will he come to regret that bet?
    Irish Mist is probably Brighton’s best hope of points here but even when she has a good run it’s just the odd two or three onto the ‘billies total. Thunderstriker makes an appearance in the French star as Lille vary things up towards the end of the game. Kelly’Diote fouls out and there must be a few of her teammates on five or six penalties now. A great jam from the impressive Mighty Mouse (13-4) is one of the second half highlights for Brighton. With 3’30” left on the clock it’s 368-75 to Switchblade and one of their fans is nervously running his fingers through his at-risk hair. A couple of short jams follow. Speedy Gonzalex does well to hit five without reply and make it 80-377 with just twelve seconds left on the clock. That chap’s hair must be safe now, surely?
    Final jam: Lab Wrath v Honey Boo Boo. The latter takes lead and racks up several passes. Visitors on 392 now with just 45 seconds left on the jam clock. The Lille fans are going wild (well, all but one of them) and no-one but us amongst the Brighton fans knows why. That 400 point target is in sight. Another pass. 397. Twenty two seconds left. Can Boo Boo make it past and through in time? Yes she can! Lille hit 402 in the final seconds of the game with Brighton scoring 84. The French fans stream across to the bench and hug their team before sending someone to Sainsbury’s for clippers. Roller derby is a sport of big wins and big losses – the ‘billies beat Southampton a few months ago by a similar margin to today’s defeat – and this is all part of the learning curve for this fledgling second team. Nonetheless, after today’s results we expect it will be a long time before Brighton skaters face a Belgian and a French team on the same day again.
    In fact, it will be just twelve short weeks…


We’ve never caught a ferry from Newhaven before, so we make an educated guess as to which train station (Town or Harbour) to get off at. Twenty minutes of wandering round deserted streets later a man in a Portaloo tells us we chose the wrong one. It seems the ferry port is slap bang next to Newhaven TOWN station. Luckily this is only ten minutes walk from Harbour station, which makes the existence of the latter (nowhere near the harbour) even more illogical. Things look up when we learn that booze (albeit Stella, euw) is only three quid a pint on the ferry. So begins several days of accompanying every other pint with a shot of Calvados, a Normandy apple brandy that tastes a lot better on the way in than the way out. Fun fact: around 2.5 hours into the four hour crossing to Dieppe the white cliff coastlines of both countries are visible from the upper deck of the ferry. Unfun fact: Bars in Normandy don’t open until 6pm, even on Saturday, and any that fail repeated hygiene inspections are forced to put a Union Jack in their window and call themselves an English Pub.
    The annual Slip It! roller derby tournament kicks off at an ungodly 10am and Brighton are up first against the Brussels Derby Pixies. Strong continental packs were the theme of that November Saturday at the Dolphin and the same is true this crisp February morning in Caen. Four jams in and three points from Rose Bleed are all that Brighton have managed. She picks up another in jam eight and the scores stand at Rose 4 Brussels 32. Hairy Fairy takes advantage of a power jam and depleted Pixies pack to pull it back to 22-35. Cake Or Death holding back Roll Her Face well now but Sham can’t take advantage. Gin next up in the Sussex star – she looks to have landed an apex jump right on the whistle but the refs don’t give her the points. Noise Tank, benching here in the absence of Mass Janeycide, questions this somewhat vociferously. Racey and Gin are pegging back Roll Her really well now. Obliviator and Irish Mist the other half of a really strong Brighton pack that draws a penalty from the Belgian starhead. BRATS Jammer Of The Year Skate Bush takes full advantage, posting nineteen points to put the Rockers ahead for the first time in the game: 43-41.
    Sham downing Metalix to force the call next and it’s still 43-41. Another pointless jam follows before Roll Her – the Belgian side’s most impressive jammer – retakes the lead. There’s 6’30” left of the period with the Pixies leading 58-52. A bodged star pass between Dr Whooligan and Rose allows Florence And The Machete three scoring passes. By the interval it’s 85-69 to Brussels. That’s a tiny gap in derby terms, but the second period doesn’t start well for Brighton. Multiple blockers getting penalised for failing to reform on a ‘no pack’ call is just one of many problems that sees the Rockers pick up a single point while the Pixies nab 51. Eek. Noise calls a team timeout at 70-136, but this contest is destined to slip away from Brighton. Brussels tough it out to take the game 217-121.
    The Rockers face the hosts Roller Derby Caen next. Good home support here in a nice roller hockey style venue; white flooring that resembles ice makes it feel colder than it actually is, which is pretty damn cold to begin with. Rose gets the Rockers off to a good start with eight points in the first jam, but pretty soon it’s 12-30 to Caen and Noise is calling a timeout. Brighton will field quite a few newer players across this weekend, including the likes of the aces Bionic Betty, Speedy Gonzalex and Hippy Hippy Skate. Although the new additions all do really well, the absence through injury and other reasons of some of the Rockers’ most experienced blockers like Hyde N Shriek (here in the bleachers on crutches) is keenly felt. Caen’s chief tormentors Spank Girl and Chantal D’Acier and the hard blocking Quinn Cardinal are amongst those who keep Brighton on the back foot for most of the game. The final score is 236-145 to the hosts, so the Rockers finish third in the group and will playoff tomorrow at noon for the wooden spoon…


Having scoped out Sunday’s after party venue on the Saturday night, and been somewhat seduced by several really strong Belgian dark ales on draught, we’re in need of some hair of the dog for Brighton’s midday match-up with Eindhoven’s Rockcity Rollers. Unfortunately it seems that every shop in Caen including the supermarkets and off-licences is closed on a Sunday. After half an hour’s Googling we locate a small store in the suburbs that is open. This seems solely aimed at street drinkers however, with none of the beers (lagers) on offer being less than 6.5% ABV. Almost all of them are obscure German pilsners flavoured with various spirits. There’s the 6.8% whiskey beer, the 7.4% rum beer and the 7.6% tequila beer. We eschew all these ridiculous concoctions and plump instead for the 8.4% absinthe beer. It says “special herbal beer” in big letters on the can, so it must be good for us. Cracking into it back at the venue, we instantly discover that it’s the most disgusting drink ever created.
    Brighton get the better of the first six jams but the lead is a worryingly narrow one (29-27). Lotta Havoc receives the star for Rockcity and takes advantage of a trip to the box for Rose to give the Dutch side a twelve point lead. Skate Bush and Whooligan are putting in some good turns in the star for the Rockers, but the Eindhoven squad of just eleven (Brighton with a full fourteen from an even bigger travel squad) are resolute in defence. The Brickster and Marcie in particular are a real handful for the Sussex packs to tussle with. A first half with a lot of stoppages, including Noise winning back his official review, ends 104-86 to Rockcity as we rush off back to the store for more disgusting wormwood lager. We have another reason to vacate the hall for the interval. There’s a huge ‘Turn Left’ advertising banner between the benches. It seems that we inadvertently gave our Rockers fanzine the same name as a long established Dutch roller derby store. Noise has suggested we should arm wrestle the store’s owner (one of the Rockcity skaters) for the rights to the name. This is a challenge we are VERY keen to avoid.
    Most of the crowd are very much behind the Eindhoven team here with chants of “Go Go Go Rockcity” echoing around the hall as the game resumes. Ruby Cruel and The Great Tyrant are finding space through the Brighton packs despite the battling efforts of (amongst others) Racey, Emma the Condemner and Cake Or Death. The latter picks up a broken nose during the game and will appear at the after party with her face covered in what looks like gaffer tape (albeit stylishly accessorised gaffer tape). Gin, Skate and Whooligan keep the Rockers in touch – Rockcity’s lead is never more than a power jam away – but the Sussex side go down 140-167 to take sixth place in the tournament. The Brighton skaters take to the stands to watch the tournament’s two remaining games.
    The third place playoff between the capital city sides of Brussels and the Paris Rollergirls B-team is the game of the tournament. There’s barely a cigarette paper between the two sides on the scoreboard for the vast majority of the contest. Indeed we lose track of the number of times the teams are tied between jams. 58-58 is followed a couple of minutes later by 72-72. There’s a 112-112 too and so on, hard to remember now, special herbal beer yeah. The Pixies have the edge 90-84 at half time, but a hard fought final couple of jams sees Paris triumph 179-166 with the teams gaining thirteen lead jammer statuses apiece. Wowsers. The final sees hosts Caen face Namur (whose 142-139 win over Paris was the highlight of Saturday). By this stage, to be honest, the six cans of absinthe beer have kicked in and all we can make out from our notes of the game now are what look like the phrases “don’t lick the bleachers not taste nice” and “does stick insects have ears”. According to the internet Namur won 200-154.


The after party then. We arrive fashionably early – two hours before anyone else – to take up our usual (well, third night in a row) spot at the bar. The rest of the evening is quite a blur. We can vaguely recall everyone in the building congaing around the bar, up and down the stairs and up and down the street… some crazy fake snow blizzard covering half the block… the barman giving us free shots of Calvados… being slightly sick on ourselves… and not much else. We have an early train in the morning so we retire at a sensible hour, thank God. We later learn that most of the Brighton team end up at a house party that is closed down by the police around five am. They may have lost the tournament but we’re pretty sure the Rockers won the after party. It was a splendid and awesomely hosted weekend all round. Yay!
    PS Don’t forget you can catch the mighty Sussex skaters in action back on British soil this Saturday (12th March) in North London’s Tottenham Green Leisure Centre. The fact that it’s the only March weekend without engineering works on the Brighton train line is God telling you to attend, yeah? PPS Bring your own Calvados x

Photos by Vinciane Piérart aka NSP 189


CAEN YOU DIG IT? Slip It 3! Tournament Preview


The mighty Brighton Rockers said they would be lining up some European opposition in 2016 and this weekend (Sat 20th & Sun 21st Feb) sees them face no fewer than THREE Continental sides. The Rockers are taking part in their first Euro derby tournament, a competition featuring six WFTDA member and apprentice leagues in the city of Caen, Normandy. This piece contains previews of all nine tournament games plus interviews with the French hosts and the Brighton captain, along with travel and accommodation tips.
    Firstly, here’s some general info on the tournament itself. This is the third annual Slip It! tournament and takes place at the centrally located Halle des Granges in Caen. Things get off to an early start on Saturday (10am) and yes, Brighton are taking part in that first game – so pack an alarm clock! There’s a full twelve hours of derby action (six games) on the Saturday, then a slightly less frenetic day of three games starting at noon on Sunday.
    The Rockers will face Brussels and hosts Caen on Saturday. The next day Brighton will playoff for either first, third or fifth place against one of Namur (Belgium), Rockcity (Eindhoven) or the Paris Rollergirls B-team. Tickets are a super cheap 10 Euro for the whole weekend (€6 for one day) and are available from the link at the bottom of this piece. With Normandy full of budget hotel options and a number of different ways to get over there, it’s a cheaper weekend away than you might think…



Sadly it’s too far to swim. Which is disappointing since if you stand on Brighton beach and stare out to sea, it’s actually Caen (or at least its attached port of Ouistreham) that you’re looking towards. With that pesky stretch of water in the way any travel plans are going to have to involve a boat, a plane or a tunnel. The ferry option is almost certainly the cheapest, but which of the sea crossings to use? You can get a boat from Portsmouth to Caen (well, Ouistreham) but it’s spendy in ferry terms (£30-£40 each way on foot) and takes 5 hours 45 minutes. The further East a port you want to travel from/to the shorter the crossing will be, but the longer the journey on both sides of La Manche will be. Decisions, decisions…
    For road users we suspect Dover-Calais is the best option for keeping time and costs down. Certainly it’s the option we’ve heard that most of the Brighton team will be using. Us public transport types might have considered the ferry from Portsmouth, but it seems Brittany Ferries don’t want public transport users on it. Check-in for the daytime crossing (the only one served by a bus on the other side) closes five minutes before the first train of the day can get you there! The best option then is the Newhaven-Dieppe ferry (just £30 return on foot). Although this involves a 2.5 hour £25 train journey on the other side, when you factor in the cheaper ferry price, shorter crossing time and stations right by the ports, it actually works out cheaper and slightly quicker than the Portsmouth option would have been. Hurrah!
    Other options include the Eurostar or catching a flight. Caen does have an airport (it’s actually much closer to the city than the port is) but the only UK location serving it is Southend. This wouldn’t normally be a problem, especially as it’s a cheap Flybe service, but there are only a couple of flights a week in winter so you won’t be able to fly back until Wednesday – gah! The best option for those who would rather use a tin can in the air than a tin can on the water? Probably Easyjet from Gatwick to Paris Charles De Gaulle (£40 each way) then a train from Gare Lazare to Caen. This doesn’t work out much more expensive than the ferry options, but the addition of the airport train and a Paris Metro hop make it no quicker and probably more hassle, especially with luggage.
    Accommodation wise, hotel prices in Normandy at this time of year are very good value. Although many places in central Caen are now full, there are still bargains to be had (eg an apartment hotel is offering studio flats for around £30 a night). Of course there’s also the option of an overnight ferry on the Friday and Sunday nights and sleeping in a hedge on Saturday. Enough of the logistics, though, on to the derby…



The Structure for the tournament is exactly what you’d expect from a six team weekend tournie. On Saturday the teams have been split into two evenly matched groups. Each group consists of three teams and will feature a total of three games, with each team playing twice (one full-length game against each of the other two teams in their group). The results of these games will give us the group standings, a league table for each of the two groups with teams placed first, second and third. These tables form the basis for Sunday’s playoff games.
    So the teams that finished bottom of the two groups will play each other for fifth place in the tournament overall. Then the teams that finished in the middle of the groups will play off for third place. Finally, the winners of the two groups will meet each other to decide the winner of the whole tournament. If things play out according to the European rankings at we could be in for some VERY close games on Sunday. We have the 47th/48th ranked teams plus the 57th/59th split across the groups here.
    The national spread is also very even with one French and one Belgian team in each group, along with one from ‘elsewhere’ (the UK and Netherlands). Let’s take a look at the tournament schedule with the help of the prediction machine at These computer predictions do have a certain element of guesswork to them as ever. The rankings, great though they are, usually don’t quite reflect the current state of the various leagues. We’ll also hear from the Rockers captain and hosts Caen about what they’re expecting from the weekend…



Brighton Rockers (ranked 48th in Europe)
Brussels Derby Pixies (59th)
Roller Derby Caen (77th)

Brighton are probably quite surprised at how well their Euro ranking has held up despite a tough 2015 season; indeed, one prominent player told BRATS she expected the Rockers to be the lowest ranked rather than second highest team in this tournie. So we’ll take all these predictions with a pinch of salt – particularly as Brighton have never played any of the other teams before. Flattrackstats calls this as around 66% chance of a Rockers win, with a predicted differential of 6:5. That means they expect Brighton to score six points for every five that Brussels get, which would result in a typical scoreline of say 210-175 to the Rockers. That’s pretty close so a Brussels win wouldn’t be a huge shock.

As there’s no tournament/neutral option at Flattrackstats we’re having to average out home and away predictions for most of these games. However, in the case of the hosting Leopard Avengers of Caen Roller Derby, we’ll be awarding them home advantage in the calculations. Even so the website gives Brighton a hefty 80% win chance with an expected differential of 19:13. For the sake of keeping the maths simple, that suggests something like a 190-130 Rockers win. Having said that, Caen are not only the hosts but also defending champions (having won Slip It! 2) so we expect them to be tough opposition all weekend.


The final Group 1 game also looks like a tricky one for the hosts if we are to believe the computer predictions. FTS gives Brussels a 68% chance of taking the win with a predicted differential of 39:32. That would mean a scoreline in the region of 195-160 to the Belgian side. These teams have met once before. That was at the very first Slip It! tournament back in January 2014, with Brussels taking the win by a super close 158-155 on that occasion, so this one could be a real nailbiter.


Namur Roller Girls (ranked 47th in Europe)
Rockcity Rollers (57th)
Paris Rollergirls B – Les Quedalles (63rd)

Namur from Wallonia (French-speaking Belgium) were a late addition to this tournament following the withdrawal of Copenhagen. Though ranked five places below the Danes they are the highest placed team taking part. Paris Rollergirls B-team Les Quedalles were the lowest ranked of the six teams, but a good showing earlier this month against teams from Lille and Reims has seen them jump a whopping 23 places in the rankings. Nonetheless, Flattrackstats give the Belgians 72% chance of the win here with a predicted differential of 47:34. If true that would mean something like a 188-136 Namur win.

This shows you the effect Les Quedalles’ good results a week or two back have had on the (rankings based) prediction computer. When we ran the predictor before those games it gave Rockcity 82% chance of taking the win here. Once those three games on 6th/7th Feb are factored into the Paris ranking, Rockcity’s chances have dropped down to 62%. The suggested differential of 7:6 would equate to something like a 154-132 victory for the Dutch side from Eindhoven. That’s super close in derby terms, so this one could go either way.

Should the computer predictions for the first two Group 2 games have proven correct (which is unlikely – we’re expecting at least one upset in each group) then this match will decide the group winners. Flattrackstats favours the Belgian side here, giving Namur 65% chance of the win. The differential is pretty close though at 27:22, which suggests a scoreline in the region of 162-132. Rockcity have won their two previous games against Namur however (in 2013 and 2014) so take nothing for granted!


We aren’t going to include any predictions for Sunday’s playoff games as we really wouldn’t like to predict which teams are going to finish where in the group tables. Certainly several teams here are ranked quite a bit higher or lower than their most recent results would suggest. This is particularly apparent when looking at possible playoff match-ups. For example, hosts the Leopard Avengers beat Paris B by almost 300 points at Slip It! 2 and Caen’s only ever game against the highest ranked side here Namur (less than a year ago) saw the French side triumph 192-93. Rockcity are the only Group 2 side the hosts haven’t played before.
    An all-Belgium playoff game would prove an interesting proposition. Brussels and Namur have met three times before and the most recent meeting saw the Derby Pixies triumph by a single point: 170-169. Les Quedalles are also no stranger to Brussels with one win apiece in the teams’ previous meetings. Could there be a ‘best of three’ decider in Caen? As for a Brussels v Rockcity game, that would be the SEVENTH public meeting of the Benelux sides. The teams have been taking it in turns to win with scorelines to date [Brussels scores listed first] of 192-172, 165-202, 122-100, 152-182, 142-79 and 167-176. No-one would be brave enough to predict the outcome of a ‘best of seven’ decider here!
    Whoever Brighton meet on the Sunday will be a new opponent, although the Rockers have previously played (and narrowly beaten) the Paris Rollergirls A-team. Whatever the make-up of the tournament’s three playoff games, we’re expecting them to all be pretty close. Even the FTS predictor throws up 52%-48% win chances for a couple of Sunday’s potential match-ups!

This match features the teams who finished bottom of the two groups.


The ‘bronze medal match’ is between the two second place teams.

The final sees the winners of Groups 1 & 2 battle for the tournament title.



Can you tell us a little about the history of Roller Derby Caen and the Slip It! tournament? Do the Leopard Avengers have any special players or tactics that fans should look out for?
Roller Derby Caen was created in 2011 by our President and Captain, Chantal d’Acier. In the beginning we were just a few skaters and thus unable to play under our own colours, so we had our first games with Team Normandy. We played our first tournament as the Leopard Avengers in 2013. Since then we’ve played regularly and despite being a small league, we managed to become strong enough to be in the Elite category (the highest) in the first French Championships. We were accepted in late July as an Apprentice Member of WFTDA. As you can imagine we were really looking forward to making it!
    Since this year we’re happy to also have a B team, Les Pétrolleuses, which will allow our Fresh Meat to start playing games more quickly. We’ve been organising the Slip It! tournament for three years now. It’s well known in France and now throughout Europe. This year’s Slip It! will be 100% WFTDA teams, and we will be hosting players and referees from many different European countries. As for our special players and tactics, we prefer to let you see for yourselves and have the full surprise!

Have you played many of the teams at this year’s Slip It! before? Are any teams totally unknown to you? How are you hoping to do in the tournament and which teams do you think will do the best?
The two teams we really don’t know are the Rockcity Rollers from Eindhoven and the one you are cheering for, the Brighton Rockers. We have already met Brussels Derby Pixies, Paris Les Quedalles and Namur Roller Girls. We are really looking forward to playing against Brighton and we are happy to meet Brussels again; the Derby Pixies are a great team with good spirit and they’re funny ladies. We will do our best during this tournament in all the games we play and we’re sure that all six of the teams will play at their best level. As we say in French: “Que le meilleur gagne!”

Can you tell us a little about your venue? Is there much seating for fans? Vendors? Food? Most importantly, is there are a bar?
La Halle des Granges is a big place with a very high ceiling. It is really cold during the winter, so tell people to bring warm clothes (scarves, gloves, fleeces) to feel more comfortable, and blankets too. You will find bleachers and a big suicide zone to sit in, vendors (roller derby stuff, team merch, etc). There is a bar where you can have some homemade soups, cakes, sandwiches in fresh baguettes, plus hot and cold drinks. We do apologise but we don’t have the right to sell beer or wine. It is strictly forbidden by the City Of Caen to sell alcohol at an athletic meeting. We are sure you will find a way to have some!

For fans travelling to Caen for the tournament, is there anything you suggest to see and do (as a tourist) in the area?

The city centre of Caen is lovely and there are also many places you can visit in the surrounding area. First you should have a look at L’Abbaye aux Hommes near to the venue. It was erected by William the Conqueror himself, in a pure Norman style, and he’s buried there. You can also visit L’Abbaye aux Dames, which was founded at the same period. Still in the city centre you have the Ducal Castle at the top of which are the Fine Arts Museum and the Museum of Normandy. Close to this is St Pierre’s church. Also check out the Caen Memorial, a museum and war memorial commemorating the Second World War and the battle for Caen, during which the city was almost completely destroyed. Around Caen if you drive about 40km you can visit the D-Day beaches and the artificial harbour (Mulberry Harbour) of Arromanches. 20km from Caen you’ll find the famous Bayeux Tapestry. Embroidered by Queen Mathilde and others, this illustrates the events of the Norman Conquest of England, particularly the Battle of Hastings.



Are you selecting a full squad of twenty players for Caen? Any new players or tactics we should look out for? How have preparations been going? We understand part of the roof recently blew off your Hove training venue!
We’re taking nineteen skaters altogether – this includes two subs. The core seventeen includes four of our wonderful B-team who have been working their butts off and are now making their A-team debuts. We have decided to play a little short, partly to keep track time up and also to ensure we have solid line and pack rotation. We’ve been working on new tactics (you’ll have to wait and see what they are) as well as strengthening our defaults. A lot of our training time has been focused on that. When we lost the training hall for a night due to the storms, we ended up having a three-hour tactics meeting instead. This included some of our players patching in on Skype!

According to the current European rankings you’re the top rated team in Group 1 here. Do you consider yourselves favourites? What do you know of your opponents (Brussels and Caen in the group; then one of Group 2’s Namur, Rockcity or Paris B in playoffs)?
I think these will all be hard games, to be honest. We tend not to focus too much on rankings, since the moment you think you’ll have an easy ride the other team will always surprise you! We’re doing our research on everyone in preparation, but we will be playing our own game and will be ready to react to whatever team is on track against us on the day.

The Rockers said a big reason for quitting British Champs was to take on more European opposition in 2016. Are there more tournaments in the pipeline? Or will it mostly be one-offs for the rest of the year? You’ll still face UK teams too, right?
Yeah, we’ll be playing UK teams too. One thing we really missed during our Champs season was the freedom to choose who to play. We’ve got a few UK games confirmed including LRG Batter C-Power (in Tottenham on March 12th) and Newcastle B, as well as some other exciting European games in the pipeline. Currently there are no more tournaments confirmed, but we’ve not finalised our season just yet so watch this space!


Brighton Rockers v Paris bout report


Thelma Track. Knocked back. Still on track. Clearly winded. Stops for a moment. Stands there, hands on hips. Shaking her head as if realising there’s no way past the brick wall. The one emblazoned 888 that lies ahead whichever line she tries to take. Others might be tempted to give up around now, pass the star to their pivot or whatever, but such surrender’s not for Thelma – probably the best opposition jammer we’ve ever seen here at Haywards Heath – at least not right now. Nothing for it but to take a deep breath, another run-up, another try, another solid shoulder block and she’s down on the outside this time. Brighton bridging, pulling her back from the turn four approach to turn two. Starting again. Half a track further back. Head down. Breathing heavily. She’s skating on fumes now…
    They said this was going to be easy. The stats nerds with their charts and algorithms, impenetrable calculations founded on a whole history’s worth of European derby results. 80% chance of a Brighton win, they calculated, victory margin of 40-50 points. Have they got it so wrong? At the moment it certainly seems that way. The French visitors, mustering as much Gallic poise and Parisian panache as a derby track allows, are tearing the Rockers apart in these opening exchanges. Three players alternating in the visitors’ star. Thelma Track, diminutive and deadly, finding space where none exists to skip straight through the Brighton four-walls. Rose Hyène and Bully Bunker, swift and feisty, are racking up plenty of points too. Whilst the French jammers put up solid numbers in almost every jam, Brighton’s are finding the blue pack an incredibly tough proposition to pass. It doesn’t help that the Rockers penalty box is proving such a go-to destination for the Sussex side, with several hometown blockers following The Mighty Mighty Bash’s (post-star pass) first jam and (star-clad) fourth jam lead.
    Team timeout Brighton. Six jams in. Seven points so far for Brighton, seventy (yes, 70) for Paris. Regular bench coach Mass Janeycide is supposed to be on maternity leave, but she rushes from the bleachers to join the timeout huddle. Can the Rockers pull something out of the hat? If what happens next was the plan, it’s a somewhat confusing one, as a succession of Brighton jammers take lead only to instantly call it off with no attempt to get round and score points, even when the rival jammer is in the box. Our mobile phone vibrates frenziedly as friends from various parts of the crowd bombard us with “why are they calling early?” texts. We don’t know. Nor does the announcer, grizzled – and grizzly – derby veteran El Toupée. Indeed, several of the team will later tell us they were just as confused by this tactic as the crowd was. At least the Brighton pack are holding up the nimble Paris starheads better now, with a very sturdy lone blocker defence on Hyène from Dr Whooligan being a particular standout.


It had been the typical pre-bout preparation for Bash. (Or at least, what we imagine her pre-bout preparation to be.) 6,000 press-ups, 2,000 squat thrusts and 750 burpees before breakfast, then taking the team bus to Haywards Heath. We don’t mean sitting on it, we mean yanking it up and onto her shoulder, then walking it up the A23/A272 to the venue. A few early penalty calls may have restricted her impact in the first half, but right now that bus-ferrying right shoulder is working overtime, sending the Paris Number Six – four foot tall first half nemesis – back, down, over and out, time and time again. Doing the same to anyone else sporting a white star, and any of the French blockers who get too close. Linking up especially well with the likes of Derby McGee and Hairy Fairy against Bully Bunker now in what has grown, over the past half-hour, into a super tough Brighton barricade. No pasarán. Meanwhile a blur of black kit, cyan trim and star, yellow and green wheels, is circling – part seagull, part vulture – and edging up those hometown numbers…
    Janeycide stays in her seat for the second Rockers timeout. The Sussex side have been taking lead more regularly than the visitors the last dozen or so jams, but this has hardly affected the scoreline. The Paris jammers have been hot on their heels almost every time. PRG’s starheads are so pacy that, even when they break through late, they’re forcing their opposite numbers – Bash, Chariot Sophia, Whooligan – to hit it and quit it for a couple of points at best. El Toupée bantering over the mic with Mother Trucker as the latter fixes track tape between jams. Rockers packs starting to hold the French jammers up more as the period draws to a close. Emma the Condemner drilling a path for Sophia to pick up a natural five, but these are Brighton’s last points of the half. Scores on screen. It may not be Mont Blanc, but there’s certainly a mountain to climb. 42-131 to the visitors. As if the scoreline wasn’t disheartening enough, the leisure centre bar has run out of Guinness. The Rockers need a radical change in the score, so we’ll go for a radical change of drink. Pear Magners. Never had it before. Perhaps it’s absolutely delicious, a taste sensation that will revive our spirits, whilst on track the Brighton team revive their chances. It actually resembles sugared vinegar and we end up tipping half of it away. This doesn’t bode well.
    Half time cluster of folk we know by the main doors to the centre. Football Dude, The Brewer, Pub Lady and others still puzzled by the early calls, but now pondering the scoreline gap. Any glimmers of hope? Paris only have twelve players and rely heavily on pace – maybe they’ll start to tire in the second period? The Brewer theorises that Brighton may have allowed the scoreline to drift deliberately, as there’s a student film crew here making a short documentary about the game. “Can you imagine how wild the crowd will go if Brighton claw it back and win in the last few minutes? It would make for a great narrative,” he insists. It’s a theory grounded in straw-clutching fantasy and tongue-in-cheek false optimism, though, rather than the harsh reality of the track. The Rockers have come back from a 50-point half time deficit before, but today’s is close to a hundred. A gap too wide to bridge is the general consensus here. The team no doubt have a different view. Brighton have never lost an open door bout in Sussex, and have spent the whole of half time discussing tactics, making plans. Ultrafoxx, who made her Rockers debut today and featured in a few first half jams, is on the booze. She’s been told she won’t be playing in the second period. Rosters have been shuffled. Line-ups tweaked. Experienced players told to expect to feature more heavily. Brighton are doing what you do when you’re under siege, as they surely are. They’re bringing out the big guns.


Chariot Sophia is tearing up the track like there’s an alligator snapping at her heels. This isn’t a Sussex power jam, but it sure as hell feels like one, as she hurtles round and round and around and around; her opponent somehow lost, bullied and bossed, inside and behind a concrete wall of black shirts; Sophia is no longer racing her rival, but racing the clock, as the seconds tick away – of both the jam and the match – towards nothingness. One set of numbers, the timer, dropping fast. Another, the Brighton score, rising with as much speed as Sophia’s legs, wheels and feet can bestow. At one point almost everybody in the banked bleacher seats will rise to their own feet, arms aloft, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, as we have done in all these bits in italics. Let’s go back to where we were. To the start of the second half…
    Hooligan added to the Paris rotation. A sign that the jamming trio used in the first period need bolstering with fresh legs, perhaps? Either way, we look forward to Hooligan lining up against Whooligan on the jammer line, if only to see how announcer El Toupée deals with it. Rose (Bleed) has already starred up alongside Rose (Hyène) a couple of times, but at least they had differentiable second names. This is better from Brighton. Racey and Hyde ‘N’ Shriek marshalling Hooligan as Shambolic pulls the Rockers to the 50 point mark. Sophia hitting Thelma off as Bash racks up a handful in the seventh. Whooligan v Hooligan. 74-140. The cushion is being eroded. The Bastille is starting to crumble. Paris, rattled, call a team timeout. Brighton are edging it back now. Their packs are getting the measure of a slightly tiring PRG star rotation, with Thelma and Bully’s fleet-footed apex jumping now a rarer commodity. Rockers jammers are getting more purchase from the super tough visiting blockers – Princess Bitch, Meryl Strip-Her, Dark Pistol, Roxy Bat Girl and others – now too, but Brighton have another enemy in play, one that’s not dressed in blue.
    The clock. As the tenth jam ends, with Thelma forced to call as a long tussle with Whooligan allows Sham to catch up, it’s 78-143. The Rockers have closed the gap from 89 points to 65 in ten jams. That’s an average of 2.4 points per jam. At such a rate, Brighton will take the lead in 27 jams time, but with barely fifteen minutes left on the clock, even half that number of jams before the final whistle is unlikely. They really need to ratchet their point-scoring up. Two or three big hauls are required. In short, the Rockers need some power jams, but this Paris side have been keeping it very clean. (As indeed have Brighton in the second period. Penalty box addict Sham will only pick up one foul all match, and will make sure everyone at the after party knows this.) Hope arrives in Jam 13. Thelma held back by a well marshalled pack, frustrated, picks up a penalty. Crowd goes wild for Sophia on the PJ. Calls it with Thelma standing. Triple figures. 101-156. Sham starts as the only jammer on track. Busy penalty box for Paris now. Bash lead next, then Whooligan – a recent addition to the regular rotation, growing stronger in the role as the game progresses – for a four ‘n’ call. Then comes the seventeenth jam of the second period, the one we began this whole bout report describing.


Today’s official programme features an interview with Bash. “I love hitting someone so hard that they fall to the ground spectacularly,” she says, “and then maybe just looking at them for a second before hitting them to the floor again, just to make sure they know it was me.” It’s an attitude that seems to have rubbed off on her teammates, if the big grin Hairy Fairy bears before, during and after sending Thelma flying is anything to go by. A succession of power jams follow and we reach Jam 20. Less than five minutes left on the clock. 141-167. We’ve already told you what happens next. A Brighton pack holding back the Paris jammer. A Rockers starhead – Chariot Sophia – circling, five point scoring pass after five point scoring pass. Fans on their feet after the third pass. 166-167. One blocker passed. Tied game. Another. Lead change. Brighton ahead for the first time in a match they’ve spent most of 50-100 points behind. A fifth pass follows the fourth. 35-0 for the jam. An awesome haul for a Power Jam, but this wasn’t a Power Jam. The Paris jammer was on track throughout. Unfortunately for her, so was Bash and the rest of the Rockers pack.

    There’s a minute and change left. 176-167 to Brighton. Empty penalty box for both sides. Sham v Rose Hyène. Brighton just need to get lead and call it. Just get lead, Rockers… Just get lead… Paris get lead… Dammit… First scoring pass… 176-171… Sham through now, chasing her down… PRG jammer hits the pack and calls, but points for Sham too… 178-174… Less than 30 seconds on the clock… The only way to force a final jam is by calling a team timeout… Maude Fondeo on the Brighton bench indicates a timeout, but she’s asking if anyone else wants one… The period timer has stopped with one second remaining… There’s confusion… There’s always confusion at the end of a bout when Paris play in the South East… Hearts in mouths for the fans… Ref huddle in centre track… Everyone waiting to see what’s decided… Will this one end in an eight minute official timeout, scores changed to a tie and an overtime jam?… Seems unlikely, but that’s what happened when Paris were at London Rockin’ Rollers last year… Rockers head ref LaserHammer was a pack ref at that one… Déjà vu, perhaps, for him?… The refs disperse… The decision is made… Announcer announces it to the crowd… No-one in a position to call a timeout did… The clock had already run down… The game is over. Paris look suitably pissed off. Hometown fans scream, cheer and file down to trackside for the laps ‘n’ slaps. Every time you think a Rockers home bout couldn’t possibly be any more exciting, any more nerve-wracking, any more dramatic than the last one… somehow it is.
    Over at the after party, the crew filming documentary PIVOT, BLOCK & JAM are out in force. “Everywhere we turned today there was a camera in our face,” laughs one of the Rockers, turning to see a camera in her face. The Brewer wisely turns down our suggestion of telling the team his half time theory; that they let Paris take a big lead to give the documentary a more dramatic narrative. They’d probably punch him at the very suggestion. As indeed would Paris, the French side boasting several of the paciest jammers and indeed – whether running, nay sprinting, interference or speeding up the packs – fastest reacting blockers we’ve seen from a home opponent. There are not many PRG players here this evening, partly as they have another bout 200 miles away tomorrow, though one also suspects many are too narked at how things finished to wanna party… although it must be said, they confounded the predictions and played well above neutral expectations. Any anger at today’s result will carry over to Sunday’s game, with Bristol suffering that ire in the form of a commanding 398-119 Paris victory. You feel the Rockers might enjoy the thought that their comeback today could have impacted Bristol’s fate tomorrow – the West Country side having surprisingly knocked Brighton out of last year’s UKRDA Southern Tournament – although the weekend’s results will actually see Paris leapfrog above the Sussex side in the rankings (up from 28th to 16th in Europe, with Brighton dropping to 19th).


The Brighton league look forward rather than back. For now to the after party fun and games, as Conspicuous Banger invites players from both today’s sides to bite on her increasingly trimmed box. Then to the 30th of this month, when ten Rockers will take part in a mud and obstacle strewn race to raise funds for the league – see the link below for sponsorship details. Then beyond to May 10th, when they return to Haywards Heath to take on the Middlesbrough Milk Rollers. MMR, the league that took a whole year off bouting to train themselves tougher. MMR, the league who currently rank second in England (10th in Europe) and had two players in the most recent national side fourteen. That MMR. It will be the toughest challenge Brighton have ever faced at home. Yet as we leave the after party – with its unexpected air of expected, rather than surprise, victory – we know to never underestimate these eight-wheeled warrior women again.

[Photos by Rebecca Cornford]

MAY 10TH TICKETS:!tickets/cttr

Turn Left Issue 5 Online


If you missed Saturday’s home bout against Paris Rollergirls, we can tell you it was the most awesomes Rockers bout EVAH. There will be a full report up here later in the week. In the meantime, if you missed out on the fanzine we produced for the day, there should be a handful of physical copies available in the Evening Star, Cornerstone and Punktured. Or just click on the cover above to go to the online version. Huge thanks as ever to all the interviewees, photographers and lovely advertisers. Cheerses.

Brighton Rockers v Paris Rollergirls bout preview


Tied game. 37 seconds left. Final jam. Kozmic Bruise takes lead for Paris Rollergirls. Jack Attack maybe six feet behind, on her tail. Kozmic hits the London Rockin’ Rollers pack on the outside of turn four and calls it. Looks like two points for Paris, maybe three. Didn’t look like Jack caught anyone when the PRG jammer called it, but by the fourth whistle who knows? Could barely hear it above all the stamping feet of the ever rowdy London fans. We are high up on the bleachers at the opposite corner of the hall from the action, and our heads have been shredded by something like a dozen lead changes in the last 15 minutes. What are the refs going to give? 2-0 to LRR for the jam. 137-135. Unofficial final. Screaming home fans rushing down to trackside, squashing up sardine-like for the victory laps and slaps.
    Paris have challenged the score for the final jam, though. Official time out. A long one. Nearly ten minutes. Crowd ushered back outside the ref lane. The two teams filling the time with a dance-off, cartwheels on skates and such like. Decision made. Two points each. Tied game still. 137-137. Overtime jam. Referees struggling to hold back the crowd, keep the ref lane clear. Now every seat is a suicide seat, and no-one can sit at a time like this. Kozmic back in for Paris, well rested after the long ref huddle. Jessica Rammit in the star for London. Full two minutes to play. No lead jammer. Both starheads having to be ultra careful when they pass through the pack – a jammer penalty would kill the game for their side – but then so too are the blockers, can’t give away numerical advantage now. Cleanest derby jam ever, as well as the most intense. Both teams scoring four for four. Kozmic taken down but back up super fast. Another four for four. Jess down and quickly back up. Another four for four. The London jammer has gained an extra burst of energy from somewhere, three maybe four feet ahead of her French opponent, five seconds left on the clock, will she make it past a blocker before the jam timer blows? Not sure anyone’s nerves in the crowd – let alone on track – could survive a further overtime jam. Whistles ring out. 150-149. London. Bedlam.

We’ve been asked at the last two Brighton Rockers after parties whether the bout we’d just come from was the best we’ve ever seen. Both times we’ve had to say no. Not the epic game against Central City in Haywards Heath in November, where the Rockers clawed back a 60-point deficit, then rode a 15-minute wave of lead changes and tied scores, before triumphing in the final minutes? Nope. Then what about the match against Rainy City last month – more of the same, but arguably even more resilient a Rockers resurgence, even more nail-bitten a climax? Nope. Those were definitely the second and third best bouts we’ve been to, but first place goes to… see those paragraphs in italics above.
    So, as you can expect, when we heard that Paris were coming to play Brighton, we circled the date – SATURDAY 15TH MARCH, 3PM – with an even thicker marker pen than we usually do when Rockers bouts are announced. We don’t know how laws of probability work, but we’ve come to this conclusion: The league who hosted our second/third most favourite (most awesome, most nail-biting, most battling, most breathtaking) bouts ever are hosts. The league who were the visiting side in our first most favourite (most awesome, most nail-biting, most battling, most breathtaking) bout ever are the visitors. Therefore this match-up is going to be so many levels of amazing that they’re going to have to extend the Richter Scale just to measure the excitement. Jeepers!
    Coming up in this preview, we’ll hear from both teams – as well as from others – about the bout, but first let’s see what the nerdy derby stats sites have to say about it…


The two ranking websites both expect this match-up to be less of a challenge for Brighton than the recent home bouts against Rainy and Central City. This might come as a surprise, given the strength of the Paris roster. For instance, nine of the twenty who turned out for 7th placed Team France in the 2011 World Cup were from PRG. Even though the current French training squad draws from a far wider selection of teams, there’s still going on for a dozen Paris players in the 40. The league’s variable results and ever changing squad make-ups, together with a diffusion of talent throughout France (Toulouse now usually rank higher than Paris, with the likes of Nantes and Bordeaux not too far behind the capital) has kept PRG’s ranking points lower than their performances would seem to deserve.
    Brighton, meanwhile, rank slightly higher amidst UK leagues in the Euro Rankings than they do in the official UKRDA table itself. This is partly due to recent home bouts not qualifying as official sanctioned bouts for the latter, but still providing ranking benefits for the former. (For example, Brighton were ranked above Newcastle and Windsor in Europe, but below them in UKRDA… although Windsor’s heavy defeat at Rainy City at the weekend has seen them drop in the latter this morning, lifting Brighton to ninth.)
    Flattrackstats place the Rockers 16th in Europe and Paris 28th, the teams having 661.7 and 637.8 ranking points respectively. Their online predictor gives Brighton 79% chance of the win, compared to 21% for Paris, with the Rockers expected to pick up 17 points for every 12 (not 14 as wrongly stated in Saturday’s fanzine) that PRG score. This would equate to a typical derby result in the region of 187-132 in Brighton’s favour. Over at Derbydataeurope, the Rockers place 15th (361.02 points) and Paris 26th (238.69). This site hasn’t put up their score prediction for Saturday’s game yet, but we’ll add it in here if and when they do.


We caught up with members of both teams, along with some other folk, for their thoughts ahead of Saturday’s contest. You’ll find further quotes from these people (plus a four page bout preview, star interviews and more) in the next issue of our Turn Left fanzine – pick up your free copy on the door at Haywards Heath on Saturday.

“I don’t like to think about expectations for a game too much. I just go into it with the aim of playing my best, though there is no doubt it will be a tough game. A lot of them are Team France players and very experienced.”
RACEY SLAMHARD, Brighton Rockers captain

“I must confess we do not know any Brighton players. First rendez-vous! I will not predict the result because we have had many surprises before when trying to estimate results. We are just going to play our game, do the best we can, focus and enjoy.”
ROXY BAT GIRL, Paris Rollergirls captain

“Don’t be surprised to see PRG choose to skate short, as they have done each time I’ve seen them play so far. If they’re on hand – and on skates – keep your eyes on Butch Shan, Sally Broyeur, Roxy Bat Girl, Meryl Strip-Her, Crapule and Bully Bunker, to name just a few. In fact, don’t take your eyes off any of PRG. They have a habit of turning a massive loss into a victory, even if the points don’t truly reflect that.”
EL TOUPÉE, Saturday’s bout announcer

“PRG have ten or more French internationals to choose from, so whatever permutation of players makes the trip over it will be a tough visiting side. Brighton seem to have cured their pre-2013 habit of second half dips, and now come out battling stronger in the final period. You can probably gauge the toughness of the contest by how many jammers they field when scores are close. If it drops to just two or three alternating in the Brighton star, it’s extra feisty out there!”
MISTER ADAM, Turn Left editor

“Our game against the Rockers was, to my memory, defined by Brighton’s very strong defensive walls, which called for effective offence on our part to get our jammers through. Paris, on the other hand, liked to keep the packs quick and were forever nipping around the front to speed things up a little to disjoint our walls. The strong slow defence of Brighton versus the fast packs of Paris should be an interesting clash of styles and test of adaptability.”
BOOTS MANUVA, Central City Rollergirls


The Brighton Rockers v Paris Rollergirls bout takes place this Saturday 15th March at the Dolphin leisure centre in Haywards Heath. Doors open at 2.30pm, with first whistle at 3pm. The Dolphin is about five minutes walk from the train station – turn left on exiting the station and follow the roller derby signs stuck to things. There’s a bar, a café-bar, vending machines, etc. The sports hall features bleacher seating, vendors and the slipperiest skating surface known to humanity. (“It’s not slippery, it’s just smooth,” insists our skating teacher – pfft.) The after party will take place at the Rockers home pub, the Cornerstone in Brighton, and features the league’s own beer – Downlands Off Your Rocker – which comes in an unfined/vegan incarnation for the first time this weekend.
    Whilst some refs, NSOs, photographers and others may have been kidnapped by a thing involving blokes on skates that’s happening in Birmingham this weekend (blokes on skates, what fresh madness is this?) a lively crowd is expected for this long awaited match-up. It’s Brighton’s first ever home game against continental opponents, and you’re advised to snap up tickets online asap. These are only £8 each (two pounds cheaper than previous bouts), £7 for students and free for under 12s. You can also get four for the price of three, so bring along a derby virgin or two and it works it out at only £6 each. See the links below [tickets for May’s bout v Middlesbrough are also now on sale] and be ready to witness all kinds of awesomeness.

[Photos by John Hesse and Jason Ruffell/Roller Derby On Film]

BUY TICKETS:!tickets/cttr