Rockers Derby Sevens: Online Magazine and YouTube Video

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

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

Mr Adam Reports : Roller Derby

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

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

SEVEN FACTS ABOUT ROCKERS SEVENS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SEVEN QUOTES ABOUT ROCKERS SEVENS

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

2. TORI BEE, FOR 7s SAKE

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

3. BULLET BOMBER, BOURNE BOMBSHELLS

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

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

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

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

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

[Photos by John Hesse]

LINKS

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

Turn Left Issue 12 Now Online

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

PS Check out our lovely advertisers:
http://hoodlumfang.bigcartel.com/
http://www.meadowyurts.co.uk/
http://www.thewick.pub/
http://www.skates.co.uk/
http://www.downlandsbrewery.com/
http://ukderby.com/
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British Champs UKRDA National South Final Day Preview (inc Day 6 Report)

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

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

MEMO TO THE BRIGHTON ROCKERS: PLEASE SUGGEST TO THE DOLPHIN THAT THEY GET SOME BEERS AND THAT IN FOR SUNDAY. NOT ONLY IS IT GOING TO BE A VERY LONG DAY OF DERBY WATCHING, BUT THE WHOLE ‘SUNDAY’ THING MEANS THE NEARBY SAINSBURY’S SHUTS AT 4PM. AU SECOURS! THANKS XXX

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

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

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

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

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

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

GAME DAY SEVEN @ SUNDAY 9TH AUGUST:
This weekend’s event, the final Tier 2 South Game Day, is something of a first for Brighton as hosts. The first time (we think) they’ve hosted an open door on a Sunday, and the first time (we’re sure) they’ve hosted a triple header. As you’d expect, fitting in three games means a fairly early start. Doors are at 12.30pm with the first game whistling off at 1.05pm. We advise early arrival since the first game is Brighton v LRR, which is likely to be the day’s closest match-up and will also set up what the teams in the other two games need to achieve to make Playoffs or avoid relegation. Tickets are available online from the link at the bottom of this piece, priced at £12 adults, £10 students, free for under 12s. There’s also a 4-for-the-price-of-3 offer. Tickets will also be available on the door (same price, but no 4-for-3).

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

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

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1.05 PM: BRIGHTON ROCKERS V LONDON ROCKIN’ ROLLERS

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

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

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

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

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

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3.20PM: ROYAL WINDSOR ROLLERGIRLS V BRISTOL ROLLER DERBY

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

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

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

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

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

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5.30PM: PORTSMOUTH ROLLER WENCHES V SEASIDE SIRENS

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

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

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

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

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

LINKS
FACEBOOK EVENT:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1611173889165316/
BUY TICKETS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/#!shop/cttr
BRITISH CHAMPS: http://www.britishchamps.com/
LIVE TWITTER FEED: https://twitter.com/britchampslive

[Photos by John Hesse]

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

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

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DAY 5 REPORT: HAVANT @ 20TH JUNE 2015

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

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

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DAY 6 PREVIEW: LRR V ROYAL WINDSOR (2.40PM)

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

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

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

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

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DAY 6 PREVIEW: BRIGHTON ROCKERS v PORTSMOUTH (4.45PM)

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

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

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

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

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY (MANY THANKS TO)
Game Day 5: Graeme Willetts
Final Pic: John Hesse

FACEBOOK EVENT FOR SATURDAY
https://www.facebook.com/events/1449649895353261/

TICKETS FOR SATURDAY (PAGE 2 ‘DOUBLE HEADER’ ONES)
http://www.brightonrockers.com/#!shop/cttr

THE ROAD TO PLAYOFFS
http://www.britishchamps.com/womens-t2-the-road-to-playoffs/

BRITISH CHAMPS WEBSITE
http://www.britishchamps.com/

SATURDAY’S LIVE TWITTER FEED
https://twitter.com/britchampslive

ROCKERS V HOT WHEELS (MAY 23RD) REPORT
http://brightonsource.co.uk/reviews/brighton-rockers-roller-derby-review/

British Champs National South Day Three Preview: Sirens v Windsor & Rockers v Bristol

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Another game day so soon? Yep, they come thick and fast in British Champs. Day Three of the National South division takes place this Saturday (21st March) near Southend-on-Sea. Doors are at 1pm with first whistle at 1.30. Tickets are £10 in advance (£8 students) from the link at the bottom of this preview or £12 on the door. This is a pretty small capacity venue – roughly half that of the recent sold out East London game day – so we very much recommend buying online as soon as possible. There may well be no tickets left on the door.
    The venue is Clements Hall Leisure Centre in Hawskwell, Essex. This is about ten minutes walk from Hockley train station, which is four stops before Southend Victoria on the line from Liverpool Street (not to be confused with the train line from Fenchurch Street that goes to Southend via a different route). Although the journey from London to Hockley is only 45-50 minutes, getting to London from Sussex will be a bit of a mission on Saturday, as those delightful words “replacement bus to Three Bridges” have been dusted off for the whole weekend.
    We recommend allowing a good two hours to get to Liverpool Street, including a bit of faffing around on the tube. If this sounds like a bit of a mission, you might be interested to know that the Rockers have a few spaces for fans on their team bus. These will cost in the region of £12 return, leaving Brighton around 11am and returning in the evening after a bit of after partying. Get in touch with the Rockers via Facebook/email asap if you’re interested.
    We normally recommend a few pubs, but this is actually the Rockers’ first UK away trip to somewhere we haven’t previously done drinking in. Given that Hockley is a fair way inland from Southend itself, allow extra time if you want to hit the seafront, attractions and/or town centre bars before the games. The after party venue is a bowling alley very close to Hockley station, and there are a fair few pubs close to the leisure centre, most of which receive moderate to good write-ups online. The White Hart on Southend Road is the closest, and there is of course a bar at the venue.

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RANKINGS AND PREDICTIONS
Now for our ever exciting rundown on how the games might play out using the predictometer at Flattrackstats. A relentless tirade of numbers mostly beloved of game day announcers who have run out of anything else to say! Firstly, hosts Seaside Sirens (ranked 22nd in UKRDA on 584.8 points) are up against Royal Windsor (10th, 645.5). FTS calls this one as 84% chance of an away win, with a predicted 51:31 differential in Windsor’s favour equating to something like a 255-155 RWRG win.
    Using the Euro rankings rather than UKRDA works out even more heavily in Windsor’s favour, with the Berkshire side ranked 19th on 671.2 points given a 92% chance of beating their Essex hosts (55th, 593.8). Predicted differential here of 35:18 works out as a typical derby scoreline in the region of 315-162.
    Moving on to the Brighton Rockers v Bristol game, as ever with a neutral host venue we have to split the difference between the home and away predictions. (Memo to FTS: please introduce a neutral option!) Brighton are 11th in UKRDA on 640.0 points, whilst the division’s lowest ranked side Bristol sit in 26th on 578.0. The Rockers have roughly 90% chance of the win, with a differential of 29:16 mathsing out to something like 232-128 on the board.
    Switching to the Euro rankings, things are a fair bit closer. Brighton place 27th (641.0 points) and Bristol are 41st (610.9). The predictometer, when tweaked for neutral, calls it at 75% chance of a Rockers victory with a differential in the region of 62:46 suggesting a Sussex victory in the order of 186-138. That’s super close in derby terms, and given the margin of error of these computerised predictions, pretty much anything could happen on the day.
    In terms of the divisional table, LRR sit on the top with two wins and a +281 points difference. They’re sitting out this game day, so the other unbeaten teams (Windsor and Brighton) know what is required of them in their second games of the season. Windsor need to beat Sirens by 160+ to leapfrog LRR on points, whilst Brighton need to best Brizzle by a whopping 204 or more to do likewise. For Bristol and Seaside, both sides will be looking for their first win, which (given Portsmouth’s absence today) would put clear space between themselves and the bottom slot.
    That’s enough number crunching. Now let’s hear from members of three of the day’s teams about what we can expect on Saturday. (Unfortunately, we haven’t received any reply to the interview questions or follow-up messages we sent to Royal Windsor, so you’ll just have to imagine that side’s thoughts going into the weekend’s action.)

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SEASIDE SIREN ROLLER GIRLS v ROYAL WINDSOR ROLLERGIRLS

ELLA GNAW – SEASIDE SIRENS

After a quite a heavy defeat to LRR on Game Day 1, you put in a strong performance against Brighton on Day 2, despite penalty foul outs reducing you to six players. Anything from that Brighton game that you’ll be building on for the rest of your British Champs campaign?
One thing we have been working on – which won’t be a surprise! – is penalties! We’ve had the chance to see what worked and what didn’t and get ready to put it into play for Saturday.

Due to a few fixtures having been swapped over, SSRG are in the unusual position of playing in three Game Days (1-3) in a row! Are there any advantages or disadvantages to playing so many Champs games in succession?
I think it gives us an opportunity to review what works and what doesn’t work for us and to put it into play quickly. There’s no chance to take our foot off the gas and become complacent because we’re always in game mode, which is fun. In an ideal world most derby teams would give anything to play every week, like most sports teams, so to play once a month has been a great opportunity.

Your opponents this Saturday are Royal Windsor. We believe you’ve played them once before, more than three years ago (RWRG winning that 134-77). How are you expecting this meeting to go?
We played them for an exhibition bout for Sky News three years ago and our squad was very varied in that game. It was a 40 minute game and a cherry popper for myself. Royal Windsor Rollergirls are a great team to watch and their drive to grow and continuously develop their game is a great inspiration. We’re really looking forward to playing them on the track and anticipate a great game. Locking down their jammers, who push hard to find the smallest gaps will be our main aim.

The day’s other game sees Brighton take on Bristol. What should people look out for in that one?
Watching Bristol play LRR at the last game was a great opportunity to see how they play as a team. We played Bristol two years ago and they appear to have grown in strength and their walls are solid. Brighton have agile fast jammers who do not give up looking for the gap to take.

Finally, Sirens are hosting the action on the 21st. What can you tell us about the Clements Hall venue, the after party and the Southend area in general?

This is very exciting for us as it’s at our new venue, Clements Hall! We have previously bouted on a very slippery wooden sports hall floor and this will be our first game on a sticky traditional UK sports court. Though this is also our Sunday scrimmage venue so we’re used to it. It has a great roll but hard wheels are advised. Our Force Ten Gail recommends 93s. We have tiered seating, so will be giving our fans a different view of the track for the first time ever, but it only holds 170 people so get your tickets fast!
    We will have merchandise on sale for the teams and also Resolute Framing, an independent business offering high quality, bespoke framing and framed prints, limited edition artworks, photographs, collectables and more. We have a cake stall selling all kinds of treats and the proceeds will be going towards our local branch of Cats Protection League, a charity which is close to many of our hearts. And finally, we have a fully licensed bar, which will be situated in the hall, so you won’t need to miss a second while getting your refreshments!
    We are also having our after party at a different venue, nearer to our sports hall, at CJs Bowling Alley. Anyone who came along to the recent Roller Derby Sevens tournament will have enjoyed the after party there, and there’s plenty of parking for the visiting teams’ coaches and cars. We have bowling alleys booked, and there’s food and drink on offer. And finally, Southend itself. We are home to the world’s longest pleasure pier and Adventure Island. Come and ride the roller coasters, eat some candy floss and skim some stones while eating hot donuts!

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BRIGHTON ROCKERS V BRISTOL ROLLER DERBY

SWANN & CAKE OR DEATH – BRIGHTON ROCKERS

Hi there. So you’re 20% of the way through your British Champs National South campaign now. Was it good to get that opening win under your belts last month against the Seaside Sirens?
I think it would have been easy for us to go in with high expectations based on the result last time the Rockers and the Sirens met, but we definitely appreciated that both teams have changed a lot since then, and no result is ever a given. We were also going in without a couple of key players who would normally be on our A-team roster, so we couldn’t be sure how much of a difference that would make. We definitely had a half-time turn around. We’d figured out what was working for us, they lost a couple of players to penalties, and we just focused on being a strong unit and really tiring out those remaining players, which allowed us to pull ahead at the end. It’s a great feeling to have a win under our belt at the first stage, and hopefully we can carry that success through the rest of the competition.

Your opponents on Saturday are Bristol Roller Derby. In a way this is a “best of three” decider, with one win to Bristol (251-175 in London in 2013) and one win to Brighton (277–209 at Haywards Heath last September) in previous meetings – we make it 460-452 to Bristol on points at present. Presumably you know their roster fairly well now?
Bristol are really strong and a big experienced league. We have played them a few times and most recently at home. They have recently chosen their team for the season and we know they have a strong squad to choose from. They have plenty of very experienced players like Black Thorn, E-Z Roller and The Blizzard, who we shall have our eyes on

Moving onto the Brighton squad, can we expect one or two of the Rockers who were missing against Sirens to return to action against Bristol? Care to predict the result?

We never predict the result but do predict a party bus all the way home whatever the outcome. British Champs is giving us a great chance to vary our roster. Although Saturday’s side will be similar to the team that played the Sirens, we like to mix it up a bit.

The day’s other games sees Royal Windsor take on the Seaside Sirens. Any thoughts about how that one will go?
That game will be brilliant. Sirens were really tough to play in our first Champs game, but Windsor are such an experienced team. I think this game will be less about individual players, and more about which side has the best teamwork.

Finally, with games against Windsor, Portsmouth and LRR coming up in the next few months, what are your views on the National South division as a whole?
The South division is very strong, with lots of diverse teams who work well together. We’re very proud to be part of it. Windsor we haven’t played for years, but we’ve heard they have become very strong so they will definitely be a formidable foe in Bristol on May 9th. And of course the great and glorious London Rockin’ Rollers gave us The Mighty Mighty Bash, so they are clearly awesome – but seriously, they scare me a bit…

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RAVEN LUNATIC – BRISTOL ROLLER DERBY

Bristol made their British Champs debut last month against divisional leaders LRR. Did that game go the way you expected?
We were really pleased with our opening game to Champs. Being seeded the lowest in the group and facing leaders LRR we anticipated a really hard fight and we weren’t disappointed. LRR’s blockers were very strong with some bruising offensive moves and their jammers were nippy and agile. It’s what we expected and what we’d prepared for. I think we probably took LRR a little by surprise with the strength of our walls and the power and determination of the Bristol jammers. A huge positive for us is that, despite losing the game, we kept the points differential a lot closer than anticipated, leaving us nestled comfortably mid-table.

You’re facing the Brighton Rockers on Saturday in Southend. In your two previous meetings with the Rockers, it’s one win apiece, so in a way this is a “best of three decider”. Which Bristol players or tactics do you think are going to play a key role in this game?

Yes, we are really looking forward to ‘The Decider’ against the Rockers. Our last fixture in 2014 was fantastic and we really hope to replicate the energy and athleticism of that day. We watched part of the Rockers’ game against Seaside last month so we’re pretty familiar with their style of play. We have a few tactics up our sleeve but you’ll have to wait until game day to find out what those are!

Having met the Brighton on track twice in the last two years, you presumably know their squad fairly well. Who are you looking out for? Care to predict the result?
I think the team has changed a bit since we last met, but the Rockers have a strong and dynamic squad who I’m sure will be working hard to make life difficult for us on Saturday. Dr Whooligan had a good game against Seaside Sirens, as did Hairy Fairy and Swann, but we will be looking at the team as a whole, not concerning ourselves about individual performances. I predict that this game is certainly going to be one to watch. After all, this isn’t just about positions on the British Champs table. This is the accumulation of three years of history between Brighton and Bristol. This is ‘The Decider’!

The day’s other game sees Royal Windsor take on the Seaside Sirens. Any thoughts about how that one will go?
Seaside Sirens have some incredibly strong players and their first half against the Rockers last month was really impressive. It was a shame that they lost so many players through penalties in the second half. Royal Windsor are favourites for this match, but if Seaside can keep their players on the track, who knows…

Finally, the game day after this one (Day Four on May 9th) you’re hosting in Bristol. Are plans in hand for that event? And what are BRD’s hopes and ambitions for the remainder of the 2015 British Champs season?
Plans are well underway for when Bristol host the tournament on May 9th. The event coincides with Bristol Roller Derby’s Fifth Birthday, so we will be celebrating in style and hope lots of skaters and supporters can stay and enjoy the after party with us. There will be cake and fizzy stuff, and no Bristol Roller Derby after party is complete without some German Leg Wrestling.
    Our ambition for the British Champs season is probably the same as everyone else’s – to finish as high as possible up the table! Being seeded lowest in the group doesn’t stop us from aiming high. We have a very strong team who all want to play great derby against other great teams. But we’re a competitive bunch, so ultimately our aim is to win!

[Photos by John Hesse]

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 TWO
BRITISH CHAMPS WEBSITE
BRITISH CHAMPS FACEBOOK

Sur5al Remix tournament report

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“She’s not in.” He’s wearing a Texas Rangers baseball jacket. Stepping out of a tiny train station called Windsor & Eton Riverside, they gaze up at the imperial imperious stone turrets this town lives crouching like a lucky serf in the shadows of. Nah, she’s not in. He prods a photo in his guidebook and waves it in front of his rubble-haired partner. “It’s this whole other flag they fly when she’s in,” he intones as disappointment crawls down both their faces like the sweat of the undead.
    “You should have phoned ahead and let her know what day you were coming,” we tell him as we follow them out. “Maybe she’s just popped out to the corner shop for a bag of sugar?” This suggestion just disappoints (or maybe confuses) the couple more. Whatever. That was 20 seconds ago and they are now most likely milling through and being barged about by burly toffs and upwardly mobile Del Boys in rugby shirts. Still these angry rich streets throng with such Americans and Elsewherians, here to soak up the Royal English summer rain in the backyard of the 87 year old incumbent of an 1,142 year old British institution.
    Conversely, there are dotted around these streets – sparsely here in town, but increasing in number through Alexandra Gardens towards the leisure centre – people who have come to Windsor in pursuit of an American institution. One which in its current (modern revival) form dates back just a dozen odd years since its coronation in one of those Austin rock bars Mr Rangersjacket locks his car doors to drive past.
    This is Windsor. Welcome to Derby.

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People with collared shirts and opinions that shouldn’t be spoken out loud are wandering around draughty rooms full of paintings of men of horses, while the rest of us attend what is arguably the biggest UK roller derby event of the year. What? Shut up. How can you make such a statement? What about that X v X international bout somewhere in Scotland, or X from America dropping in on London Brawling, or X tournament where X beat X in the final and set X alight on a Viking longboat to celebrate? Fair enough, but those events featured what four leagues, six, maybe twelve if there was a mixed opener or invitational side?
    Whereas 22 different roller derby leagues have injected players into this hallucinogenically mental Windsor tournament, and that isn’t even the number we should be talking about right now. Nor is fifteen, the number of teams taking part, or 75, the number of individual skaters. No, the real number that matters, the figure that fully sets in concrete the marathon of a day that lies ahead and the sheer twisted genius that underpins the Royal Windsor Rollergirls’ Sur5al concept is this number: 105. That’s how many individual match-ups are taking place here today. They’re not full length bouts, of course [that would take a week] but an unrelenting tide of two minute single jam match-ups, totalling some 210 minutes (3.5 hours) of on track action.
    Co-ed, oh co-ed. What a strange beast you are. Having built up their frankly ace Sur5al concept to the extent that it’s an established franchise – sitting somewhere between Pizza Hut, Cartridge World and a Raw Heidi billboard on every derby savvy High Street – Royal Windsor like to experiment and innovate. After several successful women’s tournaments, they hosted a merby [men’s] one last September and will be holding a rookie one this November. Today’s Remix variant, however, is all about the co-ed.

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Each team consists of three women and two men, and it’s fair to say that the male competitors will go on to dominate this tournament to a certain extent, featuring prominently across today’s individual top threes (most points, most jammer take outs, most penalties and so forth) largely as a result of the rules that are in place.
    Merby is known for being more gung-ho in its attitude, and in a set-up where the lead jammer can’t call it off and every jam starts with a full complement on track (penalties don’t carry over at Sur5al), an awful lot of the superior tactics and finesse of the women’s game flies out of the window. There emerges something more of a battering ram approach, jammers trying to drive their way through the pack for the bonus point that LJ status provides, then a force versus immovable object tussle every time they hit the pack on a scoring pass. When, as often happens, a team is a pass or two behind but has a power jam in their favour, things become an all out reverse tug-of-war.
    This latter scenario is one reason why star passes, fairly rare in conventional bouts, feature so often at this event – a jammer chasing a four or eight-point gap with their rival in the penalty box, unable to force out an opening through the pack and starting to tire, now hoping their taller/shorter/faster/tougher/whatever pivot might have better luck. More often than not, this involves a female jammer passing the star to a merbyer.
    A lot of the feistiest on-track rivalry comes from the Southern Discomfort boys, and looking at the line-ups for these 15 teams that’s no surprise. With far fewer men’s leagues than women’s, just a handful have provided the male quotient for today’s sides. Several teams feature South Wales Silures or Surrey Rollerboys, but most pointedly more than half of these line-ups have a Southern Discomfortable element. Many of these match-ups thus feature hot SDRD-on-SDRD action, much of it driven by the over-eager desire to send an opponent who is usually a team mate floorwards. Hard.

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Brighton Rockers interest today comes from the Rollin’ Rockers team, chicken yellow of uniform, rhino tough beneath. On paper, this is one of the strongest sides taking part, featuring two England internationals – Brighton’s The Mighty Mighty Bash and London Rockin’ Roller Jack Attack – alongside Rockers ref Noise Tank plus LRR/SDRD power couple Betty Swollox and Piston Broke.
    Today’s match-ups are nominally broken up into three rounds of five heats, with seven jams in each heat. Six teams take part in each of these fifteen heats, usually (with a few exceptions) appearing in two or three jams per heat. There are no real breaks in play, with a couple of stoppages to treat injuries being the closest this tournament has to any downtime. Once a heat ends there’s a minute or so of multi-coloured activity as thirty skaters vacate the benches and another thirty simultaneously arrive, then… Blam! Straight on with the next heat.
    The Rollin’ Rockers have one win to show for their first three jams and still seem to be finding their feet in a tournament whose format takes some adjusting to. Despite a 17-8 reversal, they have put up one of the day’s most resilient performances against Team Double Threat. This pink-clad five-piece, the house team of the St Pancras skate store of the same name, will prove the day’s dominant force, dropping only one of their fourteen matches.
    TDT’s stellar performance is in part a product of the breadth of talent and experience their line-up boasts, but also buoyed by a very clear gameplan. Whilst many of the teams take an egalitarian approach, spreading star and stripe duties fairly evenly amongst their five, TDT for the most part stick with Plan A: SDRD’s Nanaki (filling in for injured Flat Track Bully) jamming his way through; shop owners Goregasm and Kitty Decapitate from the all-conquering London Brawling roster using their guile and experience to build a rock-solid, variably paced and constantly recycling pack alongside Tiger Bay’s Kid Block; whilst the poster boy of UK merby Sutton Impact lurks at the back of the pack – as tough as a sackful of squirrels and twice as bitey – dishing out invites to more closely inspect the skating surface to any opponent who strays too close.

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There are a number of other strong line-ups on track today, of course. Hometown interest comes from Terminal 5, the Royal Windsor trio Lane, Culverhouse and Trashbag, bolstered by Team England world cup coaches Ballistic Whistle and Rollin’ Stone R. The cities of Sheffield and Birmingham, admirably served for both derby and merby, have each provided a team. Croydon already have one tournament win to their name this summer (the outdoor Eastbourne Extreme), and the likes of Surrey and Mean Valley – leagues that incorporate merby siblings of their own – have likely had more time to practice together as a five than many taking part today.
    Sussex has representation beyond the Rollin’ Rockers today, with a sky blue Foxy Morons side built around Bourne Bombshells head coach Toxic Block Syndrome and jamming machine Bullet Bomber. One of the announcers will insist on calling them “the foxy ones” instead. Possibly he’s oblivious to their name’s play on the word oxymoron, but most likely he’s just too polite (or fearful for his safety) to refer to any derby folk as ‘morons’. The foxes are up against far more experienced line-ups than themselves in the main today, and will find it tough to chalk up many points.
    The atmosphere in the hall has been fairly restrained for the first hour, but as hangovers subside and more £2.75 bottles of Stella and Sol pass across the bar, a buzz starts to build in the crowd. Terminal 5, as befits the ‘home team’, have plenty of fans here today, but the two Sussex contingents push them close noise wise. The sign waving Foxy Morons support base is clustered in front of the bar – that’s good derby positioning – resplendent in the same cardboard fox ears the team is wearing.
    There are clusters of fandom and signs for many of these teams dotted around the hall. One Freakin’ Rad supporter has brought along what looks like a giant inflatable house brick. Meanwhile, behind the suicide seating occupied by the teams not taking part in each heat, a long line of yellow clad Rollin’ Rockers fans, many of them off duty LRR skaters, greet the start of each RR jam with a Mexican wave and chants for individual players that get louder (and supplemented by short-lived human pyramids) as the day wears on.

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Trying to report on all of today’s 105 match-ups is quite frankly beyond even real reporters, let alone half-drunk barely derby-literate idiots like us, so instead we’ll just summarise each five heat round. The first of these ends, unsurprisingly, with Double Threat atop the table. They’ve taken maximum points (five points for the win – draws merit two, losses zero – plus one for getting Lead Jammer status) from all five of their bouts so far. They’re not alone in this respect however, leading only by point differential from Freakin’ Rad, an orange-clad side featuring Portsmouth Roller Wench RIP McMurphy, an iconic facepainted triple threat who has been one of the breakout stars of the last year in UK derby, alongside PRW team mate Peggy Peril, coach and LRG skater The Duchess of Crutches, and a de rigueur Discomfort duo.
    Sheffield, Croydon and the Rainbow Danger Squad (Bristol, SWS and Tiger Bay) complete the top five, with the Rollin’ Rockers, buoyed by a 24-0 win over their friends Croydon, now up to sixth. Terminal 5 are surprisingly low in the rankings at the moment, one ahead of the Foxy Morons in 12th. The Surrey team Bangers And Smash’s 45-0 loss to the Rad Omens (Tiger Bay, SWS and Ponty Pirates) in heat three will prove the biggest of the tournament; they’re rooted to the bottom of the table, where they are destined to remain for the rest of the day.
    The second round kicks off and the difficulties of finding enough recognisably different colours for fifteen teams is becoming apparent. There are several different shades of blue, purple, grey and green on display here. Woo-Ha even wears a different shade of green to the rest of her team, although we’re not sure whether this is because she was drafted in as a late replacement, or that it’s faded from being so much closer to the ceiling lights than anyone else’s top (she is very tall).
    In several of the jams, a team has to wear bibs over their shirts to better differentiate the two sides. This has got to be a tricky tournament to referee, not least as a sizable portion of the skaters on track today are refs themselves. These kit colour issues aren’t being helped by the yellowy lighting that all leisure centres install to annoy photographers. This is with fifteen teams, so lord knows what the colour clashes would be like if these tournaments ever expanded to include twenty or thirty sides. Pity the poor pack ref then, so used to the simpler likes of black, red, etc.
    “Autumn sunset maroon with a hint of salmon and cerise 37. Cutting. Major.”

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Heats six to ten see a few changes in the table. Some teams, for example the Seaside Sirens-based White Lightning or the Free Radicals (a mix of LRG, LRG Rec and SDRD), largely retain position – about two thirds of the way down the table in both these cases. After their good start, Freakin’ Rad have followed five wins with four losses and are slipping down the rankings. The Rollin’ Rockers are starting to gel now, a string of tireless jamming performances from the likes of Jacks and Tank and tough pack work from Bash helping to pull them up the table. They’ve picked up a third loss, though, going down 8-12 against Sheffield. The Yorkshire side had a crazy heat ten, beating Dragonforce 14-13 and losing 8-9 to Bret Hart, but now place second in the table, eight points ahead of RR and six behind leaders Double Threat.
    TDT are on maximum points and look pretty much unstoppable now, winning several match-ups by 30 or more points. Often these are helped by a power jam in their favour, but more worryingly for everyone else, often they aren’t, with the granite strong TDT pack simply pegging the opposing jammer to their backs for most or all of the two minutes. The top five is rounded out by Dragonforce (Cardiff, SWAT & SWS) and the Central City and Crash Test Brummies populated Team Bret Hart, but everyone’s playing a doomed game of catch-up with Double Threat now.
    The final two of these six hours of chaotic derby action sees a number of injuries, thankfully none too serious, together with a handful of expulsions for reaching seven penalty box visits. The award for the first of the latter goes to Bret Hart’s Barry Fight. We use one of the injury stoppages to compose a letter to drop off on our way back to the station.
    “Dear Mrs The Queen, Firstly we can’t believe you weren’t in today. Some guys had come all the way from Texas to see you. Not only that but you missed the Sur5al roller derby tournament, tsk. Not to worry, we were there and have made note for you of a few people to include in your next new year’s honours list. OBEs (Overwhelming Blocking Experts) to Sutton Impact, RIP McMurphy, Sookie Smackhouse and The Mighty Mighty Bash. JBEs (Jamming By Example) to Nanaki, Culverhouse, Jack Attack and Beat Monkey. DDSOs (Derby Distinguished Service Orders) to the Royal Windsor Rollergirls, Smashlyn Monroe, the Foxy Morons’ ears, and all the refs/NSOs who had to keep track of everything. The Order of Merit to Diva La Lunatic (for injury recovery), Barry Fight (for naughtiness), Killer Bite (for the sort of nonsensical bout programme interview we muchly approve of), Bangers and Mash (because sometimes last means first) and anyone who will kick us if we don’t award them something. Order of the Garter to the Rainbow Danger Squad as a garter would really suit their awesomes socks. And what’s the next one up from Duchess? One of them to The Duchess of Crutches. Cheers, BRATS.”

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We’re in the home straight now. The teams sat on the benches between jams are borrowing fixture lists from the NSOs to see who they have left to play and when. Local heroes Terminal 5 raise the roof when they do the unthinkable and beat Double Threat 15-8, even though TDT took Lead Jammer. The Rollin’ Rockers, meanwhile, are hitting 20-30 points most jams now. Noise Tank showboating his way around the track on his scoring passes, playing to the crowd. Piston Broke is last in to jam for RR, and he takes the showboating to a whole new level.
    A brief wave of worry rebounds around the hall as the announcers tell us that it’s raining really hard outside and loads of trains are cancelled. Everyone rushes to their smartphones, but it all seems to be running OK from Windsor to London, so there’s probably no need to build an ark quite yet. This is why the Met Office doesn’t employ derby announcers to do the weather: “This afternoon solid boulders of frozen water will hurtle at high speed, crashing into the ground across the country.” Er, it’s gonna snow, yeah?
    There’s only one heat left and somehow the Rollin’ Rockers are now on top of the table. They’ve completed all their bouts though, whereas Double Threat still have three to play, with 18 points available and only four required to take the title. In a final heat that sees the day’s only draw – a ding-dong 9-9 between Sheffield and the Free Radicals – things go according to plan for TDT who sweep their remaining jams, taking the trophy with 79 points from the maximum 84.
    There’s a long wait while the reams of statistics such an event creates are tallied and repeatedly checked. Double Threat take the trophy, alongside team and individual points wins. The Rollin’ Rockers must settle for second ahead of Sheffield, Terminal 5 and Croydon. The Eastbourne based Foxy Morons are happy not to have finished last, and are awarded Best Turned Out Team for a combination of foxy facepaint, cardboard ears and – if announcer Smashlyn’s comments about Toxic Block Syndrome are anything to go by – “the best eyebrows in derby”.

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The original plan had been to hold a picnic beside the river, but whilst the weather might now have settled on moderate drizzle rather than the previously announced Biblical deluge, the after party has been switched to the King and Castle, a Wetherspoons right across the road from the Queen’s gaff. She’s still not at home. Maybe she’s in the pub?
    When we passed through this pub at the start of the day, it took ten minutes to get served amidst a rowdy lunchtime rush, so we’ve deliberately made it across ahead of the main influx from the leisure centre this evening. Whilst there’s blissfully no queue at the bar, there is another problem. “We can’t serve anyone at the moment,” the barmaid solemnly intones, “there’s a wasp in my till.” Not a word of a lie, these are the first words spoken to us at the after party venue. Royal Windsor Rollergirls may have cancelled the picnic, but their after party is being plagued by little stripy buzzing beggars all the same.
    It takes two barmen, two barmaids, three menus and a beermat to finally coax Mr Wasp out from the 20p coins tray. A rollergirl would have just bitten onto its wings, pirouetted to the door and released it unharmed outside, but the civilians have dealt with it their way. Bar service can resume. This is a heck of a pub, incidentally. From the castle side you think you’re walking into a single level ground floor bar, yet out back the whole thing drops away, several more levels (above as well as below) and a long beer garden ranging off towards the river. “I’d like to live here,” announces jam ref Laserhammer as we pass him on the stairs. Yes, Windsor does look nice. “No, I mean I’d like to live in this pub.”
    As the various areas begin to fill with Sur5alists – a team on the balcony querying the scoring, a cluster of Southern Discomfort annexing the bay windows on the top floor, Double Threat owners holding court by the door, LRR types getting rowdy in the garden – we head back to the train station. The American couple from earlier are here for the same train, but for some reason move to the other end of the platform when they recognise us.
    Their loss. We were just going to tell them that whilst they didn’t get to break bread with Queen Liz, we spent the day in the company of another kind of royalty. They’re the kings and queens of UK roller derby, and even the most vociferous republican wouldn’t deny them their right to rule.

[Photographs by Rebecca Cornford]

UPCOMING BOUTS: We can’t promise you 105 bouts in a day, but there are a couple of things coming up in Sussex that everyone should know about. The eagerly anticipated meeting between the Brighton Rockers and Leeds Roller Dolls takes place at 3pm on Saturday 21st September in Haywards Heath. You can find details and a link to buy tickets here: http://brightonrockers.com You don’t have to wait three weeks for your next hit of local derby action though. This Saturday (31st August) the Bourne Bombshells are hosting their first home bout, taking on Croydon’s B-team in Hastings at 4pm. You’ll find a preview here: http://thebbcd.com You can buy tickets here: http://ohmyquad.eventbrite.co.uk/ Both these bouts can also be found as event pages on Facebook. Yay!