BRATS Review Of 2016: PART TWO – Starting off EXTREME until it’s TIME for BED(S)

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Did you check out Part One of our Review of 2016 last week? Click here if not for the full story of January to June in Rockersland. We pick things up in Part Two (slightly delayed due to a bout of flu in BRATS HQ) in the seaside sunshine… The month of JULY saw one of the longest awaited match-ups in British derby. Brighton and Eastbourne have both had roller derby leagues for several years. Although the two have scrimmed with and against each other many times behind closed doors, there has never been a public game between them. All that changes on the Saturday of Eastbourne Extreme 2016 as the Brighton B-team Rockerbillies face off against Eastbourne Roller Derby’s Bourne Bombshells in the lunchtime sunshine on Ebo seafront.

These two sides narrowly missed out on meeting in the playoffs at last year’s Extreme tournament and both are much changed twelve months on. Brighton are giving a few of their 2016 Fresh Meat intake a first taste of action in front of a crowd, whilst Ebo (who are having a quiet year in terms of open door games) also have a number of new skaters in their ranks. The Rockerbillies have the better of the opening exchanges, with the likes of Mighty Mouse, Lab Wrath and Hippy Hippy Skate jamming them into a 35-14 lead. Despite the scoreline, which soon extends to 76-24, the ‘shells are getting as many lead jammer statuses as Brighton here. Track cut penalties are in abundance, however – as they would be on an outdoor surface with no perimeter wire to warn you – and these seem to be hitting the purple jammers harder.

Lily Malicious donning the Eastbourne star for the first time today. Hates jamming apparently, but her haul of fourteen marks the hosts’ best jam so far. Scoreless outings for Crash, Von Stackit and Amazing Graze follow as the Rockerbillies take a 122-48 lead into the interval. Polly Dartin and Speedy Gonzalex giving good defence for Brighton in the second half, with Smash’Er Fierce and The Philosofear both as hard-hitting as ever for Bombshells. Cruelty Spree fouling out for the ‘billies now. “You only get seven penalties in roller derby,” intones Tenacious P on the mic. “So make them good ones,” adds Mother Mercy. Smash’Er sending the entire pack (Brighton and Eastbourne) flying now. A number of high scoring jams for the impressive Mighty Mouse have made the difference here, as ‘billies bench coach Mistress celebrates a 207-142 win.

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The Rockers keep things chill over the summer, with their only public outing on skates in AUGUST being in the Brighton Pride parade. Early SEPTEMBER brings a double header in Haywards Heath against two challenge teams. First up the A-team AllStars face Team No Fuss. Captain Gin Atomic gives the hosts an early lead, before a great turn in the No Fuss star from Beat’her Parker (dancing along the outside line on her toe-stops) puts the visitors 25-16 up as Brighton call a team time out. Kapow is having a really good game today, battling hard to put more points on the board for the Rockers, but the No Fuss defence – particularly Wheel Deal and Liannarchy – are super resilient. Game tied at 40-40. Beat’her off for a while being treated for an injury. LRG’s O’Malley now donning the star every other jam for No Fuss and hitting Brighton hard, but some great starhead outings for Velvet Bottom, Gin and Shambolic round off the half with Brighton 93-50 up.

Half time sees a woman angrily berating a group of fans with a ‘Kick Her In The Face’ banner. “That’s not in the spirit of the sport,” she rails. Er, apart from being the Rockers team’s pre-game chant. Beat’her is back in action in the second half. She and Liannarchy are putting in good stints in the No Fuss star, but Brighton are racking up roughly double the visitors’ points haul here. Super tough blocking from Finn McCruel as Kapow hits another nineteen without reply. Further Kapower jams follow. Janey calls a team time out with one second left on the clock. Gin spins in a few more passes in the bonus jam as the AllStars roll out 240-113 winners. Curiously there are no victory laps and slaps, with Bomb S’Quadder Chasin’ Status the only member of the crowd to line up by the track tape. Maybe the ethos of ‘No Fuss’ is contagious?

Rockerbillies v Team Dragon now, a final game for ‘billies co-captain Van Hayley before her transfer to Bristol Roller Derby. The Rockers B-team are low on numbers here, so five Bourne Bombshells have joined their ranks. Several No Fuss skaters are back on track in Dragon colours. Things start out close, but a little messy. Dragons’ Tinkahell is expelled from the game for entering the penalty box at a dangerous speed. Janarchy, Amazing Graze and Hippy (the ‘billies best jammer so far) edging Brighton into a 30 point lead, but Dragon pull it back to 95-82 at the half time whistle. The Rockerbillies start the second half with their jammer in the box and Streets Of Rage takes advantage to make it a three-point game. Solid jamming from Lab, Hippy and Speedy, together with tough blocking from Van Hayley and Dolores Diablo, sees the hosts take a 142-100 lead with half a half left. Velocity Kendal, Streets and Rumpleteaser battling hard for Dragons, but the only question now is whether Brighton will make 200 before the final whistle. A power jam from Hippy sees them do just that with the final pass of the game: 200-118.

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The B-team sit out OCTOBER, whilst the A-team AllStars head off on two road trips, beginning with the Rockers’ first meeting with Welsh opposition as they take on the Tiger Bay B-team. We like Cardiff, mostly as it just seems to be one giant pub. The Wetherspoons by our hotel has THIRTY real ales on at £1.99 a pint. With Tiny Rebel, Brewdog and Waen Brewery bars in the same street, we leave this road only twice over the weekend, both times for visits to warehouses in the docklands area. The Doctor Who Experience is Sunday’s destination, whilst Saturday’s is Cardiff Central Youth Club. This is Tiger Bay’s first game in this cavernous venue, but a sudden threat of closure (Brains brewery wants to relocate to the site) means it could also be one of the last, gadnammit.

Tiger Bay’s A-team were ranked #1 in the UK Roller Derby Association on several occasions in the past few years, so their B-team is always going to be a tough proposition. The game starts off surprisingly clean, with no penalties (we think) for anyone in the first four jams. No sooner have we written this in our notebook than Cake Or Death becomes the first of a whole sequence of Rockers blockers taking a seat as the hosts rack up a 35-5 lead. Two five point passes for Gin makes things look more presentable for Brighton, but the likes of Hello Reeshi, Boba Fettish and Wild jammerise the hosts into a 102-62 half time advantage. The Rockers have been getting a reasonable number of bites of the lead jammer cherry – with Sham a particularly effective starhead today – but the Welsh packs are super hench.

Half time sees a demonstration of junior derby (Tiger Bay are probably the UK’s leading exponents of under-18s derby) as we enjoy the cheapest bar table we’ve ever encountered – £2 for a can of Guinness is practically offie prices! Those blocker penalties we mentioned come home to roost as Hairy Fairy – usually one of Brighton’s cleanest defenders – fouls out in the first jam of the second period. The announcer gets so excited by this that he blows up the PA; the remainder of the game will have a background of just music. Mighty Mouse does well in the Rockers star as the bar table runs out of Guinness and presents us with a Hobson’s Choice of shandy or Carling. The Sussex starheads are not getting much chance to take advantage of LJ status here, with the Welsh jammer almost always immediately at their back. Tiger Bay B-Bombs take it 227-147 and the Rockers retire to the thirty ales Wetherspoons.

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A mere two weeks (and one day) later and the AllStars are back on the road. This time the destination is Houghton Regis, a cluster of estates outside Luton that takes longer to get to on public transport than Cardiff – waaah! Rebellion Roller Derby are the hosts and they get off to a flying start with Boris and Dew Drop Her hitting Brighton for 17 without reply. The former is Rebellion’s biggest jamming threat, whilst Mayh’Em throws down tough blocking as the likes of Skate Bush and Sham struggle to break through. 48-11. Gin and Juno running master classes in apex jumps for their respective sides. Hench hitting Bush so hard she goes back in time. Never known a half with this many official time outs. It’s a squeaky close 145-122 to the hosts at the break.

Rebellion’s bar is even cheaper than Tiger Bay’s. In that it’s free. In that there isn’t one. “A venue with no alcohol means a quiet crowd,” one Rocker solemnly predicted, but the atmosphere’s actually pretty good. Superstar performance in the star from Sham at the start of the second and suddenly it’s 151-141. Rebellion keeping ahead through the period but only by a power jam’s distance (fifteen-ish). Brighton 217-235 down with 1’15” left as Gin lines up against Boris (who is starclad every other jam now) for the umpteenth time. Apex jump. Track cut. Track cut. Apex jump. Track cut. Super tough Brighton pack. Suddenly it’s 235-226. Is there time for two passes from Gin before the jam clock ticks out? There is. Takes it 236-235 in the final second as the Rockers go wild….

…only to go somewhat less wild ten seconds later as the two points Rebellion’s jammer banked before her final penalty box visit hit the scoreboard. Brighton haven’t won by a point, they’ve LOST by a point: 236-237. Ah poo. Still, an epic game, and the day’s second match sees the surprise re-appearance of ex-Brighton and Eastbourne skater Swann, here debuting for her new team, the Kent-based Apex Predators, after a long break from derby. Speaking of taking a break, we’ll pause our Review of 2016 there. At the end of October? Are we crazy? Yes, but so are the Brighton Rockers, and their November and December were so packed full of derby (eight games in a four week period!) that they demand an instalment of their own. See you soon for Part Three of our round-up…

[PHOTOS: Eastbourne by John Hesse. Cardiff by Adam Chard. Rebellion by Daz Wilson.]

BRATS Review of 2016: PART ONE – Tracking BRIGHTON from CAEN to CROYDON

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As 2016 comes to an end, we look back on twelve months in the life of the Brighton Rockers. The year before was dominated by British Championships, a seven month rollercoaster ride across Southern England that provided a structured schedule to the Rockers’ 2015, but a notable lack of variety. Brighton (like a number of teams) decided not to return to Champs in 2016, citing a wish to face more European sides – as well as develop the new B-team Rockerbillies – as their focus for the year. It turned out to be a busy one. So much so that we’ve had to split this preview into several parts. This is part one…

2016 begins, as many years do, in JANUARY. For the Brighton Rockers the New Year nowadays means new blood, with the league using the winter to defrost their annual Fresh Meat intake. It’s another bumper crop of freshies. They’ll spend much of the year learning the sport, with many of them making their way into the B-team ranks in the summer and autumn. At least one will find herself invited to train alongside the A-team before the year is out.

As baptisms of fire go, a six-team European tournament in Normandy ranks as pretty flamey, despite being held in the coldest hall on Earth. FEBRUARY‘s Slip It tournament in Caen sees several of last year’s Fresh Meat making their A-team debuts as part of a fairly makeshift Rockers squad (with a number of regular AllStars not travelling over). There’s a full report on Brighton’s three Slip It games in this thing we wrote so here we’ll just summarise. First up, at what feels like 6 in the morning, a bruising encounter with Brussels Derby Pixies. Scores are low and close in the first half as both sides shake their sleep out of their eyes, but the Pixies assert themselves in the second to win 217-121.

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Next up for the Rockers are the hosts, Roller Derby Caen. The Leopard Avengers (to give them their Sunday name) have been the surprise package of previous Slip Its, performing well above ranking predictions, so by now people shouldn’t be surprised by the surprise. They roll over the Rockers 236-145, which means Brighton will face Eindhoven’s Rockcity Rollers in Sunday’s play-offs. This is the AllStars’ closest game of the tournie, with the Sussex skaters never more than a power jam behind, ending in a battling 140-167 defeat.

Brighton will tempt Rockcity over to Haywards Heath later in the year in a quest for revenge, but the French trip ends with the Rockers finishing sixth from six in the tournament. Clearly they enjoyed it, though – or maybe realise they can’t do any worse – since Brighton will be taking part in the 2017 Slip It too. This is just a few weeks away (28th & 29th January) with opposition coming in the form of the Kallio Rolling Rainbow B-Team (Helsinki), Hellfire Harlots (Nottingham), Amsterdam, Madrid and the hosts. Keep an eye on this website for some sort of preview in the next few weeks.

After their trip to Caen, 114 miles due South of Brighton, the Rockers keep things similarly simple on the compass front for their second road trip of the year, heading 54 miles due North in MARCH to face Batter C Power in Tottenham. The Rockers had narrowly beaten said London Rollergirls third team in Shoreham four years ago, but four years is a lifetime in derby and both squads are radically different for this belated rematch. Although the Londoners take a 172-132 victory (full report here) this is widely acknowledged – by Rockers fans as well as the skaters themselves – to have been Brighton’s best performance in a fair old while.

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Spring sees the league switch their attention from road trips to home events. Their first outing of 2016 at Haywards Heath Dolphin comes at the end of APRIL as the Rockers face the B-team of Newcastle Roller Girls. The Geordies’ A-team has already won this year’s British Champs title (with several months of the season to go) so their B-team are clearly going to be a challenge. Despite losing a few players to injury, Brighton take the game to Newcastle and roll out 170-143 winners (full report here). This marks the AllStars’ first victory in almost a year. The day also sees a narrow Rockerbillies defeat to the Hoodlum Gang, a 30th birthday celebration for Gin Atomic and a wedding proposal for Cake Or Death.

A mere three weeks later, in the merry month of MAY, the AllStars are back at the Dolphin to face long-time friendfoes Croydon Roller Derby. This game is part of the Brighton Fringe Festival and proceedings are suitably dramatic. The likes of Gin and Emma the Condemner give the Rockers an early 30-17 lead, but Dyduch and Agent Cooper hit back for Croydon, the latter taking advantage of a full Brighton penalty box to make it 38-31 to the visitors. The lead change seems to hit the Rockers for six as they suddenly stop picking up any points at all. All of a sudden the South Londoners are 74-31 up with ten minutes left of the half.

Cometh the Hour, cometh Dr Whooligan, who trades power jams with Dyduch in a flurry of passes and penalties that finishes 20-4 (in points, not passes… or penalties) to the Rockers powerhouse. The fact that Whoolie starts the next jam in the sin bin doesn’t prevent her winning that ‘un too, 18-0 no less. It’s 69-84 on the totalisers now. Brighton’s bench crew are ordering in ketchup to eat up more of that Cronx lead. Or something similar which actually works as a metaphor. Imagine a clever line involving ‘Deliverooligan’ or something. You might have noticed that this end of year review has started getting more detailed (ie rambling) now we’ve reached the first of the games we forgot to actually write up at the time. Half time: 72-86.

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Second half. Second wind or seconds out? Pass and call from Skate Bush against Coop in the opener sees Brighton close it to ten points. Keeping it at that for a while. Hitt Bull and Inara Terra neutralising Dr W now though, Croydon pulling away 99-79. Emma off for a track cut next. CRD bench dude screaming at his pack to keep Shambolic separate from the rest of the Rockers defence as Dyduch makes it 111 for CRD. Gin pulling a whole bunch back for Brighton against her old teamies, but the gap is holding at a 20-ish tally. Both teams using time outs. Cake, Chaka Carnage and Sham throwing every hit they’ve got at Dyduch now, but she’s made out of concrete blancmange.

Gin closing things back up, but Brighton are picking up a lot of blocker penalties. Sham fouls out and goes straight to the bar table for a bottle of cider – good skills. 160-136 to Croydon with eight minutes left. Gin sends Canelator flying in a bit of jammer on jammer. The South Londoners are doing a good job of splitting the Brighton pack every other jam now, with Inara and Polly Filla proving particular effective in the purple packs. Irish Mist and Hippy Hippy Skate amongst the sturdiest defenders for Brighton, but the Cronx lot finish strong to take the win 181-142. They attempt to kidnap Gin at the final whistle and sign her back to CRD, but Rockers bench coach Mass Janeycide drags her away, flicking Vs at her opposite number. Blocking awards go to Smashasaurus Bex and Cake, with Coop and Emma picking up the starhead gongs and wholly unsurprising MVP nods to Dyduch and Gin. With a game-free JUNE we reach half time in the Rockers’ 2016…

…and leave things there. Keep an eye out for Part 2 of the BRATS Review of 2016, which encompasses the first ever Sussex derby derby (Brighton v Eastbourne), a double header against two challenging challenge teams, plus away adventures in the capital of Wales and the mysterious land of Houghton Regis. Yay!

[Photos by John Hesse except Caen by Vinciane Piérart]

Turn Left Issues 17 & 18 Now Online

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Did you miss our fanzine for last weekend’s epic Rockers exhibition game at Brighton Corn Exchange? Issue 18 covered both that event and the previous weekend’s double header against Milan Harpies and Eastbourne Cherry Bombs in Haywards Heath. Click the cover image directly above this text or HERE to go that issue. The previous issue (Issue 17) for November’s games against Eindhoven’s Rockcity Rollers and a Basington Southampton hybrid is also online. Click HERE or on the cover image at the top of this piece for that one.

A few physical copies of both should be knocking around on the flyers shelf in the Evening Star pub near Brighton station. Special thanks as ever to all our lovely interviewees, photographers and awesome advertisers including Brighton’s Black Horse (Church Street) and JW Lennons (Edward Street) pubs, http://www.meadowyurts.co.uk/ and http://www.purenuffstuff.co.uk/ Cheerses!

WTF! Roller derby is taking place in BRIGHTON – Actual Brighton – TOMORROW!

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There’s a roller derby event in Brighton tomorrow (Saturday 10th December). Not just that, but in actual central Brighton, within a 213-year-old building in the Pavilion grounds at heart of the Cultural Quarter. No, we’re not imagining it. After seven years of playing in an old (now demolished) Parcelforce depot in Shoreham and a leisure centre in genteel Haywards Heath, the Brighton Rockers are finally fulfilling their long-term ambition of ‘doing derby’ in the city itself.

2016 has been the Rockers’ most game packed year on record, with fifteen open door A- and B-team matches against teams from half a dozen different countries. So you can’t blame them for wanting to round off the year by, er, playing with themselves. Tomorrow’s game at Brighton Corn Exchange sees the league split into two factions – Team Black and Team Blue – with veteran coaches Mass Janeycide and Mistress leading the two sides into uncivil war.

Doors are at 4.45pm with the first half (between B-team level skaters) kicking off at 5.30. The A-team squads will inherit these scores for the second half. The Dome website promises live bands, DJs, face painting and more at this ‘Roller Derby Special’. Tickets are available online or from the Dome box office, priced £10.50 adults, £7.50 students and free for under 12s. With the size and shape of the space available, this event will see a few changes to the usual derby ruleset – that in itself makes this a unique and unmissable event. Let’s hear from some of those taking part…

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“I’ve told loads of mates that have never been to any of our games. The moment I mention that this one is actually in Brighton, they go straight on their phones to buy tickets. It’s nice that it’s in a venue like the Corn Exchange, right in the heart of the city next door to the Pavilion. How many sports events take place in there? I love the fact that the Brighton Rockers are seen as a cultural thing.”
MASS JANEYCIDE, TEAM BLACK BENCH COACH

“Being part of the community and breaking that barrier between arts and sport and culture is such a big thing for us. We were the first sports team to be invited to participate in the Brighton Fringe, which we’ve done for several years now (albeit not in Brighton itself). Also the first sports team on the cover of the local listings mag. Now, we’re one of the first (if not THE first) sports events to take place in the Corn Exchange. It fits in with our ethos of trying to appeal to all walks of life, rather than just skating fans, sports fans or whatever.”
MISTRESS VON UBER VIXEN, TEAM BLUE BENCH COACH

“Team Black are the bee’s knees. We’ve got the speed and agility, plus we hit proper hard. We’re also all incredibly good-looking. Team Blue are named after the colour of the bruises we’ll be leaving them with.”
CAKE OR DEATH, TEAM BLACK

“Team Black are superior in only one respect. They are better at losing.”
DR WHOOLIGAN, TEAM BLUE

“I only know the Corn Exchange through gigs. I’ve no idea how it will be set up for derby, but I’m really excited about playing there. It’s going to be such a good vibe playing in our actual home town!”
GRENADE O’CONNOR, TEAM BLACK (PLAYING IN HER FIRST EVER GAME TOMORROW!)

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[Photos by John Hesse]

LINKS
FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1859889920913091/
TICKETS: http://brightondome.org/event/11468/brighton_rockers_roller_derby_special/

THIS WEEKEND the mighty BRIGHTON ROCKERS take on MILAN and EASTBOURNE…

mhp1A mere three weeks after their last international encounter, the mighty Brighton Rockers AllStars are back in action at the Dolphin tomorrow (Saturday 3rd December) against the Harpies of Milan. This encounter – Brighton’s first ever against Italian opposition – is followed by a match between Brighton’s B-team Rockerbillies and the brand new Eastbourne Roller Derby women’s B-team, the Cherry Bombs.

Doors are at 2pm with the first game kicking off around 2.30. Admission is £10 adults, £8 students and free for under 12s. The venue is located around seven minutes walk from Haywards Heath train station. Car users should point their sat navs at RH16 1LY. The venue has a cafe bar with booze, non-booze, hot and cold food, vending machines plus cupcakes in the hall. The nearest cash machine is at the big Sainsbury’s halfway between the station and venue. The pub opposite the station (Burrell Arms) is decent enough for a pre-game pint and the after party’s back in Brighton at the Temple Bar.

Be sure to pick up a copy of our fanzine ‘Turn Left’ on the door. This issue covers both this event and the intraleague at Brighton Corn Exchange on Dec 10th. Our printers messed up the stapling/trimming of this issue a wee bit – unfortunately we went to print later than we’d like (due to waiting on a few replies) so there was no time for them to fix this. Ah well. You’ll also find a Player Of The Year voting form inside.

FLATTRACKSTATS PREDICTS…
Skip this paragraph if you don’t like pre-game predictions. FTS rank the Rockers AllStars 81st in Europe on 570.4 points with Milan 112th on 542.0. Brighton are given 75% chance of taking the win here, with a predicted differential of 53:37 equating to something like a 212-148 home victory. As for the B-team match, this is the Eastbourne Cherry Bombs’ first game so they are unranked. Hence the prediction machine at FTS just pulls a face and shrugs when we ask it what it thinks will happen! Let’s hear from a couple of players…

“None of us have seen Milan in person and there’s very little footage of them online, so I can only comment based on a video I found. They have nice agile, very nifty jammers – Kill B in particular looks a big threat – but that’s all any of us really know about them going into the game… As for the B-team game, I think you’ll see more confidence from the Rockerbillies this time out. The rookies will know each other better as a team after their debuts three weeks ago. I think they’ll really get into their stride now their first game’s out of the way.”
CAKE OR DEATH – BRIGHTON ROCKERS

“I’ve seen the Rockerbillies play a couple of times. I think this time there’s a few players I’m less familiar with, since some of the regular faces have either moved on or moved up to the A-team. Farmergeddon is one to watch as a jammer, I know that much! I wouldn’t like to predict the result as derby is a notoriously unpredictable sport, but I’d obviously love the Cherry Bombs to win it.”
BEAST – EASTBOURNE CHERRY BOMBS BENCH COACH

FB EVENT PAGE
https://www.facebook.com/events/1611372532500083/

ROCKCITY REMATCH: This SATURDAY the BRIGHTON ROCKERS take on EINDHOVEN and most of HAMPSHIRE!

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There’s a whole bunch of Brighton Rockers action coming up in Sussex (and neighbouring Hampshire) over the next few weeks. Things kick off this Saturday (12th Nov) as the A-team AllStars take on Rockcity Rollers from the Dutch city of Eindhoven. This is a rematch of a game that took place in February in Normandy, with Brighton looking to reverse a narrow 167-140 loss this time out. The day also features the Brighton B-team Rockerbillies taking on an ungodly hybrid of the Basingstoke Bullets and Southampton City Rollers. Five or six Class of 2016 Fresh Meat graduates will be making their debuts in the B-team game, while the AllStars match is the final game (for a while at least) for Rockers stars Gin Atomic and Lab Wrath. Go buy all the tickets now, yeah?

WHAT AND WHERE?
Saturday’s action takes place in the Rockers regular open door venue, the Dolphin Leisure Centre in Haywards Heath. Doors are at 2pm, with the derby kicking off around 2.30 – we presume the A-team game is first up (they usually are). Tickets priced £10 adults, £8 students and free for under 12s are available from the link below. There’s a special 4-for-3 deal on adult tickets. The venue is around seven minutes walk from Haywards Heath station (turn left and follow the signs) at postcode RH16 1LY. There’s a cafe, bar and vending machines there, and the nearest cashpoint is at the big Sainsbury’s halfway between the station and venue. The pub opposite the station (Burrell Arms) is OK for a pre-game pint, but beer geeks might want to know that Haywards now has a Dark Star pub – the Lockhart Tavern opened on Broadway last Wednesday. Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of our fanzine Turn Left at the games. Issue 17 includes a super geeky feature on all the UK roller derby magazines ever.

PREDICTIONS AND THAT
If you don’t like reading predictions before a game, jump right on past this here paragraph. A week or so back (Sun 30th Oct) the Rockers lost an away game to Luton’s Rebellion Roller Derby by a single point: 237-236. If Flattrackstats is to be believed, this Saturday’s action could well be just as close. The Brighton AllStars place 77th in Europe on 578.3 points, with Rockcity 81st on 568.5. FTS gives Brighton 63% chance of taking the win here with an expected differential of 44:37 suggesting a fairly narrow 176-148 margin. Moving onto the B-team game the Rockerbillies place 306th on 449.5 points. Usually we wouldn’t be able to predict a game involving a mixed team, but the opponents are so similarly ranked – Basingstoke 288th (455.1), Southampton 289th (454.4) – that the prediction comes out more or less the same whichever we use. Brighton are given a 51% chance of victory with a differential of 52:51 suggesting something like a 156-153 home win. Wowsers!

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“In many ways it’s going to be a very different team we’re putting up against Rockcity this weekend, compared to the tournament in February. We had a few new players making their A-team debuts in Normandy. They’ve now had eight months to bed in, and we’ve got some great new transfers from overseas in our ranks now too. We also know more about what to expect from Rockcity. They’re a lovely bunch and we’re looking forward to it, both as a game and a fun experience.”
HAIRY FAIRY – BRIGHTON ROCKERS

“It was a very hard game in February. We were very well matched. I expect it could go either way this weekend. We are prepared for the awesomeness that Brighton will bring!”
DOLLY DEATHSTAR – ROCKCITY ROLLERS

“A debut game is hugely important. For the rookies taking part on Saturday, it’s recognising that it’s been pretty much exactly a year since their first Fresh Meat taster session, and that’s been a year of building up to this day. They’ve played in intraleague games in training, but today’s when they finally put into practice everything they’ve learned this past year in front of a cheering crowd. It’s kind of like a showcase.”
KAPOW! – BRIGHTON ROCKERS

“We always aim to bring the best of our training to track. Tight teamwork is a focus on the day – as is fun. We’re looking forward to the challenge that the Rockerbillies present. We’re also anticipating an evenly-matched game, which will be as fun to watch as it will be to play!”
BILLIE HORRORDAY – BASINGSTOKE BULLETS

[Photos by Vinciane Piérart aka NSP 189]

LINKS
FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1787334024885888/
TICKETS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/shop

BEDS TIME: The mighty BRIGHTON ROCKERS aim to quash REBELLION this weekend!

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A mere two weeks after taking on the Tiger Bay B-team in Cardiff, the mighty Brighton Rockers AllStars are back on the road. This Sunday (30th October) sees a slightly shorter trip up country to take on Rebellion Roller Derby. The venue is Houghton Regis Leisure Centre, with the Rockers game kicking off at 12.45, followed by a match between Rebellion B-team Rebel Uprising and the Kent based Apex Predators. Tickets are priced £8.04 (including fees) online – see the link at the bottom of this piece – or £10 on the door. Under 16s go free. The Kings Arms in Houghton Regis is hosting the after party.

“Where in the sam heck is Houghton Regis?” some of you may be asking. It’s just off the M1 north west of Luton. This ought to make for a fairly painless direct Thameslink journey from Brighton, but the Gods of Engineering Work will put you on a bus between the coast and Three Bridges. The nearest station to the leisure centre (Leagrave) is a good 2.5 mile hike, so we suggest getting off at Luton and hopping on either an A or Z bus. It’s actually the same circular bus route, with the letter changing en route. Since Houghton Regis/Parkside is the halfway point (20-25 mins) either bus will do. Car users should point their Sat Nav at LU5 5PY.

Are you one of those people who don’t like reading predictions ahead of a game? Then skip the rest of this paragraph. Rebellion are one of the earliest formed UK derby leagues, predating the Rockers by some margin. They currently rank 47th in the UKRDA on 510.3 points, with the Rockers placing 23rd (595.0). The prediction machine at Flattrackstats gives Brighton a 91% chance of victory, with an expected differential of 13:6 equating to something like a 195-90 away win. Switching to the European rankings system (likely more accurate as it’s based on a much higher number of games) sees Brighton ranked 73rd (582.0) against Rebellion’s 95th (553.3). Brighton’s chances of victory drop to 66% with a predicted 21:17 differential equating to a much narrower 189-153 Rockers win. Since Rebellion’s B-team hasn’t yet played a ranking game, the FTS computer won’t predict anything about their contest v Apex Predators. Soz.

Enough complicated maths stuff, let’s hear from the hosts and a Rocker about what they’re expecting…

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REBELLION ROLLER DERBY

Hi there. For any Brighton fans reading this who might not know of Rebellion Roller Derby, can you tell us a bit about your league?
Despite being collectively very creepy we love hugs, especially during training. We have a small cupboard at our training venue where we keep our line up manager Gav and bench coach Blitz hostage. Shhhhh!

Do you know much about the Brighton Rockers? Any particular players or tactics of theirs you’ll be looking out for at Sunday’s game?
We know the amazing Gin, who is very much a double threat not to be taken likely. We have heard they also like hugs, so we are hoping to take advantage of this and trick their walls into letting our jammer escape. Hahaha.

Any particular Rebellion players or tactics that the crowd should watch out for?
Rebellion is well stocked full of jammer and blocker talent. Best to watch everyone at the same time somehow?

Rankings wise, Brighton place a little bit higher than you at present. What sort of a game are you expecting?
Coach Blitz says: “Brighton are an experienced team not to be taken lightly. However, we enter every game in the mindset that we are here to win. As soon as that first whistle goes it’s on like Donkey Kong.”

The day’s other game sees your B-team Rebel Uprising take on the Apex Predators. What should people expect from that match?
I believe this is only the Apex Predators’ second open door game, so they remain very much an unknown entity. This is Rebel Uprising’s first game, so to the outside world they are very much another unknown entity. Expect the team with the most together walls to take this one.

Finally, what facilities are there at your venue? Anything else to see or do in the Houghton Regis area?
There will be food laid on by us at the venue; hot dogs, vegan chilli, crisps, tea, coffee. There’s nothing else other than vending machines at the leisure centre. No bar. There isn’t much in Houghton Regis – a couple of bars and supermarkets. It’s a very small area, but it’ll do!

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HIPPY HIPPY SKATE – BRIGHTON ROCKERS

Two away games within a fortnight is something of a rarity for the Rockers. How was the Cardiff trip and have you all recovered sufficiently to face Rebellion?
I can’t speak for what it was like on the party bus or in the hostel (I came up to Cardiff a day early and stayed elsewhere) but I understand the Rockers continued their tradition of winning the after party in great style. As for the game itself, we had a great time and the Tiger Bay B-Bombs were such a lovely team. Fortunately I think the hangovers and assorted bruises have faded enough for us to give Rebellion a good game!

What do you know about Rebellion Roller Derby? Any particular RRD players or tactics you’ll be looking out for?
The Rebellion roster looks pretty fierce! The Rockers have been practising our offence and we’ll be trying to put that into practise on the day – we’ll need to against those walls. Gin has skated with Blitzkrieg (the Rebellion bench coach) before and has been giving us tips about his favourite moves, so hopefully we’ll have guessed enough (and practised enough) to be able to counter some of their offense in turn. I don’t want to go into too much detail though, in case they’re reading this…

What sort of a Rockers squad can we expect for this game? Will there be many changes from the side that travelled to Wales two weeks ago?
The Rockers roster has a similar core to what we had for Tiger Bay B. Mighty Mouse won’t be with us, which is a shame because she was on fire at Tiger Bay (winning Best Jammer in her first ever A-team game!). We’ll have Emma the Condemner and Racey back, so it will look a little bit more like a ‘classic’ Rockers A-team. As for who to look out for, I never get tired of watching Gin Atomic leap across the track, but I also think Finn McCruel is making a huge mark on the Rockers – she’s a badass, incredibly strong and with an amazing derby brain.

The Rockers are currently ranked a bit higher than Rebellion. What type of game are you expecting? Care to predict the result?
I’d love to win it and I think the Rockers are playing pretty strong, but I try not to predict things ahead of the day. I think I’m one of the less competitive players on the A-team. I’m still so thrilled whenever I’m rostered for an AllStars game that I count it as a win if I don’t fall over my own feet! Mostly I go in hoping for game that forces both teams to bring their best – I want to play some great derby and have a good time.

Finally, the Rockers are back in action at Haywards Heath very soon, with the A-team facing two continental teams in quick succession. Rockcity of Eindhoven (Holland) on Nov 12th and the Harpies of Milan (Italy) on Dec 3rd. Have you started thinking about those games yet?
It’s exciting and a little overwhelming to have so many games in rapid succession. I have to admit I haven’t had a chance to think too much about the Milano Harpies – I can’t think more than two games ahead! But we’re definitely thinking ahead to the game against Rockcity. We had a great time playing against them at the Slip It tournament in Caen earlier in the year, so we’re looking forward to seeing them again! The B-team is also playing on the 12th, taking on a combined Southampton Roller Derby and Basingstoke Bullets squad with a lot of our fantastic new rookies playing for the first time ever in front of a crowd. I think fans of the league will be pleased to see our awesome new B-team skaters, and fans of roller derby in general will get to watch a hard-hitting game with Rockcity. I predict a great atmosphere, because I know the team always has the most fun when playing against lovely people.

LINKS
FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1783951281861467/
TICKETS: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2642389
REBELLION: https://www.rebellionrollerderby.co.uk/
ROCKERS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/
PREDATORS: http://www.southerncoedrollerderby.com/

Tiger Bay B-Bombs v Brighton Rockers PREVIEW

tbp1This Saturday (15th October) sees the Rockers A-team in action on the road as they play in Wales for the very first time. Their opponents are the B-Bombs second team of Cardiff’s top rated Tiger Bay Brawlers. The game takes place at Cardiff Central Youth Club with first whistle at 6.30pm. Tickets are available online for £5 each. Any Rockers fans who have yet to book transport will find trains to Cardiff a little spendy this late in the day. Our tip here is to buy a ticket from Brighton to Bristol Temple Meads, which costs less than £20 each way. Then it’s an hour by National Express coach (£8) to Cardiff. Somehow this works out less than a third of the price of a train all the way! The city has that ‘capital curse’ when it comes to hotel prices and you’ll struggle to get anything for much less than £100 a night this weekend. Staying down the road in Newport is a possible budget option.
    When this game was announced, Tiger Bay were delighted to pronounce it the first game in their new permanent venue. Sadly, a couple of weeks ago it was revealed that said venue is under threat of imminent closure. Check out the petition page in the links at the bottom of this piece for more info on how you can help in the fight to save it. Unfortunately, the people of Tiger Bay were so busy with the campaign around the venue closure that we were unable to get any replies from them for this preview. In a moment we’ll hear from Brighton’s Hairy Fairy, but firstly, what do Flattrackstats predict for the game? (Skip the rest of this paragraph if you don’t like knowing predictions pre-game.) They rank Tiger Bay B as 57th in Europe on 605.1 rankings point, a little ahead of 70th place Brighton A on 585.3. FTS call this as 70% chance of a home win, with a predicted differential of 46:35 suggesting a fairly close scoreline in the region of 184-140. We shall see…

HAIRY FAIRY – BRIGHTON ROCKERS

This will be the Rockers first ever game in Wales. What are your expectations? How does playing 100+ miles from home differ from a local game?
Yes, it is our first game in Wales. I’m more Welsh than English genetically speaking so I’m happy in Wales and looking forward to a weekend of my favourite accents with my favourite team. The Rockers are looking forward to the game but we’re pretty sure it’s going to be a tough one for us. The Tiger Bay league have just got stronger and stronger over the last four years and both their teams are so well trained.
    We love away games and we actually often play better as a result of not having so much organisational behind the scenes prep to do on the day. It’s such a luxury to just turn up and play. We’re often more focused. However it’s always daunting not having a friendly home crowd to cheer you on. It can be a bit lonely when the only cheers that you hear are against you. That’s the one disadvantage about playing so far away – we’re not sure how many fans we’ll have to help us out.

Tiger Bay’s A-team have been ranked top of the UKRDA several times over the past few years, so presumably their B-team are no slouches. Do you know much about them and the players/tactics that you might face?

Indeed. We are under no illusions. Often B-team players are hungrier for the win because everyone on that team wants to be noticed and make an impact to help them move up to the next level. I don’t know any specific players I’ll be watching out for, but I’m not going to underestimate anyone on the track.

Do the Rockers have any new players taking part? Who should the fans look out?
Look out for Finn. She’s a newish transfer from Finland originally and has also skated in Ireland. She’s a total powerhouse with some amazing stealth moves. She’s got such a calm presence on the track, which makes working with her a total joy.

Care to predict the result?

OH NO WAY! I can’t jinx it. I hope either way it will be close. It’s always best for us when we keep a close game throughout. It really keeps us on our toes, learning and adapting throughout the whole game.

Can we expect any more Rockers games (home or away) between now and the end of 2016? What are the league’s plans heading into 2017 and beyond?
It’s a big secret so don’t tell anyone but…. we have a pretty exciting possibility of a game in an awesome Brighton venue before this year is out! It’s still in the discussion phase, so fingers crossed… As for 2017 we are taking on new players, aka Fresh Meat, in January so that’s always a great start to the year. As one of the FM coaches I love watching them develop and seeing new talent emerge. We also have some pretty great games against teams from the UK and overseas in the pipeline, so keep your ear to the ground.

LINKS
FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/196094580807060/
TICKETS: https://www.tickettailor.com/checkout/view-event/id/65212/chk/6c0a/ref/fb
ROCKERS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/
TIGER BAY: http://brawlers.co.uk/
CCYC PETITION: https://www.change.org/p/save-cardiff-central-club

Turn Left Issue 16 Now Online

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Yesterday’s double header saw battling performances as both Brighton teams took the win, the A-team Allstars defeating Team No Fuss whilst the B-team Rockerbillies (plus guests from Eastbourne’s Bombshells) triumphed over Team Dragon. We’ll have a full report on these matches, along with belated write-us of earlier games against Croydon and Eastbourne, in the next few days. Meanwhile, there will be a few copies of our fanzine from yesterday on the flyers shelf in the Evening Star from late evening today. Or simply click on the cover image above to read the online version. This issue saw Turn Left become the (tied) longest running British roller derby magazine of all time! Inside you’ll find interviews with members of all four teams, a report on the Rockers at Brighton Pride, an interview with our mysterious advertiser Mr Séamus, a roller derby I-Spy game and more. Special thanks to all our lovely interviewees, photographers, and our awesomes advermatisers including http://www.meadowyurts.co.uk/ and http://www.thewick.pub/ Yay!

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

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

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

TURN LEFT – THE ‘HISTORIC’ ISSUE 16
Sunday sees our tawdry Brighton Rockers fanzine become the (tied) longest running – in terms of issues – British roller derby magazine of all time. The only place you can pick up this (obviously historic, yeah?) sixteenth issue of Turn Left is on the door at the venue. As ever the magazine is free of charge. Inside you’ll find interviews with members of all four teams, a report on the Rockers’ Brighton Pride shenanigans, the inside story on our mysterious advertiser Mr Séamus, an ‘I-Spy at a Rockers Game’ contest, and more. Enough shameless self-publicity, what can we expect from the games themselves? We’ve no idea. Luckily, we spoke to some people who do. Here’s brief extracts from our fanzine interviews with the teams taking part…

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2.30PM – BRIGHTON ROCKERS ALLSTARS v TEAM NO FUSS
Founded by former Bourne Bombshells bench coach (and most recently manager of men’s Team England) Polka Dotty, No Fuss these days includes skaters from across Sussex, Kent, Hampshire, Essex, London and far beyond. This will be the first time a No Fuss team has faced a Brighton side, at least in public. With a huge roster of skaters on their books (70+) it will be interesting to see who takes to the track for No Fuss today.

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

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

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4.30PM – BRIGHTON ROCKERBILLIES & GUESTS v TEAM DRAGON
The day’s second game sees the Rockerbillies joined by several skaters from Eastbourne to take on Team Dragon. TD were founded by former London Rollergirls Recreational League bench coach Max Rees. Although Max has since moved to Canada, the team still has LRG rec league skaters at its score. This game is a Brighton swansong for B-team captain Van Hayley, who is transferring to Bristol Roller Derby.

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

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

[Photos by John Hesse]

FACEBOOK EVENT
https://www.facebook.com/events/1841833149429544/