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.]

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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]

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