BRATS Review Of 2016: PART FOUR – You VOTED, We COUNTED, They WON… the 2016 AWARDS!

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If you’ve missed the previous instalments, we’ve been summarising all the events (eleven A-team, five B-team and three special games) from an action packed 2016 in the world of the Brighton Rockers. Check out our recap of the year at these links: PART ONE (Jan-June) / PART TWO (July-Oct) / PART THREE (Nov-Dec). This fourth and final part of our Annual Review is a little different as we crack open the ballot box from the BRATS/Turn Left end of year award voting. Last year’s box only appeared at one event (and no e-mail votes were cast), whereas this year it was gobbling up voting forms at three different locations – the games v Milan and Eastbourne in Haywards Heath on Dec 3rd, the Rockers exhibition match at Brighton Corn Exchange on Dec 10th, and that evening’s Christmas after party – as well as a flurry of votes by e-mail.

There’s a shiny badge and an equally shiny certificate for each winner, so please get in touch with us to arrange delivery if you’ve won one of this year’s awards. We’ve also listed the names of past winners for each category in this rundown. Bear in mind that while the 2015 vote was conducted in the same way (voting forms in the fanzine) as the 2016 one, the 2014 awards – which also had some different categories – were selected by half a dozen drunken BRATS folks in a pub. Many thanks to the gabillions (well, going on for a hundred) of you that voted this year. Without further ado, here’s who YOU chose as your top Rockers of 2016…

OTHER OF THE YEAR – TENACIOUS P
This one’s for all those folks whose roles aren’t covered by the other award categories, ie everybody except the players, refs and NSOs. A dozen different names picked up votes here, including some surprising choices – we’re not sure exactly what impact wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin had on the Rockers’ year. Our voting form mentioned bench crew, photographers and announcers as the sort of people this category covers, and this year saw a three-way race between one of each for the gong. Tied in second place were bench coach extraordinaire Mistress and top snapper John Hesse, whilst mic wielding loudmouth (ie awesomes announcer) Tenacious P took the prize by just half a vote! And if you’re wondering how we got a half-vote, someone put “the announcers” so we split that point between Phil and co-host Charlie.
Past winners: Mass Janeycide (2015)

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OFFICIAL OF THE YEAR – LASERHAMMER
Seven names picked up nods in this award for referees and NSOs. Curiously, last year’s winner Noise Tank didn’t garner a single vote (in this category at least) this time around – serves him right for moving to Japan, yeah? There was a strong showing from K-Tea, but in the end it was a two-way tussle between NSO (and A-team skater) Hippy Hippy Skate and Rockers Head Ref LaserHammer, with the latter edging ahead by a handful of votes to reclaim his crown from Noise.
Past winners: Noise Tank (2015), LaserHammer (2014)

ICON OF THE YEAR – FINN McCRUEL

The voting form lists this category as being for “the most inspiring Brighton Rocker on or off track” and fifteen different names were put forward, including players, announcers, bench crew and a ref (you got a vote here Noise!). This award largely favoured people involved in the league’s coaching set-up. Fresh Meat tenderisers Hairy Fairy and Kapow both picked up a load of support, as did last year’s winner Shambolic, but in the end it was the transfer from Finland, Finn McCruel, clinching the prize here by a single vote over Gin Atomic.
Past winners: Shambolic (2015)

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR – FARMERGEDDON
There were eight skaters put forward for this category, but the result was never in doubt. Farmergeddon’s rise through the Rockers ranks has been meteoric. Having only taken up the sport as part of the 2016 Fresh Meat intake, ‘geddon will be in the A-team squad the league send to a tournament in Normandy later this month. Fellen E Assault takes second place in this category, but with over 70% of the total votes cast, Farmergeddon rolls out the most convincing victor across the entire 2016 Awards… and will be looking to follow last year’s winner in becoming an established A-team AllStar.
Past winners: Speedy Gonzalex (2015)

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B-TEAMER OF THE YEAR – CRUELTY SPREE
The electorate selected a dozen names in this Best Rockerbillies Player category, with almost all of those picking up multiple votes. There were strong showings from Lab Wrath, Polly Dartin’, Fellen E Assault and Chloe Colossus, amongst others. Rookie award winner Farmergeddon finished second here, but Cruelty Spree took the win by a comfortable margin.
Past winners: Bionic Betty (2015)

BLOCKER OF THE YEAR – HAIRY FAIRY
Ten names picked up nods in the poll for Brighton’s best defensive player of the year. Hairy Fairy took the win by a handful over Finn McCruel, becoming the first player to retain their 2015 award. Cake Or Death and Irish Mist were amongst those picking up sizable voting tallies here, but the result was never really in doubt.
Past winners: Hairy Fairy (2015), Emma The Condemner (2014)

JAMMER OF THE YEAR – SHAMBOLIC
Despite being one of the main awards, this category actually saw the fewest different players voted for in the entire ballot, with just six names written in for this jamming prize and some very surprising omissions. Dr Whooligan, Mighty Mouse, Gin Atomic and Emma The Condemner picked up a few votes, but in the end around 75% of the ballot cast was split between just two people. 2014 winner Kapow has to settle for the runners-up slot here, with Shambolic taking a narrow (three votes) win.
Past winners: Skate Bush (2015), Kapow (2014)

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PLAYER OF THE YEAR – GIN ATOMIC
Moving to Japan may have reduced Noise Tank to just one vote in the entire ballot, but it doesn’t seem to have done Gin Atomic any harm. Gin joins Hairy Fairy as the only person to retain their 2015 award. It was a fairly close run thing in what (with sixteen names in the running) was the most heavily contested category of all. Cake Or Death, Finn McCruel and B-teamer Cruelty Spree picked up a fair few votes here, but in the end it was former housemate Shambolic who Gin edged out by a couple of votes to triumph.
Past winners: Gin Atomic (2015), Dr Whooligan (2014)

That rounds up the eight categories on the voting form, but (as happened last year) the fact that the company who make our winners’ badges have a minimum order of ten means we’ve rustled up a couple of bonus gongs. The first is our MOST VOTED FOR award, which goes to the person who picked up the most votes across all of the categories without actually winning any of them. Lab Wrath took this one last year, but here it’s a three-way race, with the bronze going to Cake Or Death, silver to Hippy Hippy Skate and the WINNER – KAPOW taking the gold. Where gold means a tacky badge and certificate.

Finally we have our new FRIEND OF BRATS award. Although it says 2016 on the badge and certificate, this is more a Hall Of Fame type thing for someone who has really helped BRATS out over the years. There are loads of potential names in the frame here – heck, our website and fanzine have featured interviews with well over a hundred skaters (from the Rockers and elsewhere) so far, on top of all the awesome advertisers and photographers who have contributed. Special shout outs to the amazeballs John Hesse – recently voted best photographer in a national derby poll – and our ever reliable if confused advertiser Mr Séamus (yes, he really does pay us full price for his fanzine ads, even after moving to Devon). In the end this inaugural award has to go to the person who appeared on the cover of the very first Turn Left, providing us with inordinate help re interview wrangling etc over the years, most recently sourcing tributes to Gin for Issue 17 and being the main interview in Issue 18. We’re referring of course to the well deserved WINNER – MISTRESS.

So ends our BRATS Review of 2016 (somewhat later than planned, due to that lurgy wot’s going around). The Rockers kickstart their 2017 season on the 28th & 29th of this month, when they face Caen, Amsterdam and one from Madrid, Hellfire (Nottingham) and Kallio B (Helsinki) in Normandy’s Slip It tournament. Here’s hoping they can improve on last year’s last place! If you can’t make it out to Caen for that one, the next event at Haywards Heath Dolphin sees the AllStars take on Vienna on Saturday 4th March. If 2017’s even half as action-packed as 2016 it’s gonna be a belter. Laters, yeah…

BRATS Review Of 2016: PART THREE – The Road From ROCKCITY To The CENTRE of BRIGHTON!

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If you haven’t caught the previous instalments in our Review of the mighty Brighton Rockers in 2016, check out PART ONE (Jan-June) here and PART TWO (July-Oct) here. This third episode covers the absolute frenzy of events – virtually one every weekend – that marked the end of the year in Rockersland… Early NOVEMBER and it’s another double header in Haywards Heath for the hard-working Rockers. The A-team AllStars face Eindhoven’s Rockcity Rollers in a rematch, the Dutch side having beaten Brighton 167-140 in the playoffs of February’s Slip It tournament in Normandy. The visitors get off to a flying start, with jammers Dolly Deathstar and Marcie B helping to put them 22-0 up after four jams. Gin Atomic gets Brighton on the scoreboard in the fifth, but it’s not until a feisty 15-point power jam from Shambolic halfway through the period that the Rockers start closing the gap. Rockcity calling a team timeout when 46-36 up. The visitors have a small but very loud travelling support here, who cheer them on to a strong finish to the half (90-45) with Sham the only Brighton jammer to have really got the better of the Dutch defence.

The second half starts out the same as the first with Rockcity taking a couple of dozen points without reply, before Gin steps up to the plate. Brighton pack keeping Cat Galore back well as Gin puts almost 30 on the board. Cut track call on Dolly sees Kapow close the gap a bit more. The visitors only have eleven players here. Side effects of a small roster include not just increased tiredness in the later stages of the game, but also an increased risk of fouling out. Sure enough, Rockcity lose a player to the seven penalties rule. The slight disruption to their line-ups caused sees the Rockers clawing it back to 131-159. It’s a question of Brighton’s persistence v Eindhoven’s stamina now. Cake Or Death and Finn McCruel super tough in the black packs, Gogozilla and The Brickster likewise in the purple. The visitors have enough Dutch courage to keep their wheels in front and roll out 185-151 victors.

The Rockcity match is Gin Atomic’s last before being exiled to Japan, whilst today’s B-team game is a final Rockers showing for Lab Wrath who is moving to another league. The Rockerbillies’ opponents are a mixture of Southampton City Rollers and Basingstoke Bullets, with the two Hampshire teams having recently decided to join forces for scrims and games. We’ll call them Basinghampton and they prove sterling opposition for the Rockers Bs. It’s one of the closest games we’ve seen with the scoreline bouncing around the level (67-67, 84-85, 89-89) before some great jamming from Slap Dash edges Brighton into a 101-97 half time lead. The likes of Toil N Trouble, Evil Kin Evil and Billy Horroday throwing down hard in the white packs, with Noonz, Dolores Diablo and others hitting back for Brighton.

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Farmergeddon putting in the sort of performance that will result in an invitation to join A-team training before the year is out. Jager BombHer proving solid in the star for the visitors, reacting to a thirty point Brighton lead by taking the next jam 19-0. Jager will star up against Lab Wrath in the final jam of the game. Lab’s final game for the Rockers ends in the penalty box, but were enough Hampshire hips passed before the foul was called? Everyone nervously eyes the scoreboard as it updates with the official final score… the ‘billies have taken it 195-194 and the crowd goes super wilds. SQUEE! It’s an awesome end to a busy fortnight for roller derby at the Dolphin (Croydon staged a double header here last Saturday and Eastbourne the week before). For the Rockers AllStars, next weekend offers a small expeditionary force an intriguing trip to Basinghampton’s part of the world…

BRATS couldn’t make it to this next event, so Emma The Condemner has kindly supplied us with a report: “Avast! Mutiny On The Bouty! A derby sevens tournament hosted by Portsmouth Roller Wenches in Andover, Hampshire. True to Rockers style, our septet arrive slightly panicked (due to tremendous traffic diversions) without much of a clue of the format. It turns out there are two separate four team knockout tournaments – independent and advanced – with the Rockers seven taking part in the latter. With six games today in total, each will consist of just one 30-minute period. We get to watch two former Rockers, Bionic Betty and Feisty McGee, up against each other in the opening intermediate match, before we take to the track against the A-team of hosting PRW. We’ve come up against the Wenches on a fair number of occasions and are relieved at the absence of RIP McMurphy (now playing in the States), although we still have to contend with the likes of Nina Nunchucks, who is as terrifying and brilliant as ever. I can’t remember the score (sorry) but we take the victory. I win MVP and don’t know who else won anything because I’m massively self obsessed… and forgetful.

“The other advanced semi-final sees Team Spektacular – who only feature players wearing glasses and have the best team name we’ve ever come across – defeated by the co-ed team Hoodlum Fang Advanced. We’re becoming increasingly nervous at facing a co-ed side for the first time ever. In our favour is the fact that they’ll be coming straight off the back of a hard-hitting game against Spektacular, whereas we’re a little rested but full of lunch. The prospect of playing against a team of massive boys (and two equally scary girls) makes it very obvious to us that we have to go in for the kill from the very first second. It brings out the best in us and we play a really strong game. We know we have to keep the inside line locked down because we saw Hoodlum’s Tenacious P (the lovely announcer at Rockers home games) nip through on numerous occasion in the previous match.

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“We have Finn in lane one who really does lock it down, with one amazing hip check sending an apex jumping Savage Hun crashing to the ground. Hairy Fairy gets weirdly protective of us all and starts smashing the poop out of the opposition – which is great! Hairy later takes a much deserved MVP award for this game. Our defensive walls are working really hard all game. We know we have to battle together and keep everything as slow and controlled as possible if we’re going to be in with a chance. The nice grippy floor makes this easier. Again, I can’t remember the exact score but – while we lose – it’s by a tiny handful of points. They may have taken the win but we made them work super hard to get it!”

Thanks Emma. BRATS pick up this write-up in early DECEMBER as Haywards Heath plays host to another Rockers double header (a mere three weeks since the last one). The A-team AllStars face Milan Harpies in the first game. The crowd is fairly small today, which is to be expected since the SUPER EXCITING THING HAPPENING NEXT WEEK has meant the Rockers cannibalising their own attendance. One factor when hosting teams from overseas is that they’ll often bring a squad of fewer than fourteen – numbers reduced due to issues of travel costs, time off work, etc – especially now that Brighton are WFTDA apprentices and players must presumably come from each team’s official international roster? Rockcity had it tough (despite their victory) last month when they arrived with eleven skaters, but Milan are here with… NINE! This could get messy.

The Rockers get off to a flying start and are 76-35 up halfway through the half, as the referees tell announcer Tenacious P to be a bit quieter (the skaters can’t hear the penalty calls). Kapow v the visitors’ most effective jammer Electric Lemon next. Milan are getting plenty of lead jammer statutes here, but they’re almost always picking up a track cut straight after. Early in the second period, with Brighton 130-62 up, those penalties are making their mark. The Harpies are down to seven players now, with two fouled out and sat in the crowd. They’re not going down without a fight though, and battle their way back to 149-108 with some great jamming from Martattack. Electric is next to foul out for the Italians with Martattack following soon after. Not only have Milan lost their two biggest jamming threats but they now have only FIVE players left. The remaining Harpies must play out every jam – and the cleanest games of their lives – for the ten minutes left of this match. It’s a fantastically resilient performance from them, slightly aided by a little touchline advice from the foulees, which head ref LaserHammer tells them off for. Somehow the Fantastic Five match the Rockers point for point in the final jams, with a great apex jumping call off from Baby Razor closing out the game. Brighton take a surprisingly narrow 195-159 victory. Great work from the five Harpies.

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The day’s second game sees the Rockerbillies facing Eastbourne Roller Derby’s brand spanking new women’s B-team, the Cherry Bombs. Scorewise this is similar to the ‘billies outing against Basinghampton, with lead changes aplenty in a first half that ends with the Brighton team 91-90 in front. Crikey! Mistress is bench coaching both the A- and B-teams for the Rockers today. Eastbourne’s CalEmity fouls out early in the second period, with Obliviator (the ‘billies most dangerous jammer today) racking up a number of 10-0 jams. InnsterSlam and Elle Hound are amongst the Bombs starheads keeping things close here. Great jamming from the unyielding Chloe Colossus – back from a litany of shoulder injuries – sees Brighton establishing a 25-point lead as another Cherry (Newmatic Drill) is plucked from the penalty seats to the crowd for a foul out.

Jumping Jack Smash and T-Wrecks battling hard in the purple packs, Cruelty Spree and Jackie Jerkheart likewise in the Brighton black, as some great jamming from the likes of Yorkshire Brew-ser and Elle Hound sees the visitors claw back the lead and build one of their own. It’s 172-182 to ERD as we start the final jam. Obliviator v Brew-ser. Brighton defence super tough. Two full passes for the home starhead ties things up at 182-182. As the seconds tick down is there time for a final Rockerbillies pass? There is as the B-team ‘billies take the win by a tiny margin (186-182) for the second game in a row. Wow!

One week later and the Rockers A- and B-teams are back in action. This time they’re playing against themselves as the league splits into two factions – Team Blue and Team Black – for an exhibition game at the Corn Exchange. This is the first time roller derby has ever taken place in front of a crowd in Brighton itself… and what a crowd it is! This event is a sell-out and the packed seats cheer, scream and Mexican Wave along to the events on track as first the B-team, and then (in the second half) the A-team AllStars, battle it out in a slightly cut down – due to the size of the venue – version of derby. We won’t go into detail here as we’ve written a full report for our friends at Brighton SOURCE (click here for that) but suffice so say it’s a crazy exciting event with a super narrow victory to Team Blue, who claw back a 37-point half time deficit to win by three. This epic event might mark the end of the calendar year’s Rockers games, but it’s not the end of our Review of 2016. Keep an eye out for the final instalment (Part Four) where we’ll be cracking open the ballot box and revealing who YOU voted for as your Brighton Players of the Year…

[Photos by John Hesse]

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]

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 15 Now Online

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A battling performance for the Brighton Rockers AllStars against their friends Croydon Riot Squad in Haywards Heath yesterday (May 22nd) saw the South Londoners edge ahead in the last quarter to take the game 181-142. Report to follow. There are a few copies of our fanzine from this game available in the flyers area of various Brighton pubs, including the Evening Star and Ranelagh, from tonight. Or simply click on the cover image above to read the online version. This issue includes an almighty banter-off between Gin Atomic and Croydon’s Agent Cooper; Mass Janeycide and Noise Tank trade tips on bench coaching the Rockers; Emma the Condemner outlines her programme for a Brighton Rockers themed arts festival; and much more! Special thanks to all our lovely interviewees, photographer John Hesse and our awesomes advermatisers including http://www.meadowyurts.co.uk/ and http://www.thewick.pub/ Cheers!

Brighton Rockers AllStars v Croydon Riot Squad Preview (inc recap of both teams’ last games)

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The mighty Brighton Rockers AllStars take on their ‘friendly rivals’ Croydon Riot Squad at the Dolphin in Haywards Heath this Sunday 22nd May. A home game for Brighton on a Sunday is something of a rarity (we can only think of one previous occasion) so be sure to take advantage of this opportunity for a post-roast festival of sport. ‘Festival’ being the operative word, since the game, despite its geographical remove, is part of Brighton Fringe Festival.
    Doors open at 4pm (first whistle is at 4.30) and tickets are available online for £10 adults, £8 concessions and free for under 12s. You can also get four adult tickets for the price of three. Tickets are available from both the Brighton Rockers and Fringe Festival websites, but we recommend the former as there’s a small fee added at the latter. We have a full preview of this epic game lower down, but first off we’ll recap two other derby events that have taken place at the Dolphin in the past couple of weeks. Given that these two events were hosted by Brighton and Croydon respectively, they provide useful clues for what to expect on Sunday…

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SATURDAY 30TH APRIL: BRIGHTON V NEWCASTLE B REPORT
Coming in off the back of a great display – albeit a small loss – away to London’s Batter C Power in March, the Rockers AllStars round off April by facing the Whippin’ Hinnies B-team of Newcastle Roller Girls. Newcastle’s A-team is the top ranked English team in UKRDA and has already won this year’s British Champs with two months left to go, so it’s no surprise that their second team are favourites here. Flattrackstats expect the Hinnies to win but by the tiniest of margins (six or seven points). Seven jams in and the margin is invisible. It’s a tied game at 20-20, Joanna Bruisin’ and Blackjack Belle doing much of the damage for the Geordies, with Gin Atomic and Shambolic scoring well for Brighton. Hairy Fairy and Obliviator doing good work to peg back Mills & Boom now as Skate Bush edges Brighton ahead.
    Our companion is disappointed that Newcastle don’t play in black and white stripes – “make the refs play in green or something” – as fantastic jams from Sham and Skate give the Rockers an unexpected 48-21 lead. Sham is back in the star a few jams later, ducking and diving through the Hinnies pack to chalk up 25 points. After an extended break for travelling a year or so ago, the nimble ninja is back to her best as she helps Brighton to a chunky 107-42 interval lead. The second half sees the Rockers continue to dominate. Khal Jojo and Pretty Skate Machine are amongst the standout blockers for Newcastle, with Hairy, Gin, Emma The Condemner and others proving super solid for the home side.
    With the scores at 134-67 there is an extended stoppage for treatment to tough Brighton blocker Chaka Carnage. She will play no further part in the game and her injury takes some wind out of the Rockers’ sails. The Hinnies take advantage of Brighton’s slight loss of momentum to start clawing back at the lead; the home side have started picking up noticeably more blocker penalties now. Another Rockers injury sees ever impressive starhead Skate Bush bowing out of the match. With further Brighton skaters such as Sham picking up knocks, the home side are glad to make it to the final whistle with a decent victory margin still intact. This 170-143 win is the Rockers’ first open door success since beating Leeds side Hot Wheel, also by 27 points, in May of last year. Without the injuries we would have likely been looking at closer to a three figure differential here. Rest assured that this win not only builds upon the performance against Batter C, but (especially coming after seven straight losses) also marks a turning point for the rapidly improving AllStars.
    Today’s proceedings began with the B-team facing the Hoodlum Gang, a mixed league side organised by the Hoodlum Fang fashion label. That match ended in a 168-223 defeat for the Rockerbillies and saw a great performance from both sides. For Hoodlum the likes of Chunder Woman, Grace Bopper, Ore Raura and the appropriately named Hench were amongst the standouts. In the Rockerbillies ranks, plaudits go to Lab Wrath, Bionic Betty (here playing her final game for Brighton), fast jamming Shakesbeer and many others. No doubt there’s a whole slew of future A-team regulars in the ‘billies ranks. Indeed, B-team MVP Hippy Hippy Skate put in a great stint for the As today too. The day ends with Gin Atomic’s 30th birthday celebrations, a surprise on track marriage proposal for Cake Or Death (many congrats to her and Phil), and a suitably messy after party back in Brighton.

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SATURDAY 14TH MAY: CROYDON V LRR REPORT
With barely time to catch our breath, the sound of clacking derby skate wheels returns to the Dolphin two weeks later. Last year three teams in the British Championships (Brighton, Eastbourne and Croydon) hosted games here. With the first two having withdrawn from the 2016 tournament, today’s Croydon hosted double header is most likely the only Champs action that Haywards Heath will see this year. First up is Bristol Roller Derby v Portsmouth Roller Wenches. Based on last year’s Tier 2 South results we’re expecting Bristol to dominate this one. Flattrackstats agrees, but it’s the Wenches who are fastest out of the gates, taking a 20-3 lead over the first few jams. Nina Nunchucks and Psyclone DestroyHer particularly effective in the Pompey star, but a power jam sees Bristol clawing their way back. Hard N Sharpe and Delta Strike are chalking up points for BRD, with RIP McMurphy hitting back for the Wenches. Lead change! 46-45 to Bristol.
    Great blocking from the likes of Valkyrie Pain and Rosie Rocketpants for PRW; likewise from Black Thorn, President Garfield and others for Brizzle. Portsmouth’s blockers in particular are picking up a lot of penalties here. In fact, Valkyrie picks up her seventh with a quarter of the first half still to go, leaving the game. Successive power jams from Psyclone and Nunchucks sees the Wenches snatch a half time lead of 123-117. Pompey extending their lead at the start of the second, but Bristol peg them back to 169-160. Delta Strike and The Blizzard jamming in points for BRD. McMurphy and Elke Dickson sturdy in the Wenches defence. Jammer switcharoos aplenty and Rosie becomes PRW’s second foul out. That means more jams (and more penalties) for those left, and the domino effect sees two more Wenches sent to the stands, with at least one Bristolian joining them. What’s left of the Pompey squad holds firm for an unexpected 306-276 win.
    It’s hosts Croydon Riot Squad v London Rockin’ Rollers next, and the latter go into this one as firm favourites. We think this game can’t possibly be as exciting as the last one, but it turns out we’re very wrong. There are three lead changes in the opening few minutes, but that’s not unusual as teams feel each other out before one side starts to impose themselves. It seems that side could be LRR as a well used power jam sees them take a 21-11 advantage. This looks like being a fairly low scoring contest with two very solid defensive units at play. Total Bevlam, Smashasaurus Bex and Polly Filla amongst the standout defenders for Croydon here; Miss Justice, Von Bitch, Rammit and others proving equi-tough in the London packs. LRR look like they might run away with things with the scores at 50-13, but the Flying Kiwi and Dyduch are amongst those putting in great turns in the star for Riot Squad. Suddenly London’s lead is a single point (54-53). It’s not often that there’s only one point between the sides during a roller derby game, but this margin will be repeated several more times before the game is done. Starting with a lead change that puts Croydon 62-61 ahead.
    The Croydonians stretch this to a seven point gap (75-69) at the interval, but this game has plenty of drama to come. Queen Mob, Rammit and Jack Attack putting in some ferocious turns in the London star, with Jacks chalking up another lead change and single point margin. LRR leading 90-89 and starting to pull away now, but Croydon are fighting hard and keeping in touch. Riot Squad icon Apocalex, here playing her last game for the side, amongst those battling in the purple packs. Meanwhile, Agent Cooper is being let off the leash more in the Cronx star, swooping and sweeping at speed through the walls of red. CRD keeping within ten or fifteen points of the Rockin’ Rollers here. Ten to fifteen points being that sweet spot in derby differentials – the gap it can just take a 30 second power jam to close. Riot Squad battle hard but LRR keep their noses in front, taking the game by a much closer than predicted margin: 151-137.

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SUNDAY 22ND MAY: BRIGHTON V CROYDON PREVIEW
So what have we learned from those very recent Brighton and Croydon games? Firstly, both sides fared better than the rankings computer had predicted, suggesting that both leagues are currently on an upwards trajectory. Though there have been a few closed door games between Brighton and Croydon, the A-teams have only met once before in public. That was in July 2014 (at, where else, the Dolphin) and the Rockers took the win that time 163-151. Super close! So what’s expected this time?
    ***SPOILER ALERT: If you don’t like knowing Flattrackstats predictions ahead of a game then skip past this paragraph*** There are two different rankings systems on the FTS website. The UK Roller Derby Association one is, as you’d expect, based on the results of UKRDA sanctioned games only. Brighton currently place 19th in the table on 602.3 points, with Croydon just behind in 20th (599.5). FTS gives the Rockers 58% chance of taking the win here, with an expected differential of 51:46 equating to something like a 153-138 Brighton win. Switch to the Europe-wide rankings system, however, and Cronx place higher. They’re 45th on 619.2 points, with the Rockers 69th on 584.8. Run those stats through the predictometer and there’s 69% chance of a CRD win. Predicted differential of 17:13 suggests something like a 170-130 Riot Squad victory in this case. In other words, this one really could go either way!
    The venue is as ever the Dolphin in Haywards Heath, which is seven minutes walk from the train station (turn left and follow the signs stuck to lamp posts). Point your Sat Nav at RH16 1LY if driving. The pub opposite the station, the Burrell Arms, is OK for a pre-game pint, if a little football geezer-y. There’s a very large Sainsbury’s (with ATMs outside) halfway between the station and leisure centre. Be warned that this closes at 4pm on Sunday, so get any provisions prior to doors opening at the roller derby. The last two events have seen the Dolphin move their stash of booze from the lobby cafe to a table in the sports hall itself. This is awesomely convenient, but we suspect is largely aimed at not having a queue of green-haired derby types scaring off parents arriving to drop off kids at the pool. Expect to pay between three and four quid for a bottle of beer/cider/wine, and please leave the London Pride for us (there’s never enough). The after party is at Idelwild, a bistro bar on Haywards Heath Broadway, about twelve minutes walk from the Dolphin.
    Snap up your tickets for this epic rematch in advance from the link below. There will also be tickets available on the door. Don’t forget to pick up your free copy of our unofficial Brighton Rockers fanzine Turn Left on your way in. Sunday’s issue is jam-packed with stuff including… Best mates Gin Atomic and Agent Cooper (playing on opposite sides for the first time in an open door sanctioned game) have a huge banter-off ahead of the contest. Mass Janeycide and Noise Tank trade tips on bench coaching the Rockers. Emma the Condemner selects the programme for a Brighton Rockers themed arts festival. We also hear from Croydon captain Dyduch and others, plus the latest news from all six Sussex roller derby teams and more. See you there!

[Photos by John Hesse, except CRD v LRR by Neil Biggs]

LINKS
BUY TICKETS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/#!shop/cttr
FB EVENT PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/767370616727093/
BRIGHTON: http://www.brightonrockers.com/
CROYDON: http://croydonrollerderby.co.uk/

Turn Left Issue 14 Now Online

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In the next few days we’ll have a report up here on yesterday’s (April 30th) epic double header against Newcastle B (a win!) and the Hoodlum Gang. In the meantime, if you missed the game – or if you were there but missed the fanzine (it ran out faster than any previous issue has!) – click the cover image above to be taken to the online version. This includes interviews with Rockers stars Skate Bush, Speedy Gonzalex and Bionic Betty. We also hear from both opposing teams, Irish Mist takes on Newcastle’s Fugazi in the seven questions challenge, our spy reports from inside the current Rockers Fresh Meat, and loads more! Special thanks to all our lovely interviewees. Also big thanks to our photographers (John Hesse, NSP 189, Roller Derby On Film and Dave Moore) and our lovely advermatisers including http://www.meadowyurts.co.uk/ and http://www.thewick.pub/ Yay!

BATTER C POWER VS BRIGHTON ROCKERS: Full Preview Of Saturday’s ‘Four Years On’ Rematch

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After their recent European adventures (which you can read about HERE) the mighty Brighton Rockers are back in action on British soil this Saturday 12th March. Tottenham Green Leisure Centre in North London is the venue and the Rockers are taking on the London Rollergirls third team Batter C Power. It’s a double header – LRG’s Season Opener – with the London league’s second team Brawl Saints facing the mixed league LGBTQ challenge side Vagine Regime UK. Doors are at 4pm with Brighton’s game first up at 5-6.30pm, then the second game at 7-8.30pm with an after party to follow. Tickets are £15 (plus a small booking fee) for adults and £7.50 kids from the link at the bottom of this piece – online sales end midday Friday, but there will likely be A FEW tickets on the door.

Getting there is easy enough as it’s the only weekend this month with no engineering works on the Brighton mainline. Of the various possible routes the simplest is probably a train to Victoria, 15 mins on the Victoria line to Seven Sisters, then a ten minute walk up the A10. A super-off peak one-day travelcard is about £19 these days (£12.50 with a railcard) from Brighton and Hove stations. Car users should point their sat navs at N15 4JA. Pubs are few and far between (the nearest is a good half mile from the venue) but there are millions of takeaways in the area. Usually the only facilities at the leisure centre itself are a couple of vending machines, but there will be a bar etc for this event.

Brighton played against Batter C in the Rockers’ late lamented Shoreham warehouse in February 2012. The Rockers won that one 223-192 but both teams are very different now. Flattrackstats.com gives the Londoners the edge here. Batter C currently place 47th in Europe on 615.4 ranking points with Brighton 69th on 576.1. FTS gives the former 80% chance of taking the win here. Expected differential of 8:5 suggests a scoreline in the region of 168-105 to the London side. Unfortunately FTS doesn’t give rankings for exhibition teams like Vagine Regime, so there’s no prediction available for the event’s second game. However, VRUK beat Brawl Saints by the narrowest of margins (133-130) at the same venue last May. If that’s any indication then this rematch could be SUPER close!

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OBLIVIATOR – BRIGHTON ROCKERS

The Rockers kicked off their 2016 open door season a few weeks ago at a tournament in Normandy. How did that go? What did you bring away from it for the rest of 2016?
We had a great time in Caen. Lots of players were playing some of their first games with the A-team, so it was a really good chance to get used to playing with each other and to try out some different line-ups. We went without expectations (except that we would win the after party) as we know the European rankings don’t necessarily reflect how teams are actually playing. We had some fantastic close games which could have gone either way and have learnt loads. I’m sure you’ll see some newer players in A-team games more often, as well as some exciting new tactics, in the rest of 2016. And obviously we did win the after party!

You take on Batter C Power in Tottenham on Saturday. Presumably a lot has changed since Brighton last played Batter C four years ago?
Yeah, the Batter C team looks completely different and most of the Rockers team have joined since then, so it’ll be a very different game! We’re expecting to face a team who work closely together, make solid walls, and play very tactically. It should be an exciting game. I’ve played with lots of their roster in the mixed league challenge side Team Dragon, so I might be using my sneaky knowledge of their skills to good effect. Of course they’ll probably do the same to me…

Are any of those who debuted for the A-team in Caen likely to feature on Saturday? Are there any particular players or tactics that fans should look out for?
We’re taking quite a small team to Tottenham. Partly this is due to injury – LRG are super organised, so we actually had to select Saturday’s roster before Caen! This also means a few new players who really shone in Caen haven’t been included, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t awesome. The team we’re fielding know each other well and have lots of game experience together. I’m sure fans have their favourite Rockers, but Gin’s massive hits are always fun to watch (and less fun to receive). I think it’ll be a close, hard-fought game, but I guarantee we’ll have a lot of fun!

Saturday’s other game sees London Brawl Saints taking on Vagine Regime UK. How do you see that contest going?

I’m sure Brawl Saints will utilise some of the tactics we’ve seen from Brawling in Malmo this weekend, and will be using diamond wall formations to keep jammers trapped. Both teams have some great players at a very high level (and some players have featured for both teams) so I reckon it’ll be just as close as last time – a real nail-biter.

Finally, any other Brighton Rockers games that fans should look out for over the next few months?
Our next home event is on Saturday 30th April and will see the A-team take on Newcastle B whilst the B-team face the Hoodlum Gang (a mixed league team set up by the Hoodlum Fang fashion label). This double header should show off everything derby is about. We have another home event just three weeks later on Sunday 22nd May. Although we haven’t yet revealed the opponents for this one (keep an eye on our Facebook page for details) tickets are already on sale as the event is part of Brighton Fringe. We’ll also be arranging some more international games later in the year.

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GABRIEL – BATTER C POWER

Normally we start off by asking the opposition to tell us a little about their league. We’re pretty sure everyone reading this knows who LRG are, so could you tell us a little about Batter C Power in particular?
Batter C was formed around 2011 when it became obvious that the league was large enough for a third travel team and there was scope for a C-team that could compete with other local leagues. We compete with similarly ranked A and B-teams in the UK and Europe. In the last two years we have played a B-team tournament put on by Central City in Birmingham and we are proud to say we won both times. We’ve also been able to play a few double headers with Brawl Saints playing a league’s A-team and us playing their Bs. It’s always fun to travel with the other teams – league bonding at its best! We train and scrimmage with Brawling and Brawl Saints, although we have a weekly session that is more geared towards us (and they have one geared towards them). Most of Batter C have come up from our Rec League and we try to go and scrimmage with them once a month if possible.

Batter C played the Brighton Rockers in 2012. Are there any players from that game involved on Saturday? Any Batter C players in general that people should look out for?
Actually, not a single player from the 2012 game will be playing against Brighton on Saturday. However Sophia Ann Loathing who played in 2012 can be seen in the day’s other game, playing for and captaining Brawl Saints. We like to pride ourselves on our team work, so singling out a player doesn’t feel right; however we have a brand new line up manager in TreeKill Tart and this will be her first LRG game as LUM so look out for her! Also we recently voted in new captains, so watch how wonderful Aura G and Baby Cheesus lead the good ship Batter C.

Do you know much about the Brighton side? Any Rockers players that you’ll be looking out for?
We have heard that playing Brighton is great fun and very challenging, and that they are a very friendly team to play. We always look forward to games and the smiles between hits really elevate things! We’re particularly excited to see former LRGers play. Racey used to be a member of Batter C and Obliviator did her Fresh Meat with us (and played for the Rec League) so we are excited to see and play against the two of them especially!

The day’s other game sees Brawl Saints taking on VRUK. Are you expecting this one to be as close as last year’s meeting?
It’s hard to develop strategies when playing challenge teams, it’s always an unknown. The last game was a tough one with a number of very skilled skaters on the roster and this one looks equally challenging. Brawl Saints have got a lot of new players so will be trying out some new tricks and tactics for this game. Home games always have a great buzz, so we’re hoping to channel the enthusiasm of our supporters to bring home the win.

Finally, can you tell us a little about the Tottenham Green venue? Will there be plenty of seating and vendors etc? Most importantly – will there be a bar?
Tottenham Green is a wonderful venue that has supported roller derby for a long time and while it’s not the perfect venue – we don’t have tiered seating for example – it turns into “the place to be” when it is full of fans. We will indeed have a bar – so get your designated driver ready and come and enjoy a drink (and a donut) or twelve! Opening the home season with these two games is going to be pretty special in itself, but as always we will have a raffle with great prizes. We have new DJs and there will be a fabulous after party at a pub nearby. We can’t wait!

[Photos by John Hesse and Paul Delooze]

LINKS
FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/177921445907182/
TICKETS: http://www.seetickets.com/event/london-rollergirls-2016-season-opener-game/tottenham-green-leisure-centre/954601
ROCKERS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/
LRG: http://londonrollergirls.com/
VRUK: https://www.facebook.com/GayRobots/