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 14 Now Online

tl14_coversmall.jpg

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!

BRIGHTON VS THE CONTINENT: The Rockers Take On Europe

sir1

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

sir2

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

sir3

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

sir4

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

sir5

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

Photos by Vinciane Piérart aka NSP 189
https://www.facebook.com/nsp189/

BRIGHTON ROCKERS V BATTER C-POWER @ 12TH MARCH
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

CAEN YOU DIG IT? Slip It 3! Tournament Preview

sip1

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

sip2

GETTING THERE

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

sip3

TOURNAMENT STRUCTURE

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

sip4

SATURDAY 20TH FEBRUARY – THE GROUP GAMES

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

10AM – BRUSSELS v BRIGHTON
Brighton are probably quite surprised at how well their Euro ranking has held up despite a tough 2015 season; indeed, one prominent player told BRATS she expected the Rockers to be the lowest ranked rather than second highest team in this tournie. So we’ll take all these predictions with a pinch of salt – particularly as Brighton have never played any of the other teams before. Flattrackstats calls this as around 66% chance of a Rockers win, with a predicted differential of 6:5. That means they expect Brighton to score six points for every five that Brussels get, which would result in a typical scoreline of say 210-175 to the Rockers. That’s pretty close so a Brussels win wouldn’t be a huge shock.

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

6PM – BRUSSELS v CAEN

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

sip5

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

12PM – NAMUR v PARIS
Namur from Wallonia (French-speaking Belgium) were a late addition to this tournament following the withdrawal of Copenhagen. Though ranked five places below the Danes they are the highest placed team taking part. Paris Rollergirls B-team Les Quedalles were the lowest ranked of the six teams, but a good showing earlier this month against teams from Lille and Reims has seen them jump a whopping 23 places in the rankings. Nonetheless, Flattrackstats give the Belgians 72% chance of the win here with a predicted differential of 47:34. If true that would mean something like a 188-136 Namur win.

4PM – ROCKCITY v PARIS
This shows you the effect Les Quedalles’ good results a week or two back have had on the (rankings based) prediction computer. When we ran the predictor before those games it gave Rockcity 82% chance of taking the win here. Once those three games on 6th/7th Feb are factored into the Paris ranking, Rockcity’s chances have dropped down to 62%. The suggested differential of 7:6 would equate to something like a 154-132 victory for the Dutch side from Eindhoven. That’s super close in derby terms, so this one could go either way.

8PM – NAMUR v ROCKCITY
Should the computer predictions for the first two Group 2 games have proven correct (which is unlikely – we’re expecting at least one upset in each group) then this match will decide the group winners. Flattrackstats favours the Belgian side here, giving Namur 65% chance of the win. The differential is pretty close though at 27:22, which suggests a scoreline in the region of 162-132. Rockcity have won their two previous games against Namur however (in 2013 and 2014) so take nothing for granted!

sip6

SUNDAY 21ST FEBRUARY – THE PLAYOFFS
We aren’t going to include any predictions for Sunday’s playoff games as we really wouldn’t like to predict which teams are going to finish where in the group tables. Certainly several teams here are ranked quite a bit higher or lower than their most recent results would suggest. This is particularly apparent when looking at possible playoff match-ups. For example, hosts the Leopard Avengers beat Paris B by almost 300 points at Slip It! 2 and Caen’s only ever game against the highest ranked side here Namur (less than a year ago) saw the French side triumph 192-93. Rockcity are the only Group 2 side the hosts haven’t played before.
    An all-Belgium playoff game would prove an interesting proposition. Brussels and Namur have met three times before and the most recent meeting saw the Derby Pixies triumph by a single point: 170-169. Les Quedalles are also no stranger to Brussels with one win apiece in the teams’ previous meetings. Could there be a ‘best of three’ decider in Caen? As for a Brussels v Rockcity game, that would be the SEVENTH public meeting of the Benelux sides. The teams have been taking it in turns to win with scorelines to date [Brussels scores listed first] of 192-172, 165-202, 122-100, 152-182, 142-79 and 167-176. No-one would be brave enough to predict the outcome of a ‘best of seven’ decider here!
    Whoever Brighton meet on the Sunday will be a new opponent, although the Rockers have previously played (and narrowly beaten) the Paris Rollergirls A-team. Whatever the make-up of the tournament’s three playoff games, we’re expecting them to all be pretty close. Even the FTS predictor throws up 52%-48% win chances for a couple of Sunday’s potential match-ups!

12PM – 5TH/6TH PLACE PLAYOFF
This match features the teams who finished bottom of the two groups.

2.15PM – 3RD/4TH PLACE PLAYOFF

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

4.30PM – 1ST/2ND PLACE PLAYOFF
The final sees the winners of Groups 1 & 2 battle for the tournament title.

sip7

SPANK GIRL – ROLLER DERBY CAEN

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

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

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

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

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

sip8

GIN ATOMIC – BRIGHTON ROCKERS CAPTAIN

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

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

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

LINKS
SLIP IT! 3 ON FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/1527006124294931/
SLIP IT! 3 TICKETS: https://www.yuticket.com/roller-derby-caen/febb72f1-4540-4377-af1e-95d8a564043f-slip-it-3-tournoi-de-roller-derby-20-21-fevrier-a-caen.html
ROCKERS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/
CAEN: http://roller-derby-caen.fr/
BRUSSELS: https://www.facebook.com/BrusselsDerbyPixies/
PARIS: https://www.facebook.com/ParisRollerGirls/
ROCKCITY: http://www.rockcityrollers.nl/
NAMUR: https://www.facebook.com/NamurRollerGirls/

“You’re Fired Up!” …Brighton Rockers are taking part in The Apprentice (Program)

wftda1

There was an exciting and long-awaited announcement on January 19th. The list of WFTDA’s latest batch of apprentice leagues was released to the world, and in amongst the 25 teams – between the Beach Brawl SK8R Dolls of Fort Walton, Florida and the Capital City Crushers of Topeka, Kansas – was the name “Brighton Rockers Roller Derby”. It’s no secret that Brighton have been hoping for a while to be accepted onto the WFTDA Apprentice Program. Here at BRATS we had a sneaky feeling it was imminent when a random crawl of the internet in early December revealed the Rockers had formed a limited by guarantee company on 27/11/14. Although initially concerned by the Coventry address (was the Rockers franchise moving to the West Midlands?) this turned out to be that of the processing solicitor. Being an entity such as this is an essential stepping stone towards joining WFTDA. It was on!

So who are WFTDA? Their mission statement tells us they were “founded in 2005” to “promote and foster the sport of women’s flat track roller derby by facilitating the development of athletic ability, sportswomanship and goodwill among members leagues. The governing philosophy of the WFTDA is ‘by the skaters, for the skaters’. Female skaters are primary owners, managers, and/or operators of each member league and of the association. Operational tasks include setting standards for rules, seasons and safety, and determining guidelines for the national and international athletic competitions of member leagues. All WFTDA member leagues have a voice in the decision-making process, and agree to comply with the governing body’s policies.”

In less wordy terms, they’re the equivalent of football’s FIFA for women’s roller derby. They govern the sport worldwide, organising major ranking tournaments, setting Minimum Skills requirements and issuing the ever-changing rulebook which every league (even non-members) plays by. Well, that’s not 100% true. There are a few rival organisations (USARS, MADE and others) but WFTDA dominates a good 95% of the women’s game worldwide. Not unnaturally, given the sport’s origins, it’s very much an American organisation. Of the current 301 full member leagues, a whopping 238 (79%) are from the USA. There are 16 from the UK, just ahead of Canada (15) with others from Australia (9), Germany (4), France and Japan (both 3), Belgium, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand and Norway (all 2), plus single leagues from Denmark, Ireland and Colombia. Please note: We worked this out by counting tiny flags on their website whilst a bit drunk, so we’ve almost certainly miscounted some of it.

Whilst that’s a decent enough global spread, a look at the 92 leagues currently in the Apprentice Program shows just how much that global spread is increasing as time progresses. There are 51 (55%) from the USA, joined by eight from Canada, five from Oz, and four each from Sweden and France. Belgium, Germany and the UK have three apiece, Brazil two, and there are single leagues from Austria, Spain, Switzerland, Finland, Chile, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa and Puerto Rico. Wowsers! So how long does the apprentice process last? Well, there is one league who was accepted into it in Nov 2009 who have yet to graduate to full membership, but generally speaking a year or so is the norm. The Brighton Rockers join Birmingham Blitz Dames (Oct 2014) and this month’s British Champs opponents Seaside Sirens (Oct 2013) as current UK apprentices. But that’s enough about numbers and dates – let’s hear from one of the key figures behind Brighton’s WFTDA application…

wftda2

DERBY McGEE (BRIGHTON ROCKERS) ON WFTDA APPRENTICESHIP

How long (and through what processes) has it taken for you to get to the stage of being accepted as an apprentice league?
It has taken us ages to get our application in to join the WFTDA Apprentice Program. It’s a rigorous application process and we soon realised that we needed a better organisational structure before we could join. Like most derby leagues, we suddenly came into being and made it all up as we went along. Having to explain how we run the league made us examine it more ourselves and change things. The result is we are now a not-for-profit company, with a sound and sustainable structure, that is accountable to its members. So, although it’s been a slow process for the Rockers, we’ve already benefited from our application. Once we made sure our league was set up in line with the principles of WFTDA as an organisation, we needed to write essays, provide stats from bouts we’ve hosted, plus a lot of paperwork… It’s a hell of a thing!

Why did you decide you wanted to become a WFTDA league?
We decided to join WFTDA as we had a couple of leagues refuse to play us as we weren’t members. We have always been a highly competitive league and wanted to be able to play those teams, as well as hoping that one day we’d be successful enough to play in the big WFTDA European tournaments. It seemed liked the natural direction for Brighton, although the benefits to the league so far have been off the track.

What happens next?
We only just found out last month that we had been accepted into the apprentice scheme, so it’s early days. We’ll keep you posted on our progress over the months ahead.

You can catch the UK’s newest WFTDA apprentice league in action this Saturday (7th Feb) at the Dolphin Leisure Centre in Haywards Heath. As a warm up for this year’s British Championships campaign, the mighty Brighton Rockers will be taking on Team Dragon, a mixed league challenge side that includes players with World Cup experience from Teams England, Spain and Belgium. There will also be a mixed opener, featuring upcoming skaters – most of whom have never played in public before – from several derby leagues including Brighton, Eastbourne, Portsmouth, Croydon, LRR, Kent and many more. Doors are at 2pm, with the first game at 3pm. Tickets are selling very fast – this is going to be the biggest Rockers crowd in quite a while – and priced £10 for adults, £8 students, free for under-12s, with a special 4-for-3 deal. Get yours from the ticket link below. We’ll have a full preview of this exciting event on this website very soon.

[Photos by John Hesse]

LINKS
WFTDA: http://wftda.com/
ROCKERS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/
FEB 7TH FB PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/705098602921263/
FEB 7TH TICKETS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/#!shop/cttr

Roller Derby World Cup 2014 preview

WC14_1

It might be a world of cold here on the Sussex coast, but things are hotting up over in Dallas, Texas. This weekend sees the second ever Blood & Thunder Roller Derby World Cup. There’s a whopping THIRTY national sides taking part in the 2014 tournament, quite a jump from the thirteen that took part in Toronto in 2011. The action kicks off at 9am Texas time (3pm GMT) tomorrow (Thursday 4th Dec) and runs until around 8pm on Sunday, ie 2am Monday over here. If you don’t happen to be near enough to Dallas to pop down and watch it in the flesh, weekend passes for the online stream cost about £30 ($45). That might sound spendy, but it does include over 70 tournament games – albeit with three taking place at once until the final day – along with four exhibition matches (Vagine Regime, USA v USA, Juniors and WC All-Stars). Failing that, you can follow the scores on Twitter.

LOCAL INTEREST
As in 2011, the Rockers are one of the few highly ranked UK leagues with no players taking part in the World Cup. The Mighty Mighty Bash was part of England’s team in the previous tournament, but not as a Brighton player. [Incidentally, Bash’s mum was part of Team New Zealand in 2011 – unfortunately the two nations didn’t play each other.] Although she had being coaching the Rockers for nearly two years at the time of the World Cup, Bash didn’t transfer to Brighton as a player until a couple of weeks after the tournament, so officially took part in the WC as a London Rockin’ Roller. She was one of three Rockers who made it to the 60 skater ‘longlist’ for England’s 2014 squad – along with Shambolic and Chariot Sophia – but surprisingly none of them made the final cut. Which can only suggest that the twenty who did are BEYOND EPIC. As far as we know, no-one from Brighton tried out for any of the other national sides, whilst a few English leagues (with much bigger rosters than the Rockers) have players representing six or seven different countries.
    That’s not to say there’s no Sussex folks involved in Dallas. There are – just not on wheels. John Hesse is one of the busiest photographers in derby these days. As well as being the official tog for all three leagues (women’s, men’s, junior) in his hometown Eastbourne, he also does the honours for the Rockers, both in terms of the awesome action shots you’ll find on Facebook after most home bouts, as well as official player portraits. Almost half the photos we ourselves use, on this website and in our fanzine, are John’s, so he’s kinda the official BRATS photographer too. This weekend though, he’ll be donning a pass in Texas as official shutter clicker for the largely UK based Team West Indies. Having documented the young national team’s build up to the tournament, he’ll be capturing the on and off track Dallas adventures of a side many derby fans worldwide have already adopted as their ‘second team’ for the tournament.
    There’s local representation amidst the ranks of the NSOs too. Pettichoke cut her officiating teeth with the Brighton Rockers. You can still catch her (clipboard in hand) at derby bouts in Sussex, but she’s become increasingly in demand for NSO duties further afield. One of a handful of UK officials with a Level 2 WFTDA Certification, Pettichoke recently acted as Division Head NSO for the South West in the Heartland Series, the tournament that is giving birth to next year’s British Championships. This weekend she’ll be in Texas as part of one of the six NSO crews keeping the World Cup on track. Bombshells and sometime Rockers ref Danger Russ, who head reffed Heartlands South West, is also present on a different NSOing crew, and we believe some members of the announcing team – such as Seaside Siren Mother Mercy – are no strangers to Haywards Heath either.

WC14_2

OPPONENTS ON TRACK
Whilst none of Brighton’s small roster of players are taking part in this weekend’s tournament, some of the skaters who are will be familiar to fans as players the Rockers have faced on track in recent years. Of the thirty teams taking part, 17 are European and the majority of these will contain at least one person to have played against Brighton. Further afield, the same is true of Team West Indies, although the fact that most of their squad is UK based/born might be a factor there! Indeed, Bash’s alma mater and close friend league of Brighton, the London Rockin’ Rollers play a major role in TWI, with Jack Attack benching and Inside Line editor Rammit captaining the side alongside a further three LRR players. The West Indies player to have met the Rockers most recently on track is Croydon’s Polly Filla, who took part in July’s epic derby derby at the Dolphin.
    So which World Cup team features the most people who have played against the Rockers in open door competition? The logic of geography would suggest England, but we’re pretty sure that’s not the case. A whopping 70% of England’s twenty woman squad come from a single league, the fearsome London Rollergirls. Although Brighton have faced LRG’s B- and C-teams on track, most of their England contingent were already ensconced in the A-team at the time. Half of England’s non-LRG players have played the Rockers in Haywards Heath this year [Middlesbrough duo Terri Sudron and Ellie Storey plus Rainy City’s Fay Roberts], but we’re still only looking at five or six players in total from the national squad. There’s a similar number in the French squad, with many of the small roster that Paris Rollergirls brought to Sussex in March present in Team France – including diminutive jammer Hooligan, probably our favourite opposition starhead of 2014. Belgium could have been in with a shout too, but a planned Rockers’ rematch with the country’s top side Go-Go Gent is yet to take place, and very few of Gent’s sizable WC contingent took part in the previous (March 2012) game.
    As far as we can tell, none of the Welsh squad have played against Brighton. We think the same is true of Norway, Sweden and Denmark, with only Bristol’s The Blizzard keeping Finland from a similar tally. The Rockers have previously said that several Scandinavian leagues are on their wishlist of future opponents, so these sides could be worth keeping an eye on. Elsewhere, the Dublin Rollergirls are one of only two teams [Cambridge Rollerbillies being the other] that Brighton have met both home and away. With five of the players they faced in the Ireland squad, alongside other opponents from Leeds, Central City and Glasgow, a grand total of eight of the Irish twenty have gone up against the Rockers. The Emerald Islanders will have to settle for second place in this contest, though. Brighton players probably don’t want reminding of their two trips north of the border last year, but the strength of the two teams they faced – UKRDA ranked #1 Auld Reekie and #2 Glasgow – is clear from the fact that a whopping fifteen of Scotland’s WC twenty come from those two sides. At least ten of these played against the Rockers, as has LRG’s Sarah Oates. With more than half of their squad having met Brighton on track, we therefore declare Scotland as the WC team the Rockers (kinda) know best. Whether this means you should support the Tartan Army, or indeed the exact opposite, we’ll leave up to you…

WC14_3

GROUP ONE (New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Wales)
We expect that at least one well known Rocker will be cheering for NZ in this group. The Kiwis finished 8th in 2011 and the other three sides are all World Cup newcomers. South Africa are the most unknown quantity here. Roller derby is less well developed in Norway than in some nations, with only a couple of teams of note, but the national side have also drawn on players from the likes of LRG and Texas here. A lot of people in the Welsh derby community were surprised Wales couldn’t get a team together for 2011, so they’ll certainly be chomping at the bit in their first appearance on the world stage.

GROUP TWO (France, Switzerland, Brazil, Portugal)

Paris Rollergirls spend much of their time playing leagues in European powerhouse nations England and Germany, with somewhat variable results – thumping victories one minute, last jam losses the next. With PRG players forming the backbone of Team France, the national side will be looking for more consistency if they are to improve on their 7th place finish at the last World Cup. They shouldn’t have a problem making in through the group stage – only Brazil have previous WC experience, finishing 12th in 2011. The presence of two Portuguese speaking nations should prove for interesting rivalry and on track banter.

GROUP THREE (Sweden, West Indies, Japan, Chile)
By far the most interesting group geographically. Will the differing cultures these teams represent lend themselves to differing styles of derby? Sweden finished 6th in 2011 and are hoping to better that here. A lot of people are wondering if Team Japan can win the hearts and minds of the crowd the way their men’s team did earlier this year. They’ll have competition in the crowd favourites’ stakes from the West Indies. The Caribbean islands are largely represented here by skaters from the London Rockin’ Rollers and Birmingham Blitz Dames – the latter’s home venue hosted this year’s inaugural Men’s Derby WC, and one wonders if that will give them any advantage in dealing with the atmosphere and energy of such a global tournament.

GROUP FOUR (Finland, Scotland, Colombia, Mexico)

The Finns finished 5th last time out and will be hoping to continue their record as the top Scandinavian side. [Actually Finland isn’t technically part of Scandinavia, but you know what we mean.] The Rockers-bashing Scots are coming into this tournament on a wave of confidence. At league level, Glasgow Roller Derby and Edinburgh’s Auld Reekie have a strong hold the top two spots in the UK derby table, with only LRG and Stockholm above them in the Euro rankings, and the national side have had a lot of strong wins recently. They’ll be looking to improve on their 11th place from 2011, but neither Colombia or Mexico will be anyone’s pushovers.

WC14_4

GROUP FIVE (Australia, Italy, Belgium, Greece)
The Aussies took 4th place at the last World Cup and should be confident of a similar finish this time around. Melbourne’s Victorian Roller Derby are one of only two non-North American leagues to have penetrated Division 1 of WFTDA. They were narrowly edged out by LRG in the Championship quarter finals, although they have since overtaken the Londoners in the rankings, With VRDL’s bench coach and a cluster of their players in this Australia squad, they certainly have top level experience in their ranks. Amongst those cheering the Aussies on from a sofa in Sussex will be Rockers star Racey. The three European sides here are fairly unknown quantities, although Belgium has the stronger local leagues.

GROUP SIX (England, Germany, Ireland, Spain)

This is the only all-European group and features three sides that finished in the Top Ten in 2011. England took third then and will be looking to go one better this time. Many had tipped Germany to take the third place going into the tournament, based on the strong European showing of leagues like Bear City and Stuttgart, but they had to settle for 9th. That was just one place above Ireland, which suggests the battle for the second qualifying place in this group could be amongst the most intense in the tournament. A fair few Rockers hail from Ireland, so we can expect the likes of Maidenderry and Irish Mist to be cheering on their countrywomen. Our fanzine advertiser Mr Séamus will too – especially as we’ve promised him his next ad for half price if Ireland qualify for the knockout stages.

GROUP SEVEN (Canada, Argentina, Denmark)
The two top seeds have the benefit of one less opponent in the group stages. Canada finished second in 2011, but lost quite heavily to England in France in February – a match that England star Missy Rascal missed her league Rainy City’s away game v Brighton to take part in. They should walk this group stage, however. Argentina finished last out of the thirteen teams in the previous World Cup, but their men’s team were the breakout stars of this year’s Men’s WC and the women will be hoping to emulate that. Denmark, largely built around players from Copenhagen Roller Derby, won’t be making things easy for them though.

GROUP EIGHT (USA, Puerto Rico, Netherlands)
We’re not saying it’s inevitable that the USA will win all their WC games by 300+ points, but it would be a big surprise if they didn’t. The world’s top derby nation by quite some way (home to almost 90% of WFTDA’s Division One leagues) are locked on to repeat their 2011 tournament victory. The other two sides are new to the World Cup. The Netherlands isn’t as strong a derby nation as some would expect – its top ranked side Amsterdam place well below a couple of leagues from neighbouring Belgium, for example – whilst Puerto Rico, whose people recent voted to become the 51st state (something the US has yet to agree on), are a real unknown.

WC14_5

KNOCKOUT STAGES
We’re not going to try and guess the group standings here, as there are sure to be at least a few upsets along the way, but we will point out a few match-ups we’d like to see. Firstly, should the West Indies finish second in their group they would almost certainly meet England in the first knockout round. This would provide an interesting situation where almost everyone on track skates for an English league! The way the tournament is structured, with a re-seeding of teams for the quarter finals, means a lot of the more interesting potential match-ups (such as Sweden v Finland or Australia v New Zealand) are highly unlikely. One very logical sequence of results would see England meeting New Zealand in the quarter finals – three years too late for the Family Bash. The closest game could well be Canada v England – in all likelihood these teams will meet in the semis and juke it out for the honour of being roundly hammered by Team USA in the final. We’ll know soon enough.

MEANWHILE, IN BRIGHTON…

Although all eyes in the derby world are on Dallas this weekend, there’s still plenty to get excited about in the world of the Brighton Rockers. Last week, for instance, the league officially became a Limited Company with a five woman board of directors. This is a necessary prerequisite for quite a lot of exciting things in the world of international derby, fundraising and more, so let’s see what develops in the coming months and years. The divisional structure for the 2015 British Championships (a national league pyramid) is being announced in the next few days. We’re expecting Brighton to feature in the Southern section of a second tier here – even if we’re right, we still have only a remote idea of who they’ll be up against. That will all become clear this week, with the full 2015 Champs fixture list due to follow a week or two later. Meanwhile, keep an eye on this website next week for a report on Brighton’s recent trip to play Manchester Roller Derby. Don’t use up all your screaming and cheering on this weekend’s World Cup. Save some for the Rockers’ upcoming Championship season, yeah…

[Photos by John Hesse]

LINKS
WORLD CUP SITE: http://rollerderbyworldcup.com/
SCHEDULE: http://rollerderbyworldcup.com/schedule/
LIVE STREAM: http://rollerderbyworldcup.com/live/
BRITISH CHAMPS: https://www.facebook.com/BritishRollerDerbyChamps