LIVE DERBY OUTDOORS – Two Rockers Teams At EASTBOURNE EXTREME This Saturday!

The mighty Rockers have a super busy summer ahead. On August 5th they will be skating in the Brighton Pride parade. On July 22nd (Saturday week) they’ll be hosting a special fundraising music and quiz night at the Latest Musicbar – see the links below for details. Before both of those events, however, this very weekend they will be taking part in Eastbourne Extreme. Europe’s only outdoor roller derby tournament takes place over two days (Saturday and Sunday) on Eastbourne seafront. This year the Rockers A-team and B-team will both be in action on the Saturday. That’s this Saturday, July 15th.

The B-team Rockerbillies kick off proceedings with a game against a specially formed Eastbourne Extreme Team (players from a variety of leagues) at the early hour of 10am. The A-team Rockers AllStars will take on Eastbourne Roller Derby’s Bourne Bombshells at 4pm. In between there are games featuring Eastbourne’s men’s, juniors and co-ed teams, with two sevens tournaments (women’s and open to all) on the Sunday. See the flyer halfway down this preview for the full schedule.

The event takes place on public sports courts at Fisherman’s Green on Eastbourne seafront, roughly halfway between the Pier and Marina. Admission is totally free for spectators, with toilet facilities and food outlets close by. You can bring in your own booze etc – there’s a Spar, Tesco Express and Co-op about four minutes walk inland – and sun cream is advisable. There’s a ticketed after party (£8) right by the derby venue on the Saturday, whilst Sunday’s (free entry) is at the Crown & Anchor pub near the Pier.

Trains from Brighton to Eastbourne are at 32 and 52 past on Saturday. The 32 is much faster (takes half an hour) but is usually only two carriages and can get quite busy, so arrive early for a decent seat. A day return is £7.20 with a railcard or you can get the number 12 bus (which takes much longer) for £6.50 return. The venue is around 25 mins walk from the train station. Point your map app at BN22 7AA. There’s a big car park adjacent (£4.80 all day) as well street parking on inland side streets.

PREDICTIONS AND THAT
[Skip this section if you don’t want to know how the prediction sites expect these games to go.] Since the Rockerbillies are facing a challenge team specifically created for the event, we have no way of predicting the result of that one. As for the Rockers v Bombshells contest, using the UKRDA rankings on Flattrackstats the Rockers (23rd place on 595.0 points) are huge favourites over the Bombshells (58th on 422.7). Brighton are given 98% chance of victory with a 26:5 differential working out as something like a 260-50 Rockers win. The European rankings on FTS have the Rockers 72nd (593.4 pts) and Bombshells 233rd (479.3). Using these figures the prediction drops slightly to 95% chance of a Brighton win, with a 29:10 differential suggesting a 232-80 type scoreline.

The Scottish Roller Derby blog’s worldwide rankings (Brighton 383rd, Eastbourne 1109th) suggest pretty much the same as Flattrackstats. It should be pointed out, however, that this will be the first outdoor game for most of the Rockers, whereas Eastbourne have hosted and played in a number of games at this venue already this summer. The prediction algorithms are geared up for traditional sports hall games, rather than the variables that outdoors and tarmac bring into the mix, so we’re expecting a much closer game. But what do the Rockers expect? Let’s find out…

RACEY – BRIGHTON ROCKERS

Last month’s trip to Ireland resulted in two Rockers wins: 173-157 v Limerick and 453-65 v Belfast. That Belfast result is Brighton’s biggest points haul and margin of victory EVER. What are your thoughts on those games (and the trip overall) and were you expecting such a big win?
Aren’t we the best!? Still on a massive high from that weekend. We knew Limerick was going to be the tougher game, so to get that win under our belts first meant we were on cloud nine. We went into the Belfast game super confident. We had been working really hard for months on our defensive walls and offence. To see it all come together brilliantly in those games was so satisfying. The weekend as a whole was cracking; we managed to survive our murder house accommodation and snagged the only hot sunny weather Ireland has seen since 350BC.

This Saturday sees both the A-team and B-team in action outdoors at Eastbourne Extreme. The Rockerbillies face a mixed league opposition at 10am. Any thoughts?
I’m expecting big things from our Rockerbillies! Their skills have really developed over the past few months especially, and they are now playing at a really competitive level. One of their major strengths, I think, are their derby brains; they are super switched on when it comes to tactics and reading the game.

The A-team face the Bourne Bombshells at 4pm in probably the highest profile game of the entire Extreme weekend. What are you expecting from that contest?
I don’t really like to go into games with any expectations. I just want us to play our best game and the results will be what they will be. We haven’t played Eastbourne in a very long time, and most of us haven’t skated Extreme before so it is a bit of an unknown. They are our derby neighbours though and we know each other well so it is going to be a fun game to play for sure.

How does playing roller derby outdoors on tarmac differ from games in sports halls?
Well, I’ve skated outdoors a whole bunch of times, but never actually played derby outside. I’ve been wanting to play Extreme for a long time to have a chance to try it out. I imagine sharp stops are going to be interesting. I know we get to wear sunglasses, which is fabulous.

What are your expectations for Eastbourne Extreme in general (both on and off track)?
I’ve been to Extreme a bunch of times and it is always such a great day out. Sunshine, skating, seafront – what else could you want?

[Photo by John Hesse]

LINKS
EASTBOURNE EXTREME 15TH & 16TH JULY
FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1124805250982415/
BRIGHTON ROCKERS FUNDRAISER 22ND JULY
FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/286286108483695/

A Munster Calls – The BRIGHTON ROCKERS Face LIMERICK And BELFAST In Ireland This Weekend!

The mighty Brighton Rockers A-team are in action this weekend over in Ireland. They will be facing Limerick Roller Derby and Belfast Roller Derby in a three-team mini-tournament at the UL Sport Centre in Limerick tomorrow, Saturday 17th June (doors at 11am). Should you fancy a trip over, Shannon airport is nearby, but this late in the day even the budget airlines are far from budget – expect to pay £300-ish return. The cheapest accommodation option is probably Troy Self-Catering Village, about ten minutes walk from the venue, at around £30 a night. Or for fancier folk, Brennan Court Guesthouse is right next door to the sports centre at £60 a night.

PREDICTIONS AND THAT
[Skip this paragraph if you don’t want to know how Flattrackstats expects these games to go.] Unfortunately the European rankings bit of the FTS website, which we were going to use to predict all three games, isn’t working at the moment. We can predict two of the matches using other rankings systems. Belfast place 18th in the UKRDA with 610.1 points, some way ahead of Brighton in 23rd (595.0). Averaging out home and away predictions for the neutral venue gives 62% chance of a Belfast win, with an expected differential of 10:9 working out as something like a 200-180 loss for the Rockers. Limerick place 203rd in WFTDA on 564.9 points, with Belfast 348th (458.1). The hosts are given a whopping 98% chance of the win here, an expected differential of 13:4 equating to circa a 260-80 home win. The Limerick v Brighton game can’t be predicted right now as the European rankings are offline – we’ll add it when we can. Meanwhile, let’s catch up with a Rocker ahead of the tournament…

MISTRESS – BRIGHTON ROCKERS BENCH COACH

The event in Haywards Heath last month saw a big win for the A-team over Hell’s Belles (345-136). What do you recall of that game and the B-team’s narrow loss (187-202) to Suffolk Bees?
Both games were very exciting for us and the crowd. The Rockers have been working so hard for the last year and we’re thrilled that it’s paying off. Hell’s Belles were fantastic competitors; they made us push for every point and it was a pleasure to share the track with them. On an even brighter note, the Rockerbillies have been a real inspiration for us. Their determination and spirit shows more and more with every game. Unfortunately this one was a loss, but only by a dozen points, and they were fighting until the very end. I’m so incredibly proud of them.

This Saturday (17th June) the A-team are heading over to Ireland for a three team tournament in Limerick. The Rockers’ previous trip to the Emerald Isle (Dublin in 2012) has become the stuff of legend. What are you expecting this time around?
Legendary is definitely the right word for that Dublin trip, and our first venture to Limerick will be a great experience for us. We get to play two amazing teams, including Belfast, where the one and only Finn McCruel got her derby start. We’ve got a solid roster of strong, smart players and we may even have a few tricks up our sleeves. It’s going to be a tough back-to-back challenge, but we’re up for it. We’re so excited to experience the wonderful Irish derby hospitality again, and no doubt there will be stories that become the stuff of legends (at least at the after party!).

You’ll be facing hosts Limerick Roller Derby and Belfast Roller Derby. Any thoughts re those teams? Are there extra challenges involved in playing two games straight after each other?
The rankings are fairly close, and we’ll certainly be keeping that in mind; but we’ll be coming in with our game, and I have confidence that with our teamwork we can make some great things happen. To be honest, I’ve not seen either opponent play. Both games are going to be tough and we always love to learn from new teams – we expect a run for our money!

You’re hosting a fundraising night on July 22nd at the Latest Musicbar. What can people expect from that event and what are you raising money for?
The event was supposed to be held last week as a fundraiser for our trip to Ireland, but we ran into venue issues and had to reschedule. So now we’re hoping that lots of Rockers supporters will come to help us celebrate and refill the kitty in July, so we can keep doing what we do. We’ve got a fun quiz (hosted by yours truly), great bands and some extra special surprise merch for the night, as well as classic Rockers after party games. It’s going to be SOME night.

Finally, do the Rockers have much planned for the remainder of 2017?

We’ve got a pretty full summer ahead of us! On Sunday, whilst the A-team are away, the Rockerbillies are raising money skating the South Coast Roll – a whole marathon on skates! Check out the link below to sponsor them. We’ll be taking part in Eastbourne Extreme in July, skating Proudly in the Brighton Pride parade in August, and arranging some incredible games for the autumn. There’s so much to look forward to!

LINKS
JUNE 17TH IN LIMERICK: https://www.facebook.com/events/1363738197050969/
JULY 22ND FUNDRAISER: https://www.facebook.com/events/286286108483695/
SOUTH COAST ROLL: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/Brighton-Rockerbillies

ROCKERS vs BELLES and BEES – Looking Ahead To This Sunday’s Derby Action!

The mighty Brighton Rockers are back in action in Haywards Heath this Sunday (14th May). The A-team recovered from their heavy loss at home to Vienna in March, thumping Portsmouth away a few weeks later to get back most of the ranking points they’d shed since the start of the year. They will be taking on the Hell’s Belles from Hertfordshire at 2.35pm on Sunday, with the B-team Rockerbillies facing Suffolk Bees (the Suffolk Roller Derby B-team, obvs) at 4.55pm. Doors are at 2pm and tickets are available online from the link at the bottom of this piece, priced £10 adults, £8 students, free for under 12s. There will be tickets available on the door, but the special 4-for-the-price-of-3 deal is online only.

The venue is the Dolphin Leisure Centre. Car users should point their Sat Navs at RH16 1LY, while it’s only five minutes walk west from the train station. This being a Sunday, engineering work means there are fewer trains to Haywards Heath than usual, just two an hour from Brighton (and a couple more via Hove). The pub outside the station, the Burrell Arms, is OK for a pint or two, and the nearest ATM is at the big Sainsbury’s halfway between the venue and station. Whilst the cashpoint is outside, should you need anything from the supermarket itself, bear in mind that it shuts at 4pm (ie before the end of the first game) on Sunday. Enough blather, have some stats…

FLATTRACKSTATS.COM PREDICTS
Skip these two paragraphs if you don’t like to know predictions ahead of a game. Having reclaimed most of their lost ranking, the Rockers A-team currently place 99th in Europe on 554.4 points. Hell’s Belles are not far behind in 102nd (553.9 points). FTS give Brighton 56% chance of victory here, with a 13:12 predicted differential suggesting something like a 195-180 home win. Switch to the UKRDA ranking system – which doesn’t factor in Brighton’s recent big losses to European sides – and the Rockers (24th) are given a whopping 86% chance of beating the Belles (38th). Predicted differential here is 29:16 which is a 232-128 type victory margin.

Moving on to the second game, the B-team Rockerbillies place 307th in Europe (454.9 ranking points), below the Suffolk Bees who are 279th (463.7). Home advantage almost bridges that gap, but not quite! FTS reckons this is going to be a close one, with the visitors given 51% chance of victory and the closest predicted differential we’ve ever seen: 78-77. That suggests something like a 234-231 away win. Yowsers! Now let’s hear from the teams…

“I used to know a bit about Hell’s Belles back in my days with the Milton Keynes Concrete Cows, but that was many years ago and a lot has no doubt changed. I’ve had the customary check on Flattrackstats and see that they’ve recently played against Rebellion. Now we lost to Rebellion by one point, whereas Hell’s Belles played them and lost by 204 points. Make of that what you will, I ain’t sayin’ nuffin’. The crowd should look out for Fellen E Assault and Cruelty Spree on track – this will be their first open door A-team game.”
KAPOW – BRIGHTON ROCKERS

“I know the Rockers are a driven and dedicated team. I’ll be watching out for all their players and tactics. I played one of my cherry poppers at Brighton when they played Hot Wheel, so it will be awesome to see how their game has changed in the last two years. The audience should look out for Candy CaneHer in the Hell’s Belles ranks – she’s a crowd pleaser!”
STINGS LIKE ABBIE – HELL’S BELLES

“The Rockerbillies face the Suffolk Bees. Predictions? Let’s just see what happens. Playing regular games for B-teams is super important for all areas of game development, from learning the rules to putting your skating skills into practice under high pressure situations.”
KAPOW – BRIGHTON ROCKERS

“Brighton are something of an unknown quantity. We’re really just looking forward to a fun day out, a new challenge and extending some Suffolk love out into Sussex (which is where I’m from originally).”
ASTERISK – SUFFOLK BEES

Don’t forget to pick up your free copy of our magazine Turn Left on the door – this one’s a special issue in which we talk to twenty former Rockers stars!

[Photo by John Hesse]

LINKS
FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1257070474390968/
TICKETS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/shop
ROCKERS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/
HELL’S BELLES: http://www.hertsrd.co.uk/
SUFFOLK: http://www.suffolkrollerderby.com/

THE SOUTH COAST DECIDER – Portsmouth Roller Wenches v Brighton Rockers Preview

This Saturday 25th March (ie tomorrow) sees the final instalment in what has become an almost three years long best of three series between south coast roller derby titans Brighton and Portsmouth. The action takes place at Havant Leisure Centre from 3.25pm (doors at 3) with the epic A-team decider up first, followed by a first ever open door meeting between the two leagues’ B-teams. Tickets are £7 (including booking fee) from the link at the bottom of this piece. Online sales close at midnight or you can pay £8 on the door tomorrow.

Havant is on the Brighton side of Portsmouth, so it’s a short trip of around an hour by road or rail. Car users should point their Sat Navs at PO9 2AY, whilst direct trains from Brighton are at 12 and 42 past the hour. A day return to Havant costs less than £9 with a railcard. Please note that the after party is at the Wave Maiden craft beer bar in Osborne Road, Southsea, around 20 minutes walk from Portsmouth & Southsea station. Anyone travelling by train who is thinking of hitting the after party would be well advised to spend an extra quid or so to get their ticket to Portsmouth & Southsea rather than Havant (breaking your journey is allowed).

Havant Leisure Centre (NB Google may try to trick you into going to the Horizon Leisure Centre in Waterlooville instead) is around seven minutes walk north of Havant station, set amidst various civic buildings as the name Civic Centre Road might suggest. Pubs in the area are generally a bit rough and ready – the best is probably the Parchment Makers (Wetherspoons) five minutes walk south west from the station, nine from the venue. Although it’s an away game this is actually the second closest roller derby venue to Brighton (after Haywards Heath), so we hope as many Rockers fans as possible can travel across for tomorrow’s games.

PREDICTIONS & PAST RESULTS
[Skip the next two paragraphs if you don’t like reading predictions before a game.] Portsmouth’s A-team currently place 22nd in the UKRDA on 597.3 points, with the Rockers a smidgeon behind in 24th (595.0). The prediction machine at flattrackstats.com gives the Wenches 57% chance of victory here, with an expected differential of 32:29 working out at something like a 192-174 home win. FTS also offers a prediction based on the Euro rankings, but given how spangled Brighton’s placing is after recent games against continental sides we don’t dare press the button for that!

We have to use Euro rankings for the B-team game though, and these suggest the Rockerbillies are in for a challenge. Portsmouth’s B-team place 157th on 516.1 points, with the Brighton Bs 362nd on 436.4. The hosts are given a 93% chance of victory here, with an expected differential of 55:23 working out at something like a 275-115 win for Pompey B. It’s worth noting that these B-team rankings are based on a small number of games – the home side’s last ranked match was around a year ago – so they’re probably not that great an indicator re tomorrow’s second string game.

We don’t just have the FTS computer for guidance when it comes to the A-team match-up. Do past results hold an indication of what to expect? The first public game between the two leagues was exactly two years and five months ago on 25th October 2014 in Havant. The final score then was Portsmouth 159 – Brighton 221. The two sides didn’t have long to wait for a rematch. This was a British Champs game in Haywards Heath on 11th July 2015 which saw the Wenches upset the odds to effectively relegate the Rockers from Tier 2 South. Final score: Brighton 150 – Portsmouth 215.

It’s notable just how similar the scores from those two games are. A lot of time has passed since the most recent match-up, but if past scores are anything to go by both leagues have reason to be confident. Brighton can point to the fact that they are the away team – both previous games saw away wins. The Wenches meanwhile have the upper hand overall, albeit by a tiny amount. The current aggregate score is Portsmouth 374 – Brighton 371. So how is tomorrow’s decider going to play out? Head on over to Havant Leisure Centre to find out. In the meantime, let’s hear what members of both leagues are expecting…

THE DUCHESS OF CRUTCHES – PORTSMOUTH ROLLER WENCHES

On the off-chance someone reading this doesn’t know of the Portsmouth Roller Wenches, can you give us a quick summary of your history and achievements to date?
We are a six year old UKRDA league and came up alongside Brighton as “south coast sisters”. We count our growing comprehensive Fresh Meat program as one of our recent achievements, alongside spreading the word of roller derby in our local area through promotion of the league. We played two seasons in Tier 2 of British Champs but left the format to travel and play more European games. We are ranked in the top 12% of the European table and we’re big in Japan.

What are you expecting from Saturday’s A-team game against the Rockers? Care to predict the result?
I don’t think past Wench/Rocker results will be any indicator of what’s to come tomorrow. Both teams have evolved and changed so much since they last met. I can predict that both teams will want it and both teams will fight for it.

Being an hour apart on the coast the two leagues presumably know each other fairly well. Any particular Brighton players or tactics you’ll be looking out for tomorrow?
We don’t have a tendency to give too much thought to individual players, just the big picture. We are familiar with the Rockers’ most recent game play as we were able to watch them play against Vienna earlier this month.

Similarly, any particular players or tactics the audience should look out for from the Wenches A-team?
Um, I obviously won’t be divulging anything specific tactically, only to say that what we have been working on is looking tight and right. I’m sure the audience will clock the marvellous new talent we have making their A-team home debuts in this game.

The day’s second game sees a first ever meeting of the Portsmouth and Brighton B-teams. How are you expecting that one to go?
I hope this will be a fun and fulfilling game for both B-teams. Our leagues have a lot of history and these skaters are the future of both the Rockers and Wenches, so I hope they carry on the tradition. Look out for some of our Bs who are also making their Wench home debuts.

Finally, for those Rockers fans travelling across to Havant on Saturday, what can we expect from your venue? And from the after party?
There will be fabulous merch stalls including Hoodlum Fang, Skate Station and more, along with great raffle prizes and baked goods. There will be a bar and food available upstairs at the sports hall, and if we’re all lucky our sponsor Nando’s Gunwarf will be sending the Nando’s Chicken along to cheer us on! The after party takes place in the best bar in Southsea, which is of course The Wave Maiden. We really hope everyone can join us after the games for some refreshing craft beer and delicious homemade food in this skater owned and operated pub. Chances are there will also be dancing and whisky slaps. Yes, this also happens to be my bar! 🙂



SKATE BUSH – BRIGHTON ROCKERS

Care to predict the result of Saturday’s A-team game against the Wenches?
We always enjoy playing Portsmouth – they are an amazing team with super strong players – but we’re gunning for the big win. We are working on getting our rankings back this year and this is a good place for us to start.

Being south coast neighbours you presumable know the Portsmouth league quite well? Any particular players or tactics of theirs that you’ll be looking out for?
We do know each other really well. We even trade players occasionally, eg Little Miss Demeanor :o) If they’re playing we’ll be looking out for people like Nina Nunchucks, Dropkick Molly and Valkyrie Pain – she’s a brutal blocker and jammer – but we’ve been practicing taking the big hits so we are ready for them all.

Any players or tactics to look out for from the Rockers in the A-team game?
We’ve been working really hard on our walls (nothing new there) but recently we’ve taken to being really flexible in the way we form them. We’ve always been an adaptive team but that’s really improved recently. Having Finn McCruel join us last year has really upped our blocking and offensive work – so watch out for some super strong walls and some killer offense.

Any thoughts on the first ever meeting of the Portsmouth and Brighton B-teams?
Our B-team is really strong at the moment. We’ve got some amazing new players coming up through the ranks and our crossovers are a force to be reckoned with. Watch out for Farmergeddon – she’s been teaching us some of Brawling’s tricks of the trade recently.

Hopefully as many Rockers fans as possible will make the short trip along the coast on Saturday. Any message for them?
We love you. It makes such a difference having our fans cheering us on and our fans are obviously the best – plus they help us smash the after party.

Finally, any other games/events (that you can tell us about) on the horizon for the Rockers in 2017?
Our next game is away to Norfolk Brawds in April and then we’ve got a few exciting games in the pipeline but nothing confirmed yet. We’ll announce the games when they’re confirmed on our website and Facebook page, so keep an eye out.

THERE’S ANOTHER PREVIEW OF TOMORROW’S GAMES (INCLUDING THE VIEWS OF OTHER BRIGHTON AND PORTSMOUTH SKATERS) ON PAGE 14 OF OUR LATEST FANZINE. CLICK HERE FOR THE ONLINE VERSION.

[Photos by John Hesse]

LINKS
TICKETS: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2858244
FB EVENT PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/1228722217209474/
FB AFTER PARTY: https://www.facebook.com/events/1368304253189741/
ROCKERS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/
WENCHES: http://www.portsmouthrollerwenches.com/

Turn Left Issue 19 Now Online

tl19_cover_small

The biggest Dolphin crowd in quite a while saw the Brighton Rockers A-team and B-team both suffering defeat at the wheels of a very impressive Vienna Roller Derby. The big crowd means we only have a couple of spare physical copies of our fanzine, which are headed for the flyers shelf in the Evening Star pub. Please note: The Star is currently closed for a refurb, our magazines will be in there shortly after it reopens on Monday week (13th). If you can’t wait (or get to Brighton) then just click on the cover image above to be propelled towards the online version of the mag. Inside you’ll find our biggest interview ever (with Shambolic and Finn McCruel), Rockers Head Ref LaserHammer on the recent changes to the rules, a preview of the upcoming away games in Porstmouth, and much more. Special thanks to all our lovely interviewees, photographers and awesomes advertisers including http://www.meadowyurts.co.uk/ http://www.turnleftderby.com/ and http://www.portsmouthrollerwenches.com/ Yay!

WHO Will RULE Under The NEW Rules… As VIENNA Waltz Into BRIGHTON?

vrdp

The mighty Brighton Rockers have their first home event of 2017 this Saturday 4th March at the Dolphin in Haywards Heath. Both the A-team and B-team will be action against their equivalents from Vienna Roller Derby. Tickets priced £10 adults, £8 students and free for Under 12s are available from the link at the bottom of this piece or on the door. There’s also a special online only deal of four adult tickets for the price of three, so round up some chums for a bargain price. Doors are at 2pm. If things follow the usual format of Rockers double headers we expect the A-team game first at around 2.30, followed by the B-team match at 4.30-ish.

If you’re one of the many who caught the Rockers in action for the first time at December’s exhibition game at the Corn Exchange, the venue in Haywards Heath is actually pretty easy to get to from Brighton. Drivers should point their Sat Navs at RH16 1LY – there’s parking at the leisure centre. A train from Brighton to Haywards Heath takes around fifteen minutes (£4.55 return with railcard) and the leisure centre is seven minutes walk west of the station. There’s a reasonable pub by the station (Burrell Arms) and a big Sainsbury’s on the way to the venue. There are ATMs at the station and Sainsbury’s but none at the leisure centre itself, so bring some cash for the bar and merch stands. Rail users from west of Brighton should note that the trainline between Brighton and Littlehampton is completely closed on Saturday, so allow a little extra time for a rail replacement bus to Brighton.

[Skip this paragraph if you don’t like to know predictions ahead of a game.] Brighton’s A-team didn’t have the best of starts to the year, going down to three heavy defeats in a tournament in Normandy at the tail-end of January. That has hit their ranking and is reflected in the Flattrackstats predictions. Vienna are rated 82nd in Europe on 565.5 points, whilst the Rockers place 113th on 536.2. The visitors are given 66% chance of victory, with an expected differential of 46:37 working out at something like a 184-148 away win. Vienna’s B-team place 252nd (472.4 pts) with the Rockerbillies 317th (449.5). The Vienna Beasts are given a 62% victory chance here, with an expected differential of 7:6 equating to something like a 175-150 win for Vienna B. It’s worth noting that Brighton are fielding full size squads (fourteen players) in both games, and we’re expecting them to fare far better than these predictions suggest.

This will be both leagues’ first open door games under the new WFTDA ruleset. The world governing body introduced no fewer than thirty rule changes two weeks ago, the biggest changes to the rules in around three years. See if you can spot what’s different on track. Or better still, pick up your free copy of our magazine ‘Turn Left’ on the door. Inside Rockers Head Ref LaserHammer talks us through the rules changes, whilst Finn McCruel and Shambolic look back on the last three months of games. The mag has full previews of not just Saturday’s games v the Austrian capital, but also the away trip to Portsmouth later in the month (Sat 25th) and much more. Enough blatant plugs for our tawdry zine, let’s hear from both leagues involved this Saturday…

“We’re going into the A-team game with a full roster and in theory, if we can do our magic, we can get all of our ranking back. We dropped down a lot because of results in Caen, but a good win over Vienna will put us back up there. So yeah, I’m hoping we beat them by a hundred points to get our old ranking back!”
SHAMBOLIC, BRIGHTON ROCKERS

“For the sake of harmony I would hope that both leagues win one game each. But as bench coach I really hope that Vienna Roller Derby wins both games. I leave the predicting to Flattrackstats and whatever they say is not written in stone either. It’s roller derby, so anything can happen!”
VENOM IN FURS, VIENNA ROLLER DERBY

[Photo by John Hesse]

LINKS
TICKETS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/shop
FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1249739501774598/
ROCKERS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/
VIENNA RD: http://www.viennarollerderby.org/

NORMANDY WISDOM – The ROCKERS Are Going To Give SLIP IT 4! What For

si4p01

The Christmas decorations are barely down, but this weekend sees the mighty Brighton Rockers playing three games overseas. By our reckoning it’s the earliest start to a Rockers season EVER – they usually wait until at least February before strapping on their skates in front of a crowd. The early start is due to the scheduling of the Slip It! tournament in Caen, Normandy. Brighton’s season began there last year, but the 2017 tournie is taking place nearly a month earlier than 2016’s…

Although Caen is literally just across the water from Brighton – set off swimming due South from the end of the Pier and you’ll end up thereabouts – it’s a bit of a mission to get to. Last year the team opted for the Dover-Calais ferry, misjudging quite how far they’d have to travel on the other side. The most direct route involves getting a ferry from Portsmouth to Caen itself, although the ferry port is actually around 10 miles away in Ouistreham. Last year BRATS opted for the Newhaven-Dieppe ferry, which is super cheap (£30 return for a foot passenger) but then involves a 2.5 hour train journey (£30 each way) on the other side. The SNCF timetable says change at Rouen, but it’s usually the same train for both stages of the journey.

Hotels in Caen are pretty cheap in the winter if anyone reading this fancies a last minute trip. The venue is the Halle Aux Granges, a chilly sports hall close to the Abbey in the West of the city centre. Tickets are 10 Euro for the whole weekend, free for under-12s, and available on the door. Brighton have two games on Saturday (against hosts Caen at noon and Amsterdam at 4pm local time) plus a game on Sunday whose opponents and timeslot depend on how they did the previous day. Last year’s Sunday night after party was pretty spectacular, and this year’s is in the same small bar (Au Chef Raide) close to Saint Pierre church in the centre of town. Sadly, circumstances mean BRATS can’t make this year’s event, but we are hoping someone there will be able to provide this site with a tournament report.

[If you don’t like predictions, skip this paragraph.] Flattrackstats.com have Brighton as by some way the lowest ranked team in Pool 2, placing 88th in Europe on 567.1 points. Hosts Roller Derby Caen (44th, 619.8) are given 86% chance of victory with a 42:23 differential suggesting they’ll beat the Rockers by about ten points more than last year’s 236-145. Amsterdam are ranked 40th (623.3) and – allowing for a neutral venue – have around 84% chance of victory with a 15:9 ratio suggesting something similar to the Caen result over Brighton. In Sunday’s playoffs the Rockers will play whichever Pool 1 team finished in the same place (1st, 2nd or 3rd) in the table that they did. Whether it’s Nottingham’s Hellfire Harlots (27th, 661.6), Helsinki’s Kallio B-team (35th, 632.8) or Roller Derby Madrid (60th, 599.9), Brighton will be facing a much higher ranked team for sure. Anything better than last year’s last place finish will be an awesome result for the Sussex side.

Can’t make it out to Normandy this weekend? Worry ye not. Roller Derby Caen will be streaming the tournament live on Facebook, so check out their page. Allowing for the time difference, Brighton are playing at 11am (v Caen) and 3pm (v Amsterdam) on Saturday, then at either 11am, 1.15pm or 3.30pm on Sunday. Now let’s hear from one of the Rockers ahead of the tournament…

si4p02

SHAMBOLIC – BRIGHTON ROCKERS ALLSTARS

Hi. The Rockers are kicking off their 2017 season the same way you began your 2016 one – by playing in the Slip It! tournament in Normandy. What are your recollections of last year’s tournie?
Apart from the twelve hours of driving it was a lot of fun! It was the first real tournament we had played (aside from the Alexandra Palace one dayer in 2013, which most of the current team didn’t play in) and really showed us the different styles of derby from around Europe. We had previously been playing a lot of more local teams who have similar styles, so the variation in Normandy made us learn to adapt to the games there fast. It was also quite intense playing games so close together. Caen are amazing hosts – that after party…!

Last year you took a fairly mixed squad, with quite a few prominent A-teamers missing and some players making their AllStars debuts. Will it be similar this time? Who should people look out for in the Rockers ranks?
Again we are coming with a small but mighty squad. Notably we’re missing Gin (obvs) but also Cake Or Death and Dr Whooligan. However we have brought up a couple of newer players who are handling it amazingly, such as Farmergeddon and Harriet Hotter, and I can’t wait to play with them on track. We only have thirteen players instead of a full squad of twenty, but it’s quality not quantity, right? Plus we have Finn – who could want more!

Your first game this Saturday is against hosts Roller Derby Caen. You lost 236-145 to them last year. What do you recall of that game and will you being doing anything different this time?
They are super solid and are a small league that play with a great hive mind. Their jammers are all smart, fast and strong. I remember being stuck in the bosom of Quinn Cardinal quite a lot. She is a one woman blocking machine!

Your other group game is against Amsterdam Roller Derby. Do you know much/anything about that team at all? What are your expectations for the game?
I’ve been wanting to play Amsterdam for AGES! It’s really hard to find any info on teams these days, and I’d rather not go looking too hard as you end up in that dangerous position of trying to play their game not yours. Our aim is to just adapt as we go. We have really mixed our packs around this time for ultimate flexibility and being able to adjust easily.

Depending on how you do on Saturday, you’ll face one of the following in Sunday’s play-offs: Roller Derby Madrid, Nottingham’s Hellfire Harlots, or the B-team of Kallio Rolling Rainbow (Helsinki). What do you know of those sides? Do you have one in particular you’d like to play against?

All of them! I’m so excited about the other teams, and interested to see how they cope in a tournament situation too. Never underestimate anyone. Kallio are obviously going to be strong as their A-team are incredible, but we have a couple of bits of Finland on our side too, shhhh!

Last year you finished sixth out of six – what are you hoping for this time around? Presumably you enjoyed the experience as you’re heading back. What are the benefits of playing in a tournament like Slip It! for the Rockers? And are you expecting another messy after party?

We want to learn. After last year we decided that our goal was to play more European teams, which we did, and I feel that really upped our game. I think our only weakness will be playing short, but we have a secret weapon (one loud blue-haired Canadian). It’s not about winning or losing as much as having fun and fulfilling our own personal goals. We also made some great friends last year, Eindhoven being our new BFFs. We’re going into this with great attitudes. And the knowledge that come what may, we are SMASHING that after party!

Finally, you’re playing against Vienna in Haywards Heath on March 4th. Any thoughts looking ahead to that game – and to 2017 in general?
The tournament is going to be a great warm-up for Vienna. We ended last year on a real high. I hope we can continue that into 2017. We also have some amazing players coming up, with our B-team becoming known for not only being the most fun to watch, but with some serious skill there too. Yeah it’s gonna be a good year all round!

[Photos by Vinciane Piérart aka NSP 189]

FACEBOOK PAGES (LIVE STREAM ON ONE OF THESE)
HOSTS: https://www.facebook.com/rollerderbycaen/
EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/371502006520486/

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

16rev41

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)

16rev42

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)

16rev43

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)

16rev44

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!

16rev31

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.

16rev32

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.

16rev33

“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.

16rev34

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)

16rev21

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.

16rev22

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.

16rev23

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.

16rev24

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.]