Block Hop: Bourne Bombshells v Basingstoke Bullets preview

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Following on from August’s bout against Croydon Vice Squad, the Bourne Bombshells are back in action on home wood this Saturday 9th November with first whistle at 4.30pm at Hastings’ Summerfields Leisure Centre. The opponents for the mighty Bombshells at this – only the second home open door in their history –  are Hampshire’s Basingstoke Bullets. Regarded as each other’s ‘best friend league’ the two teams have met several times on track before; a mixture of closed door bouts, scrimmages and tournament play in the sunshine at Eastbourne Extreme.

The Bombshells have a slight edge in terms of past results, and the main derby ranking siste (flattrackstats.com) rates the Eastbourne league as 173rd in Europe with 524.6 rankings points. Basingstoke have 487.2 ranking points and occupy 264th place. The web site’s (to be taken with a pinch of salt) online result predictor gives the Bombshells an 86% chance of taking the win, compared to 14% for the Hampshire league. The site’s predicted score ratio of 47:29 equates to a typical bout score in the region of 141-87 in Eastbourne’s favour.

Has the prediction algorithm got it right? Find out by snapping up your tickets now for a bargainous £5 plus small booking fee.
TICKETS: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/event/7408722689
MORE INFO: https://www.facebook.com/events/543790472367768/

Doors are at 4pm, the leisure centre’s only seven minutes walk from Hastings train station (Coastway East trains are not affected by the engineering work blighting several Sussex lines that day), there’s a licenced cafe on site and an after party to follow. The day’s theme is 50s hop/rockabilly, with fancy dress encouraged. We caught up with a member of each team to find out more about what to expect from the bout:

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ROCKY BASHOVA (BOURNE BOMBSHELLS)
http://bournebombshells.wix.com/bombshells

The Bombshells staged their first home open door bout a few weeks ago (v Croydon’s Vice Squad). How did that go, organisationally etc? It must have been a big milestone in the league’s history.
Absolutely, a huge and very exciting milestone! I think once you’ve run Eastbourne Extreme two years running, everything else is easy though. We have a few amazing core team members who do a vast amount of organising and preparation – I thank them humongously for this – and the rest of us run around on the day helping to keep everything running smoothly. It was great having announcers and a real public audience, and of course our own proper after party, which I am assured we did all the winning at.

Since then, you’ve been keeping busy with a few closed doors and many players taking part in mixed scrims. Have you progressed much as a league since the Vice Squad bout. Do you have any new skills or tactics to unveil against Basingstoke?
I think we learned more then we realised playing against the Vice Squad. I personally think we have progressed more between that game and now then we had in the few months leading up to our first home bout. We’ve really renewed our focus and completely revamped the way we play in bouts. I couldn’t possibly spill info about skills or tactics before a game, but anyone who saw us play the Bristol B team a couple of weeks ago would have seen it was a very different game to that which we’ve played before. We’ve all been putting in a lot of track time at the closed doors and mixed scrims to really get our heads into it, and I think as a team we have really started gelling and working together so much better.

You’ve played the Basingstoke Bullets quite a few times before, and they’re seen as something of a ‘sister league’ to the Bombshells (and not just because of the matching BB initials!). You must know them quite well. Are there any particular players or tactics from Basingstoke that people at the bout should keep an eye out for?
We love the Bullets! They are all so lovely. Like us, they seem to develop each time we meet or see them, and I know they have been playing a lot more since we last met up at Extreme. I always watch out when PoSin Cherry is jamming, she’s brilliant! We caught a bit of a glimpse of Dropkick No Mercy and Little Miss Mischevil at a mixed scrim last weekend, so we know everyone has been training their sweaty skate socks off. I’m excited to see what new skills and tactics they will bring to the table since we last met up.

Similarly, for anyone coming along to Block Hop who might not have seen the Bombshells before, are there any particular Eastbourne players or tactics to look out for?
All of us! Watch out. We really do have a great collection of players, all with their own strengths and special skills. Coach/captain Toxic Block Syndrome aka Scary Shiny Helmet likes to hit and hit hard! Bullet Bomber is super quick and super nippy. Smash’er Fierce is just brutal, and Dreaded Shortcake will never give up. I could go on. I think we have such a great diversity of players everyone will be able to pick their own favourites. Then make sure you come to our next bout bearing posters, T-shirts and cakes with your favourite Bombshells on! (We will happily eat cakes with our own faces on.)

Are you expecting a tough bout? Would you like to predict the result/score?
I think you should go into every bout expecting it to be tough. I think mental attitude is a huge factor in playing well, and we desperately want to show the home crowd how awesome we really are. I would love to come out with a convincing win, via a well matched toughly fought bout.

Finally, what advice can you give to anyone watching roller derby for the first time at Block Hop, who might be a bit bewildered by what’s going on? Any tips/advice for anyone in the crowd who might want to give the sport a go themselves?
Absolutely let yourself get swept up in the spirit and enjoyment of the game. Cheer, shout, scream and wave your arms about! If you have absolutely no idea what is going on, there is always someone in a roller derby crowd happy to explain, and we usually have a little ‘how derby works’ demo in our programme. If you’re still lost at half time I recommend accosting one of the sweaty girls in skates (usually in the toilets, as that is what happens at bouts!). We run newcomer programmes a couple of times a year called ‘Fresh Meat’ which we advertise on Facebook and on our website, so keep an eye out. Anyone is welcome to get in touch at any time – we take on players, refs, NSOs (Non Skating Officials), women, men, dogs and bakers (we like animals and cake). The guys team have called themselves Bomb S’Quad, and they’re looking for new members as well. They have just taken part in their first mixed public bout and they all have the derby bug. Roller derby really is an amazing sport, played by all kinds of people with all kinds of skills and lots of dedication. It’s fun to watch, better to play and completely amazing to be a part of. We look forward to meeting you all!

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DROPKICK NO MERCY (BASINGSTOKE BULLETS)
http://www.basingstokebullets.moonfruit.com/

For anyone who might not be aware of the Basingstoke Bullets, can you tell us a little about the league’s history and achievements to date? What plans do you have going into 2014 and beyond?
The Bullets were initially formed under a different name, but when the full group of skaters (most of whom are still with us) got together we renamed. We have been together since summer 2011. None of us knew much about derby. Billie Horrorday our coach had just moved from Plymouth where she used to skate with PCRG, and PoiSin Cherry we poached from Roller Hockey. We skated outdoors for a few months as we really struggled to find an indoor venue. 2013 has been massive year for the Bullets with our first closed door, the Eastbourne Extreme tournament and hosting our first open door bout. 2014 is shaping up to be a fun and busy time for the Bullets.

You’ve met the Bombshells a few times before, and are something of a ‘sister league’ to them. Does that make you extra keen to get one over on them?
We love our sister league! But it’s our turn to win. We always have a good time because they are the loveliest team of people. We may hit them a lot on track, then hug a lot off track.

Are there any particular Bombshells players or tactics that you’re wary of? Who do you expect to be the biggest threats in their side?
We know most of the players really well, so that should go in our favour. A few of us scrimmaged against a few Bombshells last weekend at an Oxford Wheels of Gory mixed scrim. After watching this years Sur5al, I know Bullet Bomber and Toxic Block Syndrome are really strong players. The PhilosoFear’s backwards blocking can really hold up jammers.

Are there any particular Bullets players or tactics people in the crowd should keep an eye out for?
I can’t share tactics. As for players we get quite a mix of after game awards for MVP, Best Jammer and Best Blocker. We’re using a bench and line up that we haven’t publicly bouted with before, but we have every faith in them.

Would you like to predict the result/score?
If we keep focused we can play really well, and hopefully we will come away with a win.

Do you have a message for any Basingstoke fans in the crowd at Hastings?
Cheer loudly with Bullet pride!

[Photos by John Hesse]

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