Heartland Series South East Game Day Six Preview

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RECAP: SOUTH EAST GAME DAY FIVE

Is it Heartland Series time again? Indeed so. The previous divisional game day took place at the end of July in Hemel Hempstead. Two teams sit out each of the first six game days, with only the final triple header (taking place in Wycombe on November 2nd) featuring all six of the South East sides. July’s Day Five saw the teams placed first and second, Milton Keynes and Big Bucks, sitting the day out. With those two unbeaten and pretty much locked-on to take the two South East spots in the cross-regional finals, the day provided an opportunity for the division’s other sides to jockey for position in the lower two-thirds of the table.

Us sensible Sussexites opt for a train to St Albans rather than Hemel itself, since even with the addition of a 25 minute bus ride between the two, we save two hours and a tenner each. The venue is close to a giant ‘magic roundabout’ (voted the UK’s second worst, or possibly second best if roundabouts are your ‘thing’) and a pub overlooking some village cricket. Given that the leisure centre itself is devoid of bars (for derby? for real?) we enjoy the distractions and roll up around the same time – just before first whistle – as the announcer, former Bombshells bench coach Sassy McAwesome. It’s mildly pleasing to see that less than 10% of the crowd here are wearing Arsenal football shirts – in the town centre that figure is closer to 80%.

It’s probably fair to say this game doesn’t go well for the Sussex side. Opponents the Norfolk Brawds put up a tough showing from the outset. Six jams in, the ‘shells are down 3-30 and their new bench manager is calling a first team timeout. With previous captain Swann and vice-captain Chunder Woman having departed earlier in the summer (to Brighton and Croydon respectively), a number of newer recruits now feature for the Sussex league. One of those, the sprightly Seoul Destroyer, goes down with a serious injury shortly after play resumes, and the Bombshells will pick up other knocks as the game goes on, further reducing their options.

With Philthy Delphia and Colletteral Damage jamming in big point tallies, and the likes of Teki Bomb and Short Circuit keeping a lid on the Sussex starheads. the Brawds continue building up a sizeable lead. Although Crash, Drag ‘N’ Fly and others pick up purple points here and there, the Norwich-based side dominate lead jammer status (hitting it five or six jams in a row on more than one occasion). Whilst Philosofear and Smash’er Fierce are amongst the blockers putting in battling stints for the Bombshells, their Norfolk opponents are proving a match for them, and the Brawds go on to take the game 201-73. Eastbourne probably win the “most booze smuggled into venue by fans and NSOs in the crowd” award, although this is the most underlit sports hall in the world (is this strip-lighting powered by candles?) so those golden cans could well be caffeine-free Diet Coke rather than Special Brew. Uh-huh.

The day’s second game sees hosts Hell’s Belles up against the Bedfordshire Rollergirls. Though Beds have battled hard throughout the Heartland Series, they prop up the South East divisional table with an unenviable points differential. It stands at minus 965 going into this game and is destined to sink further today. The Belles’ loss to Eastbourne a couple of months back was something of a surprise, being the only game to go against ranking expectations in this division so far, but the Belles coming within a dozen points of mighty Milton Keynes in February was equally surprising to many. These up and down results would suggest that HB “blow hot and cold” and if that’s the case, then today they’re on the Airblade rather than air con setting. The hometown side take a 160-20 lead over Beds into the half-time break.

Dolly Spartan, putting on a burst of speed to hop past on the inside line, is a standout jammer for the Belles, with Scarlett Heartless amongst their other high scorers. Screw Luce and Kookiekat put up decent enough numbers for Beds when she gets a chance, but the likes of Vera Off Track and Les Be Avenue are tough blockers to pass. Booty Vicious and Yoho are amongst Beds’ own fiercest blocking assets, but the Hemel side have the edge throughout. The Bombshells, meanwhile, not content with dominating the microphone (Chunder joining Sassy to make up an ex-BB commentating duo) also start busting out frankly terrifying dance moves in the crowd at half-time. We blame the Special Brew, sorry Diet Coke. It would take an almost ungodly combination of both to bring Bedford back into contention here, and the Belles take it 305-60 at the final whistle. An after party in what feels like a prison canteen follows. Still, we digress. This blog is supposed to be about today (Game Day Six) not last time out, so now it is. Interviews will follow. First, a few facts and predictions…

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PREVIEW: SOUTH EAST GAME DAY SIX

Today’s games – today is Saturday 27th September 2014, by the way, just in case things exist on the internet for longer than a day (we’re not aware that they do, or at least that’s our excuse for posting this so last minute, yeah) – take place at Wycombe Leisure Centre. The centre is less than ten minutes’ walk from High Wycombe train station and has plenty of parking spaces. Trains from Sussex will cost in the region of £35 and take about 2.5 hours, including a tube hop to Marylebone. Cars will take less than two hours, but will kill thousands of bees on the way or something (*waves eco flag*). It’s a surprisingly late start for a Heartland Series double header, with doors at 4.45pm. The Belles take on MK around 5pm, with the ‘shells v Big Bucks games scheduled for two hours later. Tickets on the door are a tenner for growed ups and free for under-12s. The after party is at Scorpios, close to the train station.

Expectations wise, MK and Big Bucks have won all their games to date, and barring a ‘miracle’ will be going through at the division’s representatives in the ‘national’ finals. Their exact placing (which presumably affects seedings for those finals) could well be decided on the final SE Game Day, which is back here in Wycombe on Sunday 2nd November. The pairings for that triple header (MK v Bucks, Brawds v Belles, Shells v Beds) were surely deliberately planned to see the closest ranked teams, as far as they could be predicted, face off for positioning (1st v 2nd, 3rd v 4th, etc). If that’s the case, then what’s at stake in today’s penultimate divisional Game Day? Quite a lot actually. Points difference is used to split sides that finish on the same points, and that goes both plus and minus of course. So it’s not important just to win by as much as you can, you also need to lose by as little. At least one of the SE Division teams will likely finish below a team they BEAT.

The prediction thingy at Flattrackstats calls the Big Bucks (19th in UKRDA with 579.2 ranking points) v Bourne Bombshells (36th, 440.6) game as a 99% win probability for the Bucks with a 58:13 expected differential. That would equate, in typical derby scoreline terms, to a 348-78 home win. The European rankings give Eastbourne a marginally better shout at 98% and 3:1 (eg 300-100) to BBHR. The predictometer isn’t designed for games at neutral venues, so for the MK Concrete Cows v Belles game we’ve split the difference between their respective home and away ‘calls’. We can also only use the European stats as the Belles aren’t in UKRDA. Milton Keynes rank 45th (604.5 points) with Herts 161st (521.7) and the predicted MK win percentage is around 95% with a 35:14 differential, similar to say a 280-112 win for the Cows. Still, all this stuff is just computerised guesswork, and who knows who things will play out on track?

Either way, as things stand right now MK and Big Bucks are both on 9 from 9 in terms of points, with each having played three games and won them all – as with football it’s three points per win and zero for a loss, with no drawn games in derby. They have +919 and +535 respectively in terms of scoreline differential, hence MK’s current first place. The Brawds are 6/12 with -136. Belles and Shells are both 3/9 with +178 and -279 on the board, and Beds are 0/12 on (eek!) -1,210. So the Hell’s Belles and Bourne Bombshells are probably playing for differentials today. Even if both lose, as most stat crunchers would suggest they will [PS stuff stats, we hope both of them win, what a final day that would make for], the amount they lose by becomes an issue. Eastbourne should statistically beat Bedford in their final game (although nothing is a given in derby) whereas Herts have a tougher contest against Norfolk. Thinking about all the possible permutations makes our brains hurt, to be honest, and that’s before we even get into all the other charts and tables – most jammer points, most blocker facepaint smudges, etc – which you can find on the Heartland Series web page. The 2014 South East Division has been a wild ride, and in some ways it’s only just gettin’ warmed up…

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BEAST UNLEASHED – BOURNE BOMBSHELLS

The Bombshells suffered a fairly heavy loss against Norfolk in your last Heartland Series outing. Did you learn much from that, and how are you adapting to your recent personnel changes?
Yes indeed. We’ve reviewed the game and looked at what needed improving. Unfortunately it was a very injury heavy game for us, but luckily everyone is healing up now. We’ve had some great feedback from our new bench coach, Max Rees. We’ve been concentrating on particular line ups working well together, so as to get the best from our squad, with the help of Max and new line up manager Aladdin Sane.

One of your newer skaters, Seoul Destroyer, unfortunately broke her elbow in the last game. How’s her recovery coming along?
She’s doing good. She’s in the second plaster stage now. It was a pretty nasty break. She was so hardcore though! Fingers crossed she heals fast, as she’s an amazing jammer.

You’re up against Big Bucks today. They’re one of the favourites to top the group. Do you know much about them, and have you got any new tactics up your sleeves?
I’ve played in a mixed scrim with a few from Big Bucks and we’ve seen the Heartland games they’ve already played. They’re a strong team with tough walls, and I’m definitely keeping my eyes peeled for Mrs Sparta and A-Cute Injury. I know they’re a tough side and we’re going to have our work cut out. We’ve really concentrated on getting the best from our line ups and increasing our endurance. We know we need to focus on our own game, but I can’t reveal any tactics and I wouldn’t like to predict the outcome. It’s going to be a tough game, possibly even our toughest yet, but we won’t give up without a fight!

The day’s other game sees Milton Keynes take on Hell’s Belles. How are you expecting that one to go?
I’d expect Milton Keynes to take that one, based on our own game against MK. Hell’s Belles are so lovely. Dolly Spartan is a fantastic jammer, so I’d definitely keep an eye out for her, and MK’s The Valkyrie and Bolshevik are amazing!

You’re currently fifth in the divisional table, behind Hell’s Belles on point differential. What’s your target for this Heartland campaign?
We’d love to finish fourth and I think it is possible. If we really work together we can achieve it. This is our first year in the Heartland Series and whatever the result, we’ve loved every minute of it.

Finally, any message for any Bombshells fans travelling up to the game in Wycombe?

Cheer loads! Eat cake!

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VARIOUS FOLKS – BIG BUCKS HIGH ROLLERS

Hi. Firstly, for anyone reading this who might not be aware of BBHR, can you tell us a little about your history to date?
We were formed in July 2011 and we smashed onto the scene with some fantastic results early on. Since then we have continued to grow and evolve into a tougher and stronger league. This shows in some of our results, such as beating Portsmouth Roller Wenches 227-161. Coming joint second with Tiger Bay Brawlers in last year’s Tattoo Freeze Sur5al was also a huge achievement for us, and certainly showed other leagues that we are here to be competitive and win games.

How has your Heartland Series 2014 campaign gone to date? What are you hoping for from the tournament? And what do you know of the Bombshells?

We have won all of our Heartlands games so far and we intend to continue that pattern all the way to the final! That’s not to say it’s been easy – Hell’s Belles shook us up and put us through our paces, and we learnt a lot about ourselves from that game. With every game we play we feel stronger and more ready for the next. Our hope and focus for this series is simple – to win! As for the Bombshells, we know they host an awesome annual event on the seafront, Eastbourne Extreme, which we LOVE.

Are there any particular Big Bucks players or tactics the crowd should look out for? Would you care to predict the result?
Every single one of our players are skaters to watch. We are a united force! As for tactics, watch out for us throwing hot dogs to the crowd to get them on side, and throwing banana skins on track Mario-style. (I guess you’ll just have to come along and see our tactics for yourselves.) In terms of the result, as this stage of the competition anything could happen, so you’ll have to buy a ticket to see how it all unfolds…

Any prediction for the day’s other game, Milton Keynes v Hell’s Belles?

If derby has taught us anything it’s to expect the unexpected. Hell’s Belles are a great team and are no doubt coming out to win. Milton Keynes are under pressure to hold on to the top spot as SE Division favourites, so either way I think its safe to say that we are all really looking forward to watching that game. It’s going to be intense!

Can you tell us a bit about your skating venue and the after party?

It’s a pretty large sports hall and there will be plenty of room for everyone, whether seated, standing, or in the danger zone at the front. There’s a bar in the hall and cafeteria upstairs, and there’s plenty of parking outside. There will be tables with merch from the various teams and local derby businesses, lots of cakes and of course a raffle. We are renowned for winning after parties, so hold on to your sweaty bout tops and get your bums over to Scorpios Bar near the train station for a HUGE knees up with all the Big Bucks girls. We will be out in force and hope you’ll all join us.

Finally, any other sights or activities in the Wycombe area you can recommend?

No trip to Wycombe would be complete without a trip to the famous Hellfire Caves, once home to members of the notorious Hellfire Club. The caves are said to be one of the most paranormally active locations in the world. If you dare you can spend an evening in them with the Ghostfinder Paranormal Society, but be warned, during the last ghost hunt members of the public experienced small stones being thrown at them, terrifying growls, temperature fluctuations, physical interactions, and the presence of shadowy figures – GULP!

[Photos by Daz Wilson and Rebecca Cornford]

LINKS

FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/859940017364435/
HEARTLAND: http://www.heartlandseries.co.uk/
LIVE SCORES: https://twitter.com/heartlandrd
BIG BUCKS: http://www.bigbuckshighrollers.co.uk/
BOMBSHELLS: http://bournebombshells.wix.com/bombshells
MK COWS: http://www.miltonkeynesrollerderby.com/
HELL’S BELLES: http://www.hertsrd.co.uk/
BRAWDS: http://www.norfolkbrawds.com/
BEDS RG: http://www.bedfordshirerollergirls.com/

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