British Championships Roller Derby returns to Sussex tomorrow (Saturday 2nd March) as Eastbourne Roller Derby’s Bourne Bombshells host Gameday 1 of Tier 3 South. The action takes place at the Dolphin leisure centre in Haywards Heath with doors at 1pm and admission a bargainous £5 on the door. The first game at 2pm sees Northampton’s Vendetta Vixens take on Guildford’s Surrey Roller Girls, followed by hosts Eastbourne up against Milton Keynes Concrete Cows at 4.15pm.
Car users should point their Sat Navs at RH16 1LY. Train folks should be aware that replacement buses are running from Lewes, Brighton and (for those coming from London) Three Bridges, so allow an extra half hour or so travelling time. The buses drop off outside Haywards Heath station, which is just seven minutes walk from the venue.
The leisure centre has vending machines and a licensed café in its foyer. The nearest ATMs are at the big Sainsbury’s halfway between the station and venue, and the pub opposite the train station (the Burrell Arms) is decent enough for any spectators wanting a pre-event drink. There will also be stalls and entertainment in the sports hall. Find out about those, as well as what to expect from the games, below…
PREDICTIONS AND THAT
[SPOILER ALERT: Skip to after the next photograph if you’re one of those people who don’t like to know predictions ahead of a game.] Tier 3 South of British Champs 2019 contains three teams from north of London and two from south of the capital. Milton Keynes are the best connected with their divisional opponents, being located at the midpoint of a 40 mile vertical line linking High Wycombe (home to Big Bucks High Rollers) with Northampton’s Vendetta Vixens. The southern duo, based in Guildford and Eastbourne, are 50 miles apart but know each other quite well, particular from outdoor games at Eastbourne Extreme.
Rankings wise, Big Bucks (69th in Europe) are by far the strongest of the five teams, so this gameday – which they sit out – gives the other four sides a chance to put some points on the board. In Saturday’s first game, averaging out home and away predictions for a neutral venue, Vendetta Vixens (226th in Europe) are given 65% chance of victory over Surrey (263rd). Predicted differential of 7:6 suggests something like a 175-150 Vixens win. Surrey edged the previous meeting of these two teams 164-140, but that was four years ago (both teams’ first game of the first ever British Champs in 2015) which is ages in roller derby.
In the second game, even with home advantage hosts Eastbourne (243rd in Europe) are predicted to come up a little short against the higher placed Milton Keynes (168th). MK are given 75% chance of victory here, with an expected differential of 25:18. That works out as something like a 175-126 MK win, pretty similar to the 177-119 result when these teams met in last year’s Champs. That’s what the prediction computer at Flattrackstats reckons anyway. What do the teams expect? See below…
EASTBOURNE ROLLER DERBY
Can you tell us a bit about your team’s history to date?
The Bourne Bombshells have been a team for over seven years. Six of our current roster (Bullet Bomber, Drag-N-Fly, Hell Block H, Lily Malicious, Smash’er Fierce and The PhilosoFear) played with the team back at the start. Last season we had our first junior Jazzaster age out of our New Bournes juniors to join the Bombshells. This season we have another junior, Jemma English, joining us the day after her 18th birthday in May.
What about your thoughts on British Champs?
We always really enjoy Champs. We returned last year after a season off. We had some really fun games which were all very hard fought. We finished middle of the table, which the team were really happy with. It’s exciting we have a few different teams in our Champs group this year. We have played them all at some point in the past apart from Vendetta Vixens. They will be our last game of the season and will be interesting as we have very little knowledge of their players and gameplay.
What are you expecting from Saturday’s game against Milton Keynes Concrete Cows?
We have played Milton Keynes a few times now. Every game has been a tough one as they have some very experienced players. They’re a really lovely team and we are looking forward to battling it out against them again. It will not be an easy game for us but it will be fun.
Any particular Eastbourne players the crowd should look out for?
Over the last year Lily Malicious has been jamming more for the team and is definitely one to watch, but I’m not going to tell you more about her jamming otherwise I may give away her secrets. InnsterSlam, our pocket rocket, is a double threat with excellent speed and agility when jamming and excellent track awareness pivoting. She is one to watch out for – that is if you can see her! The Bombshells are a team of players who have been together over a long period of time and it’s hard to select one standout blocker as they all work together so well to create solid walls. I’m sure the jammers on the opposing team will remember Smash’er Fierce and Jazzaster’s hits, though.
Any thoughts on the other teams in your Champs group?
It’s always interesting to see the other teams play against each other to see what new tactics they have, since teams and gameplay change so much from year to year. It will be nice to face Big Bucks again after a few years of not playing them, and we have never played against Surrey in a Champs game, so that’s going to be an interesting one too.
What else can we expect from tomorrow’s event?
We have a cake stall with delicious home-baked goods. The very awesome Roller Dirty Soaps will have a stall so make sure you take a look. There will be merch stalls from the teams. During the half-time of the first game we have the fabulous Sussex Supreme Baton Twirlers doing a performance. Then during the half-time of the second game we’ll have our raffle draw with merch and cash up for grabs.
Any words for the Eastbourne fans in the crowd?
Don’t forget to set aside the weekend of 13th & 14th July for Eastbourne Extreme. Planning is in full swing and the summer can’t come quick enough!
MILTON KEYNES ROLLER DERBY
Can you tell us a little about your history?
MKRD was founded in May 2010. In 2011/2012 we created The End of the World Series tournament for five local leagues in which we were undefeated. The EOWS led to The Heartland Series in 2013 and MKRD remained heavily involved in the organisation. This tournament then developed into the British Championships tournament that we know today.
What are your thoughts on Champs as a league?
We’ve loved playing British Champs and continue to do so. Seeing the growth and organisation of roller derby in the UK is amazing, and getting to play both new and familiar teams is really fun. We had a really enjoyable Champs season last year especially and hope to continue to have more fun in 2019. We’ve been working hard on our plays and tactics so will be looking to put those into practice.
Do you know much about the other teams in your division?
We’ve played Eastbourne a few times now and they’re a really fun team to play against and wonderful hosts, so we’re looking forward to Saturday. They have some really nippy jammers and powerful blockers so we’ll be looking to shut them down. Our division is looking really interesting this year. We know the Vixens quite well and they’ll be a force to be reckoned with! We haven’t played Big Bucks in ages and it’ll be interesting to see them on track again. Eastbourne are going from strength to strength and Surrey are a rather unknown quantity to us so we’re looking forward to the season ahead.
Any words for the MKRD fans in Saturday’s crowd?
Oh lawd, she comin’!
SURREY ROLLER GIRLS
Can you tell us a little about your league?
Based in Guildford, Surrey Roller Girls were founded in December 2011. We are a friendly bunch who love cake and cuddles, as well as bashing each other about on track.
What are you expecting from Champs this year?
SRG have taken a year away from British Champs in 2018 to develop and grow as a team and what a year we have had! Not only have we enjoyed welcoming many new skaters, we have also had the pleasure of playing many friendly games with our Southern counterparts.
And from Saturday in particular?
We have been training hard in the lead up to British Champs and are ready to show the other teams what it means to be a Surrey Roller Girl. Excitement is brewing for our game against the Vendetta Vixens on Saturday, who I’m sure will be a formidable opponent.
What can we expect from SRG on the day?
Surrey will arrive on gameday with glittered faces, short shorts and a fierce spirit. We will battle hard and (whatever the outcome) we will hug it out at the end and hunker down to watch Eastbourne v Milton Keynes, which I’m sure will be an epic pairing. For any Surrey fans cheering us on in the crowd, cheer loud and clear: WHO ARE WE? SRG!
Can you tell us a little about your history?
The Vixens began in early 2011 and competed in the End of the World Series coming a respectful last place. Over the years we have lost more games than we have won, but what we lack in points we have made up for in team spirit and perseverance. We’ve been fortunate enough to be part of the tournaments preceding Champs and very much enjoy meeting and playing new teams. We learn so much and generally have a wonderful time during the tournament season.
What are you hoping for from Champs this year?
Last year saw a turning point for the team and we won more games than we lost. We hope that the hard work and determination that we have put into training has started to show on track and we continue to progress this year. 2019 also means playing our neighbours the Concrete Cows and facing new opponents in Eastbourne and Big Bucks.
Any particular expectations for Saturday’s games?
In the other game we will be hoping for a win for the Concrete Cows as our neighbouring team and friends, but wish all the teams taking part a happy, safe and successful gameday. Last time we played Surrey in 2015 it was a really close game – we’re obviously hoping to take the win this year. In terms of Vixens to watch our for on track? Watch out for us all! Everyone brings something different and unique, and it wouldn’t work without every single person on the team and those who constantly support us.
Can you tell us a little about your league?
Big Bucks High Rollers 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 as a league.
What are your thoughts ahead of the 2019 Champs season?
BBHR decided to focus on rebuilding our team last year. Now we’re back in Champs and feeling stronger than ever! We have a great line-up, including a mix of veteran and newer skaters, and are really excited for them to experience their first Champs game.
What are the (dis)advantages or not playing Gameday 1?
Sitting out the first gameday makes us itch to be on track, although it allows us a cheeky peak at our competition before we get started. We are up against some tough teams, which is a challenge we have been training hard for and we can’t wait to meet everyone on track. We can, we will – BBHR!
[Photos by John Hesse, Eastbourne Roller Derby, Vendetta Vixens & Big Bucks High Rollers]