British Champs T4 South East Day Four preview

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This weekend (Saturday 15th August) sees British Championships Roller Derby action in Haywards Heath, as Eastbourne Roller Derby’s Bourne Bombshells host two games in Tier 4 South East, together with a ‘bonus’ men’s game. We’ll be hearing from the Bombshells and their three Champs guests (Suffolk, Norfolk and Herts’ Full Metal) in a moment, but first here’s a quick summary of the Tier 4 South East season to date…

GAME DAY ONE: 9TH MAY @ STEVENAGE
Our story begins, like most stories do, in Stevenage one May afternoon. With pre-season favourites the Norfolk Brawds sitting out this first game day, it’s a chance for the other four sides to show us what they’re made of. One thing the day demonstrates is the disparity that exists even between teams in the same division. It’s interesting to ponder exactly how many Tiers the British Champs would need to ensure all the teams in each were of a fairly similar level. Ten? Fifteen? Certainly more than four, as the hosting Full Metal Roller derby’s 15-396 loss to Suffolk attests. The Herts Breakers put in a spirited performance, but the Suffolk packs prove too sturdy and the visiting jammers, such as Maltese Mayhem and Indi-Hannah Jones, too difficult to contain. With Suffolk the lowest ranked of the four teams Full Metal share a division with, this looks like being a tough season for the Stevenage side.
    Things get off to a bruising start for the Bombshells too. The predictor at Flattrackstats expects opponents Killa Hurtz to pick up seven points here for every four points the ‘shells get. In fact, Killa Hurtz pick up more than seven points for every *one* that Eastbourne manage. Ouch! We had suspected that the Essex side were ranked far lower than they should be; although new to bouting, they have several in their ranks who recently transferred from Southend’s well established Seaside Sirens, and surely have an eye on climbing the Champs pyramid. Bombshells breakout star Amazing Graze fares best out of the Sussex jammers, but a super tough Killas defence – including the likes of The Beckoning and legendary announcer Mother Mercy – keeps the Eastbourne side to a few points here and there. Essex starheads such as Snarley Quinn and Bonty Python outwit the best efforts of The PhilosoFear and co in the purple packs, and the Killa Hurtz run out runaway winners. The Bombshells keep them to below a 300 differential (just) at 43-342.

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GAME DAY TWO: 6TH JUNE @ NORWICH
Whilst Stevenage wins our praise for best located derby venue (being literally across the road from the station), the University of East Anglia sports hall, although a bus ride from civilisation (well, Norwich), wins it for pretty much everything else. The Norfolk Brawds’ home features probably the largest vendor village we’ve seen at derby. A good sixteen stalls here and room for sixteen more. Hundreds of fans on the bleachers with room for hundreds more. A separate bar/café room with seating, burgers (inc veggie) and three quid pints on stillage of the Brawds’ own golden ale. If that’s not enough, at what other derby venue can you visit an art gallery in the interval between games? The Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts is a five minute yomp across campus. The BBCD’s Chief Art Critic reports: “There’s a nice curly blue thing, a big oil painting of London Bridge station by someone who has clearly never been there, the world’s tiniest Picasso sketch (8cm x 8cm) and some caveman type stuff. Outside are a few Henry Moore sculptures and an installation presumably called ‘six stoned students sitting in an empty paddling pool’. Thinking about it, the latter might be part of the neighbouring accommodation block rather than the gallery.”
    The day’s first game sees the two teams panned in Stevenage face off against each other. The result of this one is further proof of our ‘few close games in Champs’ adage. Indeed, it takes until the sixth jam for Full Metal to put their first points on the board, with the Bombshells 47-4 up. The amount of jammer penalties the Herts side are picking up isn’t helping, with one of their starheads accruing three in a single outing. Amazing Graze picks up 27 points in a jam, and she and Crash in particular are twisting the vice on Full Metal. A power jam sees Nitrous Bloxide pick up thirteen, but that’s as good as things get for FMRD, with a confused end to the period (with Herts lining up on track while the previous jam is still underway!) and a half time score of 161-28 to Eastbourne.
    As the second period gets underway, some great blocking from the ‘shells (here rocking a shiny new white kit) prevents Trixie Blitz from taking advantage of a PJ. Some great offence from defence from Crash, clearing a path for Graze, next as Eastbourne increase their lead. Full Metal are much less penalty heavy at present and start eking out points hither and thither. Double threat Hale Storm is proving a strong blocker for the Herts side, pegging Graze back well before taking a turn in the star herself. This leads to a little more confusion as she successfully calls off a jam she isn’t lead in. Personally we’d send the refs to the box in such a case, but as per the rules it’s Storm that’s penalised. The final whistle blows with the scores at 362-48. As the Bombshells congratulate the Breakers on surviving another tough Champs game, and local meatheads in the audience shout “hurry up” as they’re impatient for the next game, the announcer says that a member of Norfolk men’s team the East Anglo Smacksons is about to be waxed. There’s no mention of exactly how much of him is being waxed, but we play it safe by heading off to look at some art instead…

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The day’s second game sees the hosting Norfolk Brawds up against Killa Hurtz. Early indications are this could be the game that decides who will top the final divisional table, and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s clear from early on that this is going to be a fairly low scoring game. Both teams’ packs are super fierce, with the likes of Mother Mercy and Melef!cent throwing big hits for Killas, whilst Short Circuit, Political Vagenda and others do likewise for Norfolk. Things start out resolutely even, with both sides gaining lead status four times in the first ten jams of the game, but the visitors have a very strong final third of the period and take an 89-49 lead into the break. They increase that gap early in the second half (54-107 at the widest point) before a resurgence sees the Brawds begin to chip away at the lead. Killa Hurtz calling a team timeout.
    The Essex side are only 121-105 ahead now and Norfolk have the momentum with 7’49” left on the clock. Philthy Delphia claws it back to 114-126 as the crowd go wild. Khilleesi four and call. Star pass to Cruel Runnings, who looks at the scoreboard as she passes. There’s been a lead change! 135-130 to the Brawds. Crowd going wilder. Failed star pass from Zippy to Runnings. Snarley Quinn ties the game at 135 apiece, but is sent off as she tries to call. This final jam runs the full two minutes. The refs confer. The crowd wait for the scoreboard to update. 144-138. Norfolk win the game (and quite possibly, come October, the division) but heck it’s been a close one. We order multiple pints of Bonny’s Gold to calm our nerves. Yeah, most Champs game are foregone conclusions, but when they’re close… damn they’re close!

GAME DAY THREE: 11TH JULY @ IPSWICH
It’s business as usual on Day Three. Full Metal suffer their biggest pounding to date at the wheels of Killa Hurtz, with the Essex side rolling out 613-30 victors. Meanwhile the hosts Suffolk go down 63-243 to their Norfolk neighbours. The Bombshells sit out this day, which is just as well since they’re all super-busy preparing for the following weekend’s Eastbourne Extreme tournament. Killa Hurtz currently sit on top of the table, but have played one game more than Norfolk who will go four points clear if they beat Full Metal (fairly likely, we’d say) on Day Four. Meanwhile, the Bombshells will go third if they beat Suffolk. So when is Day Four then? It’s only TOMORROW!

GAME DAY FOUR: 15TH AUGUST @ HAYWARDS HEATH
Yep, the British Champs Tier 4 South East kicks back into action tomorrow (15th August) at the Dolphin Leisure Centre in Haywards Heath. Doors are at midday, with the first game at 1pm. Tickets are £7 on the door. The venue is six minutes walk from Haywards Heath train station (turn left and follow the signs stuck to lampposts) which is around 45 minutes from London Victoria, with several trains an hour. There’s parking at the leisure centre and a large Sainsbury’s halfway between the station and the venue for any last minute supplies. The venue has vending machines in the foyer, as well as a café bar doing sarnies, salads, hot and cold drinks. Booze-wise, if they’ve remembered to stock up, there should be bottles of Magners, Peroni, London Pride, vinegary wine and maybe more. No formal after party has been announced, but the nearest pub is opposite the train station (the Burrell Arms). It’s an odd mix of rustic decor, football fans and flustered looking staff, but is friendly enough and has a large garden out back. Beware of the tables out front. They’re a haven for wasps – one nicked our pint here last weekend!

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GAME DAY FOUR: STATS AND PREDICTIONS

1PM: NORFOLK BRAWDS VS FULL METAL ROLLER DERBY
Anyone thinking the divisional system (teams places in Tiers according to rankings) used in British Champs might have resulted in a lot of close games has surely been disavowed of that notion by now. At every level the national tournament has seen only a handful of nail-biters and far more 200+ victory margins. Such is the nature of this sport that a team just a couple of ranking places above another is often 100 points stronger when it comes to a game. So things aren’t looking good here for Full Metal. With one team sitting out each game day of this five team division, this is Full Metal’s fourth and final game of the Champs season, and perhaps couldn’t come soon enough for them. The Stevenage side rank 365th in Europe (caveat: there are 365 teams in the table) with 348.7 rankings points. Norfolk place 101st on 539.9 points. Whilst that gap doesn’t look huge in terms of ranking points, the online predictor gives Norfolk (whether home, away or neutral) “more than 99%” chance of the win here, a figure we’ve never previously seen from the predictor. Norfolk are expected to score seven points for each one Full Metal get. This would equate to something like a 518-74 final score. The Brawds have three of the division’s Top Ten scoring jammers (Philthy Delphia 7th on 118, Khilleesi 9th on 86, Zippy 10th on 85). Full Metal’s top scorers are Revengineer (25th, 20) and Cleo Catch Ya (26th, 19).

3PM: BOURNE BOMBSHELLS V SUFFOLK ROLLER DERBY
Having said that there are very few close games in Champs, this could well be one to savour if it proves as evenly matched as the computers at Flattrackstats expect. Both sides are on one win and one loss in Champs so far, so the winner here will take third place in the table going into the final round of games on Oct 17th in Chelmsford. The Bombshells currently place 249th in Europe (470.7 points) with Suffolk 271st on 462.9. That’s pretty close on rankings points, and the predictor gives the Eastbourne side 67% chance of the win when the Bombshells are at home. If predicted as a neutral venue (the ‘shells have skated at the Dolphin before, but not often) that drops to 60%. Predicted score differential is 41:34 for the Bombshells (37:34 if neutral) which equates to something like a 205-170 Eastbourne win. Both sides are well represented in the performance tables. Suffolk’s highest scoring jammers are Miss Behave (5th with 128 points) and Maltese Mayhem (6th, 121). For Eastbourne, Amazing Graze (8th, 116) and Bullet Bomber (11th, 77) are the ones to watch. In terms of blockers, based on points scored by their own jammer when they were in the pack, Suffolk’s Driving Destructor places 7th and Absinthe Minded 10th in the division, with Eastbourne’s Smash’er Fierce (8th) and The PhilosoFear (9th) sandwiched inbetween.

5PM: BOMB S’QUAD V SUFFOLK RD (MEN’S, NON-CHAMPS)

With both the Eastbourne and Suffolk leagues including a men’s team in their set-up, the decision to add a bonus ‘third game’ to the day’s proceedings makes a lot of sense. Both of these teams are fairly new and both are unranked. This means no statistics or predictions are available, so we’ll have to make some up. Bomb S’Quad have 2.5pi squared chance of a 4-4-2 compared to Suffolk’s 73% swing vote in the lane two marginals. Tenacious P (8th in Geography) and Evil Quad-nevil (0b11110110101) are the ones to watch. If this game was a colour it would be viridian.

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THE PHILOSOFEAR – BOURNE BOMBSHELLS

Hi there. Your British Champs season so far has seen a huge loss and a huge win. Are these the results you were expecting?
We were expecting a very tough game against Killa Hurtz. They are a great team and I would expect them to move up to Tier 3 next year. I don’t think we expected quite that big a loss though. Their offence was especially good, and it made it really hard for us to keep our walls together. After that game, we really needed the win against Full Metal. It was great to see so many of our jammers and blockers on the Top Ten tables after that game.

After two games with huge points gaps, the game on the 15th looks like being a lot closer. Eastbourne and Suffolk look quite closely matched. What do you know of the SRD team?

A couple of months ago, the Flattrackstats score predictor was giving this is a 50/50 chance of each team winning this game. Now the predictor gives the Bombshells the edge, but only just. The players I’ll be watching out for are Suffolk Punch, Malicious Wishes and Yvonna Bone. Suffolk Punch is a great blocker and jammer, plus she has great track awareness and knowledge of the game. Malicious Wishes and Yvonna Bone are both strong jammers, and our walls will need to be tight to hold them back.

Any Bombshells players or tactics the crowd should look out for on the day? Would you like to predict the result?
Smash’er Fierce is always a good Bombshells player to watch, as she’s a big hitter and can send jammers flying. Some of our newer jammers like Amazing Graze and Von Stackit have been working hard and have become very important in our jammer rotation. I think the result will be very close! Which will make it a good game for fans to watch.

The day’s other Champs game sees the Norfolk Brawds take on Full Metal. How are you expecting that one to go?

I would expect Norfolk to take the win, although since starting Champs, the Full Metal Herts Breakers have learned a lot and are becoming stronger with every game. They’ve got some really good jammers – Hale Storm was the one who gave us the most trouble. Norfolk have so many great players to watch, but I would especially look out for Khilleesi jamming and Short Circuit blocking.

As well as the women’s match-up, the Eastbourne and Suffolk men’s teams will be meeting on track too. What should people expect from that game? Any players to look out for?
Both men’s teams are quite new, but have some very strong players. Pont Blank is definitely one to watch on Bomb S’Quad. He hasn’t been playing for long, but he has become very good, very quickly, and will be a strong double threat. Aladdin Sane’s blocking is also excellent. I don’t know many of the Suffolk men except for Tubesock Shakur and Evil Quad-nevil, so I’ll be keeping my eye on them! We would definitely like to get the Bomb S’Quad playing at as many future Eastbourne events as possible. It’s great to have the whole league involved in our open door games.

Finally, you’re hosting the action tomorrow. What can people expect from the venue and from the after party? And what else can you recommend to see or do in the local area?
The Dolphin is a great venue, with loads of parking and it’s close to the station. There’s a café and a bar. In terms of vendors we’ve got Hoodlum Fang and Kitty Bang Bang coming. We’ll also have the usual epic Bombshells cake stall! We haven’t planned much in terms of an after party – it’s likely that we’ll just all walk up to a Haywards Heath pub. There are some lovely places to see in the mid-Sussex area. So if people are travelling down and have some time before the games, I would recommend Wakehurst Place near Ardingly (beautiful gardens) and Nymans (gardens and ruins) which is north of Haywards Heath near Handcross. Of course, Brighton is also nearby and has lots to do, such as the Sea Life Centre, Brighton Eye and Pier, The Lanes and North Laine for shops and cafés, etc.

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SUFFOLK PUNCH – SUFFOLK ROLLER DERBY

Hi there. You’re on one win and one loss after your first two British Champs games. Is the season going the way you expected?
Hi! We are really enjoying our season so far. It’s great to have so many scheduled games and be an active part of the local derby community. We really didn’t know what to expect from our first game against Full Metal, as they were an untested team. We were obviously very pleased with our result, however, so this would probably be our highlight. We were disappointed with our last game against the Norfolk Brawds. I think the pressure of hosting got to us and we really missed a few of our key skaters. However we have channelled our frustration, upped our intensity at training, and we are planning to come back strong!

The rankings suggest yourselves and the Bombshells are fairly evenly matched. Do you know much about the Eastbourne women?
We’ve watched the Bombshells play a couple of times now, and one of our new skaters was in a rookie game at Eastbourne Extreme. The PhilosoFear has a lot of experience and tactical awareness, with Bullet Bomber and Hell Block H both very solid skaters. We have learnt a lot from our last game, and will be focusing on playing our own game as a team, rather than being distracted by individual skaters.

Who should people look out for from the Suffolk women’s team? What kind of a result are you expecting?
We are at full strength for this game with the return of our Yvonna Bone, making her debut in the British Championships series. We are hungry for the win in what should be an exciting game.

The day’s other Champs game sees the Brawds take on Full Metal. What are you expecting from that game?
The Brawds are an experienced team, and are on course to finish at the top of our division with their two wins so far. However Full Metal have been improving every game and have been out and about locally getting more game experience and some guest coaching. We still think the Brawds will take the game, but look forward to seeing the awesome Full Metal fighting spirit making it a bit more difficult.

As well as the women’s match-up, the Eastbourne and Suffolk men’s teams will be meeting on track too. Any players to look out for there? How does men’s derby differ from women’s?
Our men had their first game as a team in July against Team Top Gun, which included some of the Bomb S’Quad. It was a seriously exciting and hard hitting match with a few lead changes, and hopefully we will see more of the same! Men’s derby is generally a bit more brutal with brawn sometimes being used more than brains, but leads to an exhilarating spectacle. We will be watching out for Pont Blank and Tenacious P, who both proved their skills in July. We are also looking forward to seeing a few of the other skaters such as Electric Lee Charged, who has been reffing all the women’s games and finally gets a chance to skate himself! We have a few changes to our roster since the last game. We’re not going to give away any of our secrets, but this will definitely be a game to stick around and watch!

Finally, do you have any message for the Suffolk fans in the crowd at Haywards Heath?
Suffolk fans will have both our games to look forward to. The men and women have all been training both together and against each other, and we are looking to show Eastbourne Roller Derby what we are made of!

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PHILTHY DELPHIA – NORFOLK BRAWDS

Hi there. The Brawds have two wins from two games in British Champs so far. Is the season going as you expected?

We knew Killa Hurtz would be a tough bout, so we spent the off season training for them. We were lucky to have that one first and at home. It was such a close win, right at the end, and was definitely a highlight for us. This season is shaping up to be even better than expected.

You’ll be facing Full Metal Roller Derby tomorrow. Any particular players or tactics of theirs you’ll be looking out for?
We have seen both their Champs bouts so far, as well as having them out to Norfolk for some co-ed scrims. It’s obviously been a tough season for them, but we know they’ve been training up with Killa Hurtz and Suffolk, so we have seen and expect to continue to see some huge improvements in their game in a short period of time.

Similarly, are there any players or tactics from the Brawds that the crowd should look out for? Care to predict the scoreline?
You always want us to give away our secrets! We have some very specific tactics going into this game that we hope will work well for us. There are also going to be some new faces on the track, so keep an eye out for our up and coming stars. We would never deign to predict the outcome as the beauty of derby is anything can happen. We are just hoping to play a tight, clean game.

The day’s other Champs game sees the Bourne Bombshells take on Suffolk. How are you expecting that one to go?
I think this may be one of the closest bouts of the season (excluding ours against Killa Hurtz) so we are very excited for it. We have been long time supporters of Suffolk and know they have some great jammers and a strong defensive strategy. We’ve played Eastbourne before and they are one of our favourite teams as they always have fun. This will be a close one to call.

Finally, do you have any message for the Brawds fans in the crowd tomorrow?

Just a big thank you for supporting us this far. And we hope you’ll continue to support us straight through to finals! x

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CLEO CATCH YA – FULL METAL ROLLER DERBY

Hi there. Your first three games in British Champs have ended in quite heavy losses. Is that what you were expecting?
Hello again! Yeah it’s been a tough but educational few months for sure. We’ve lost a few players due to injuries or moving away and almost all of us were new skaters, so we knew from the off we’d probably not win our bouts. We’ve treated it as a baptism of fire and it’s been a HUGE learning experience. It’s been amazing really. Highlights have to be the fact that our girls just keep getting back up, keep trying their hardest and keep growing each game.

Do you know much about tomorrow’s opponents, the Norfolk Brawds?

We love the Brawds and have joined them a couple of times now for their co-ed scrims with the Smacksons. They’re such a friendly and very talented group of skaters. A lot of quick and agile players on their team. Strong walls, speedy jammers… we’re expecting a fast paced game.

Anything we should look out for from yourselves tomorrow? Are Flattrackstats right to predict a huge Norfolk win?
We are always surprising ourselves. Every game our skaters grow and develop as a team. Everyone on the team has spent Champs ‘becoming’ who they are as a skater; it’s really brought out the best and fiercest qualities in all of us. I think we can all be certain those online predictors are correct – it will be a very big Norfolk win – but it will also be a great and entertaining game I’m sure. The Herts Breakers will play their hardest and give it their all as usual for our last game of the Champs season. And as soon as possible after the final jam is called, we shall be celebrating the fact we all survived the Champs experience with a nice cold pint at the nearest pub! 🙂

The day’s other Champs game sees the Bourne Bombshells take on Suffolk. What are you expecting there?

We’ve become firm friends with Suffolk since our first game against them. We’ve gotten to see first hand what a generous, friendly and hardworking team they are. And how very tough their walls are to break! We’ve also played the Bombshells so we know that they are a really strong team too, with great players and very speedy jammers! I wouldn’t know where to start trying to guess the outcome of this one. It’ll be a fantastic game for sure.

Finally, do you have any message for the Full Metal fans in the crowd at Haywards Heath?
Thank you! We have some friends and family that have followed us through Champs and their support each game has been amazing. To them and to everyone in the crowd that has cheered for us, encouraged us during tough games, and celebrated our great moments with us – thank you so very much. The whole Champs experience has been out of this world. We’ve been knocked this way and that till we didn’t know which way was up, we’ve gotten to really throw ourselves into this sport, we’ve pushed ourselves and achieved more than we all could have thought possible. And most importantly, we’ve made some fantastic new friendships. Roller derby people are the best!

LINKS
FB EVENT PAGE:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1440314526295621/
TABLE & RESULTS: http://www.britishchamps.com/tables-and-fixtures-local-south-east/
SKATER CHARTS: http://www.britishchamps.com/performance-women-t4-south-east/
LIVE TWITTER FEED: https://twitter.com/britchampslive

[Photos by John Hesse]

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Eastbourne Extreme 2015 Preview

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This Summer is a busy time for roller derby in Sussex with no fewer than three British Championships events at the Dolphin in Haywards Heath in a five week period. For many people the highlight of the Sussex derby year takes place not there, but outdoors on the tarmac just off Eastbourne seafront. This weekend (Saturday 18th & Sunday 19th July) sees the return of the annual event Eastbourne Extreme, which features two full days of roller derby once again.

Saturday sees a six team tournament featuring two A-teams, Surrey and the hosting Bourne Bombshells, plus the London Rockin’ Rollers B-team, Croydon B (a Croydon side has won the tournie every year so far), Wycombe’s Big Bucks B and Extreme debutants, Brighton Rockers B. Sunday features a variety of games, including women’s, men’s, co-ed and junior matches, with the highlight being a clash of the Bristol and Croydon A-teams. There are also mini boot camps, Chicks In Bowls sessions (quad skating on skate ramps), Fresh Meat sessions, after parties and more.

The event is open to spectators and is totally free of charge, with action from roughly 9.30am to 6.30pm both days. The venue is around 20 minutes walk from Eastbourne train station. The easiest route is to hit the seafront, turn left and walk for about a kilometre (post code BN22 7AA). There are seats, vendors, a nearby coffee hut and toilets, the occasional appearance of an ice cream van and more. The main Eastbourne Extreme drag is nearby and features various food and drink outlets. The nearest pubs, off licences etc are a few minutes away on Seaside Road.

Before we hear from some of those taking part, here’s an overview of the history of the event and what to expect this year…

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ROLLER DERBY AT EASTBOURNE EXTREME: A HISTORY
BY THE PHILOSOFEAR (EASTBOURNE ROLLER DERBY)

Eastbourne Extreme started out as a skating event and was run by our sponsor Tim Wheals from Eastbourne Sk8School. It later developed into an extreme sports event. In 2011 there was roller derby at Eastbourne Extreme for the first time, but there was only about half an hour of a game outside at The Cage before heavy rain stopped play. In 2012 the Bourne Bombshells decided to have a full day of roller derby at Extreme, but at the time the team was very new and no one had passed Minimum Skills. So the Bombshells didn’t play and just ran the event instead. The Seaside Sirens, Oxford Roller Derby, Croydon Roller Derby, Bristol Harbour Harlots, Big Bucks High Rollers and The Beasts of Bodmin all took part. The final between Big Bucks and Croydon was nail biting, with Croydon taking the win by just a few points.

By summer 2013 the Bombshells had enough skaters to compete in the tournament. The Saturday was for newer teams, with the Bombshells playing against Surrey, Basingstoke Bullets and Mean Valley B-team. The final was between Mean Valley and the Bombshells, and Mean Valley won. The Sunday was for more established teams; Croydon, Portsmouth, Kent and Big Bucks played, with Croydon taking the win for the second year in a row.

In 2014 the format was changed slightly. The Saturday remained as a tournament, with The Bombshells taking on Surrey, Croydon B-team and London Rockin’ Rollers B-team. Croydon won again! The Sunday became a day of mixed games – rookie women, juniors, intermediate women, advanced women, men and co-ed. This was very popular and the co-ed game was amazing to watch. However, the organisation of all this was immense, with Polka Dotty, who was doing the organising, spending ridiculous amounts of time organising teams and T-shirts.

For 2015, we’ve kept Saturday as tournament day. The Sunday still has a variety of different games, but rather than mixed team games our new co-ed team (the A-Bombs) will be playing, as will our men’s team Bomb S’Quad and many other sides.

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SATURDAY 18TH: THE TOURNAMENT (TRACK 1)

GROUP A
9.30 Surrey Rollergirls v LRR Rising Stars
11.30 Bourne Bombshells v Surrey Rollergirls
13.30 Bourne Bombshells v LRR Rising Stars

THE PHILOSOFEAR, BOURNE BOMBSHELLS: “The Bombshells are the lowest ranked of the six teams, but we’re very much looking forward to taking on our opponents in the group and whoever we meet in the playoffs. This year we decided to make it a B-team level tournament, as reflected by our rankings. It’s an opportunity for some higher ranked local teams to test out their B-teams in real gameplay. Of the leagues taking part in Saturday’s tournament, Brighton are the only ones who haven’t played at Extreme before – it seems that once a team plays at Extreme, they want to come back and do it again! As the new Brighton B-team haven’t played a ranked game yet, they are something of an unknown. [The old Brighton B-team, the Bruisers, are on Flattrackstats, but the new B-team, the Rockerbillies don’t contain any members of the old team.] Therefore, we are very unsure as to how they will place against the other teams. Having trained with the Brighton A-team, they are sure to have some strong players and great tactics. In terms of rankings, LRR’s B-team are the highest ranked, followed by Croydon’s B-team. Last year, these two teams made it to the final, with Croydon winning – they are starting out in separate groups this year, so could meet in the final once again. Surrey have played at Extreme for the last two years, but recently they have been moving up the rankings very quickly and doing well in their British Champs games, so it’ll be interesting to see how much they’ve progressed over the past year.”

CRAZY CAT LADY, SURREY ROLLERGIRLS: “Extreme is the highlight of my derby year. I get the chance to play the most amazing sport outside (hopefully) in the sun, with some of the best skaters and my favourite opposition. The Philosofear in particular is my outdoor nemesis, and I’ve always had the most fun skating against the Bombshells. LRR Rising Stars are an unknown quantity to me, which is exciting in itself. This is also the first year my son Short Round is competing too, in the junior expo game on Sunday morning, which makes this year even more exciting.”

DISORDERLEE, LONDON ROCKIN’ ROLLERS RISING STARS: “While there are a few stalwarts of last year’s team, half the team is new and we are looking forward to seeing how we fare this year as we know that both Bourne and Surrey’s teams have changed significantly too. Also, this time around we get to sit and watch a bit more of whoever we might be up against later, so we are liking the new structure.”

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GROUP B

10.30 Brighton Rockerbillies v Croydon Vice Squad
12.30 Croydon Vice Squad v Big Bucks Rough Diamonds
14.30 Brighton Rockerbillies v Big Bucks Rough Diamonds


CHLOE COLOSSUS, BRIGHTON ROCKERBILLIES:
“We foolhardily decided to play our first ever B-team game against Croydon Vice Squad not long after we formed, and we got our butts kicked. So I’m aware of just how good (and terrifying) they are. We have pretty good links with the Bombshells; we’ve trained and scrimmed against/with them in the past. I don’t know much about the other teams in the tournament, but I look forward to getting to know them on the track. We’re a fledgling B-team with a broad range of skill levels and experience and only a few games under our belt, so anything could happen. Can we beat Croydon? Nope, but I might have a different answer for you in a year’s time!”

GOLD N MALICIOUS, BIG BUCKS HIGH ROLLERS: “With our A-team firmly focused on the British Championships, Eastbourne Extreme is the perfect opportunity for Big Bucks High Rollers B-team, the Rough Diamonds, to get stuck into some tournament roller derby. BBHR played Extreme for the first time in 2012, just a few weeks after celebrating our first year as a team. With torrential downpours the night before, we were sure the tournament would be cancelled, but the sun came out, the track dried up and we all got sunburnt! We came a close second behind Croydon and are looking forward to facing their B-team, the Vice Squad this year. We will be facing some tough opposition but we have been training hard (and obsessing over the weather of course!) and can’t wait to battle it out with our fellow B-teamers! WE CAN WE WILL! BBHR!”

AGENT COOPER, CROYDON ROLLER DERBY: “Eastbourne Extreme is a bit of a rite of passage for Croydon skaters now. Some of our new blood have never played an outdoor game before, so we’ve been ruthlessly practicing on concrete in preparation. We know the teams are really gunning for Croydon, because of our record in the tournament, and we are going to bring it.”

PLAYOFFS
15.30 3rd Place Group A v 3rd Place Group B
16.30 2nd Place Group A v 2nd Place Group B
17.30 1st Place Group A v 1st Place Group B (FINAL)
18.20 Tournament Awards

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SATURDAY 18TH: ULTRA RARE FRESH MEAT (TRACK 2)

Sessions at 9.30, 12.30 & 14.30

BEACHY HEADCASE, EASTBOURNE EXTREME: “The Fresh Meat sessions are a chance for non-Minimum Skills passed skaters to have a go on an outdoor derby track. What will the sessions involve? Basically it’s derby without the hitting. Weaving through cones, skating forwards, skating backwards, can you skate a lap in 13 seconds, and so on.”

SATURDAY & SUNDAY: CHICKS IN BOWLS (SKATE RAMPS)

12.00 & 15.00 Saturday / 11.30 & 14.50 Sunday

BEACHY HEADCASE, EASTBOURNE EXTREME: “This year we have exciting slots lined up on the ramps exclusively for the use of Chicks in Bowls crews. There are four 15 minute slots over the two days. I am reliably informed that the ramps are accessible all the time for general skating.”

FLAMMERS, CHICKS IN BOWLS:
“Skate parks are feeling the shock wave of roller derby skaters looking for a new challenge, fun, additional skate training, or in some cases just a pure love of skating parks. What you will see at the Eastbourne Extreme event are a bunch of CIB UK crew skaters showing you their favourite moves, skills and love of ramp skating. The tricks are adapted from skateboarding, inline skating and the pioneers of quad skating who are still shredding skate parks today. It’s not a new thing – men and women have been skating parks on quads for years – but what is new is the roller derby community shifting towards ramps. This is bringing a whole new style, level of ability and passion for the skate park. The Chicks in Bowls chapters are like an extended family. We all encourage and support one another, either in the park or via social media. There are over 100 chapters world wide; get involved, find a skate crew and have some fun. There is no right or wrong. Go have fun and create your own moves and tricks.”

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SUNDAY 19TH: A FULL DAY OF DERBY ACTION (TRACK 1)

9.30 SOUTHAMPTON CITY ROLLERS V EASTBOURNE EXTREME ROOKIES

BEACHY HEADCASE, EASTBOURNE EXTREME: “The first game on the Sunday sees Southampton City Rollers in their first open game I believe. They will play a mixed team we have put together of new skaters from various leagues across the South, including Bourne Bombshells, Brighton Rockers Roller Derby, Basingstoke Bullets and Rochester Royal Rollers, amongst others.”

WHITE LIGHTNING, SOUTHAMPTON CITY ROLLERS: “Southampton City Rollers are pumped to be a part of Eastbourne Extreme this year. Not only is it our first outdoor event, it’s our first public game! Unfortunately in the past few months a number of our players have suffered non-derby related injuries so we’ve had to rope in skaters from other teams to pad our numbers out, but we’re excited for the opportunity to skate both with and against fellow rookie skaters. Our main aim for this game is to have fun and learn lots along the way. We all love roller derby, we love our team, and we love the atmosphere at all derby events! Bring it on!”

11.00 JUNIORS EXHIBITION (INC EASTBOURNE’S NEW BOURNES)

BEACHY HEADCASE, NEW BOURNES COACH: “We’re really excited for the kids game this year. So far 18 kids have signed up. We have been practising scrimmaging twice a week since March, as well as footwork and blocking skills. For the last four weeks we’ve been skating at the seafront once a week to get the hang of outside conditions. We’ve also practised a lot of entering and exiting the penalty box! I think all the kids will enjoy the experience of skating with a full ref crew. Junior derby is still relatively new to the UK, but our league has a regular hardcore of players who are learning and having fun. We plan to continue to grow our team and Extreme is a bit of a foundation for this. The New Bournes head coach deserves a special mention; Drag N Fly has coached virtually every session since the New Year, ensuring the kids are game ready. All the kids are stoked for Sunday and can’t wait for the experience.”

JEMOLISH, NEW BOURNES SKATER: ” New Bournes have been training outside in preparation for Extreme. We are really excited to play our game because we haven’t played properly since last year due to lack of other local junior leagues. Also we have improved so much as a team. We are very excited to have skaters from other teams joining us at Extreme.”

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12.00 MEN’S: BOMB S’QUAD V SURREY JAMMERWOCKIES

BEACHY HEADCASE, EASTBOURNE EXTREME: “Eastbourne Roller Derby men’s team Bomb S’Quad are playing their first open roller derby game against a ‘mostly’ Surrey Rollerboys team (some skaters will be from other leagues). This is their first year bouting and the men have prepared for Extreme by playing a number of closed door games since the start of this year. I can’t wait to see how they fare on their first open outing. Watch out for Tenacious P’s trademark trot and players like Nut Basher and Chasin’ Status taking out their opposition in style.”

TENACIOUS P, BOMB S’QUAD: “So what’s better than playing roller derby for the first time at Eastbourne Extreme? Playing TWICE in the same day! I’ve been to the last two Eastbourne Extremes. The first one was as a spectator with little or no knowledge about derby. But it was fun enough to give me a desire to play and it wasn’t long before I’d gone from non-skater to Fresh Meat. The second Extreme I was still “in training” so I had to sit on the sidelines and watch my derby brothers in their mixed game (inbetween making cups of tea and selling cakes of course). It was a thrilling game and just made me want to play even more. This year I’m jamming in both the open door bouting debut of the Bomb S’Quad *and* for the newly created A-Bomb’s co-ed league. So to say that I’m more than a little proud and excited to be representing Eastbourne Roller Derby twice in one day is a touch of an understatement. Extreme is unlike any other roller derby tournament in the UK. Not only is it outdoors (somewhat of a rarity) but also it’s mostly being viewed by people with little or no knowledge of the sport. So we have to make sure we bring our A-game and make it as thrilling to watch for both derby and non-derby people. So no pressure then! As for our opposition, the mighty Surrey beat us in our first ever closed door bout, so we have a friendly score to settle there.”

SAMUEL L SMACKS’EM, SURREY ROLLERBOYS: “Eastbourne Extreme has become a bit of a ritual for myself and the other Jammerwockies. For the past two years, I’ve tagged along with the Surrey Rollergirls but this is the first year I’ve been playing and also happens to be my first outdoor game. Mega exciting! We’ve all been buzzing about it since we found out we were playing and a large part of that is down to our friendship with the Bomb S’Quad. They’ve been close friends of ours since SRB began and this is the second time we’ve had the pleasure of meeting them on track. Last time was so much fun that we couldn’t say no to another round! We took home the first win but both teams have been training hard since so we’re expecting a very exciting game and a weekend of great derby.”

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13.30 TEAM DRAGON RD v TEAM NO FUSS

BEACHY HEADCASE, EASTBOURNE EXTREME: “All of Saturday’s games are notable. Team Dragon RD are coming down with their nurturing, and some say bloodthirsty, Mother of Dragons to take on the mighty Team No Fuss. Both these challenge teams are building quite a name for themselves, becoming the go-to method of getting in your roller derby fix for top players across the South of England. I can’t give away names yet, but I do know that both teams are pulling out the stops. They’ve been rattling their sabres at each other since Team No Fuss beat the Dragons at their inaugural game last November. The Dragons are coming into Extreme following a run of victories; they’ve bolstered their stable and are coming together as a team – I can’t wait to see what happens.”

MAMA, TEAM DRAGON BENCH COACH:
“Team Dragon was formed last year, just before the last Eastbourne Extreme. After meeting Polka Dotty at the event we talked about arranging a bout between us. So she formed a side, Team No Fuss, and last November we played a mini three team tournament with them and Team Crazy Legs. No Fuss narrowly beat us in the final (192-145) and this is the first revenge game since! Dragons have a real mix of skaters in the team. Some have been skating under a year, with several recreational skaters plus a few more experienced skaters, so I have no idea what the result will be! We’ll spin the wheel and give it our best shot.”

CHUNDER WOMAN, TEAM NO FUSS: “We’ve put together a really strong roster for Sunday, with a lot of experienced skaters. You’ll recognise some of us from previous Eastbourne Extreme tournaments. Some of the ones to watch will be Little Miss Mischevil, who put in a very strong performance in last year’s co-ed bout; Gin Atomic, who has taken part in Extreme every year since the beginning; and of course we’re reuniting the former dream team of The Philosofear and myself. Buffy Smothers’ bare belly is another Extreme tradition that we’ll be happy to see return this year. The Dragons are fielding an impressive roster, and we’re particularly looking out for Rusty Stiletto and I Eat, who gave us a lot of trouble last time. They’ve added some excellent skaters to their line-up since then, so we’re expecting a hard fought game. I’d say we have the advantage in terms of our experience of outdoor skating, but it’s anyone’s game!”

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15.00 CO-ED: A-BOMBS V PORTSMOUTH SCURVY WENCHES

BEACHY HEADCASE, EASTBOURNE EXTREME: “We are rolling out the Eastbourne co-ed team for the first time. A-Bomb-iNations will be playing the Scurvy Wenches from Portsmouth. The Scurvy Wenches are going to provide some tough opposition in the form of ex-Southern Discomfort player Noise Tank, Portsmouth Roller Wenches team captain Dropkick Molly and founding member of the Wenches (and ex-LRG player) The Duchess of Crutches. Co-ed games are hard-hitting and great fun to watch.”

PONT BLANK, A-BOMBS: “As a relative newcomer to the Bomb S’Quad and now Eastbourne Roller Derby, I haven’t really known any difference when it comes to playing co-ed, as training has been co-ed for some time now. I gather, however, that this wasn’t always the case, and it has taken some time to get people on-side with it. Personally I think it’s great, as it’s a chance for us all to be involved as a league together, and in particular has allowed us newer members of the Bomb S’Quad to draw on the experience of the Bombshells, who have been around a lot longer. So when it was announced that we would be looking to make up a co-ed team drawing on members from the two teams, I jumped at the opportunity to get involved. Co-ed roller derby is definitely on the up and more and more Leagues are starting to combine their respective teams in order to form very strong co-ed rosters. We’re obviously aware of the challenge that awaits us in the form of Portsmouth Scurvy Wenches, as both the Roller Wenches and Scurvy Dogs are formidable opponents in their own rights. With skaters like Noise Tank, Danderson, Kaizen, RIP McMurphy and the Duchess of Crutches at their disposal, they’re going to be able to field a very impressive team. But that’s not to say that our team won’t be impressive as well.”

ROLLSCHACH, PORTSMOUTH SCURVY WENCHES:
“This is the first outdoor game the Scurvy Wenches have taken part in as a team, although some of our members played at Eastbourne Extreme last year; and being from a seaside town, our players often get experience skating outdoors. A smart and adaptive team, we are more than up to any challenge! Portsmouth have worked with Eastbourne players in previous mixed bouts, but never against one another as a full roster. We take part in co-ed training as often as possible which has solidified us as a very strong team. Co-ed derby is a perfect hybrid of two very different games. Original [women’s] roller derby is a very tactical sport with grace and agility, whereas men’s roller derby is based more upon big hits, although men’s derby is learning from the ladies’ game and making the plays a lot more intelligent. Co-ed derby is still in its infancy, but it’s quickly growing into its own sport. Watch this space derby fans!”

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16.30: CROYDON ROLLER DERBY V BRISTOL ROLLER DERBY

BEACHY HEADCASE, EASTBOURNE EXTREME: “The highlight of the day is definitely the game between Croydon Riot Squad and Bristol Roller Derby. Both teams have history at Extreme. Croydon has won the tournament every year since it started, and some of the Bristol skaters played at the first year of the tournament in 2012 as the Harbour Harlots. This year we thought we’d add in an advanced game to round off the day. Croydon Riot Squad stand 19th in the UKRDA rankings, with Bristol’s A-team two places ahead in 17th. In the European rankings, however, Croydon have the upper hand in 22nd compared to 31st place Bristol. The prediction computer at Flattrackstats picks a different winner depending on which ranking you use! Add in the outdoors element and this really could go either way. I can’t wait to see how things play out on the track.”

BLACK THORN, BRISTOL ROLLER DERBY:
“Bristol have played at Eastbourne Extreme once before, back in 2012. Five of us who took part are still playing for Bristol, and have been sharing horror stories of sun and gravel burn. We haven’t played roller derby outdoors since, but Chicks in Bowls Bristol has a huge BRD contingent and we’ve been getting of plenty of outdoor practice on the ramps. We played and beat Croydon indoors in 2012 (207-138) but I am sure both teams have seen massive changes since then. Not least that we’ve stolen President Garfield from Croydon (she’s ours now!). They’re ranked quite a bit higher than us in the European table and we’ve climbed significantly since we started our British Champs campaign, but we’re hoping that this works in our favour as we’ve had some tough games against tough opponents this year. We’re hoping for a fun and physical game, away from the more pressured Champs environment. A couple of the usual suspects on our roster have had the audacity to go on holiday, so look out for a deeper jammer rotation than is typical for us, as well as two players new to the A-team in the form of Rip Tease and Hard N Sharpe.”

AGENT COOPER, CROYDON ROLLER DERBY:
“As far as Bristol are concerned, we have heard that they are seriously not to be messed with. Our plan is to give them one of the best games Eastbourne has ever seen.”

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SUNDAY 19TH: FREE MINI BOOT CAMPS (TRACK 2)

11.00 FOOTWORK WITH GIN ATOMIC & NOISE TANK

GIN ATOMIC: “Myself of the Brighton Rockers (ex-Croydon Roller Derby) and Noise Tank (Portsmouth Scurvy Dogs, ex-Southern Discomfort) are running a short footwork boot camp for intermediate skaters. It’ll consist of various drills to work on improving manoeuvrability. People won’t need to bring anything specific for the boot camp, but I would say to anyone playing outdoors to bring spare toe stops and don’t wear shorts. And of course bring your sun cream!”

12.00 BLOCKING WITH THE DUCHESS OF CRUTCHES

DUCHESS OF CRUTCHES: “I’m a coach and the A-team captain at Portsmouth Roller Wenches and I will be putting on a mini blocking boot camp focused around partner blocking and traversing the track. I was happy to be asked to help out and put something on at Eastbourne Extreme. I have a great love for blocking and look forward to sharing some of my joy, along with skills and drills that I hope skaters will find useful and take away with them.”

…AND THE AFTER PARTY (CROWN & ANCHOR)

BEACHY HEADCASE, EASTBOURNE EXTREME: “On the Saturday most of us Eastbourne Roller Derby types need to get an early night, but parties will be going on all along the seafront; live bands, beach BBQs and a roller disco at MySkateWorld, to name a few. On Sunday evening you can find us at the newly refurbished Crown & Anchor, our favourite pub, which is on the seafront a little way East of the pier (about ten minutes walk from the derby). The roller derby crew have been given exclusive use of the upstairs bar. Expect human pyramids.”

EASTBOURNE EXTREME ON FACEBOOK

https://www.facebook.com/EastbourneExtremeRollerDerby/
https://www.facebook.com/events/812866462140436/

[Photos by John Hesse]

British Champs Tier 4 South East Day Two Preview

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The first day of British Champs Tier 4 South East took place at the start of May in Stevenage. Those two games ended in what are known as “blowouts” with one of the sides in each amassing hundreds of points more than their opponents. Killa Hurtz triumphed 342-43 over the Bombshells, while hosts Full Metal went down by an even bigger margin (396-15) at the hands of Suffolk Roller Derby. Naturally enough Suffolk (who sit out Day 2) top the division on points scored over Killa Hurtz, with the Bombshells and Full Metal occupying the bottom spots.

Mid-table by dint of being the team that sat out day one are the Norfolk Brawds, who are hosting the second divisional game day this Saturday (6th June). The event is taking place at the University of East Anglia’s Sportspark on the Western edge of Norwich. Doors are at noon, with tickets available online at £7.50 each (including booking fee) from the link at the bottom of this piece. The afterparty takes place midway between the University and City Centre at the Eagle on Newmarket Road (the A11) in the Golden Triangle area, which is supposedly even more of a Green Party heartland than Brighton’s Hanover (more than two thirds of the vote in some wards).

TRAVEL INFO

With the greatest of respect to some of the other towns represented in Champs, Norwich is one destination we would particularly recommend making a weekend of if you can. Not only is it one of the best real ale towns in the UK (around Dereham Road in particular), with a castle, cathedral and twice as many board game shops as the whole of Sussex – yeah we’re geeks – there’s also the messing about on boats to be had. Er, though you could end up trapped, like our boating mates who should be in the South of France now. Seems the lock that joins the Broads to the North Sea has been broken (non-navigable) for months. Cannes, Loddon, quelle difference?

Car types from Sussex should point their vehicles North East for around 3.5 hours – there’s parking at the venue, plus overflow parking nearby if that gets full. The train takes around the same time and costs as little as £21 each way. Thankfully the rail strike either side of the weekend (you just know it’d mess up the trains in between too) has been called off. Hotel wise, our usual recommendations – the Maid’s Head or Stracey – get a bit spendy this close to the day. The plethora of Premier Inn and Travelodge type places dotted around the centre are probably the best bet now. Enough travel stuffs, on to the statistics…

PREDICTIONS

Flattrackstats calls the Bombshells v Herts Breakers game quite strongly in favour of Eastbourne. The Sussex league currently rank 306th in Europe on 450.0 points with the Full Metal women 357th on 373.0. While that doesn’t look a huge positional gap, splitting the difference between home and away predictions (since there’s no neutral option) calls this as 94% likely to be an Eastbourne win, with an anticipated 42:19 differential working out as something like a 252-114 Bombshells victory margin.

The website calls the other game as much closer. Killa Hurtz currently place 105th in Europe on 539.6 points. Although the Brawds have home advantage, they rank lower at 141st on 518.3. The magic maths machine that lives inside the FTS website reckons this works out as 60% likelihood of the visitors from Chelmsford taking the win. A predicted differential of 10:9 is not only very easy for us to translate into a possible scoreline – 180-162, say – but also demonstrates how close this one is expected to be. Eek! Let’s see what the teams themselves have to make of all this…

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COUNTESS VON STACKIT – BOURNE BOMBSHELLS

What did you learn from your first Champs game against Killa Hurtz? We guess it wasn’t quite what you were expecting?
I’d say that’s a mild understatement! Killa Hurtz had really solid walls and gave out some hard hits. We knew it would be tough but even some of our strongest players struggled. They managed to wear us down early on and break apart our walls. From a jamming perspective it was exhausting – by the time we’d got to the last blocker we were easily hit off. On a positive note, we did learn a few things that we will be putting into practice for our forthcoming games. In particular, responding to offence and working on our own offence. We need to work on keeping our walls tight and reforming faster. As a team we have really been working on our overall fitness and, although it was a crushing defeat, our stamina has improved. Getting more points in the second half shows we can dig deep when it matters!

Your next opponents, Full Metal RD’s Herts Breakers, also had a heavy loss on that first game day. What do you know about them?
We know Full Metal are new to bouting, so I’m sure they’ll want to do their best and make their mark. They will have learnt a lot from their game against Suffolk and I’m sure if there were any first game nerves to be had, they will have dissipated and they’ll be hungry for the next one. Herts will be used to hard hits and pushing against solid players as, like us, they are used to training co-ed.

Any Eastbourne players or tactics people should look out for in the game? Are Flattrackstats right to predict a big Bombshells win?
Amazing Graze has been doing some great jamming (I’m refraining from saying Amaaazing!). She’s been working hard at training and has been taking part in mixed scrims; most recently as part of Roll Britannia against the Brighton Rockerbillies, where she was awarded MVP. Jumpin’ Jack Smash has also gone from strength to strength and is knocking out some devastating hits. Naturally, we’ll be aiming to win because there is no other way, but we would never like to predict what can happen. We need to play our game, put in to practice the offence we’ve worked on, but not forget the basics. We’ll need to be focused as a team if we want to improve that points differential.

Finally, the day’s other game sees hosts Norfolk Brawds take on Killa Hurtz. How do you expect that one to go, and are there any standout players on those teams to look out for?
We came up against the Brawds in last year’s Heartland Series and their jammers aren’t afraid to go in hard. Philthy Delphia is a strong jammer who will test the Killa Hurtz walls. I’d expect a Killa Hurtz win, but for the Brawds to get a decent score against them. It’ll be an exciting one to watch. It may be Killa Hurtz’ toughest game of this Champs season. Mother Mercy, Clark Smash and Melef!cent are all going to give the Brawds jammers a hard time. The Beckoning just will not move out of the way!

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CLEO CATCHYA – FULL METAL ROLLER DERBY

Was the result of your first British Champs game what you were hoping for? Is there anything you learned from that game that you’ll be taking forward to the rest of your Champs season?
We were just hoping for double figures in all honesty. We knew we weren’t going to win, but we wanted to have some fun and host a successful first bout, and we are so proud of ourselves for that. Also eleven of us popped our bouting cherries that game and it was awesome to do it all together as a team. We have a bout’s experience under our belts now and a bit of a fire in our bellies. Gotta start somewhere.

Your next opponents, Eastbourne Roller Derby’s Bourne Bombshells, also had a heavy loss on that first game day. What do you know about the Sussex side?
We’ve seen that the Bombshells have heart, strength and determination, and we’re looking forward to our game with them. I’ve a feeling they’ll have a fire in them too.

Any Herts Breakers players or tactics people should look out for in the game? Flattrackstats gives 90-95% chance of an Eastbourne win. What are you expecting?
Results wise we are just hoping to improve on our points. We got 15 last time, this time we’ll go for 30 and so on. Winning really isn’t what it’s about for us; we’re just starting as a bouting team so the whole experience is amazing. As for players to look out for, all of us I guess. We’re learning and growing as a team with each bout and scrim. It’s exciting to watch us all develop as skaters together.

Finally, the day’s other game sees hosts Norfolk Brawds take on Killa Hurtz. How do you expect that one to go?
We are both excited and terrified to watch this game! Both teams are fantastic. I’ve personally seen more of the Killa Hurtz, so I know for certain the strength and skill they possess. I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess at the outcome, but it’s going to be a blinding bout that’s for sure. As for standout players, Mother Mercy from Killas has a pretty fearsome rep; she’s an awesome player and definitely one to watch out for (and avoid) on track.

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PHILTHY DELPHIA – THE NORFOLK BRAWDS

You’re the only side in Tier 4 South East that sat out Game Day 1. What do you know of the other four teams in the division?
We actually had a “Brawds Day Out” to the first game day to check things out, but also to support all the teams. We’ve been watching Suffolk since they started and it was great to see how strong they’ve gotten. The first contact we really had with Killa Hurtz was at our Eastern Sur5al event last year and they sent a few girls again this year – so we were excited to see them skate as a team. Eastbourne were in our division of the Heartland Series last year but this was our first time (like many) seeing Full Metal on the track. Definitely a lot of new faces, but quite a few familiar ones too!

You’ll be taking on Killa Hurtz in your first game. Any particular players or tactics of theirs you’ll be looking out for?
Killa Hurtz definitely have some strong, experienced players on their side so we know it’s going to be a tough game, but they are also a lovely group of ladies so we’re sure it’s going to be a fun one too.

Any Brawds players or tactics people should look out for in the game? Flattrackstats narrowly gives Killa Hurtz the edge in this match-up. What are you expecting?
Well, we can’t give away too many of our secrets! We’re going to be relying on our experience skating together as a team. Most of our All Stars have been skating together for years.

The day’s other game sees Eastbourne take on Full Metal’s Herts Breakers. How do you expect that game to go?
This should actually be a really interesting match-up. We’ve played Bourne so we know they have a lot of fight in them and bout experience. Full Metal are a bit of a dark horse. Neither had a great first game day, but this could turn out to be a close, exciting bout.

Finally, the Brawds are hosting the action on Saturday 6th. What can you tell us about your venue? What can people expect from the afterparty?
We are *so* lucky to have one of the largest and most successful sports centres in the UK, the Sportspark at the University of East Anglia, as our home open venue. Technically we can seat more than 500 people in our bleacher seating and we usually have 300-400 spectators at our home events. The Sportspark offers free parking, a full bar which sells our own ale Bonny’s Gold (brewed by Golden Triangle Brewery), two different cafes, a large vendor area, free face painting, and an awesome raffle. We are also fundraising for our own venue and will be taking donations to ‘wax a Smackson (our affiliated men’s team)’ during half time. The afterparty will consist of a massive BBQ and drinks in the big beer garden at The Eagle Pub and possibly dancing at the Waterfront after!

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CLARK… SMASH! – KILLA HURTZ ROLLER GIRLS

Killa Hurtz have rocketed up the European rankings, rising from 270th to 105th in less than a year of bouting, and took a big win over Eastbourne in your first Champs game. As the division’s highest ranked team who do you think will be your biggest challengers?
We came into Champs not knowing what to expect, and with the ethos of taking every game as it comes and not taking anything for granted. We had no idea what to expect from Eastbourne. It was a good game and they did not make it an easy win for us. We would love to win the division. I would say in the short term our biggest challengers would be the Brawds. However, in October we face Suffolk. We have played them twice in the past year and it’s one apiece… Both of us are training new skaters at the moment, so it is highly likely by the time October rolls around both teams will be fielding players neither team has met before, which always makes for a challenge!

You’re up against the Norfolk Brawds on Saturday. Any particular Brawds you’ll be looking out for?
We are indeed. Norfolk have obviously been in Heartland Series before Champs and we’ve seen some of their games. With Damage having left, it will be interesting who will be in her spot on the roster. We shall be keeping an eye on Philthy and Short Circuit… We’ve also heard rumblings about Penny Slain as someone to watch out for.

Any Killa Hurtz players or tactics that people in the crowd should look out for?
We wouldn’t want to give away any of our secrets! Our lips are sealed. I think this is going to be a really good game to watch whatever the result.

Finally, the day’s other game sees Eastbourne take on Full Metal RD. Any particular players the crowd should look out for there?
Eastbourne are definitely the favourites. The Philosofear caused our jammers a lot of problems when we played them. Definitely the skater to contain!

[Photos by John Hesse and Pete Florey/MDP Images]

LINKS
BUY TICKETS: http://www.ueaticketbookings.co.uk/events/the-norfolk-brawds-roller-derby-presents–british-champs—uea-sportspark–6-6-15-.aspx
FB EVENT PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/1527400340869495/
BRITISH CHAMPS: http://www.britishchamps.com/
BRAWDS: http://www.norfolkbrawds.com/
KILLAS: http://killahurtzrollergirls.co.uk/
SHELLS: http://bournebombshells.wix.com/bombshells
BREAKERS: http://fullmetalrollerderby.com/

British Champs Tier 4 South East Day One preview

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This Saturday (May 9th) sees the mighty Bourne Bombshells kick off their British Champs campaign in Stevenage. Champs has evolved from a small South Midlands tournament, via a couple of incarnations of the Heartland Series – Bombshells took part in 2014’s – into this year’s huge 72 team thirteen division truly national tournament. The ‘shells, now rebranded under the umbrella name Eastbourne Roller Derby, are part of the Tier 4 South East Division, which kicks off on Saturday at the Arts & Leisure Centre in Stevenage, Herts.

Things get underway at a frighteningly early 11.30am (first whistle) with the Bombshells taking on Chelmsford’s Killa Hurtz and hosts the Herts Breakers – part of the Full Metal Roller Derby league – facing Suffolk. Tickets are available on the door at £10 for adults or £5 kids. This is the most handily placed derby venue we know of for train travellers, being literally across the road from Stevenage station, which is one stop from London King’s Cross on the East Coast Main Line (slower Great Northern services are more regular).

Splitting the home and away predictions at Flattrackstats, as there is no neutral option, gives Eastbourne (ranked 248th in Europe) roughly an 18% chance of beating the 137th placed Killa Hurtz. The predicted score differential is around 7:4 in the Essex side’s favour, equivalent to something like a 245-140 scoreline in Killa Hurtz’ favour. The website is unable to predict anything for the day’s other game, since the hosting Herts Breakers are so new they’re totally unranked. Now let’s hear from some of those taking part…

BULLET BOMBER – BOURNE BOMBSHELLS CAPTAIN

Hi there. Can you sum up the Bombshells’ 2014 Heartland Series for us?
As a team we were happy with where we finished in the tournament. We came fourth in the division which was a place above where we thought me may come. It was our first year being part of the series and I think we learnt a lot last year about our strengths and weaknesses as a team.

Heartland has grown into the British Champs in 2015, featuring 72 women’s teams across 13 divisions. You currently sit on top of the T4 South East table, albeit through alphabetical order. Is holding onto that position your aim for the season?
Of course holding the top position will always be our aim. We are looking forward to playing some new opposition, but are also interested to see how we fare this year against opponents we played last year. With more teams being involved in the Champs, it means that our group is going to be near to us in ranking, which should mean we have some interesting games with closer scores.

Your opponents in Stevenage on Saturday are Chelmsford’s Killa Hurtz. What do you know of them? Any particular Killa Hurtz players you’ll be looking out for?
We will be watching out for Killa Hurtz’ small nippy jammers, Snarley Quinn and Rakey Breaky Face, as they sneak through the smallest of gaps; as well as keeping an eye on Killa Hurtz stronger pushyer jammer Mother Mercy. Blockers who may cause us trouble are The Beckoning, Mother Mercy and Clark Smash. They are big hitters, so our jammers will be looking to stay quick on their feet around them.

Any particular Eastbourne players people should be looking out for in this game, and throughout the Champs season in general?
This season the Bombshells to watch out for are Von Stack It and Jumping Jack Smash. They have both become formidable blockers, and are also both shaping up to be fast nippy jammers. With our training now co-ed with men’s side Bomb Squad, it has toughened the whole team up, hopefully giving us an edge.

Saturday’s other game sees hosts FMRD’s Herts Breakers take on Suffolk Roller Derby. How do you expect that one to go?
Full Metal are a total unknown as they are not yet ranked on Flattrackstats and no one has seen them play (not sure if they’ve had a bout yet either). Suffolk have some good jammers, particularly Yvonna Bone, Malicious Wishes and Minnie Minx. Suffolk Punch is a double threat to watch – when blocking she holds the walls together and keeps control, and when jamming she can always fight her way through.

Finally, what else do the Eastbourne leagues have planned for this year?
We are launching ourselves as Eastbourne Roller Derby this year, with our four teams; Bourne Bombshells ladies team, Bomb Squad men’s team, New Bournes junior team and our new co-ed Team A-bominations. All four teams will be playing at Eastbourne Extreme on 18th & 19th July. We are really excited that our first open door men’s game and co-ed game will be on home turf (tarmac). The Men’s team will be facing Surrey Jammerwockies and the co-ed team will be playing Portsmouth Scurvy Wenches. The Men’s team have had a few close door games this year in preparation for Extreme and we are currently arranging co-ed closed doors. Our junior team will this year be playing at Level 2, which is a great progress from last year. The team’s numbers are slowly growing and another training session has been added. So this year is looking like it’s shaping up to be a fun year for all four teams.

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CLARK SMASH – KILLA HURTZ ROLLER DERBY

For anyone that might not know of the Killa Hurtz can you tell us a little of your league’s history and achievements to date?
The team started in October 2011 and has gone from strength to strength with a solid foundation of skaters who live and die by the skate! In 2013 we took our only five skaters to Rookie Sur5al at Windsor, where we finished in the Top 5. We have a vivid memory of walking around the sports hall overhearing other skaters saying “who the hell are the Killa Hurtz and where did they come from?” That was pretty memorable! We have since taken part in many tournaments and now have a full bouting team. Last year we were lucky enough to have our coach, SDRD’s Blitzkrieg, fall into our laps (not literally, thankfully, he’s big guy and partial to wearing leggings) when he moved to Essex and was looking for a team to coach. Together we have gained skating momentum. Last year saw us become a bouting team with our first game in June against our derby sisters from another mister, Suffolk Roller Derby, who took the win at home. Since then, the purple train have been getting around, taking a very close win over Grid City away, hosting and beating Suffolk (making it one apiece), then taking on the mighty Portsmouth B who took the win towards the end of 2014. This year we’ve had a couple of blinding bouts including a nail biter against LRR B in the capital and a tough and physical game against Rebellion at home. We won both those games which brings us to this, our first British Champs game.

As a fairly new to bouting team, what are your expectations going into the 2015 British Champs season?
We are very new to bouting. We have been bouting less than a year but what a year it has been! We will take each game as it comes. Regardless of stats or predictions, you can never take another team’s track record or an expected win for granted. So we shall focus on being the best we can be as team and see where that gets us. Obviously we would like to ride in on our purple machine of awesome, win every game and be promoted to Tier 3 at the end of the year, so we’ll strive for that! The tournament itself we think is a great opportunity for British roller derby, and we hope that having the Championships in place will shine more light onto the sport in terms of community involvement and funding. It’s also brill that teams will know where they stand in terms of league tables etc. Our ambitions as a league are to keep growing and eventually get to the point where we can have an A- and B-team, even a C-team eventually; have inter-team and intrateam games; and find a suitable venue to rent, to enable us to train as and when we like rather than having to fit around badminton and their shuttlecocks. For the time being, what is most important to us is enjoying ourselves, skating as much as we can get away with, and nurturing all the derby love we have in our team.

Your first Champs game is this Saturday against Eastbourne? Any particular Bombshells players/tactics you’ll be looking out for?
Our game against the Bombshells is going to be tough, but we can’t wait. We have not yet encountered the team or seen them play, but we know of the lovely Philosofear, as she quite often comes and takes pictures at games/tournaments we are playing in. She admitted to spying on us at our last home game v Rebellion, so touché my darlings! Let’s see what happens on Saturday.

Any particular Killa Hurtz players/tactics people should look out for in the game? Care to predict the result?
We can’t tell you all our secrets! We like the element of surprise. We wouldn’t like to predict a score or result, but we most certainly will guarantee some awesome roller derby.

Saturday’s other game sees hosts Full Metal Roller Derby’s Herts Breakers take on Suffolk. How do you expect that one to go?
We haven’t seen the Herts Breakers play but we know Suffolk very well. Players to watch out for include Suffolk Punch, who is a very versatile player and has no problems blocking or jamming, a real double threat. Malicious Wishes is another one to watch out for; a former banked track skater, her booty is a weapon! One of their new skaters, Driving Destructor is another to keep an eye on. They also have their coach back, who was away on tour when we last played them, which can only mean good things for them.

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HOUND – FULL METAL RD BENCH MANAGER

Hi there, for anyone who might not know of FMRD can you tell us a little about your league’s history and achievements to date?
FMRD formed around three years ago with a dream to promote roller derby in Hertfordshire. Our main objective was to create a co-ed league with a core ethos of co-gender roller derby. To date we have been building our ranks and branching out into the local community.

What are your ambitions for this inaugural British Champs season? What are you expecting of the other sides in the T4 South East division?
We aim to have as much fun as physically possible! FMRD can’t wait to stake our claim and get out there into the UK derby community. Our fellow T4 teams should give us a good run for our money and were expecting to both practice and expand our skills. By the end of the Championship we hope to be an infinitely stronger team ready for the next challenge.

Your first game is this Saturday at home to Suffolk Roller Derby. What do you know about them?
Truth be told we don’t know a great deal about SRD. They must be kickass awesome folk though. We’ve done a little research but have focussed more on our own tactics and hosting our first ever game.

Any particular Herts Breakers players people in the crowd should look out for? Care to predict the result?
We have a very mixed bag of players ranging from both graceful and bruiser jammers to brutal or sneaky blockers. This game will be a trial by fire for us but we hope to come out swinging. I couldn’t predict the result but we feel that playing the game is enough of a “result” for us. We are truly proud to be a part of Champs 2015.

Saturday’s other game sees Bourne Bombshells take on Killa Hurtz. How do you expect that one to go?
Again we haven’t spent much time researching our T4 comrades. This will be our girls’ very first game together, so we’ve invested in focusing on our girls. FMRD are looking forward to seeing what Blitzkrieg has been up to with the lovely Killa Hurtz

Finally, you’re hosting the action on Saturday. What can you tell us about your venue, the after party and Stevenage in general?
Our venue boasts tiered seating and an onsite café and licensed bar. We also have several local businesses selling their wares as well as derby owned vendors setting up shop. Our venue is located a stone’s throw from all of Stevenage’s transport links; access via train, bus and road is easy as pie.
Our after party is another story all together. We’ve secured one of our favourite watering holes the Tom Tiddlers Tavern (Or 3T if you’re down with the kids) We’ve landed a kickass band in “Fallowfields”. We may not win the game but we’ll damn sure win the after party! Our venue is moments from Stevenage Town centre which offers more shopping opportunities than you can shake a stick at. One of our lovely friends (Limited Edition Comics) will be open for all you Marvel/D.C. addicts out there. Why not pop over before the games and say hello?

SUFFOLK PUNCH – SUFFOLK ROLLER DERBY

Can you tell us a little about Suffolk’s history and achievements to date, and your ambitions going forward?
We started as a co-ed (men and women mixed) league in Bury St Edmunds in 2012, becoming Suffolk Roller Derby at the end of 2013. Our women’s team won their first game in June last year against the Killa Hurtz (their first game too!) at home. We then went on to play the Cambridge B-team Blockabillies in August with a narrow defeat in the last jam, and the return game against the Killa Hurtz in November, in which they took the win. We train completely co-ed; both our men’s and co-ed teams will hopefully have their first games this summer. We’ve been building our team over the winter, and we now train three nights a week in Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich. So we have some great new recruits coming up through fresh meat to join our more experienced skaters on the team this year.

What are your ambitions for this inaugural British Champs season?
We are very excited to be part of the British Championships. It’s the first tournament we’ve been involved in. Its great to have a season and scheduled games with potential progression to aim for, and has really motivated us to up our game. We know a fair amount about most of the teams in our division, and often scrim with the Killa Hurtz and Norfolk Brawds, so there’s bound to be some local rivalry in our division for fans to look forward to! I think it’s a very interesting mix of teams. The Norfolk Brawds are obviously the most experienced, but the Bombshells have been re-building their team and the Killa Hurtz are looking stronger all the time, beating Rebellion a few weeks ago. I think anything can happen, and there will be upsets!

Your first game is this Saturday away to Full Metal’s Herts Breakers. What do you know of the Stevenage side?
Full Metal is the team we know the least about, so we’re not really sure what to think going into our first game against them. We are just planning to focus, play our game and do the best we can. I know all the other teams in the division are also keen to see what they pull out of the bag on their public debut, and will be scrutinising and taking notes for future games. The one thing we have in common is that we are both fully co-ed, so we’re looking forward to flying the flag for co-ed with them.

Any particular Suffolk players or tactics people in the crowd should look out for? Care to predict the result of the match?
Well, we don’t want to give too much away. Anyone who has seen our team or any of our players skate can make up their own mind. We have been training hard and I can say both our jammers and blockers are strong and we are confident in our teamwork. Listen out for the American accents; we have strong links to the US Airforce bases in Suffolk, with several of our members either active duty or dependants.

Saturday’s other game sees Eastbourne take on Killa Hurtz. How do you expect that one to go?
The Killa Hurtz are like a sister team to us, so there is a lot of love there. They have some strong skaters – The Beckoning, Clark SMASH, Mother Mercy and Snarley Quinn, to name a few – and together they are formidable. We also think the Bombshells are awesome. Several of us skated in the mixed games at Eastbourne Extreme last year and had the best time, and we can’t wait to see their renewed team on track.

[Photos by John Hesse]

General Election 2015: What will the candidates do for Roller Derby?

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So apparently there’s a General Election next week (Thursday 7th May). People are saying it’s going to be the closest – therefore most exciting – in decades. The media report that various issues are of concern to the voter on the doorstep; the economy, the NHS, housing, immigration, pensions and welfare, the EU, taxation, HS2, the environment, etc. But here at the BBCD, there’s only one issue that really concerns *us* and that’s roller derby. We flicked through the main parties’ manifestos online and were shocked to discover no mention of the sport in any of them. We can’t possibly vote unless we know what the candidates are going to do for roller derby. Our next step was pretty obvious. We’d have to ask them ourselves.

STEP 1. SELECTING THE SEATS
There are 650 constituencies in the general election, with a total of 3,971 candidates. We realised finding contact details for all of these would take us the rest of the year, by which time the election would be long over, so instead we decided to keep things local. We teamed up with Brighton Rockers fans group BRATS [who are also running this article] to target those seats in Sussex with a roller derby presence; places that are home to leagues, current or former venues, known skaters and coaches, etc. We settled on a total of twelve constituencies; all three in the Brighton & Hove unitary authority area, all five in the East Sussex county council area, plus four of the eight West Sussex seats. Although this means we haven’t covered the parts of West Sussex furthest from Brighton and Eastbourne (eg Chichester, Littlehampton, Horsham, Crawley), we do cover Worthing, Arundel and Mid Sussex – constituencies that include the county’s main open door derby venue in Haywards Heath, together with the site of the Rockers’ previous training/bouting venue in Shoreham.

STEP 2. CONTACTING THE CANDIDATES
These twelve seats contain a total of 70 general election candidates. We searched out their e-mail addresses via party websites, local media online and YourNextMP.com. Between Thursday 16th and Sunday 19th April, we sent an identical e-mail (explaining a bit about roller derby and outlining some of the issues that concern derby folk) to 69 of these candidates. We couldn’t find an e-mail address for the Monster Raving Loony in Mid Sussex – even though he’s their party secretary! – but we found his home address and popped a printout in the post instead. We ran the text of our e-mail past individuals from all five Sussex derby leagues (Brighton Rockers, B-Town Brawlers, Bourne Bombshells, Bomb S’Quad, New Bournes) together with other well known local derby figures. We included most of the additions/changes that people suggested, although some were left out in the interests of keeping the e-mail relatively short and easily understandable. (For example, we use the term LGBT rather than the better term LGBTQI to avoid confusing the less diversity aware candidates.) You can read the e-mail in full further down this article.

STEP 3. REAPING THE RESPONSES
Election candidates are busy people and our enquiry was somewhat obscure (not everyone’s a roller derby fan, amazing though that may sound) so we weren’t expecting a huge number of replies. We decided that those people who didn’t respond at all – the vast majority – we wouldn’t chase up with follow on e-mails; partly as we felt it was down to them to show their interest by responding in the first place, and mostly because we’re really lazy. In cases where we received an Auto Reply (acknowledging receipt of our e-mail) but no actual reply, we *did* send a follow on e-mail a week after the first. This explained that our original e-mail included input from derby folk from all over Sussex, rather than just an individual, and pointed out there are roller derby players and fans in *every* constituency. (We wrote this since most of the auto replies asked for our address and stated that those who lived in the candidate’s constituency were more likely to get a reply.) By the time April 28th, our deadline for replies, arrived we had received responses from eleven of the 70 candidates. This was a little disappointing; we had been hoping for 15-20. The response rate by constituency and political party was somewhat varied, and in many ways quite different to what we might have been expecting. UPDATE: A twelfth reply (Labour, Brighton Kemptown) arrived after the deadline, but has now been added below.

TOTAL RESPONSE RATE: 17.1% (12/70)

RESPONSE RATE BY PARTY
60.0% independent candidates (3/5)
50.0% Socialist Party of Great Britain (1/2)
25.0% Conservative Party (3/12)
18.2% Green Party (2/11)
16.7% Liberal Democrats (2/12)
8.3% Labour Party (1/12)
0.0% UK Independence Party (0/12), Official Monster Raving Loony Party (0/2), National Health Action Party (0/1), Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (0/1)

RESPONSE RATE BY CONSTITUENCY
71.4% Brighton Kemptown (5/7)
25.0% Bexhill & Battle (1/4)
20.0% Hastings & Rye (1/5)
16.7% East Worthing & Shoreham (1/6), Eastbourne (1/6)
14.3% Brighton Pavilion (1/7), Mid Sussex (1/7)
12.5% Hove (1/8)
0.0% Arundel & South Downs (0/5), Lewes (0/5), Wealden (0/5), Worthing West (0/5)

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THE E-MAIL THAT WE SENT
“Hello. We run various websites about the sport of roller derby in Sussex. We’re asking all the general election candidates in constituencies close to local teams for reasons why roller derby players/fans should vote for them. These replies will be published on one or more of our websites in the run up to the election. If you (your candidate) have any particular reply/statement on this issue, we’d very much like include it. Our deadline would be 28th April to allow time for us to collate and post replies in advance of polling day. Below is some information about the sport and the issues that concern participants. Many thanks.
    ABOUT ROLLER DERBY: Described as the world’s fastest growing sport, roller derby is somewhat unique in that most of the teams (circa 80%) are women only, although men’s teams, co-ed teams and junior teams (for ages 11-17) are all on the rise. The sport is full contact and played on roller skates, with two teams of five overtaking and/or blocking each other on a oval track. Modern roller derby originated in Texas in 2001 and reached the UK in 2006 (England now rank #2 in the world after the USA). It’s only since the last general election that the sport has taken off in this region, with the first public game in Sussex taking place in August 2011. It has grown hugely since then. There are currently two roller derby sides in Brighton (one women’s with A and B-teams; one gender inclusive) and three in Eastbourne (women’s, men’s, juniors), as well as other ‘challenge sides’ with local involvement. The Brighton Rockers regularly rank in the Top Ten in the UK and attract sell out crowds. Eastbourne’s Bombshells host Europe’s only outdoor tournament every summer. Sussex residents also play for teams outside the county, eg Croydon and Portsmouth. By best estimates there are several thousand people in Sussex now involved in the sport as players, coaches, officials and fans. It’s niche but growing fast!
    THE ISSUES THAT MATTER: Topics that are of particular concern to roller derby folk (the first two of these are probably more local council than national issues) include: (1) Indoor leisure facilities – finding suitable space to train and put on events in Sussex is difficult. Although the Dolphin in Haywards Heath is becoming an established venue for even national roller skating events, elsewhere halls of sufficient size with a suitable surface that allow skating can be hard to come by. (2) Outdoor skating surfaces (for summer fitness work etc). Although Eastbourne’s prom is good for skating, most other Sussex towns have little in the way of lengthy, smooth, safe-from-traffic areas to skate on. (3) Healthcare – most people involved in derby are not from sporty backgrounds, and the sport provides great health/fitness benefits. Injuries are fairly common, however, so good public healthcare provision is a concern. (4) Diversity – roller derby is a traditionally women-led sport whose participants regularly show support for issues such as gender equality, LGBT rights, inclusivity and mental health awareness. (5) Economics – obviously an issue for all groups in society. From a specifically roller derby perspective, the sport (with its amateur status and equipment and travel costs etc) is an expensive pastime, with many Sussex derby folk spending several thousand pounds a year taking part in and following the sport. A healthy economy/employment are important, as are any initiatives that might help open up the sport to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it.
    We look forward to hearing from you. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need anything clarified.”

THE REPLIES WE RECEIVED
Please note that the candidates in most cases will have nothing but our e-mail to go on with regard to what roller derby is. In some cases they may have misinterpreted derby as a sport played outdoors, or on rollerblades rather than quads. This is probably our fault for being fairly low on detail (to keep the length down) in our e-mail. ALSO PLEASE NOTE: ALL REPLIES ARE THE VIEWS OF THE CANDIDATE CONCERNED AND NOT OF THIS WEBSITE.

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1. ARUNDEL & SOUTH DOWNS
No replies received from: Peter Grace (UKIP), Nick Herbert (Conservative), Shweta Kapadia (Lib Dem), Isabel Thurston (Green), Christopher Wellbelove (Labour)

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2. BEXHILL & BATTLE
No replies from: Geoffrey Bastin (UKIP), Huw Merriman (Conservative), Michelle Thew (Labour)

Rachel Sadler, Liberal Democrats: “Thank you for your email. Roller derby is certainly an impressive sport, and I’d like to congratulate you for being involved. Regarding your points, here are my answers…
    1. Indoor facilities: Have you tried local church halls?
    2. Outdoor facilities: There is unfortunately no easy short-term solution to this. Have you tried contacting your local councillor(s) regarding making outdoor spaces safer?
    3. Healthcare: Lib Dems want the NHS to flourish as a well-funded public service. That’s why we’re providing the additional £8bn the NHS needs between 2015 and 2020, fully funded.
    4. Diversity: Equality’s vital to the Lib Dems; we want everybody to have opportunities, regardless of their gender, race and sexuality. We were also the architects of same-sex marriage. Regarding mental health, we’ve vowed to provide additional funding, as we want there to be parity between mental health and physical health.
    5. Economics: I appreciate that roller derby has a cost. Lib Dems will be helping by increasing the lowest income tax threshold to £12,500 by 2020.”

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3. BRIGHTON KEMPTOWN
No replies from: Ian Buchanan (UKIP), Davy Jones (Green), Nancy Platts (Labour)

Paul Chandler, Liberal Democrats: “Thanks for letting me know about Roller Derby. Many of the issues you raise are really a matter for the local council rather than parliament, but if elected I would love to come to one of your events and discuss how I could help you.”

Simon Kirby, Conservative Party: “Thank you for your email. I was very interested to read about the success of roller derby in Sussex and I hope to see the continued growth of the sport. I am pleased to see the Brighton Rockers is one of the Top 10 teams in the UK.
    I am very keen to promote sport and to encourage people to participate in physical exercise, with the many health and social benefits this can bring. Team sports can have a particularly positive effect, offering an environment for people to meet and helping people, particularly the young, build important skills.
    I also care deeply about the issue of equality. Brighton Kemptown is a very diverse place and I worked very hard to ensure the passage of the Same Sex Marriage Act 2013. Since then, I pushed to allow civil partners to convert their partnership to marriage. During the last parliament I was the Private Secretary to the Minister of Sport so I have taken a close interest in supporting sporting organisations. One of the issues that I took a particular interest in was greater equality in sport, for instance by tackling homophobic abuse.
    A real focus of the Department was on increasing female participation in sport and whilst welcome progress has been made in some areas, it is clear that there is still much more to be done and Roller Derby is clearly leading the way on this. I hope this information is helpful.”

Nancy Platts, Labour Party:
“Thank you for your email about roller derby in Sussex which sounds like a lot fun. I personally am a keen runner and enjoy running between 5k and 10k by the sea three or four times a week as well as walking on the South Downs. I feel very lucky to live in Brighton and have found this inspirational in my running. I think that keeping fit is important for physical and mental health as well as bringing together people from different backgrounds.
    I am keen to encourage participation in sport for everyone but in particular I want to see more women taking part in sport and greater access to sport for people living on low incomes. Labour will place exercise at the centre of public health policy with a new ambition to get more people physically active. We will look at how we can better support local communities to have the opportunity to use sporting facilities outside of school hours and term time.”

Jacqueline Shodeke, Socialist Party of Great Britain: “Hi. I’m just standing for socialism and not making promises on any subject because we’re not running the sort of campaign where parties say “Vote for us and we’ll do this or that for you”. So all I can say is that amateur sport is good, and that in a socialist society all sports will be amateur, since it will be a society without money and its corrupting influence on everything including sport.”

Matt Taylor, Independent: “It’s an absolute delight hearing from you and about the sport of Roller Derby. Like ‘non-binary people’, of whom I had not heard the term used before being asked to sign their pledge; I had no knowledge of Roller Derby, and am eternally grateful for you enlightening me. I live in sight of the new Amex football stadium which has lengthy, smooth, safe-from-traffic areas to skate on. Myself, daughter and son would love to get skating and I’m looking forward to taking them to a Roller Derby game.
    As well as an independent parliamentary candidate, I’m also the editor of Guerrilla Democracy News and have 300 plus subscribers on my YouTube channel, on which I post numerous broadcasts and trailers. Whether I’m elected or not, I’m really fortunate to have heard from you, because Roller Derby is the kind of sport I’d like to watch, play and get involved in promoting to a wider audience. As an MP, you can be assured I’ll promote Roller Derby with the same vigour and passion.
    The central message I need to get across is that, if you were to put me in a political box, I’ll be a liberal conservative with green fingers! Think of me as the Son of Simon Kirby, who shares the central principles of conservatism (family values, hard work, big reward, low taxes, less interference from state, Christian values) but who’s less nasty. Never forget Simon Kirby is implicated in the Katrina Taylor murder cover-up, austerity, taking us to war and fraud on a massive scale which is costing the economy billions yearly.
    I cannot stress enough to your readers the severity of the situation. It’s as if the demon is staring us in the face and the next move he makes is when he opens his mouth and gobbles our Democracy away. TTIP is my tipping point. Taylor’s Tipping Point, or more commonly known as The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Secret talks between the USA and EU, which threaten to do away with democracy as we know it.
    NHS is central to my concerns too. I want to see a more natural health service in which a doctor prescribes a change of job, diet and four litres extra water a day, rather than the pharmaceutical drugs of multi-national corporations which are proven to kill us, not heal us like they claim. Chemotherapy kills and it costs £40-50K per treatment. Growing cannabis is free and it cures cancer and a variety of other serious diseases and ailments. In health I turn to the Facebook group NaturallyBetterMultiversity.
    Sustainable Housing: Using Michael Reynolds inspired Earthships as the blueprint to solve our housing crisis by building thousands of Earthships on brown fill and green belt land (www.earthships.com). Moai Tidal Energy: The only alternative to fracking and oil. Capturing energy from around our island from the seas rather than raping our ancient and rolling hills and fields.
    I stand for honesty and integrity in public office and it’s time our politicians tell us the truth. I’ve got loads more to say; King Arthur II, aliens, police corruption, Sussex Police Crime Commissioner elections. I’m the UK’s most controversial parliamentary candidate. Our nation is facing its darkest hour; now is the time to believe King Arthur II was born one Christmas Day 503AD and died in Kentucky USA in 566AD. We have a well recorded ancient British history waiting to be rediscovered.
    REVOLUTION NOW. More to follow at sosparty.co.uk and I hope you vote Independent on Independence Day 7th of May.”

GE2015_4

4. BRIGHTON PAVILION
No replies from: Chris Bowers (Lib Dem), Nigel Carter (UKIP), Clarence Mitchell (Conservative), Howard Pilott (Socialist Party GB), Purna Sen (Labour), Nick Yeomans (Independent)

Caroline Lucas, Green Party: “Roller Derby looks a lot of fun and a great team sport, and it’s fantastic to see so many women involved. With Government funding to local authorities being slashed so deeply (by 40% between 2010-16) our public services are increasingly vulnerable, and I’m doing all I can to prevent cuts from adversely affecting community services and sports.
    But my opponents are fond of asking what ‘one Green MP’ can actually do. I think I’ve been able to show exactly what one MP can do if they really want to. As an unwhipped MP, my position wouldn’t be decided for me by a party official – I’m able to freely fight the corner of my constituents; they feed into every speech, every vote. And while I work very effectively across parties, which is really crucial to making stuff happen, I’m also able to hold them to account, press them to be bolder and more progressive and push Labour, in particular, to be the Party we really need it to be – on everything from the cost of living, to education, the NHS and public services.
    Central to my politics is a commitment to social and climate justice. And at a time when we have four parties which seem to be buying into the same narratives on issues like immigration, welfare and the NHS, we need a strong, clear and independent Green voice in Parliament now, perhaps, more than ever.
    Take the Independent Living Fund – a life source for nearly 18,000 disabled people with high-support needs. The Government is cutting it, and no other Party has opposed that. Time and again the Green voice has been the only real opposition in Parliament, the only alternative narrative – from challenging austerity cuts, to fighting for a truly public and protected NHS, public services in public hands, improved housing rights, tackling tax cheats.
    I was humbled to be named MP of the Year 2014 for my work with minority and disadvantaged communities, and delighted that Pinknews also named me its MP of the Year. People are the heart of my politics, and I’m so proud to serve a city where time and again we see diversity, justice and equality not just tolerated – but celebrated.”

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5. EAST WORTHING & SHOREHAM
No replies from: Mike Glennon (UKIP), Tim Loughton (Conservative), Tim Macpherson (Labour), Bob Smytherman (Lib Dem), Carl Walker (National Health Action)

James Doyle, Green Party: “Thanks for your email. I’ve got to admit, this is probably the most specific request I’ve had, and I don’t think flipping through the Green Manifesto is going to help me find much on roller derby!
    More seriously, I appreciate what you say about roller derby both in terms of health, and in promoting gender equality and diversity issues. Although roller derby has been low on my radar, I certainly think that it fits with my, and my party’s, general ethos in promoting opportunities for people to look after themselves, participate in the community around them, and look after their bodies. And skates are a great way to get around Worthing too!
    Access to facilities is a problem for many sporting groups, and I understand your problems. We have a pretty good prom (in terms of straightness and width) in Worthing, but it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of surface quality – I know because I own a pair of roller blades, albeit only for going in (mostly) straight lines. As I’m a councillor in Worthing, and my patch includes a big chunk of the prom, I’d be very happy post-election to meet with someone to discuss what could be done to improve it to a standard necessary for roller blading. I’d also be happy to talk about access to Worthing’s leisure facilities.”

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6. EASTBOURNE
No replies from: Caroline Ansell (Conservative), Andrew Durling (Green), Nigel Jones (UKIP), Jake Lambert (Labour), Stephen Lloyd (Lib Dem)

Paul Howard, Independent: “I can’t say I’ve given much thought to roller derby, possibly because of my own abject lack of ability on skates (blades or rollers)! The most compelling part of your pitch is the health benefit that derives from all sports including yours. It concerns me that the NHS is really the National Illness Service with little investment in healthy living.
    I have more chance of becoming a competent skater than an MP so there’s not much point my promising you much; however, I genuinely wish you every success with your venture.”

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7. HASTINGS & RYE
No replies from: Jake Bowers (Green), Andrew Michael (UKIP), Sarah Owen (Labour), Nick Perry (Lib Dem)

Amber Rudd, Conservative Party: “Thank you for your email regarding Roller Derby in Sussex. I can assure you that both myself and the Government want to ensure that everyone has the chance to participate in a diverse and interesting range of sports and activities. The great outdoors is hugely important for tourism and the country’s economic well-being.
    Outdoor sport and recreation are key not only to our personal well-being but to the nation as a whole. We are hugely privileged in the South East and especially Hastings in that we have access to a number of large open spaces and a fantastic promenade. You may also be aware that work is being undertaken to transform the White Rock Baths into a £1 million world-class BMX and skateboard arena, I am sure you will agree that these are exciting plans!
    I am very much aware of the positive impact that sport can have on everybody. Aside from the obvious health benefits it helps boost self-esteem and confidence and I firmly believe that there is a sport out there for everyone. The Government and the National Lottery are investing more than £1 billion over four years to help more people enjoy sport, and to develop sporting talent.
    I am greatly encouraged by the number of women participating in Roller Derby and I know that the Government is absolutely committed to supporting women in sport. I wish your team, your players and all those participating in Roller Derby all the very best in their activities.”

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8. HOVE
No replies from: Jenny Barnard-Langston (Independent), Dame Dixon (Loony), Christopher Hawtree (Green), Dave Hill (TUSC), Peter Kyle (Labour), Peter Lambell (Lib Dem), Kevin Smith (UKIP)

Graham Cox, Conservative Party: “Thank you for your enlightening email. I am a keen local sports supporter, having been secretary of Brighton and Hove Cricket Club for many years (and a season ticket holder at the Albion).
    However I have to confess that my knowledge of roller derby is very limited. Funnily enough my stepfather was a roller skating instructor at (I think from the stories he used to tell) Richmond Ice Rink in London when roller skating first became popular before the war. I confess though I did not know of the popularity of roller derby here in Brighton and Hove until receiving your email.
    It strikes me that the timing is right as I am campaigning for the replacement of the worn out King Alfred Leisure Centre on the seafront and at last progress is being made. It is essential that the new KA includes a facility for staging team events/sports such as this so I will pass this on to local colleagues who are currently involved in the tender process at this time.
    If I am fortunate enough to be elected the MP for Hove and Portslade then I would very much like to visit you to learn more and do what I can to support in a practical way.”

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9. LEWES
No replies from: Norman Baker (Lib Dem), Maria Caulfield (Conservative), Ray Finch (UKIP), Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Labour), Alfie Stirling (Green)

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10. MID SUSSEX
No replies from: Toby Brothers (UKIP), Daisy Cooper (Lib Dem), Miranda Diboll (Green), Greg Mountain (Labour), Nicholas Soames (Conservative), Baron Von Thunderclap (Loony)

Beki Adam, Independent: “Thank you for your unusual email. Most of the issues which you have listed as of importance to Roller Derby players are covered on my website and for obvious reasons of time, I ask that you and your colleagues look there to better understand where our values meet – and where they diverge. Having spent many years in meditation, I might reasonably claim to have a deeper understanding of mental health issues than many people. I have written an explanation of why I’m not signing the transgender pledge – it’s on my voteADAM.info blog from April. I’d be interested to know your thoughts, and am more than happy to meet a group of players to discuss this and your other issues if I am elected.
    As your MP, I would have the funds to employ a team of researchers, run a staffed constituency office, and more time to discuss issues of importance with my constituents. I would be able to meet with concerned groups and individuals in a way which is not possible before the election. MPs will have over £150,000/year – on top of their salaries – to pay for staff and offices next parliament. I would ensure that means an open door opportunity for Mid Sussex voters to share ideas and concerns. I plan to facilitate regular debates on topical issues, and utilize technology to share these widely. It’s good that you are such a physically active group. Wishing you all the best in health and well-being.”

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11. WEALDEN
No replies from: Solomon Curtis (Labour), Nusrat Ghani (Conservative), Giles Goodall (Lib Dem), Peter Griffiths (UKIP), Mark J Smith (Green)

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12. WORTHING WEST
No replies from: David Aherne (Green), Peter Bottomley (Conservative), Tim Cross (UKIP), Jim Deen (Labour), Hazel Thorpe (Lib Dem)

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SUMMARY
So which reply impressed you most? Will it change the way you vote? It would of course have been good to have received more responses. Hopefully by the next general election in 2020, roller derby will be so well established that candidates will be falling over themselves to reply to our e-mails. On the (admittedly very remote) chance you want to know what the main parties are promising on issues other than derby, you can check out their manifestos below:

CONSERVATIVE PARTY
https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/manifesto2015/ConservativeManifesto2015.pdf

GREEN PARTY
https://www.greenparty.org.uk/assets/files/manifesto/Green_Party_2015_General_Election_Manifesto.pdf

LABOUR PARTY
http://b.3cdn.net/labouruk/e1d45da42456423b8c_vwm6brbvb.pdf

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS
http://www.libdems.org.uk/complete-manifesto

UK INDEPENDENCE PARTY
http://issuu.com/ukip/docs/theukipmanifesto2015?e=16718137/12380620

Eastbourne Roller Derby Fresh Meat: Sunday 29th March

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*dusts off cowbwebs* *wipes screen* Well, it seems like 2014 was only yesterday. Or at least it does if you go by this website, which shamefully hasn’t updated for almost six months. Oops, sorry! We’re back though, and there’s so much to mention. The Bourne Bombshells themselves are debuting in the inaugural British Championships tournament on May 9th against Chelmsford’s Killa Hurtz in Stevenage, with at least three further games (including a home tussle with Suffolk in mid-August) to follow. Preparations for the UK’s leading – and probably only – outdoor derby tournie, Extreme Extreme, are also well underway, with a top drawer match-up between the Bristol and Croydon A-teams being part of the fun.

Meanwhile, the burgeoning Eastbourne men’s league Bomb S’Quad recently held their first ever official scrimmage [as far as we know a scrimmage is the same as a game, but scores aren’t officially released] at home to Surrey Jammerwockies. Meanwhile the New Bournes – a juniors league for those aged 11 to 17 – continues to build weekly, and has great ambitions going forward. We’ll be hearing from all three leagues in the next few weeks, but first of all we’re looking at today’s Fresh Meat intake.

YEP, TODAY (SUNDAY 29TH MARCH) ALL THREE EASTBOURNE DERBY LEAGUES WANT *YOU* TO JOIN THEM AT CAUSEWAY SCHOOL AT 2.30PM, WHETHER YOU ARE MALE, FEMALE OR CHILD-SIZED AND WHETHER YOU ARE INTERESTED IN DERBY FROM A SKATING OR NON-SKATING ROLE. HERE’S SOMEONE WITH A FOOT IN ALL THREE LEAGUES TO TELL US MORE…

DRAG ‘N’ FLY – BOMBSHELLS SKATER & NEW BOURNES COACH:

Hi there. We’re now twelve weeks into 2015. How has the year been for the Eastbourne derby leagues so far?
We have had a great start to 2015. We’ve combined our men’s and women’s training, which is working well. We have also moved to a new venue, which has enabled us to have the capacity to invite both men’s and women’s teams to come and scrimmage with us, as we can now fit in a full sized track! The New Bournes have also moved to the venue and are taking full advantage of the extra space.

This Sunday sees the year’s first intake of Fresh Meat. What exactly is that for those that don’t know, and what sort of people are you after?
Fresh Meat is the basic training programme set up to enable you to play roller derby, combining both skating skill and newly learnt derby knowledge. We are looking for anyone with an interest in skating or roller derby.

Are you looking for really good skaters, really competitive people or a mixture? What about non skaters?
We are looking for anyone of any age, whether they can skate or not. There are skating and non-skating positions in the leagues. We would encourage anyone to come along and have a look.

Is Sunday’s intake for all three of the leagues – the Bombshells, Bomb Squad and New Bournes?
Sunday is the intake for all three teams, although looking forward the junior league (New Bournes) will be training on Saturday afternoon, whereas the men and women’s adult sides train on Sundays and Thursdays.

What does a twelve week Fresh Meat programme for skaters generally consist of?
The three month FM programme takes people through a progressive journey to gain the skills to play roller derby; starting with the basics like stops and falls, then moving on to hitting, blocking and pack work nearer the end of the programme.

How long after completing FM might a player be participating in A-team games?
After completing Fresh Meat and passing the Minimum Skills tests required, we would encourage skaters to take part in some scrimmages – to build their gameplay knowledge and confidence to help support themselves on the track – after which they will be available for rostering for the team.

What do people need in terms of equipment, sporting background, etc?
In terms of equipment, people need the following: quad skates, helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads and a mouthguard. The Bombshells have ten sets of Fresh Meat kit to loan out for the twelve week programme, which has been supplied by lottery funding from Sports England. So essentially you can start with no kit of your own and build it up over the twelve weeks. People do not necessary need any sporting background before they start. All the skills will be taught over the programme.

Where and when is Sunday’s session taking place? Should people get in touch with you beforehand or just turn up on the day?
This Sunday’s session is staking place at Causeway School in Eastbourne from 2.30pm – 5.30pm. People can get in touch with us beforehand via Facebook or they can just turn up on the day. The first session is free.

Finally, what plans do the Eastbourne leagues have for the rest of 2015?
We are planning for Eastbourne Extreme [the UK’s only outdoor roller derby tournament, July 18th-19th on Eastbourne seafront] at present, with the second day having as many of our skaters on the track as possible. There is a men’s game, a co-ed game and a juniors scrimmage. The Bombshells’ first game in British Championships [the 72 team nationwide women’s tournament that started this year] is on the 9th May in Stevenage, which we are currently working towards. We have some newer skaters on the roster along with some of the original members, so it should be a great mix. The Bomb Squad have had their first closed door game this month, with another planned for April, and their first open game will be at Eastbourne Extreme. With the New Bournes it has been a bit harder to secure any games as junior roller derby is such a new concept, but watch this space!

[Photos by John Hesse]

THINGS TO CLICK ON:
SUN 29TH MARCH FM DAY (FB PAGE)
BOURNE BOMBSHELLS WEBSITE
BOMB S’QUAD WEBSITE
NEW BOURNES WEBSITE

Heartland Series South East Final Day preview

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There will be a sense of déjà vu for many of the teams taking part in this final day of divisional action in the 2014 Heartland Series. The venue is the same one used for the last round of South East games; the home of the Big Bucks league, Wycombe Leisure Centre, travel directions to which you’ll find in our preview of the previous game day. This epic triple header takes place on Sunday (2nd November) with doors at 2.45pm. There are limited tickets on the door at £12 a pop. With three games to fit in, there’s plenty of derby action in store. We can’t see things finishing in the hall much before 9pm, with an after party following in the town centre (at the local branch of faux Irish pub chain O’Neills). Although there’s nothing to play for in terms of qualification here – the top two teams in the division are already through as the South East’s representatives in the finals on the 23rd – every team could finish in a different position in the table to where they currently stand. In a moment we’ll hear a Bombshell’s thoughts heading into Sunday, but first here’s an almost impenetrable wall of stats and predictions…

3PM BOURNE BOMBSHELLS (5TH) v BEDFORDSHIRE ROLLERGIRLS (6TH)
Bedfordshire have yet to win a game and have lost their previous four matches by between 120 and 480 points. Climbing off the bottom of the table therefore looks a very big ask – they’d need to beat the ‘shells by over 350 points – but they will be keen to at least get a victory on the board in this final game. The Bombshells currently place 294th in Europe on Flattrackstats with 469.2 ranking points, with Beds 351st on 432.2. Splitting the difference between home team predictions on FTS (as they don’t have an option for a neutral venue such as this) sees Eastbourne given an 80% chance of taking the win. Expected points differential of around 10:7 would equate to something like a 250-175 Bombshells win.

5PM NORFOLK BRAWDS (3RD) v HELL’S BELLES (4TH)
If any game is going to have a major effect on the final placings it’s likely to be this one. What divides these two teams is essentially their respective performances against the Bombshells, with Norfolk’s victory accounting for the extra three points (and better score differential) they hold over the Hell’s Belles who Eastbourne beat. The points gap is narrow enough that Hertfordshire only need to win by 67 to take third place from the Brawds. Conversely, if the Belles lose and Bombshells win, the Herts side will drop below Eastbourne in the table. So no team has more to gain or more to lose on Sunday than Hell’s Belles. The rankings are in their favour, with Herts placed 166th in Europe (519.1 points) and Norfolk 181st (513.6). There’s not much in it, but the Flattrackstats predictor, adjusted for neutral venue, calls this as a 55% win probability for Herts, with a predicted differential of 50:47, which is equivalent to a squeaky tight 200-188 Belles win.

7PM MILTON KEYNES (1ST) v BIG BUCKS HIGH ROLLERS (2ND)
This top of the table clash features two sides who have won all four of their games so far. At first glance it doesn’t seem to have much riding on it. Both teams are through as the South East’s representatives at the Series Finals. One tangible effect of taking the win, in addition to picking up the divisional title, is that the victors will face Oxford Roller Derby in the Series quarter finals. The losers will be up against Gloucester’s Severn Roller Torrent. Which is the stronger of those potential opponents is up for argument – Oxford place higher than SRT in the UKRDA rankings (26th v 31st) but lower than them in Euro rankings (98th v 54th). Think that’s confusing? So is this South East title match itself. Big Bucks place 20th in UKRDA on 579.2 points with Milton Keynes 34th (526.3). Given home advantage the High Rollers have a massive 97% win prediction on a 53:28 differential. That would equate to something like a 265-140 Big Bucks win. Treating it as a neutral venue, which it technically is (despite being BBHR’s home turf), softens the win prediction a tiny bit. The Euro rankings, meanwhile, actually favour Milton Keynes – they place 43rd to Big Bucks’ 79th. Even with a prediction based on it being the latter’s home venue, MK are given 70% chance of the win. That rises to 77% if treated as neutral. The score differentials suggest a victory margin of around 40 points for MK based on these Euro rankings. Ah, confusing maths! Gotta lie down now…

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THE PHILOSOFEAR – BOURNE BOMBSHELLS

Your most recent Heartland Series game (against Big Bucks) resulted in a fairly heavy defeat. Was that expected, given the strength of the Wycombe side?
We went into that game knowing that it would be tough and so we were aiming to just minimise the score differential. Big Bucks are ranked much higher than us and were expected to beat us by a lot, but we actually did slightly better than the score prediction from Flattrackstats’ European rankings. We’ve had a few difficult games now in the Heartland Series and we’ve learned to focus on our blocking and strong walls rather than on jamming. Unfortunately in the game against Big Bucks we lost another player to injury (Beast Unleashed broke her ankle) so we’ve had to change our line-ups around for this weekend’s game.

You’re returning to Big Bucks’ Wycombe venue on Sunday for the final day of South East division games. Do you know much about your opponents, Bedfordshire RollerGirls?

We’ve seen them play a few times now in the Heartland Series. Booty Vicious is Bedfordshire’s player to watch out for. She’s a strong blocker and a big hitter. She occasionally jams and is very good at powering her way through walls. I would liken her to the Bombshells’ Smash’er Fierce – a strong blocker who can hold walls together and send the jammer flying.

Any Bombshells players or tactics people in the crowd should keep an eye out for? How do you expect the game to go? Care to predict the result?

According to the online predictor the Bombshells should win. However, we were predicted to win against Norfolk and we lost that one by a fair amount. There’s been a lot of change in the Bombshells ranks recently, with key players leaving and others injured, so I don’t think that the predictor is entirely accurate. Obviously we hope to win! But I think it’ll be a more even game than our last few matches. Elle Hound is a player to watch out for – she’s now a key part of our jammer rotation.

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The day’s other games are Hell’s Belles v Norfolk Brawds and Big Bucks v Milton Keynes. How do you think those two games will go? Any particular players people should look out for?
The Hell’s Belles v Norfolk Brawds game will be interesting for us as we really need the Brawds to win. If they do, and if we win our game, then the Bombshells would finish 4th in the division. On the other hand, if Hell’s Belles win, it would come down to points differential and theirs is currently much better than ours. The Belles played really well in their last bout against MK and could surprise everyone. They’ve got some great jammers (especially Dolly Spartan) who will really test the Brawds’ walls. The Bombshells are big Hell’s Belles fans and we have a recent transfer from the Belles playing with us, so we’ll be cheering for them, even though we really need the Brawds to win! I’m really looking forward to the Big Bucks v Milton Keynes game too, and I think it’ll be very close. At the moment I’m unsure as to who will win it.

How has your Heartland Series campaign compared to your expectations going into it? What have been the highlights and lowlights so far?
I’m not sure we had any expectations going into Heartland – it’s all been very new for us. Coming 4th in our division would be fantastic. For me one of the highs so far was the last jam of our game against Hell’s Belles. It was Swann’s last game with us, so we put her on to jam the final jam of the game and let her choose her ‘dream team’ of blockers so that she could go out on a high. The blockers kept the Hell’s Belles jammer contained and Swann was able to make a quick succession of scoring passes and finish the game on a very high scoring jam. The lows have been the two big injuries in our last two games – Seoul Destroyer broke her elbow in our game against Norfolk, and Beast Unleashed broke her ankle in the game against Big Bucks.

Finally, what plans do the Bombshells have going forward?
We’re taking part in the British Championships (which the Heartland Series is becoming) next year, but we don’t have much information yet on who we’re playing and when. We have a closed door game against Grid City in January. And of course 2015 will see the return of our outdoor tournament Eastbourne Extreme!

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FINALS WEEKEND & THE FUTURE OF HEARTLAND

The grand final of 2014 Heartland Series takes place on the 23rd November at Newark showground in Nottinghamshire – arguably a more Northern (and Eastern) location that the geographical spread of teams might have suggested. Milton Keynes and Big Bucks go through as the South East’s representatives, alongside teams from Gloucester, Plymouth, Oxford, Cambridge, Hereford and Merseyside. The two SE teams are in separate halves of the draw, so could theoretically meet in the final, though all eight competitors are highly ranked strong sides. Tickets are priced at £10 (plus service fee). See the links below.

This year’s Heartland Series has been the biggest and most nationwide yet, featuring 24 teams from across England and Wales, which is quite a jump from what started out in 2012 as a competition for six South Midlands leagues. Next year things get taken to a whole new level. Heartland is being renamed the British Championships and will feature around SEVENTY derby teams from across the UK competing in a football-style pyramid of national, regional and sub-regional divisions. Fixtures are being released to leagues at the moment and should be made publicly available over the coming weeks. We do know that the Bombshells won’t be the only Sussex participants, with the Brighton Rockers also taking part in next year’s competition. As we understand it, there should be a fair bit of British Championships action taking place at the Dolphin in Haywards Heath in 2015. More info when we have it.

[Photos by John Hesse, Rebecca Cornford and Daz Wilson]

LINKS
2ND NOV FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/291813547693603/
23RD NOV FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/327175307467016/
23RD NOV TICKETS: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/893466
HEARTLAND: http://www.heartlandseries.co.uk/
BRITISH CHAMPS: http://www.britishchamps.com/
CHAMPS ON FB: https://www.facebook.com/BritishRollerDerbyChamps
BOMBSHELLS: http://bournebombshells.wix.com/bombshells
HELL’S BELLES: http://www.hertsrd.co.uk/
BEDFORDSHIRE: http://www.bedfordshirerollergirls.com/
NORFOLK BRAWDS: http://www.norfolkbrawds.com/
MILTON KEYNES: http://www.miltonkeynesrollerderby.com/
BIG BUCKS: http://www.bigbuckshighrollers.co.uk/