British Champs T4 South East Day 5 Preview

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After what feels like forever – it has been over two months since the last Game Day – the Tier 4 South East of British Champs cranks back up into action on Saturday (17th October) as the Riverside Leisure Centre in Chelmsford hosts the final day of divisional action. Doors open at 1pm, with the first game whistling off half an hour later. Tickets are available on the door, priced £6 for adults and free for under-16s. The venue is close to Chelmsford station, which is just over half an hour’s journey from Liverpool Street. Through tickets from Sussex stations are surprisingly spendy at around £45 return (£30 with a railcard). A useful trick here is to buy two separate tickets – one from Sussex to London Bridge, one from Liverpool Street to Chelmsford – and walk the 15 minutes between the London stations. This could bring the price down by around 40%.

The Bombshells are up first against table toppers Norfolk Brawds (who have already qualified for playoffs). Although the teams are placed close together at the bottom of the UKRDA rankings – the Brawds 46th on 501.7 points, the ‘shells 48th on 440.6 – the predictometer at Flattrackstats calls this as 90% chance of a Norfolk win. Predicted differential is 37-20, equivalent to a 259-140 Brawds win. Eastbourne would probably be happy with a result like that, having gone down 73-201 to the East Anglians in the Heartland Series last year. High scoring jammers in the top ten charts are Khilleesi, Zippy and Philthy Delphia for the Brawds, whilst the increasingly impressive Amazing Graze rates highly for Eastbourne. Defensively, Smash’er Fierce and The Philosofear are the top rated Bombshells blockers.

The day’s second game sees hosts Killa Hurtz take on Suffolk in a game that will decide who takes the division’s second playoff place. Though the sides are tied on two wins and a loss apiece, FTS favours the hosts quite strongly here. With neither side in the UKRDA, it’s the European rankings table we have to look at here. Killas place 98th on 543.2 points, with Suffolk 256th on 465.9. The online predictor gives the hosts a whopping 96% chance of the victory, with an expected differential of 29:12 mathsing out in the region of a 232-96 home win. Killas’ Bonty Python, Chaos Thor-E and Snarley Quinn score highly for jamming in the Champs charts, with Miss Behave and Maltese Mayhem Suffolk’s highest rated starheads. Mother Mercy and The Beckoning top a list of eight Killas in the (albeit not updated since Game Day 3) blocking top ten.

We’ll have a full round-up of both this weekend’s games and the previous (Bombshells hosted) Game Day on the site in a week or two. In the meantime, let’s hear from some players about what to expect in Essex tomorrow afternoon…

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PHILTHY DELPHIA – NORFOLK BRAWDS

Hi there. So the Brawds are already through to playoffs. What have been your highlights and lowlights of the 2015 British Champs season?

Obviously our (very close) win against Killa Hurtz in our debut bout of the season at home was a big highlight for us. And to be honest it’s just gotten better and better from there. So there really aren’t any lowlights!

Your final game of the regular season is against the Bombshells. Any particular Eastbourne players or tactics you’ll be looking out for?
We have played Bourne before but it’s been at least a year. We have changed and strengthened a lot as a team since then, but we know they really have as well, as they proved in their bout against Suffolk. We have a soft spot for Bourne as they are always so welcoming and fun to scrim with. We’re looking out for everything and everyone. We’re going into this bout as focused and tough minded as any other.

Any particular Brawds players or tactics that people in the crowd should look out for? Care to predict the result?

You always ask us that and you know we aren’t going to answer! There are definitely a few new tricks up our sleeves that we’ll be trying out on Saturday, and we’ve really worked hard to get all of our A-team skaters up to the same level of skill, ability and fitness. So no one should stand out. Or everyone should!

The day’s other game sees Killa Hurtz and Suffolk fighting it out for the second playoff place. How do you see that game going?
These are two really strong teams that get stronger every bout they play. We’re looking forward to seeing a really tight bout. If we had to guess based on our games against Suffolk and KH, we’d expect KH to take it, but Suffolk are tough and have some amazing players to look out for, so anything could happen.

Finally, T4 Central South’s Surrey Rollergirls and/or Hell’s Belles await you in playoffs. What do you know of those sides and how do you rate your chances against them?
We’ve played both teams in the past, although Hell’s Belles more recently and regularly. They are one of our favourite teams as they are really friendly and we have skated (and camped!) with them a few times in the Hotrod Hayride. You might say we have a VERY friendly rivalry with them so it’d be fun to play them in the finals. Both teams have obviously been working hard to get to the top of their tier so we are expecting them to bring everything they’ve got to finals. However, we’d definitely like to see ourselves in Tier 3 next season.

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CLARK…SMASH! – KILLA HURTZ ROLLER GIRLS

Hi there. So Killa Hurtz will be battling it out with Suffolk for a playoff place this Saturday. An exciting end to the British Champs T4 South East season. Is this what you were expecting when the season began?
We truly had no idea what to expect from Champs when we signed up to it. We were still a fledgling league having only played two public bouts (home and away against Suffolk!). However our directors and our coach thought that, if nothing else, it would be a good learning experience. So we signed up and trained hard. Played some closed door games against some pretty big teams (and won) and our hard work paid off. I think our highlights have been seeing both the team and the players grow. We did have two transfers from the Seaside Sirens at the end of last year, and having that experience in the team has only helped everyone get better. I think if you look at the player tables you’ll see just what a strong team we now have… and I do believe we have scored the most cumulative points in the whole of Tier 4, so we are proud of that! I think our ‘lowlight’ has to be THAT game against the Brawds where we lost the game in the last jam by just six points. It still hurts!

What do you know of Suffolk Roller Derby? Any particular players or tactics of theirs you’ll be looking out for?
Suffolk are our derby besties. In the past we have trained together, scrimmed together and hung out together. They are truly a lovely bunch of people and I think we both champion each other when we are not playing each other! Suffolk have also grown a lot over the past six months and have some new players on their squad that we have not played against before, so it will be interesting to see how they complement their existing team. Yvonna Bone is back on their squad and she has always been one to watch when she is jamming!

Any particular Killa Hurtz players or tactics people in the crowd should keep an eye out for? Care to predict the result?

We have some new players that people won’t have seen on our squad before: Judge Shredd and Penny Traitor. Whilst new to the team they are definitely strong and obviously wouldn’t be in the squad if they weren’t capable. We have some new tactics that we have been trying out over the summer; we had a rather long ‘rest’ period so it has given us time to try some new things out! I wouldn’t want to predict the result as anything can happen on game day, and both teams will be looking to settle the score as it’s currently one apiece!

The day’s other game sees table toppers Norfolk Brawds up against Bourne Bombshells. How do you see that one going?

The Norfolk Brawds are the most experienced team within our division. Political Vagenda was so tenacious in our game, definitely a player to keep on the radar. Khilleesi is another Brawd to look out for – she gets so low when she jams. We played the Bombshells in our first game of the season, and since then each game they’ve played they’ve come back stronger and stronger. The last game they played v Suffolk was another nail-biter. Whether all the hard work they’ve clearly been doing will be enough to topple the mighty Brawds, I guess we’ll find out on Saturday!

You’re hosting the action on Saturday. What can you tell us about your venue?
Riverside is our home venue, and we are lucky that the manager there supports our team and goes out of his way to help us out. We have trackside seating and two balconies which give an awesome view of the action. Swift Customs and Shoves & Kisses will be at the venue and we will have merch from all the teams participating as well as Team England Men’s and Essex Men’s. We have a licensed bar and snacks available to buy in the hall. Riverside is pretty central being only a ten minute walk from the train station and all day car parking is available at the centre for £6.80. However, just over the bridge from the Leisure Centre is the Riverside Inn pub, which has a car park (on the opposite side of the road) where all day parking is £4.80. Post derby shenanigans at our after party shall include a lip sync battle and streaming of the Southern Discomfort game live from the USA. So please come and join us for a drink and we’ll be ordering in pizzas. The venue is The Two Brewers on Springfield Road which is a five minute walk from the sports hall.

LINKS
FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1023760617664678/
CHAMPS: http://www.britishchamps.com/

[Photos by John Hesse]

Heartland Series Bout Day 3 @ Haywards Heath Preview

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This Saturday the mighty Bourne Bombshells return to Heartland Series South East Division action as they host their home double header. This takes place at the Dolphin leisure centre in Haywards Heath, which is building up something of a reputation for quad skating. It’s played host to many Brighton Rockers home games, the occasional Croydon Roller Derby home game, and is also the regular venue for the National Roller Figure Skating Championships. Boasting one of the fastest floors in the region, the sports hall has plenty of room for spectators, and the venue is also home to two bars – a bright cafe style one in the foyer, plus a more booze-focused health club bar (with a strange policy of paying somewhere different to where you collect your drinks) a few corridor turns past the hall. As is the way with leisure centres, you’ll also find vending machines, the whiff of chlorine, and clusters of small children dressed for judo.

Doors open at 2pm, with Milton Keynes Concrete Cows taking on Bedfordshire Roller Girls at 2.35, followed by the Bombshells against Hertfordshire’s Hell’s Belles around 4.35pm, then after partying down the road from 6.30ish. Tickets are £8 in advance (£10 on the door) from the link at the bottom of this piece. There’s a ‘buy five get one free’ deal, and under 12s go free. The leisure centre is on Pasture Hill Road, around seven minutes walk from Haywards Heath train station (turn left and follow the handmade signs). There’s a large Sainsbury’s halfway along the route, should you require supplies. The pub opposite the station, the Burrell Arms, is decent enough for a sports bar – home to the more civilised rugby rather than football type this Saturday – and will be hosting the after party. Those travelling from further afield who plan to stay over will find little in the way of accommodation in Haywards Heath itself, but Brighton is less than 15 minutes away by train and boasts a plethora of options, from backpacker hostels to pop star frequented designer hotels.

MK Cows currently place second in the SE table, behind Big Bucks High Rollers, who have the weekend off (as do the Norfolk Brawds). MK’s score differential is superior to BBHR’s, so any victory will see them go top. Saturday’s other three teams are all awaiting their first win – although Hell’s Belles came close against leaders Big Bucks – and take the 4th to 6th spots based on points scored v conceded. The Bombshells currently place bottom, so have the most to gain, and could climb to as high as second with a big win, although fourth would be more achievable. The predictor at flattrackstats gives MK (ranked 73rd in Europe) a 97% chance of beating Bedfordshire (268th) with an expected score ratio of 47-17, which would equate to a typical derby scoreline of around 235-85. The Bombshells v Hell’s Belles game is expected to be much closer, with the 179th placed Belles given a 56% chance of beating Eastbourne (223rd) and a score ratio of just 16-15, equivalent to a 144-135 Belles win. As ever, take any predictions with a pinch of salt. We’ll leave you with a few words from departing Bombshells player-coach Lois Swann (formerly Toxic Block Syndrome) and Night Cub from Hell’s Belles…

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LOIS SWANN – BOURNE BOMBSHELLS

The Bombshells kicked off their Heartland Series campaign a few weeks ago in Milton Keynes. What did you learn from that game?
Oh, we learned a ton. It was our most difficult game to date, and when we finished we were pretty certain that we’d done everything we could, and we couldn’t have done any better. Having done a lot of footage review since, however, we spotted many silly mistakes that I hope we’ve resolved now. We have got a couple of new skaters in the line-ups on Saturday, and we’re playing with a full squad of fourteen for the first time since (I think) August. We’ve just really drummed in everything we should have been doing in the last game. Hopefully it will pay off.

Do you know much about Saturday’s opponents, the Hell’s Belles? Care to predict the result?
We don’t know an awful lot about them, to be honest. I’ve never come across any of their players anywhere, but I’m aware that they’re coached by [Men’s Team England star jammer] Reaper, so I hope their jammers haven’t picked up too many of his tricks! We’ve seen some footage of them from earlier in the year, and I think if we’re both having a good day, it’ll be a tough, competitive game. I’d like to think it will be nice and close, and then we’ll edge ahead to a comfortable lead in the second half.

With your traditional Hastings venue no longer allowing skating, this will be the Bombshells’ first outing at Haywards Heath’s Dolphin. Do many of you have experience of the floor there?
Not really. We have a handful of girls who originally started out with the Brighton Rockers, who also use it as their home ground, so a couple of them have skated there. Generally speaking, we’re going in a little bit blind, though. We’re just going to have to show up super early!

The double header’s other game sees Milton Keynes take on Bedfordshire. What are you expecting from that game? Any standout players to look out for?
Most of the teams in our division are ones we’ve never really come up against before, so Bedfordshire are a little unknown to us. I attended a bootcamp with them several months ago, though, and if their attendees were reflective of their bouting team, I’d speculate that Milton Keynes will have the edge. The MK walls are just so solid, and difficult to move or break up. The Valkyrie and Bolshevik gave our jammers an awful lot of trouble, and Magic Beanz was a really fun jammer to block against.

It’s not long now until Eastbourne Extreme (July 12-13th). Are preparations going smoothly?
Sassy McAwesome has got it all under control with her committee. Everything’s going great, so long as we don’t talk about the weather. We’ve opened the Sunday up this year to be a true expo event, showcasing all the different kinds of derby on offer. We’ve got three women’s mixed games (rookie, intermediate and advanced), a men’s game, a co-ed game, and a junior demo, so there’ll be something for everyone. The uptake has been amazing and we’ve got some great players on the rosters, including a handful from various national teams!

Finally, we understand Saturday will be your last game as a Bombshell. Eep! Tell us more…
It will indeed. I have my first training session with the Brighton Rockers two days later (Mon 9th), which is pretty exciting. I’ve been with the Bombshells since the very beginning, so obviously leaving was a big decision and one I feel very sad about, but it was just time for me to move on. I feel like I’ve given all I can to them as a coach and I need some time to focus on my own development, so I can push myself to the next level. I don’t know if or when we’ll meet again on the track, but the Bombshells and Bomb S’Quad are like my extended family. They’re already talking about how excited they are to see me play with the Rockers if I get rostered, and of course I’ll always be their biggest supporter, so I don’t think it’s the last we’ll be seeing of each other.

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NIGHT CUB – HELL’S BELLES

For those who don’t know the Belles, can you tell us about your history to date?
The Belles were founded in 2010 and since then we’ve grown as a league, and we’re now establishing ourselves as Hertfordshire Roller Derby, with the Belles still being our main travel team. We competed in [Heartland Series predecessor] The End of the World Series in 2012, as well as being part of the Heartland Series itself in 2013 and 2014.

Have you learned a lot by playing in a big tournament like the Heartland Series?
The Belles developed significantly as a team over 2013, gaining a few of our travel team players from last year’s fresh meat courses. Playing all the Heartland games, as well as extra scrims and bouts, has developed us to work as a team. We’ve come a long way and we are quickly learning what works for us and how to play ‘our game’.

Are there any particular Hell’s Belles players the crowd should keep an eye out for?
We recently did an article for the Heartland Series website, ‘Stars on the Rise’, introducing some of our newer team players. Scarlett Heartless is one of our newest league members, joining us from Big Bucks last summer. She’s a quick thinking jammer, with equally quick footwork. Candy Cane-Her is one of our strongest blockers, having no problem with wiping opposition players off their feet and off the track. Les Be Avenue is a skilful blocker, and like Candy emerged from one of the more recent fresh meat courses. She has good knowledge of the game and its tactics, which she regularly puts into practice.

Do you know much about the Bourne Bombshells?
We haven’t played the Bombshells before, so we look forward to pitching our skills against a new team.

What are you expecting from the day’s other game, MK v Bedfordshire?
The Valkyrie, Bolshevik and Cherry Bomb are three players to watch out for. We’re sure we will enjoy some high quality derby from both these teams.

Finally, do you have a message for any Belles fans in the crowd on Saturday?
Our message for the Belles fans is lots of cheering and wearing red and black. We hope you enjoy the bout too!

LINKS
BUY TICKETS: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/heartlands-south-east-division-bout-day-3-tickets-11368648935
FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/536554199787495/
HEARTLAND: http://www.heartlandseries.co.uk/
BOMBSHELLS: http://www.bournebombshells.co.uk/
HELL’S BELLES: http://www.hertsrd.co.uk/
MK COWS: http://www.miltonkeynesrollerderby.com/
BEDFORDSHIRE: http://www.bedfordshirerollergirls.com/

[Photos by John Hesse and PolaDroid/Chris Yarrow]