Let’s Take This OUTSIDE! Eastbourne Extreme 2016 ROLLER DERBY Preview!

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It’s that time of year again. This weekend (Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th July) large swathes of the UK roller derby community – and many from elsewhere in Europe – will descend on Eastbourne seafront for a two day festival of outdoor derby action. The format for this event changes every year. For 2016, the Saturday features all four of Eastbourne Roller Derby’s teams taking on challengers. Then on Sunday there are five mixed games, featuring skaters from dozens of different leagues in men’s, women’s and co-ed games of varying skill levels. This preview contains a guide to Saturday and Sunday’s events (in chronological order) including some thoughts from folks who are taking part…

HOW TO GET THERE
The action takes place from 10am to around 6pm each day at the Fishermans Green Tennis Courts. That’s a mile along the coast (heading North East) from Eastbourne Pier – use the postcode BN22 7LH in maps apps. There’s car parking adjacent, it’s 25 minutes walk from Eastbourne train station and several local buses stop nearby. Admission is totally free. As well as the roller derby, Extreme has roller hockey, skateboard/scooter ramps and lots of other extreme sports to check out. There are public toilets right by the derby area (expect long queues for the ladies at times) and a few food outlets along the seafront, plus a large landscaped park with lake across the way. The nearest shop for booze and munchies is Spar on the corner of Beach Road and Seaside (about five mins walk). There are also after parties both evenings – a roller disco on the Saturday and pub takeover on the Sunday. Yay!

THE HISTORY OF DERBY AT EXTREME
The Philosofear (ERD):
“Roller derby first appeared at Eastbourne Extreme in 2011. There was an indoor scrimmage and a few jams outside as a demonstration (which I attempted to ref badly!). In 2012 the Bombshells ran a one-day tournament at Extreme. We didn’t take part as we weren’t bout-ready since most of the team hadn’t yet passed minimum skills. In 2013 we were ready to participate and so we had a tournament on the Saturday for newer teams like ourselves, plus one on the Sunday for more established leagues. From there it has grown every year. Now that we are Eastbourne Roller Derby, we like to use Extreme as an opportunity for all of our different teams to play, which means it’s the biggest event in the ERD calendar. But the mixed team games also give skaters from all over the country (and a few from the continent) an opportunity to skate at Extreme.”

WELCOME TO ERDBY
Regular readers might have noticed we’ve changed our identity. This website was formerly called the BBCD (Bourne Bombshells Cheer Division). When we first formed as an unofficial group for fans of roller derby in Eastbourne, the Bombshells were the town’s only derby team. In the past couple of years that has all changed. With the addition of the men’s team Bomb S’Quad, the co-ed A-Bombs and New Bournes juniors – all operating under the banner of Eastbourne Roller Derby – we thought we should change our name to fully reflect our support for all of these teams. So as of this week we are now ERDBY, which as well as being an anagram of ‘derby’ (clever, huh? – or maybe not) also stands for Eastbourne Roller Derby Big Yay! As well as this website, you can find us intermittently posting at facebook.com/erdbigyay and twitter.com/_erdby. Get in touch via erdby@yahoo.com if you like. But enough about us, let’s get stuck into the cavalcade of roller derby that this weekend holds…

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SATURDAY 16TH JULY SCHEDULE

10.00-12.00 MEN’S ROLLER DERBY SEVENS (THREE GAMES)
10.00 ERD BOMB S’QUAD V SCERD WEALD WARRIORS
10.50 ERD BOMB S’QUAD V MEDWAY MAYHEM
11.40 MEDWAY MAYHEM V SCERD WEALD WARRIORS

The day kicks off at a frighteningly early hour (hey, anything before 2pm at a weekend is early for us) with a three team men’s tournament. Derby Sevens is a special format of 21-minute long games with squads consisting of seven players rather than the usual fourteen. This format has proved very popular with men’s teams in the UK as many don’t yet have enough players for a full size squad. Eastbourne’s Bomb S’Quad are taking part, along with two teams from Kent. We caught up with all three sides to find out what to expect…

ERD BOMB S’QUAD
Tenacious P:
“The Bomb S’Quad were established in early 2015 and the past year has seen us have numerous closed door and open door games, most recently in the Roller Derby Sevens Southern Men’s Cup. Our first open door as a team was at Extreme last year where (with a few guest skaters) we took the win over Surrey. We’ve played some of Medway at Team England Sevens back in May and watched them in their games as part of the Southern Cup. They are a hard team to play; they have some great jammers and are as tough as nails. Weald Warriors were also a part of the Southern Cup and are another strong team. We like the Sevens format as it’s quick, tough and challenges you to the limits as you hardly ever come off. As a Jammer (which I am) you tend to do one on, one off – hit a few two minute jams and you soon feel it! I think we have the edge but you never know as both Kent teams have improved so much over the past six months.
    Playing outdoors is a real challenge. The hits hurt more, the sunburn is a killer and endurance is pushed to its limits. We usually have a small advantage as playing outdoors for us starts in June, or even May, but this year the weather has been so bad that we’ve only been outdoors twice. Look out for Pont Blank, our new captain, who is back from his travels with a renewed vigour. Also Animal, one of our newer skaters (and family member of Chasin’ Status), who is one of our most skilled skaters. Extreme is our showcase event. As we’re without a local home venue, this is the time of the year we get to show the people of Eastbourne what we can do!”

SCERD WEALD WARRIORS
BrutAl Deluxe:
“Based primarily in Rochester, Weald Warriors stemmed from Rochester Royal Rollers to become the men’s competitive arm of Southern Co Ed Roller Derby. The Warriors were introduced to the world this year at the inaugural Sevens Men’s Southern Cup. What can we say about Medway Mayhem? Light and shade. Yin and Yang. WW and MM. We have battled Mayhem before and this good-natured local derby derby is guaranteed to entertain. We cannot wait to show the boys next door how we do this on the street. Weald Warriors are yet to go to war with Bomb S’Quad – we look forward to showing these old men of the sea what this young team can do. As a new team building up its player base, the Sevens format has been essential in allowing us to compete with more established teams in a fast, fun and free-flowing format. This will be our first time competing at Eastbourne Extreme, and we’re looking forward to getting to grips with outdoor skating. Get ready for shades, sunshine, and funny pad tan! We will bring the war to Eastbourne Extreme as we look to secure our first win. Watch out for Chandler Bang and his deceptively laid back jamming style, and the double threat vision in pink that is PRO-LAPS.”

MEDWAY MAYHEM
Brute:
“Mayhem was Kent’s first men’s roller derby team when we formed in July 2015. We have played our local rivals Weald Warriors twice in the Sevens format and we currently hold a 2-0 win record. We haven’t faced the Bomb S’Quad but we can’t wait to test ourselves against them! Mayhem hosted both heats of the recent Men’s Sevens Southern Cup tournament. We ended up finishing joint fifth with Bomb S’Quad in that tournament. Eastbourne Extreme has been a calendar event for us. We’ve known of it for a couple of years and we’re honoured to be invited. A few of us play on challenge teams with Tenacious P of Bomb S’Quad and we know how good he is. Also watch out for Crash Mat from the Warriors. Mayhem players to look out for? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see…”

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12.30-14.00 WOMEN’S GAME
ERD BOURNE BOMBSHELLS V BRIGHTON ROCKERBILLIES

[PLEASE NOTE: THERE IS A MORE DETAILED PREVIEW OF THIS PARTICULAR GAME AT THE WEBSITE OF OUR CHUMS BRATS – CLICK HERE FOR THAT] Amazingly the two longest running Sussex derby leagues have yet to meet in an open door game. The Bombshells and Rockerbillies both took part in last year’s Eastbourne Extreme tournament, but didn’t end up playing each other. The two leagues have met a few times behind closed doors, so it will be interesting to see how they match up in front of an audience…

ERD BOURNE BOMBSHELLS
The Philosofear:
“Playing outdoors is something we’re used to as we train outside in good weather for a few months before Extreme. I’d also say we know the Brighton Rockers league pretty well (especially as I’m an ex-Brighton player). A lot of us attend their bouts regularly and quite a few of them have been to our scrimmages. Their B-team Rockerbillies have a few newer players on their roster, who we are not that familiar with, but also a lot of skaters who are well-known to us. I’d say that Lab Wrath and Van Hayley are Brighton skaters to watch out for. I’ve seen both of them play a few times and they’re strong. We’ve also heard that the Rockerbillies have a transfer skater from Helsinki who is a good jammer. For the Bombshells, Beast and Smash’er Fierce are both great blockers who are very hard to get past. Bullet Bomber is a brilliant all-rounder. And Crash’s jamming has been on fire lately. As for our tactics – I’m not telling!”

BRIGHTON ROCKERBILLIES
Van Hayley:
“Last year’s Eastbourne Extreme was crazy! Three games in one day, all in the blazing sunshine. It was really tough and very intense, but it was a great experience. There were a few casualties but we all learnt a lot, and there was lots to see when we weren’t playing. The tarmac is super grippy so it really favours fast, jukey jammers. It also chews through wheels and toe stops pretty quickly! Being outside in the sun by the sea sure beats being inside a leisure centre any day, even if we did all get a bit burnt last year. We love the Bombshells! We’ve played a lot of scrims and closed door games with them and it’s always great. They always give us a run for our money. They’re a really tough team but they’re so much fun to skate with – we’re really lucky to have them so close by! They’re also great to hang out with. We didn’t get to play them at Eastbourne Extreme last time because of the way the tournament format worked out, so we can’t wait for this year. Watch your backs Bombshells!”

14.30-16.00 JUNIOR ROLLER DERBY
ERD NEW BOURNES V EXTREME JUNIORS CHALLENGE TEAM

Eastbourne Roller Derby also has a junior league, the New Bournes. They will be taking on a team of skaters from various other junior derby leagues on Saturday afternoon. The New Bournes coaches have this to say…

ERD NEW BOURNES
Beachy Headcase & Drag N Fly:
“New Bournes have been going for 2.5 years and we now have around sixteen active members aged between 5-17. About half of our skaters are level 3 skaters, which mean they play full contact roller derby the same as adults. The other half are still working their way through minimum skills and play level 2 roller derby, which is more positional with less hitting. The nearest active junior league that we know about is based in Calais! Hopefully we are playing them soon. But we also have friends in Devon (DASH) and Hereford (The Poison Berries). Both those teams are represented during our mixed game at Extreme. There are other teams up and running but the distances are vast! More teams are popping up all the time though. We took a few players to a mixed game in May hosted by Hereford, and another mixed game in Neath last December. We jump at opportunities and are willing to travel! The challenge team we face on Saturday includes skaters who have travelled from Devon, Hereford, Sheffield and even Charleroi in Belgium.
    Derby outdoors is really good fun. It can be a bit slower and it’s rougher when you hit the ground because it’s tarmac not wood/vinyl, but the sea air is lovely and beats playing sports halls. Outdoors eats rubber and chews up pads but we still love it. Obviously we would love to win this weekend, but it’s just exciting for the junior league to finally be able to play in their purple team kit. We have played a few mixed games with the opposing team, but I can truly say that they are all awesome, and junior roller derby is really great to watch. Beyond this weekend, the New Bournes are planning to play our first game against a full team in the autumn, and hopefully we are going to participate in Europe’s first junior roller derby tournament in Copenhagen next Easter!”

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16.30-18.00 CO-ED GAME
ERD A-BOMBS V FULL METAL ROLLER DERBY

Saturday’s action finishes with a co-ed game, featuring Eastbourne’s A-Bombs (a mixture of Bourne Bombshells and Bomb S’Quadders) against Full Metal RD from Stevenage. What can people expect from this game?

ERD A-BOMBS
Tenacious P:
“The A-Bombs are Eastbourne Roller Derby’s newest team. A co-ed (male/female) league, we had our first game at Extreme 2015 where we took a hard fought loss to the much more experienced Portsmouth Scurvy Wenches. A year on and we’ve seen the hard work in practice begin to pay dividends with a win against My Mom (and Friends) and placing third at England Men’s Host Roller Derby Sevens back in June. We’ve not played Full Metal Roller Derby as a co-ed team but the Bombshells played them last year in British Champs and we played a few of them as part of the My Mom game earlier this year. Full Metal Roller Derby have heart and fight, never giving up. That makes them a tough team to play.
    Co-ed is very different to other types of derby. It takes the skill and precision of women’s derby and the power and strength of men’s derby and throws it in together. For me personally, I think it’s a much more fun game to play, where skill is tested against power, speed against force. It has the excitement of the men’s game and the precision of the women’s, with the best players from each league on the track. I think we have a small advantage but the weather has seen only limited opportunity to practice outdoors. The bigger advantage is that we have trained co-ed for over a year now. That’s massive. We know each other and test each other every session. Bullet Bomber is always a skater to look out for, but also keep an eye on Aladdin Sane and Beast who have taken their blocking to a new level this year.”

FULL METAL ROLLER DERBY
FMRD:
“Full Metal is a co-ed league based in Hertfordshire. We’ve been bouting as a co-ed team since the start of this year, but our women’s team has been playing since 2015. A few of us have played against the A-Bombs in a challenge team game. We know that they are a strong team with solid walls and good communication. Co-ed derby is harder hitting than women’s derby, but more tactical than men’s derby. It’s a perfect balance between the two, usually played at super quick speeds. Eastbourne Extreme is legendary in the derby world and we’re really honoured to have been invited to play. The biggest difference is the surface we play on. Skating outdoors on gravel is a whole different world to skating on a smooth wooden sports hall floor. Any bump could send you flying if you’re not prepared! But it’s something we’ve been training for and we’re excited for it. We’ve been working on how to beat the A-Bombs’ favourite cube wall recently, so we feel like it’ll be really evenly matched game and great fun to watch. Close points are inevitable!”

19.00-LATE AFTER PARTY @ MY SKATEWORLD
Saturday’s after party is a full on roller disco at My SkateWorld. This venue is located on an industrial estate a mile or so inland from where the day’s derby takes place – the postcode is BN23 6LY. There will be skating, a DJ, live music and £1 shots of Sourz. Admission is £5 for adults (including a voucher for a free drink) and £2 for youngsters. These can be bought online from ERD or on the door (subject to availability).

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SUNDAY 17TH JULY SCHEDULE

10.00-17.30 MIXED TEAM GAMES (FIVE GAMES)
10.00 ROOKIE WOMEN’S GAME
11.30 CO-ED INTER/ADVANCED GAME
13.00 MEN’S MIXED LEVEL GAME
14.30 WOMEN’S MIXED LEVEL GAME
16.00 CO-ED ADVANCED GAME

Sunday features a rapid succession of full games featuring skaters from various different leagues. Previewing each game individually seemed a bit tricky, so instead we asked a couple of ERD stalwarts to give us an overview of the whole day.

Will Sunday’s games feature many ERD players?
Tenacious P: We are returning to a format we used back in 2014 for the Sunday with mixed teams representing skaters from all over the UK (and a few from Europe). This means you get some of the best league skaters in the country working together on track with each other.
The Philosofear: We have 140 skaters playing in Sunday’s mixed games and 25 of those are from ERD. So it’s roughly 18% ERD and 82% from elsewhere.

What are some of the other leagues who have players taking part?
Croydon are well represented as are newer leagues like Medway and SCERD, but in truth we have people from all over – Portsmouth, London, Oxford, Norfolk… the list goes on.
There are a few leagues with a lot of participants. Southern Co-Ed Roller Derby are very well represented. We’ve also got a lot of skaters from Croydon taking part. CRD have been a huge part of Extreme since the beginning and Extreme wouldn’t be the same without them. Several other teams have quite a few players taking part; Seaside Sirens, Brighton Rockers, Medway Mayhem, Killa Hurtz and Portsmouth. Portsmouth are another team who have a history of involvement in Extreme and they’re one of our favourite leagues.

There are a mixture of men’s, women’s and co-ed games at various skill levels taking place. How are the games likely to differ in terms of pace/physicality/etc?

This year we have our usual rookie game, which is always fun to watch and features a number of players skating in their first ever game. The Intermediate and advanced co-ed games were both massively oversubscribed. We also have mixed level men’s and women’s games. This mix of games and levels makes for interesting viewing with both the women’s and co-ed advanced game being of a very high level. Expect those two to be fast paced whilst the men’s and the inter co-ed will be a bit more physical.
The co-ed advanced game will be the highlight of the Sunday. There are quite a few high level players and it’ll be great to watch. Expect lots of apex jumping, huge hits and fancy footwork! But my favourite game will be the rookie women’s game (which I’m benching). For a lot of the rookies this will be their first time skating outdoors and for some it’s also their cherry popper game. I love the support that rookies often get from friends and family (eg homemade signs and banners) which means a great crowd cheering during the game. And more experienced players often shout advice from the crowd, which makes it all rather loud and fun!

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Are there any particular players taking part on Sunday that the crowd should look out for?
We have Noise Tank and Gin Atomic skating again this year. Both are always excellent fun to watch, and of course look our for the Portsmouth players in the co-ed advanced game who work so well together.
In the advanced co-ed game there quite a few well-known players who are always fun to watch; Noise Tank, Kaizen, Mother Mercy and Hench are all crowd-pleasers. In the inter-advanced women’s game, Tori Bee and Gin Atomic are two of the top players. Both are very strong double threats. In the inter-advanced co-ed game, Tenacious P’s jamming is always amusing – he looks like he’s having so much fun. And I’m hoping to see some big hits from Clark…SMASH and Smash’er Fierce. In the rookie women’s game, expect some strong jamming from new Bombshells InnsterSlam and T-Wrecks. And in terms of blocking, Heisen Bird, Bettsy Bruis’er and Puschifer are ones to watch. In the men’s game, look out for ElderLee’s blocking. Chandler Bang’s jamming is also great to watch – he’s got some fancy footwork.

Is there anything else (other than roller derby) at Extreme that you recommend?
Battle Extreme will be good to check out. This is a slalom skating competition that’s been held at Extreme for many years now. It’s being held right next to the roller derby. It’s run by My SkateWorld who are also hosting our Saturday night after party.

What should spectators expect from the weekend in general?
With two massive days of skating, loads of side events (raffles etc), 50+ officials and two after parties, Extreme 2006 should be the best one yet. There’s also our first dedicated after party on Saturday night this year with skating, music, a DJ and more!
Spectators can expect lots of sun, cake and dogs! (As well as the roller derby of course). As the venue is right on the seafront, bring swimming/beach gear. Plus, if any spectators own skates, bring them! Eastbourne seafront has a skate lane and it’s always fun to grab an ice cream (I’d recommend Fusciardi’s Ice Cream Parlour, which is a short skate away from the Extreme venue – head towards the pier) and go for a gentle skate along the seafront. We have two after parties. On Saturday we have a party and roller disco, with bar, food, DJ and live music at My SkateWorld (which is where Eastbourne Roller Derby have our mid-week training). Then on the Sunday we’ll be heading to the best pub in Eastbourne, our fabulous team sponsor The Crown and Anchor. Their food is amazing!

11.30-12.30 MINI BLOCKING BOOT CAMP WITH GIN ATOMIC & NOISE TANK
Gin Atomic:
“There are twenty spaces available for this one hour mini boot camp aimed at rookie and intermediate skaters. Sign up at the admin desk on the day – first come first served! We’ll be covering three different blocking techniques, including backwards and lateral. Skating outdoors is a good way to practice using your edges, and these three different techniques will help blockers with being more adaptable to the various different types of floor you encounter when playing.”

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18.00-LATE AFTER PARTY @ THE CROWN & ANCHOR
The whole weekend comes to an end with an after party at The Crown & Anchor. This pub is a regular haunt for Eastbourne Roller Derby events. It’s located on the seafront just before (derby side) of the Pier – around 15 minutes walk. Pop along to toast the end of another great weekend of outdoor roller derby.

ALL WEEKEND – LIVE STREAMING ON FACEBOOK

If for any reason you can’t make it down to Eastbourne for this weekend’s action, you’ll be able to watch all of the games via a live online stream. See the links below for more info.

[Photos by John Hesse]

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
FB LIVE STREAM: https://facebook.com/EastbourneextremeRD/
FB EVENT PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/480442415476756/
ERD ON FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/EBRollerDerby
ERD ON TWITTER: https://twitter.com/ebrollerderby

THE VENUES
FISHERMANS GREEN TENNIS COURTS: https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Fisherman’s+Green+Tennis+Courts/@50.7777313,0.3062278,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x6545daa5ced75dc7?sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjc_rOM3PPNAhVEAsAKHQzTANMQ_BIIbjAK
MY SKATEWORLD: http://www.myskateworld.co.uk/
CROWN & ANCHOR: http://crownandanchoreastbourne.co.uk/

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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.

GE2015_3

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.”

GE2015_5

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

FM151

*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

Eastbourne Extreme 2014 In Review

EER1

Steven looks across as the woman from the council checks her balls and tubes, dials and gauges, whilst tapping a sequence of figures into her notepad. The roof of the Arndale Centre is a regular haunt of Steven’s. For the lady from Health & Environment, it’s merely the scene of a brief but daily 9am (10am in summer) chore. One with an important purpose, though, particularly today. For this ‘climate centre’ perched above Boots Opticians is where the town of Eastbourne forges its annual claim to have more hours of sunshine than anywhere else in the UK. Though this doesn’t go down well with other south coast towns – both Bognor and Hastings have made rival claims in recent years – it’s a reassuring factor when it comes to putting on an outdoor roller derby tournament. Skating in the rain is something of a no-no, so derby (a scary enough proposition on dry surfaces) simply ain’t gonna happen under a crying sky.

Which is precisely why each year members of the local Bourne Bombshells league spend much of late June and early July checking conflicting online weather forecasts – trusting whichever is the most favourable at any given time – crossing fingers, sacrificing chickens and chicken-flavoured pieces of Quorn, and dedicating prayers to the Gods of Outdoor Derby and that title-claiming weather station on the roof of Boots. The lady from the council looks happy enough with today’s readings, and Steven makes his way down to The Cage, the concrete corral off the Eastern prom that will host this weekend’s war on wheels. Joining his friends Nodding Bob and Mewan atop an outhouse, Steven looks across at an orange-rimmed oval. Enough of the town’s 1,962 annual hours of sunshine (or at least hours of ‘non-rain’) will land today and tomorrow for the tournament to go ahead as scheduled. Yay!

EER2

First up, it’s the London Rockin’ Rollers B-team Rising Stars (known as the Badasses to their friends) in the red kit. Up against them in sky grey is Croydon Roller Derby, whose A-team have won this tournament in its two previous years. It’s their B-team Vice Squad taking part in 2014, although we notice at least one person from last year’s Extreme squad in there. [Memo to self: Don’t use the phrase ‘A-team ringer’ here or you’ll get an ear-bashing from CRD’s PR crew.] When the participants for this tournament were selected at the start of the year, all four competitors were closely matched in the rankings. These two B-teams have both powered up the table in the intervening months, however, and if the statistics are to be believed this opener will be a dress rehearsal for the final. Scoring is slow to begin with, as players get used to the surface and the ungodliness of the hour, but London soon start putting clear distance between themselves and CRD, taking a 54-13 lead into half time.

LRR might have over four times Croydon’s score, but a 39-point gap is easily bridgeable, even when periods are only 20 rather than 30 minutes. (40 minute stoppage-free games with 5-10 minute half-times are the only way to cram all seven of today’s matches into the event’s allocated time slot.) Miss N Link and Claudia Shove’er take the star for London early in the second half. Von Bitch hollers instructions from the bench as LRR keep their lead going. Charging fightback in the final few jams from Croydon gives them a scare, with Fackelman racking up five point passes as the game draws to a close, but the red army have enough of a lead to weather that storm. London hold out for a 79-71 win. It’s the Bourne Bombshells v Surrey Rollergirls next. With both teams expected to struggle against Croydon and London, this could well be the play-off for third place. It’s not just about taking the win, though. The final table is being decided on points for and against, rather than wins/losses, so sides need to make the margins of their victories as big as possible, whilst keeping the gap small in losing games.

EER3

Early exchanges are nip and tuck. A few points one way, a few the other. Buffy Smothers the strongest of the Surrey jammers, with Evil Badger and Hunter Stompson amongst the black-clad Guildfordians’ biggest blocking threats. A couple of five point passes from Bullet Bomber sees the Bombshells start to pull away. Penalty box jammer switcheroo between Smash’er Fierce and Crazy Cat Lady follows, with Smash’er adding to Eastbourne’s lead. Chunder Woman, Crash and Dreaded Shortcake regularly starring up for the ‘shells. We’re seeing packs starting on the pivot line a lot more than usual today – something to do with the slower pace of skating on an outdoor surface, perhaps? The open air environment is also affecting communication between the penalty box and incoming line-ups, with almost every jam preceded by one team or other screaming at a player to get off or lose their pivot panty seconds before the whistle. A referee’s wheel goes for a solo wander around the track. It’s 63-11 to the Sussex side as we take a brief half-time break.

A large complement of announcers taking turns to call today’s games. People passing by on the prom who stop to watch through the fencing are being beckoned in, siren-like. Or would be if they could find the entrance gate, awkwardly located on the opposite side of the cage to the tide of human traffic. Midday. The sun is over the yardarm. People in the crowd start cracking open the first of many cans of cider and beer. PM stands for pissed meridiem, yeah? Queues forming at the loos. Steven, Bob and Mewan do their business on the beach instead. Tracklines re-oranged for the second half. Smashlyn on the mic, kit checking the ref with the runaway wheel. The bits that meet the ground – wheels and toe-stops – are taking a pounding on this concrete, and more detachments will follow. Game back on now. The likes of Kerosene and Anne Grenade battling with tough purple walls. The Philosofear and Smash’er are keeping them and other Surrey starheads pegged back. Some good shifts in the star from Elle Hound, a recent addition to the Bourne rotation and supplier of today’s water bottles, then it’s down to Shortcake to seal the win with a triple pass power jam. Final score is 101-40 to the hometown heroes.

EER4

There’s no rest for the wicked good and the Bombshells are back on track in the next match. It’s around now that the weather forecasts predicted a few showers, but the Arndale rooftop juju has kept them at bay. Bullet and Chunder take the first two leads against Croydon, but are quickly chased down with minimal scoring. Agent Cooper, who made her open door (and open air) debut in last year’s tournament, gets CRD’s first lead in the third as an Inara Terror-filled grey wall holds Drag N Fly back. Vice Squad starting to put up the points now – Terror donning the star and drawing the game’s first PJ – but they’re not running away with it yet. Chunder, who is joining Croydon after this tournament, is off for a turn two track cut. Philosofear laying down a tough one-wall in front of Cooper, but she breaks through and goes on a scoring spree. CRD pack too tough for the returning Chunder, forcing a star pass, and six laps of the pack from Cooper puts Croydon 50-12 up. OK, now they’re running away with it. Further power jams for both sides, and a spectacular – if somewhat ill-advised on unyielding concrete – apex jump from Fackelman sees the half closed out at 61-23.

Bombshells still in touch, with some pacy jamming from Bullet at the start of the second half, but Croydon start turning the screw as the period progresses. Inara Terror, Blazing Nympherno and Angel DDelight taking successive leads for the South Londoners now, as someone turns up the brightness on the sun. Occasional welcome breezes are few and far between, and it’s starting to get a bit “only dogs and Englishmen” now, even for those of us just watching. On track, the water, from both bottles and sweat glands, flows freely. Sussex jammers tiring as they end up embroiled and boiled in lengthy discussions with Dot Cottonmouth’s shoulders. Attempted star pass between DNF and ‘fear couldn’t have gone more wrong if they’d both ended up with Union Jack boxer shorts on their helmets. The final whistle is something of a relief all round. Vice Squad take the game with triple Eastbourne’s score (135-45) and everyone joins the queue at the ice cream stand. The next contest sees Surrey matching LRR point for point in the early exchanges, before the red army shifts up a gear and the Cockneys take it 124-48. Nodding Bob celebrates by stealing a small child’s chips.

EER5

This isn’t what we were expecting at all. Maybe it’s the heat. Maybe it’s a hangover from the tough battle they just had with Surrey. Either way, LRR begin their game with Eastbourne a little on the back foot. After an epic opening jam that runs the full two minutes and ends 16-15 to the Bombshells, the hosts start edging out into the lead. Chunder takes full advantage of a power jam, dancing through the LRR pack on her toe-stops, and it’s 29-15. The typically rowdy Rockin’ Rollers support urge their team on, but the Bombshells are matching them point for point now in what has begun as one of the cleanest matches in this penalty heavy tournament. The sin bin visits are on the way though, with Bullet taking a star seat twice in one jam, as Mimika Mayhem restores the natural order of things. 55-40 to London. Almost everyone on track wearing shades now, as the beating sun intensifies with the Rockin’ Rollers dazzling play. 67-40 at half time, and Eastbourne will need Skate Protection Factor 30 to avoid being burned further by LRR in the second period.

As Steven and Mewan take turns annoying a small dog, the game resumes. The Bombshells make a brief resurgence, but it lasts about as long as the dog baiting. Claudia Shove’er and Hunter doing the damage for London now, as the home side succumb to a series of penalty calls, track cuts – so easy to make when there’s no wire on the perimeter – and bungled star passes. LRR take it 171-71. The Sussex side managed the same number of points against London that Croydon did, but the differential here is the day’s biggest. Will this century gap see the Bombshells finish fourth rather than third? Unfortunately for Surrey, no it won’t. Badger puts in some big hits for them against Croydon, with Buffy and Kerosene jamming in the points. It’s a battling performance, but the girls in grey are too strong. Psycho Sis in particular is proving a tough obstacle for the SRG starheads, with DDelight, Cooper and Cardinal Sim rolling out a 129-68 victory for Vice Squad – the same 61 point margin of victory the Bombshells managed over Surrey.

EER6

The official table may have been calculated differently, but by our reckoning LRR are top with +184 points, Croydon second on +143, followed by the Bombshells (-129) and SRG (-198). A spread that seems to back up the pre-tournament expectations of a ‘two-division division’. It’s not over, though, as the table topping pair must play off for the title. LRR Rising Stars go into the game as favourites, having already edged past Vice Squad at the start of the day, but we have a feeling CRD could surprise them here. We place a one pint bet on a Croydon victory with the person we’re sitting next to. Both sides are well supported here, with the front row dominated by equal clusters of chanting, sign waving Rockin’ Rollers and CRD A-teamers. Nikki Blocker Glory kicks things off with a five pass power jam. Fackelman follows up with a power jam of her own. Barely three minutes gone and Croydon have a 39-0 lead. The person sitting next to us looks very angry and is muttering something about being “hustled”. There’s certainly some hustling happening on track. Also some bustling. Both packs working hard to keep the jammers at bay. Sis, Terror and Cottonmouth amongst the defensive standouts for Croydon; Fonda Kaos, DisorderLee and Demolition Darcy for London.

LRR are getting over their slow start. Their packs have more of a handle on Croydon’s starclads now, and their own jammers – notably Hunter, Link, Mimika and Claudia – have started getting their hips past. A scoreless final jam sees half-time tallied at 72-28. The person next to us is still scowling. Meanwhile, Steven looks unimpressed as Mewan and Bob turn an empty crisp packet into a tug-of-war rope. Whatever rocket Von Bitch puts up the troops with her mid-game team talk, it seems to do the trick, as the LRR Rising Stars come out battling for the second period. OK, Croydon’s Cooper is outscoring Hunter, who she is usually paired with, and putting up regular multi-pass jams, but elsewhere the Badass jammers are largely besting their Vice Squad counterparts… Link, in particular, helps pull them back into contention… Dirty DC deals well with a mid-jam toe-stop malfunction… Nympherno takes Croydon into triple figures, before a track cut call on Cooper sees Hunter take a two pass PJ… With three minutes left on the clock it’s 104-87 to CRD and there’s still time for our neighbour to win that pint after all, grrr… “Come on Croydon!”… Terror and DC are battling for lead, but a double track cut call on the latter sees Vice Squad mop up fourteen points in the final jam. It’s a 118-87 win for Croydon, a 568ml of Guinness win for us, and Nodding Bob takes victory in the tug-of-war.

EER7

As if winning the Extreme tournament for the third year in a row isn’t enough, Croydon also pick up all three of the player awards, with Psycho Sis taking best blocker, Agent Cooper best jammer, and Nikki Blocker Glory as MVP. There’s little time for anyone to bask in the results, though, as most of the skaters, officials and spectators hightail it to a roller disco in a Napoleonic fort. Not to skate – they’ve had quite enough of that – nor to ask why we call them ‘Napoleonic forts’ when they’re actually anti-Napoleon forts. Instead, it’s to watch a stream of the day’s other main derby action, as New York’s Gotham Girls meet London Brawling on track and take them to school. Steven pops by for a look, but ends up getting shooed off by angry derbyers for getting in the way of the (pretty sketchy to begin with) screen. There’s an after after party party until the wee small hours, but a lot of people will be getting a fairly early night. We have a whole second day of derby action to come tomorrow, starting with a mixed women’s rookie game at 9.30. Nine thirty in the morning? Is playing derby at such an hour even legal?

Steven, Mewan, Bob and friends helpfully provide an alarm call for many of those in the Eastbourne area, and the Sunday action gets started more or less on time. Today was thought to be at greater risk from the weather than yesterday – an indoor venue has been sourced “just in case” – but the ground has mostly de-damped from an earlier shizzle of drizzle, and events are only slight delayed. The Hula-gans take on the Tiki Terrors in this rookie opener, as a bleary hungover crowd try to find out whose idea it was to give the day’s first teams such garish kit colours. Eye-scorching orange and head-thumping purple? Yeah, thanks for that. With Bombshells bench and line-upping both teams, there are also Eastbourne rookies taking part, along with folk from more than a dozen other leagues. Although most of today’s skaters are based in the South East, a handful are from further afield. The junior derby exhibition which follows the rookie game also has long travelled competitors. Helmed by Eastbourne’s New Bournes junior league, the demo includes a few skaters from Cardiff’s Tiger Bay Cubs. The Welsh side put on the UK’s first ever junior derby event 18 months ago, and now get to take part in the first ever outdoor junior derby event, although today’s strictly enforced ‘no contact’ rule will result in these more experienced players picking up a lot of penalty calls.

EER8

The kit colours are getting more restrained as the day progresses, and whilst the intermediate women’s game features more purple – it’s Eastbourne, of course there’s purple – a soothing teal (whatever the hell that is) takes the place of nuclear orange. It’s no secret that the scheduling of last night’s New York v London game, and its accompanying Leeds-based boot camp, has caused a fair few withdrawals from today’s mixed teams. With advanced skaters plugging co-ed gaps, intermediates stepping up to advanced and general doubling up, there’s a marginal quality shift over what the original rosters offered, but of course everyone’s still giving it their all. That’s certainly true of the men’s game, where local Bomb S’Quadders are teamed up with skaters from Portsmouth, London, South Wales and beyond. Although there are some experienced derbyers involved, many of these players are in teams that have yet to begin playing regular games, and this – combined with the challenges of the outdoor environment – means the action is scrappy at times. It’s a fitting public showcase for the unfairer sex’s version of the sport nonetheless. Bob and Mewan look on with bemused detachment. Steven, meanwhile, has an upset tummy and will spend much of the afternoon decorating nearby cars.

Bombshells defectors Swann and Chunder Woman line up against each other in the advanced women’s game. Croydon’s A-teamers, audience members for yesterday’s tournament, are liberally scattered amongst many of today’s squads. The crowd itself bears an even broader range of league tops than yesterday, such is the effect of having more than twenty teams provide players. Tannoy music remains of a resolutely riot grrrl disposition and the Jellied Wheels (in white) are behind at half-time, but battling hard as the second half gets underway. Seaside Siren Killer Bite is amongst the red topped Rampaging Badgers’ biggest jamming threats, along with CRD’s Polly Filla and Cooper – the presence of another 808 in today’s games sees the latter donning TW4T as her number. Kent’s Boot’Em Khamun plays a starring role for the Jellies, racking up a string of passes as Swann recycles Pompey Badger Halcyon Daze. One of the Jellies fouls out. Chunder collides with teammate Cooper. Someone in red jumps through the white pack. The dog from yesterday returns with a friend and starts shouting at Steven, Bob and Mewan. The announcer mistakes this for canine cheering. Swann dons the star for the Jellies, but the clock is running down and the Badgers take the win by the sharp end of 50 points.

EER9

Many expect this final game of the weekend, the co-ed match, to be its highlight. The presence of a large number of refs in the teams’ male contingent is going to see some tricks tried and loopholes explored. That much is obvious even from the opening jam, where both teams recycle simultaneously and their jammers end up having to retrace almost an entire track’s length before returning to play. Standout jammers for the black-clad Team Footloose are The Mechanic, zigzagging all over the track like there are alligators after him, and Noise Tank, who somewhat confuses the announcers by wearing the absent Omar Gherd’s top. With Finch of Fury and CRD bench coach Herbielicious also donning the star for Footloose, the team in black – who wore Kevin Bacon face masks for their skate out – are using a fairly male dominated rotation here. Their opponents Danger Zone, bedecked in grey, are primarily putting tough and experienced female skaters in the star; Boot’Em, Dropkick Molly, Peggy Peril, Mosquito and more. It’s an approach that sees more showboating from the Footloose starheads (backwards skating and so forth), but doesn’t always go according to plan; such as when Tank hangs back from a scoring pass to throw everything at rival jammer Mosquito, only for the latter to shake it off as if she was brushing off, well, a mosquito. She passes, grinning, and Tank has to call.

A hefty points haul from Khamun near the end of the half has brought DZ back into touch. It’s 58-45 to Footloose as the second period gets underway. Herbie relishing going up against some of his own CRD troops, but he’ll have bruises to show for it, with the likes of Smashasaurus Bex and Mosquito throwing hits at him from all angles. The latter is often blocking here alongside teammates – eg Mat Lovin, one of several South Wales Silures on display, and Disasteroid – and rival jammers who are twice her height, but it doesn’t show. A power jam from Peggy Peril, with Belgian opponent Decat sin binned, sees DZ clawing it back. A lead change soon follows. 70-68 to the guys and gals in grey. Noise Tank responds with a huge scoring jam, gliding in and around the opposing pack time and again, whilst Peril struggles against the Footloose wall. “Is Noise Gherd wearing an invisibility cloak?” the announcers wonder. It’s now 102-70 to the bods in black, and that margin is growing with every jam. Blitzkrieg throwing huge hits on Disasteroid, forcing the DZer to pass the star to Boot’Em. Force Ten Gail racing around for Footloose next. Suffolk Punch and Mother Mercy staying solid in the black packs. Danger Zone run out of time. Footloose win by some amount of points (we lost count, to be honest).

EER10

It’s off to the Crown and Anchor, the Bombshells favoured seafront pub, for part one of today’s after party. With all the skating out of the way, now’s the time everyone can really let their hair down. People split off and annex various parts of the building. For some it’s the main bar. For others the function room, where the World Cup Final of some strange sport involving a ball is on the big screen. Many of the Bombshells and Croydon attendees shun both options, opting instead to sit in the gutter outside. Steven and Mewan are equally classy. They try to steal the skaters’ food when they’re not looking, but it’s all in vain. Steven heads back to the roof of Boots. The climate station will continue to gather sunshine in globes, rain in tubes, pressure in gauges, and whatever else it is that weather stations do. For the Eastbourne skaters, meanwhile, tomorrow marks the start of 365 more days of fretting about what the weather is going to be like on a certain weekend next July. We can answer that now. The Paris roller derby league has the slogan “Paris… brings the passion!” The Extreme tournament should adopt “Derby… brings the sunshine!” Because it does. No matter what council Health & Environment officials or the Michael Fishes of the world might think.

[Photos by John Hesse]

COMING UP
The Bombshells are back in action this Saturday (16th August) in Hemel Hempstead. Their Heartland Series game against the Norfolk Brawds – who they currently place higher than on points differential – starts at 1.30pm and a full preview will appear on theBBCD.com very soon. Croydon are holding rookie and referee tryouts this Sunday (17th) from 3pm-5pm. Contact recruitment@croydonrollerderby.co.uk for more details. Surrey Rollergirls have a double header in Guildford on August 30th, with their women’s team taking on Windsor B and the sibling men’s team playing Portsmouth. London Rockin’ Rollers take on the highly rated German league Ruhrpott in East London on September 13th. The next open door derby event here in Sussex, meanwhile, is on September 20th in Haywards Heath, where the Brighton Rockers take on Bristol Roller Derby, the only lower ranked league to have ever beaten them. (Brighton haven’t officially confirmed this match-up, incidentally, but it’s on the Bristol side’s own website.) In the meantime, enjoy the rest of those 1,962 hours of sunshine, yeah.

LINKS
BOURNE BOMBSHELLS: http://bournebombshells.wix.com/bombshells
CROYDON ROLLER DERBY: http://croydonrollerderby.co.uk/
LONDON ROCKIN’ ROLLERS: http://londonrockinrollers.co.uk/
SURREY ROLLERGIRLS: http://www.surreyrollergirls.com/
SAT 16TH AUG IN HEMEL: https://www.facebook.com/events/1428289724127454/
SAT 20TH SEPT IN HHEATH: https://www.facebook.com/events/260828327459718/

Eastbourne Extreme Roller Derby Tournament Preview

EEP1

This weekend sees the mighty Bourne Bombshells hosting the much anticipated third annual Eastbourne Extreme outdoor roller derby tournament. Saturday 12th features a four-team, seven-game tournament (matches consisting of two 20-minute halves). Sunday features five full length mixed games of varied genders and levels, plus a junior derby showcase. The event is bigger than ever this year. For the first time, there will be a second track, for team warm-ups – named ‘Track 66’ in tribute to the derby number of much loved, recently lost Nottingham Roller Girl Louisey Rider – and several internationally capped players will be appearing on the Sunday. In a moment we’ll hear from the tournament organiser, along with members of Saturday’s four competing leagues, but we’ll kick things off with details of the venue and the weekend’s timetable…

THE VENUE: ROYAL PARADE
The roller derby will be taking place in a caged off (basketball courts style) area by Eastbourne seafront, a little under a mile North East of the Pier, or roughly 23.7 minutes walk from the train station – zoom in on Google maps and look out for the ‘SK8school’ indicator. Various other extreme sports will be taking place on the seafront, in the sky and out to sea across the weekend. There are a few bars and cafes dotted around the front, although these (and the ladies’ loos nearest the derby) tend to get quite busy. The nearest alternative for pubs, takeaways and convenience stores is around five minutes inland on Seaside Road. All the after party venues are quite close to the derby, being a few minutes walk back into town. There’s also a really nice park, with a large pond, just across the road, should you be of the picnicking persuasion.

SATURDAY 12TH JULY – TOURNAMENT DAY
10:30 LRR RISING STARS v CROYDON VICE SQUAD
11:30 BOURNE BOMBSHELLS v SURREY ROLLERGIRLS
12:30 CROYDON VICE SQUAD v BOURNE BOMBSHELLS
13:30 SURREY ROLLERGIRLS v LRR RISING STARS
14:30 BOURNE BOMBSHELLS v LRR RISING STARS
15:30 CROYDON VICE SQUAD v SURREY ROLLERGIRLS
16:30 TOURNAMENT FINAL
17:30 AWARDS CEREMONY
18:30 AFTER PARTY @ REDOUBT ROLLER DISCO inc
19:00 STREAM: LONDON BRAWLING v GOTHAM GIRLS
LATE AFTER AFTER PARTY PARTY @ BUSKERS

SUNDAY 13TH JULY – MIXED TEAMS DAY
09:30 ROOKIE WOMEN’S GAME
11:00 NEW BOURNES JUNIOR DERBY EXHIBITION
12:00 INTERMEDIATE WOMEN’S GAME
13:30 MEN’S GAME
15:00 ADVANCED WOMEN’S GAME
16:30 CO-ED GAME
18:00 AWARDS CEREMONY
18:30 AFTER PARTY @ CROWN AND ANCHOR PUB
LATE AFTER AFTER PARTY PARTY @ BUSKERS

EEP2

SASSY McAWESOME – TOURNAMENT ORGANISER

The roller derby element of Eastbourne Extreme changes format each year, from a single dayer in 2012 to two one-day tournaments in 2013, to a tournament plus a day of exhibition games this year. What excites you most about the 2014 schedule, and what do you expect to be the highlights?
Each year we aim to get more roller derby to more people, so this year we had to think big. We really loved the tournament format last year. All the games were super close, so the plan for Saturday was a no brainer. But we now have three roller derby teams in Eastbourne; the well established Bourne Bombshells women’s team, the Bomb S’Quad men’s team and the New Bournes junior team, so we wanted to showcase all the varieties of derby. Suddenly we found ourselves with six games, featuring four different types of roller derby, on the Sunday!
    My highlights will be Croydon Roller Derby Vice Squad vs London Rockin’ Rollers Rising Stars (aka Badasses), which sees two highly ranked B-teams who haven’t come face to face before. Also the Sunday co-ed game, which finishes the exhibition day with the most advanced skaters. We imagine the general public will find this a controversial match-up, as there are no other games where boys and girls hit each other!

Is there a lot of organisation that goes into putting on Extreme? When did the planning for it begin, and who has been involved? Has the scheduling of a certain other game and boot camp [LRG v Gotham in Leeds] on the same weekend caused any problems?
It’s a Bombshells team effort, but I have headed up a small Extreme Organisation Chiefs committee with Beachy Headcase and Phoenix. We started the planning in January so we’re super prepared now! We’re lucky to have a talented and diverse team who are able and willing to offer their skills and talent to different aspects of the weekend. We read some controversial opinions about LRG putting on such a big event at the same time as Extreme, but let’s be honest – if Gotham say “we can play you in England this summer if you can find a venue”, you’ll find a venue and make it happen!
    Having one of the most highly anticipated WFTDA games on English soil is great for the UK roller derby scene, and we can’t wait to watch the stream of the game. We’re really lucky to have a large and loyal Extreme following. We were well into our planning when the LRG v Gotham game was announced, and whilst we lost a few advanced skaters, the vast majority remained dedicated to the tournament. Leeds is quite far away if you’re as Southern as we are, so we expect that helped us retain numbers. That and our vegan Oreo cake. 🙂

What are you expecting from Saturday’s tournament? Who are most looking forward to seeing of the visiting sides (Surrey, Croydon B and Rockin’ Rollers B) and how do you think the Bombshells will do?
We’re old friends with Surrey and Croydon B, so it’s always fun to play people you know, then catch up with them over a beer after. We had a steep learning curve after our last Croydon game where I think we averaged about 435 penalties (give or take), so we’re keen to come back fighting when we meet them. LRR B is definitely the unknown quantity of the day. They’re highest placed in the rankings, but as we all know, the rankings rarely accurately portray the difference between teams. As the organiser, I want every game to be a four point game, right down to the last whistle. As the Bombshells’ bench coach however, I want us to win by 200 points every time!

EEP3

Moving on to Sunday’s exhibition games, there’s a varied pool of skaters involved of all kinds of abilities, genders and ages. Any particular games that you’re looking forward to? Any players you think the crowd should particularly keep an eye out for?
The rookie women’s game is the first event in the whole of Extreme on Sunday, so we’re expecting to draw quite a non-derby crowd! Rookies are always relentlessly enthusiastic, so that guarantees it will be a great game. The juniors are scrimmaging in public for the first time, and the only thing cuter will be if someone invents roller derby for baby bunnies. The co-ed game is full of international superstars, so that’s the game to watch for the complex strategies. I’m really excited to see The Mechanic of SWS and Team Wales, as I’ve heard “he’s not a tank. He’s THE tank!” We also have a handful of players from France and Belgium, our first international participants, and it will be great to see their style of derby. And on a personal note, I’m excited to bench the advanced women’s game, which will not only be my last bench coaching game, but will unite Swann, Chunder Woman and myself for the last time!

For those coming down to Eastbourne from elsewhere, what other parts of the Extreme weekend, the seafront and the town itself can you recommend?
Extreme is a massive extreme sports fest, with all sorts of awesome sea, land and air action going on. If you can tear yourself away from the roller derby, we recommend checking out our friends at Eastbourne Skating Club, who have a couple of the top five slalom skaters exhibiting. But if you want to get away from the wheeled sports, the kite surfers are where the tricks and stunts will really wow you! But most importantly, you’re on the Sunshine Coast. Get some chips or an ice cream, wander down the pier, paddle in the sea, and avoid having your chips or ice cream stolen by the mutant-sized seagulls!

Finally, what can we expect from the after parties – there seem to be loads – and other social aspects of the weekend. Is the early start on Sunday going to curtail some people’s partying?
I’d like to think that the Bombshells involved in setting up on Sunday morning will curtail their partying, but I expect it’ll be me shouting “just one more” at 2am, so I don’t have high hopes… After the massive success of the Redoubt roller disco last year, we’ll be partying on and off skates in the fort again on Saturday, but this time we’ll be starting the night with an open air live showing of the LRG v Gotham game. We’ll be ending up in our favourite watering hole, Buskers, which promises copious drinks and a slightly sticky floor.
    Sunday will be the big night though. Three Bombshells (myself, All Seeing Ivy and Chunder Woman) will be saying their goodbyes after Sunday’s games, and the tournament will be ending, which means the officials and athletes can stop being official and athletic. Lots of folk are staying in Eastbourne for a long weekend, so we expect to eat too much good food at the Crown and Anchor, then return to Buskers to bring in the sunrise. It’s going to be epic!

EEP4

THE PHILOSOFEAR – BOURNE BOMBSHELLS

This will be the Bombshells’ second Extreme as competitors, having hosted but not competed in 2012 and lost the Saturday final last year by a single point. There are also a number of Bombshells (and Bomb S’Quaders and New Bournes) taking part as skaters and bench crew in Sunday’s mixed games. What are your hopes for the weekend?
Saturday’s tournament is going to be tougher for us than last year’s. We are the lowest ranked team of the four, so we are going to have to fight really hard. Having just lost our strongest player Swann (aka Toxic Block Syndrome) to Brighton, we’ve had to rework our line-ups. We’ve also made sure that all of our rookies are playing in at least two games on the Saturday. On the Sunday most of the Bombshells aren’t playing, so we can concentrate on running the day’s proceedings – with all the mixed teams it will take more organisation than a normal tournament does. We’re very much looking forward to the men’s game, so that we can cheer on the Bomb S’Quaders.

How does outdoor derby differ from indoor derby? How have you been preparing for the event – have you had many outdoor training sessions? Do you think experience of the venue/conditions will give you an advantage?
Outdoor derby doesn’t differ very much from indoor derby – the only real differences are the change of wheels, the lack of a rope boundary for the track, and the weather! Last year we found that a lot of the teams played a bit safer at the start of the tournament as they were getting used to playing outside (so we may have had an advantage), but by the end of the day everyone was playing like they would indoors, and so any advantage we had was lost.
    Our outdoor track is very smooth, but despite that there is a risk of losing a bit of skin if you slide along the track, so we advise players to dress sensibly; leggings, rather than hotpants, are wise if players wish to keep all the skin on their thighs. We’ve been practising outdoors to get ready for the tournament, but only for a few weeks. Still, even that gives us some confidence that the other teams won’t necessarily have at the start of the day. Our main concern about outdoor derby is the weather. But don’t worry, it WILL be sunny! One year it was quite windy, so that can have an impact too.

What do you know of your opponents, the Croydon Vice Squad, Surrey Rollergirls and LRR Rising Stars? Have you played many of them before, and how did that go? Any particular players or tactics you’ll be keeping any eye out for?
Surrey are ranked two places above us on flattrackstats.com, and last year we beat them at Extreme by a single point, so we’re expecting that to be a very close game. When I’m jamming – which hopefully won’t be too often! – I’ll be watching out for Evil Badger. She’s worked hard over the last year, and is a great blocker and big hitter. In terms of jammers, I’ll be watching out for Buffy Smothers. She’s very agile and nippy.
    We played against Croydon Vice Squad last August, and they beat us by quite a lot. Since then we’ve improved a great deal, so hopefully we’ll have a much closer game this time around. I remember their offence being very strong, so we’ll have to counter that – Inara Terra and Angel DDelight are both strong players to watch out for. LRR Rising Stars/Badasses are going to be a very tough team to play. We haven’t met them on track before so we’re not quite sure what to expect, but we think it’ll be our toughest game of the day.

Finally, any Bombshells players or tactics people attending Extreme should keep an eye out for? And any message for the Bombshells fans in the crowd?
Eastbourne Extreme is the last Bombshells game for a few of the team. Chunder Woman is transferring to another league, and our line-up manager All Seeing Ivy and bench coach Sassy McAwesome are leaving us. So Bombshells fans in the crowd will need to try to ignore all the crying as there’ll be a lot of tears, especially on the Sunday night. A newer Bombshell to watch out for is Seoul Destroyer. Her jamming is amazing, and I think that by our August Heartland Series game she’ll be a regular on the jammer rotation.

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FACKELMAN – CROYDON ROLLER DERBY

CRD won the previous two Eastbourne Extreme tournaments. Are you hoping to make it three in a row? It’s your Vice Squad B-team, rather than Riot Squad, taking part this year – do many of them have experience of previous Extremes?
Croydon will be well represented all weekend as we have Vice Squad competing on Saturday and many of our A-team girls will be skating on Sunday. Eastbourne Extreme is a favourite of CRD and we look forward to it all year. The event is always exciting and challenging. Some of our B-team skaters competed in Extreme last year with Riot Squad and are gearing up for this weekend. Agent Cooper bouted with Croydon Roller Derby for the first time at Eastbourne Extreme last year, so when you see her this weekend you can wish her a happy one year boutaversary – talk about baptism by fire!

What is it that CRD like about Extreme weekend that keeps you coming back? How have Vice Squad prepared for this year’s tournament?
I think it’s safe to say that Croydon Roller Derby doesn’t shy away from hard work and Extreme is a great opportunity for us to be pushed to our limits. The sun and heat in previous years have made the long day even more exhausting and these are the conditions where we learn what we’re really made of as a league. This determination has paid off for us in years prior and we believe that Vice Squad has what it takes to stand up to the challenge.
    Vice have been training hard and recently had an epic game against Belfast’s B-team, where we had a chance to try some of our new tactics and see where we need work. Most recently our A- and B-teams have been working together to develop, as both teams have big games on the horizon! We’re very lucky to have the Riot Squad’s experience to draw from in our training and I think it will show this weekend.

What do you know of your opponents, the Bombshells, Surrey and LRR Rising Stars? Have you played them before, and how did it go?
Vice Squad’s first ever game was against the Bombshells last August. We have a lot of love for those ladies and a whole lot of respect. They’re going to be tough competition and we expect that both teams will have developed a lot in the past year. We haven’t yet had the chance to play Surrey or LRR previously, but we know that we will not be let off easy, and we’re looking forward to playing some really tough teams on Saturday.

Finally, any CRD players or tactics people attending Extreme should keep an eye out for? Any message for the Croydon fans in the crowd?
One of the many amazing characteristics of Vice Squad is that we do not have any particular skaters that you need to look out for on the track. You’ll find some incredible teamwork and standouts will vary from jam to jam. It would be a mistake to focus too much on any one skater because her teammates will exploit the opportunity to surprise you!
    There is so much excitement and derby love in the CRD camp this week and we thank our fans and gracious hosts for the opportunity to play our shapely derby bums off this weekend!

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DEMOLITION DARCY – LONDON ROCKIN’ ROLLERS

This will be the London Rockin’ Rollers’ first appearance at Eastbourne Extreme. What do you know about the tournament?
We know it’s Extreme! A few of us have been to the tournament to watch before. It’s a great way to showcase the sport of roller derby to an audience who might not know anything about it, and we can’t wait to be a part of it.

Do the Rockin’ Rollers get much opportunity to skate outdoors? Have the Rising Stars done any special preparation for Extreme?
You might have seen us in London’s Pride parade at the end of June where we scrimmaged on Oxford Circus and down Bond Street, in running water! In fact, if you listen closely you might hear some squeaking, as some of our skates are still a bit rusty…

What do you know of your opponents, the Bombshells, Croydon Vice Squad and Surrey Rollergirls?
We played Croydon’s Riot Squad [A-team] over a year ago when our current B-team was in its first bouting season. Let’s just say it was a learning experience! There might be some familiar faces in the Vice Squad, but essentially we’re looking forward to playing three completely new opponents this weekend.

Finally, do you have any tactics people attending Extreme should keep an eye out for? And any message for the Rockin’ Rollers fans in the crowd at Eastbourne?
Yes. In honour of it being an outdoor tournament, all of our tactics are temporarily named after types of fruit you might find in a Pimms. And for our fans in the crowd, you know the chant: “LRR LRR LRR…!”

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EVIL BADGER – SURREY ROLLERGIRLS

This will be SRG’s second appearance at Eastbourne Extreme. How did you find it last year, and what are your hopes for 2014?
Last year’s tournament was certainly an experience! Nothing like three derby matches in the sweltering heat to challenge you as skaters. We had melted wheels, skater numbers ‘tanned’ on to people’s arms and gravel graze, but above all we had great fun. This year we’re hoping to win (of course we’d say that), but more than that, to gain experience facing up against teams we’ve not played before – and have fun in the sun!

What is it that you like about Extreme weekend? Do you get much opportunity to skate outdoors elsewhere? How does it differ from playing derby indoors, and how have you prepared for this year’s tournament?
Extreme is a brilliant free event, and spreads the derby PR far and wide! We have much respect for the Bourne Bombshells for putting it on for the third year in a row (and for inviting us back for a second). In terms of outdoor skating, Crazy Cat Lady is the outdoor queen. She’s always rounding us up to go for an outdoor skate and we’re lucky to have some pretty great areas around us to go practice. Brooklands have an old go-kart track (complete with road markings and signs) which is perfect for skating, with lovely smooth tarmac and ramps if you’re feeling brave.
    Derby outdoors is definitely different, being aware that if you do fall you’re not going to get the ‘slide’ that you usually do indoors, and thus have a far greater risk of gravel rash. It also involves changing your skating style up a bit; plough stops tend to be a lot tougher, so derby stops and hockey honey shuffle win out on the day. The heat and sun definitely adds an element of difficulty as well. Last year most of us bouted in sunglasses!

What do you know of your opponents, the Bombshells, Croydon Vice Squad and Rockin’ Rollers Rising Stars?
Of our opponents this year, we’ve only met the Bombshells on the track before. That was at last year’s Extreme, and it was a pretty nail-biting match with the Bombshells taking it by one point in the final jam. We’ve never met Croydon or LRR on track before, though we’re familiar with Croydon’s skaters – Lady Painelope was one of the original Surrey Rollergirls. We’re not taking any of the teams lightly, as I feel all will prove a challenge, but we’ll give it our best and enjoy ourselves doing so.

Finally, any Surrey players or tactics people attending Extreme should keep an eye out for? And any message for the SRG fans in the crowd?
I think Surrey have formed into a well-rounded group of skaters, all with different strengths that work together well. We’re challenging everyone to jam at the moment, so you may see a relatively fluid jammer line-up at Extreme throughout the three bouts. We’ve also had a bit of a line-up change since last year’s Extreme, with a lot of newer skaters coming out of our Fresh Meat programme last autumn. Watch out for Ada Shovelace, Bake ‘n’ Destroy, Impaler Swift and Luna Tonic especially. For fans of Surrey, cheer loud and we’ll bring the tea and scones… and I promise not to eat them all!

[Photos by John Hesse]

LINKS
FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/EastbourneExtremeRollerDerby
GOOGLE MAP: https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@50.7776598,0.3052472,17z
EASTBOURNE EXTREME: http://www.visiteastbourne.com/extreme/
BOURNE BOMBSHELLS: http://bournebombshells.wix.com/bombshells
CROYDON ROLLER DERBY: http://croydonrollerderby.co.uk/
LONDON ROCKIN’ ROLLERS: http://londonrockinrollers.co.uk/
SURREY ROLLERGIRLS: http://www.surreyrollergirls.com/

Bombshells v Hell’s Belles: Heartland Series SE Day 3

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We were promised a storm. News reports all week have reiterated the severe weather warning in place for the whole country today, speculating with frothy pens as to what kind of Biblical deluge we can expect. “Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies,” warned the Express. “Rivers and seas boiling, forty years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes…” suggested the Mirror, while the Daily Mail goes for the surprisingly subdued (for the Mail): “The dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!” In the end – here in Haywards Heath at least – it was a little bit rainy for a couple of hours this morning, but is now scorchingly hot and sunny. So much so that most of the doorways to the Dolphin leisure centre’s sports hall are wide open, framing the breeze-hungry Bombshells standing within them as silhouettes against the ferocious daylight beyond. It’s what the closing scene of Close Encounters would have looked like if the aliens played derby.

Whilst the promised hurricane force winds haven’t materialised, there is a blowout in progress. That’s the phrase used to describe high differential sporting contests, which in derby terms means a game where one team racks up in hundreds what the other does in tens. The Milton Keynes Concrete Cows, needing only a win to go top of the Heartland Series South East division, have 82 points after just four jams. Their Bedfordshire Rollergirls opponents – the division’s underest of underdogs, rankings wise – have yet to score. MK’s core jammer rotation of Terrorizinya, Magic Beanz, Huni Basher and Rollin’ Sin are proving too strong. They’re juking and swooping through and around the walls of purple, as BRG’s own jammers make repeated visits to the penalty box. Cherry Bomb is wearing the Bedford star several jams in a row now, having bought a season ticket for the sin bin, with MK starheads calling when she stands to keep her in play. She’s BRG’s top jamming threat on paper, but finding things hard going here, with a solid Betty Knox one-wall amongst the defensive tactics drawing out “Purple Double Zero” ref calls.

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With Bettie Trubble needing treatment, the already numerically disadvantaged BRG squad are at further risk of tiring faster than the Cows’ full fourteen. That’s even without the extra work they’re having to do to try and hold back the likes of Sin (finding gaps in the walls no-one else can see) and Terror, who shakes off the Beds blockers’ hits almost nonchalantly. MK are starting to mix things up jammer-wise, with the likes of Cat Clash and Hurt Nouveau getting chances in the red star – OK, gold star on red – as the game progresses. Bedford captain Booty Vicious puts in some super tough last line defending to keep the latter held back, whilst Cherry outscores the former to chalk up BRG’s first winning jam of the game, albeit a single pointer. Brothers finds herself up against a barely budging red pack next, as Terror racks up several five point passes. Terrorizinya follows this up in her next starclad outing with arguably the wiliest move of the game… Sent off a few seconds after Beds jammer Kookiekat, she blindsides her rival to overtake in the ref lane and sit down first, ensuring the earlier return to track.

An injury to Kookie later in the jam sees everyone take a knee – the lively BRG jammer is happily back on her feet after a couple of minutes of EMT activity. As if playing a team ranked 200 places above on flattrackstats wasn’t enough of a challenge for Bedford, there’s the added sting of having to face the woman who invented this whole crazy Heartland Series thing in the first place. The Valkyrie (for it is she) takes the MK star for the period’s final jam, but a forearms penalty sees her sent to the naughty seats, and Jed E Knights – assisted by some aggressive blocking from Screw Luce – takes advantage to nudge BRG above double figures. Half time score: 238-16. It will require a comeback of epic proportions for Beds to get anything from this game, though. This looks unlikely, particularly given the Cows packs’ burgeoning reputation as ‘purple people’ eaters; they chomped down hard on the similarly hued Bombshells last time out.

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Indeed, it’s more of the same in the second half. Magic Beanz jumping all over the track as the purple pack struggle to snare her. Cherry Bomb bouncing off Bolshevik’s shoulders – a regular hindrance for the BRG jammers – as she battles to break through. Yoho and Screw Luce donning the star for Beds and doing well, but the likes of Sula Riot, Blaise of Glory and Claudia Faceoff are as concrete as their team’s name in defence. Beds jammers recycled so often they’re running out of fibre. Brothers up in the star for BRG now though, delivering a hit on Betty Knox that the crowd cheers, only to have it returned to sender (with extra postage) on the next pass. T-Sharp and Booty battling hard as packs collide, but the red army march on. The only question remaining is whether the Cows can breach the 500 point mark, and they answer that one in the final jam. It ends 503-22, with MKRD moving above Big Bucks to top a divisional table now propped up by the brave and battling but besieged Bedfordshirians. The Cows take it in their stride – from bench manager OxymAndyAs to line-up Snoogins to captain Valkyrie, they *are* the Heartland Series, and they’re daring Big Bucks to say any different…

The Bombshells were represented in the first game not just by refs and NSOs, but also announcers. The Sassy & Swann Show we’re calling it, as the Eastbourne bench coach and captain made their debut as an announcing duo. They did a good job calling what (given the scoreline) must have been a tough game to keep the crowd engaged with, but of course we’re not about to tell them that, as it would only encourage them. “Not totally awful” is about the highest praise their mic work will get from anyone they know today (Heartland’s Twitter feed is much more complimentary). The Bombshells skate out, on the other hand, receives high praise from all quarters, despite being officially ‘The Worst Skate Out Ever’. Players draped in pieces of cardboard bearing handwritten admissions of shame – or in one notable case, a No Parking sign – parade around the track as fans hold up “You Suck (at skate outs)” placards. For the Sussex league, this is the start of a period of transition, with several high profile players and coaches leaving over the next couple of months, and rookies such as Jumpin’ Jack Smash, Seoul Destroyer and Von Stackit joining the gameday squad. The skate out ends in a shower of angle grinding burlesque from Lily Malicious, but will sparks fly in the game itself?

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The official prediction for this game on flattrackstats gives opponents Hell’s Belles from Hertfordshire Roller Derby a 67% chance of taking the win. The site treats all Heartland Series games as neutral, however, and though the Bombshells are new to this floor, with their previous open door venue in Hastings now banning skating, it’s probably fairer to view this as a home game. This adjusts the prediction to 56% Belles’ way, which suggests it will be close, but it’s still somewhat unexpected to see the Bombshells 21-0 up after four jams and seemingly well in control. Bullet Bomber, Swann, Crash and Dreaded Shortcake have taken successive leads for the Sussex side, with the tough blocking of Smash’Er Fierce, PhilosoFear and others keeping the Belles jammers pegged back. An out of bounds call on Bullet gives Scarlett Heartless a PJ start. Whilst Swann and Fear try to peg her back until a speeding Bullet’s return to track, Scarlett puts some points on the board for the Herts side. A lengthy stint off track for starclad Dolly Spartan – who passes the point of no return by inches and has to circle again before entering the penalty box – allows Crash to edge things up for the Bombshells. The Sussex league are giving very few points away at present.

An official time out gives experienced announcer Snoogins the chance to dispense a couple of birthday shoutouts to members of the Milton Keynes side she line-up manages. The Cows are celebrating both the earlier victory and the birthdays up in the bleachers, largely via the medium of booze. Another shoutout goes to the recently hitched DodgeHer – the Belles captain, who donned a wedding veil for the skate out, dons the star for Herts shortly after play resumes. She helps close the gap, alongside the other red jammers (both today’s games are purple v red, though photos colour corrected for the venue’s yellowy light may disagree) Scarlett and Spartan. Belles sticking with a rotation of three, whilst Bourne have double that, with Drag ‘N’ Fly and Chunder Woman joining the opening quartet. Power jam for Heartless, recycled well by Bullet and Hell Block H, but there’s more belief about this Belles side now. Track cut call on DNF, passive offence from the Belles pack, the impressive Vera Offtrack clacking her wheels on the floor to impersonate the jammer attack, all very close now. Chunder off next jam, forearms… Crash off too… Two minutes left, lead for Spartan, lead change for Spartan, 74-75. Bullet starred up, Chunder trying to clear a path, sent flying, spinning track cut Bullet, power jam DodgeHer. Half time: Bombshells trail 83-96.

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A large chunk of the crowd here today are cheering for the Hell’s Belles, and for Scarlett Heartless in particular. Many seem to be the players from the earlier game. The Bombshells are in some ways outsiders in this South East Division – most of the other teams know each other from past tournaments, and from the shared scrims, spectator trips and league transfers that come of geographical proximity. The South Coast is a world away from the South Midlands, and here, with a previously untraversed floor beneath and mixed crowd around, Eastbourne are to some extent strangers at their own party. They are, however, starting this second period even stronger than they began the first. A power jam and star pass from Swann in the second sees the Bombshells regain the initiative in style, with the scoreline now 120-96. Hell’s Belles fighting back though. Tough blocking from the likes of Les Be Avenue, Candy Cane-her and Leggett N Hide. Lots of jammer penalties and PJ starts on both sides. Belles close the gap to six points. Bombshells extend it again.

Power jam start for Smash’Er now. She sees the Herts jammer rejoining the track, and sends her to ground as soon as she crosses the tape. Bam! Gives it the full Popeye to the crowd. Rocky Bashova, Crash and Hell Block holding back the red jammer for Bullet to score next jam. Team time out for the rattled (clanging?) Belles. Successive leads for Bourne now, but little movement in the way of points. Back block called on Chunder, who looks very cross with either herself or the ref who made the call – best not to ask which, but it gives Herts the chance to close the gap: 148-140. Close as. There’s a slight, and unexpected, delay in proceedings now. It seems someone living by the leisure centre has complained about an illegal rave taking place nearby. The source of that complaint has been traced to this hall, and the not-very-loud-at-all tannoy. Roller derby must be what passes for lawlessness here in Haywards Heath at 6pm on a Saturday. (Personally, we suspect a specious complaint from someone who wanted to attend one of the weekly roller discos that had to make way for today’s event. Ho hum.)

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We quickly down all our drugs, hide all the sound systems, and the on track action resumes. The local residents have identified Dolly Spartan as the ringleader of the rave, and she’s been removed from the game. Either that or she fouled out on penalties. Bullet picks up lead either side of the break and the Sussex side now have a more comfortable 30 point lead, with about eight minutes – roughly two and a half bangin’ 180bpm choons, officers – remaining. Edging it up further now, picking up a point or two more than Herts in every jam. Swann and PhilosoFear holding back Heartless as Smash’Er extends the lead to over forty points. Swann stars up for what will be the final jam of the game, and also the final one in purple and leopard print for the Bombshells captain. Having tired of changing her derby name every few months – from Jayne Zawmasika to Toxic Block Syndrome to Swann – she’s now resorted to changing her derby league instead. She’ll be donning the cyan and black of the Brighton Rockers after today, her hair having already donned the former, and she goes out in style for the ‘shells with a swooping, high-scorin’, multiple-passin’, and – let’s be honest – show-boatin’ final Swann-song to close the game out at 214-159.

Jammer, Blocker and MVP awards for the first game go to MK’s Terrorizinya, Betty Knox and Rollin’ Sin, with Cherry Bomb, Yoho and Booty Vicious picking up the respective gongs for Beds. For Hell’s Belles, the certificates go to Dolly Spartan, Candy Cane-her and Leggett N Hide, with the Bombshells recipients being Drag N Fly, Hell Block H and Swann. Various Bourne players queue up to give the latter her leaving presents. In Swann’s own words: “They all wait until I finish crying from the previous gift/card before appearing with the next one. It goes on quite a while.” We miss all of the above, of course, as we are keen to maintain our flawless record of being the first to arrive at the after party for every derby event we attend (30 in a row now, just sayin’). When we called into the Burrell Arms earlier today, a gas problem meant Guinness and ales were off, and we’re keen to see (and praying) that’s been rectified. It has indeed, but the solution may well have involved re-routing gas from the ovens, since the venue is now doing no food. At. All.

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As hordes of ravenous rollergirls arrive at the pub, we anticipate a riot, but fortunately people are being allowed to bring in food from the adjacent pizza shop and chippy. Crisis averted. Out in the garden, the evening soon descends into Connect Four tournaments and arm wrestling challenges, with the latter, as ever, being simply an excuse for Smash’Er Fierce to hurt people off (as well as on) track. We understand that several of the Bourne and Belles side end up getting the midnight train to Eastbourne itself – a fair ways from here – and persuade a publican there to let them have a lock-in until the sun comes up. So much for it being a town full of grannies! Where next for the Bombshells sports-wise then? To Eastbourne Extreme, of course, the UK’s only free outdoor derby tournament, which takes place on the weekend of the 12th/13th July. Contrary to Sassy McAwesome’s assertions on the announcer mic, New York’s Gotham Girls aren’t taking part, but the A-team of Surrey, plus B-teams of Croydon and LRR will be facing off against the home side on the Saturday. Meanwhile, an intriguing Sunday programme sees several star-studded exhibition games in all the flavours – men’s, women’s, junior, co-ed, rookie to advanced.

That Saturday (12th) also sees the next Heartland Series South East gameday up in Norwich, with the Norfolk Brawds taking on Milton Keynes, whilst Beds face Big Bucks. MK currently sit atop the table, with the final SE day’s Cows v Bucks game increasingly looking like it will be a decider for play-offs seeding. Norfolk have strong ambitions to catch at least one of those sides, though. The Belles will be looking to build upon their strong showing against favourites Big Bucks and finish as high up the ‘mid section’ as they can. Beds, meanwhile, will be keen to nab their first win and improve their current points differential. With six of the division’s fifteen games completed, only one result has gone the way of the lower ranked team – that was Eastbourne’s victory over Herts today. This puts the Bombshells in a good position going into the rest of their campaign, albeit with what will in several areas be a less experienced squad. Today the Bourne debutants fared well in a bruising encounter. Tomorrow (or rather, August 16th) the Bombshells do Heartland Series battle again, against Norfolk in the home of just vanquished Herts. For now though, we party – remembering always the golden rule; don’t ever challenge Smash’Er to an arm wrestle…

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[Photos by John Hesse]

ANOTHER REPORT (BY MK’S BENCH MANAGER)
http://www.heartlandseries.co.uk/heartland-south-east-game-day-3-bourne-secure-first-victory-cows-win-big/

LINKS
EASTBOURNE EXTREME: https://www.facebook.com/EastbourneExtremeRollerDerby
HEARTLAND SERIES: http://www.heartlandseries.co.uk/
BOMBSHELLS: http://bournebombshells.co.uk/
HELL’S BELLES: http://www.hertsrd.co.uk/
MK COWS: http://www.miltonkeynesrollerderby.com/
BEDFORDSHIRE: http://www.bedfordshirerollergirls.com/
BIG BUCKS: http://www.bigbuckshighrollers.co.uk/
NORFOLK BRAWDS: http://www.norfolkbrawds.com/

Delivering The New Bournes: Junior Roller Derby in Sussex

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Eastbourne is a skating town. Most of its seafront residents – forever viewed as life-weary retired folk by lazy observers – probably don’t realise this, but we haven’t really encountered quite as skater-friendly, and as vibrantly skated, a town as this. By skating of course we mean wheels attached to feet rather than feet attached to bits of wood. If you want to ride on a chunk of maple, we humbly suggest you try Brighton, Bristol or Borstal instead. This is Eastbourne. This is roller skating country.

If you want to know exactly how much Eastbourne is a skating town, take a walk East along the prom. The cycle lane here is also a skating lane, complete with a quad skate pictogram painted alongside the bicycle one every few yards of its route. Walk around a mile along this path and you’l find yourself passing what could be the UK’s only permanent full size outdoor roller derby track, located amongst the concrete basketball and tennis courts that play host to the skating side of Eastbourne Extreme each summer.

If you pass this way on a Saturday afternoon, you’ll probably bump into the next generation of East Sussex roller derby skaters. The Cage (as the location is known) plays host to the New Bournes, Eastbourne’s fledgling junior derby league for 11-17 year olds. Should the weather be disagreeable, they’ll have taken cover inland at the newborn MySkateWorld roller rink, but otherwise (unless they’re watching a senior derby game elsewhere) you’ll find them here 4pm-5pm every Saturday, taking advantage of the fresh air in what is statistically the UK’s sunniest town.

The New Bournes grew out of the Bourne Bombshells, and are always on the look out for new members. To find out more, we caught up with their coaches and the pair of junior skaters who provided the impetus for this, the South Coast’s newest derby league, to come into being…

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BEACHY HEADCASE & DRAG ‘N’ FLY – NEW BOURNES COACHES

Whose idea was it to set-up an Eastbourne junior derby league? How long have you been going?
Beachy Headcase: We started on the 16th January this year. It was a common idea between Drag N Fly and me. We were taking our daughters Jemolish and Goldieblocks to Windsor’s Curfew Skate Crew last September, but the 1.5 hour each way drive got the better of us, so we decided to set up our own junior team.
Drag N Fly: We had toyed with the idea since last summer. Headcase and I took the girls along to Windsor in September and they loved it. We set the wheels in motion in about November and decided we could commit to running our own classes.

Are the sessions open to anyone aged 11-17, or do people need to have a particular skating ability level to join up? What kind of things will people learn?
We don’t want to turn anyone away. There are a few coaches at each session so we can accommodate different skill levels. We teach skating skills and derby skills. We start off by teaching people how to start and stop, then go through a standard roller derby fresh meat programme. Wall grippers are welcome.
You do not need any skating skills to join us. We have coaches on hand to help with all levels of skill. People will learn in the long term how to play roller derby. We are running through the derby minimum skills programme.

In what ways (if any) does junior derby differ from regular derby?
There are some differences between junior roller derby and regular derby. We will be teaching contact but we are slowly working our way up to that point. We are focusing on positional blocking, speed and footwork. Our coaching style is quite casual and friendly – we’re not going to pressurise young people or make them feel bad. We want our skaters to have fun while learning new skills. Of course our ultimate goal is to get them competing, just like you would a junior football or rugby team.
There are some differing rules in junior roller derby to accommodate lower endurance. We want the children to enjoy the sport and learn the new skills at their own pace.

Junior derby is relatively new in the UK. How are you promoting the New Bournes and finding your skaters?
We have only been running since January and our current roster is about ten skaters. That’s good for such a young league! Eastbourne is a bit of a skating hotspot. Tim Wheals has been giving lessons and running discos here with Sk8school for many years, and now there is a dedicated roller rink in Eastbourne at MySkateWorld. This is all good for roller derby in Eastbourne. We don’t have a website yet, but you can find out everything you need to know at our Facebook page.
Eastbourne is a very skate friendly town. There are many children in the area who skate. We have currently got about ten skaters, all of whom have found us through word of mouth or Facebook.

What are your ambitions for the league going forward, for the rest of 2014 and beyond?
We eventually want to become a full team and play against other junior leagues, but fun is at the heart of it for us. We are looking forward to Eastbourne Extreme. We’ve been given a short slot and we’ll fill it with a demo, a skate out or full-on jamming and blocking action!
Eastbourne Extreme will be a great promotion for the league and a chance for our skaters to show off their new skills. We will hopefully bout in the future, but there is no set timeframe for this – only when we are ready.

Finally, for any 11-17 year olds reading this who might be interested in giving junior derby a go, what advice can you offer?
Roller derby is the most fun you can have on eight wheels! I’m not exaggerating. We are offering the benefits of playing as part of a team, making new friends and learning cool skating skills. You won’t even realise that you’re actually doing lots of exercise!
We’re promoting sports in the area, giving 11-17 year olds a chance to join a team and have fun. It’s definitely the best way to exercise. Roller derby can be taken as far as you want, as there are many different levels of play. Also it can continue through your adult life too – it’s not something you have to give up at 18 because you are too old.

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GOLDIEBLOCKS & JEMOLISH – NEW BOURNES SKATERS

How long have you skated for, and what attracted you to junior roller derby in particular?
Jemolish: I have been skating since I was 18 months old, and when my mum started skating with the Bourne Bombshells two years ago, I just wanted to have a go.
Goldieblocks: I’ve been skating for two years and started playing junior derby six months ago because my mum started playing the sport and it looked like fun!

What are the hardest parts of roller derby to learn? Do you practice much between New Bournes coaching sessions?
I have been struggling with plow stops. I go skating on a Tuesday too and have spent a lot of time practicing
Personally I find transitioning (going forwards to backwards) annoying as well as T-stops. I normally practice once or twice between sessions.

Do you hope to progress onto playing adult derby when you’re older (and are there any things about the sport that scare you)?
Definitely. I go to watch bouts with my family and I can’t wait to be able to play. I’m attracted to the whole thing. The only thing that scares me is possibly hurting myself and then not being able to play for a few months.
Of course! The thing that attracts me about the sport is the fact that anyone can play, eg I’m not really sporty yet this is one I enjoy. Many people get put off by the contact aspect of the sport, but whatever you play there’s the possibility of injury, eg tennis elbow. I mean, kids play rugby and we think nothing of it. So why shouldn’t kids play derby?

What advice would you give to someone reading this who might be interested in taking up junior roller derby?
If you enjoy skating and enjoy team sports then you will love derby. It’s skating for a reason. Awesome!
Don’t waste time! Join up! You’ll meet amazing people and have a ton of fun.

CONTACT: The New Bournes skate on Saturday afternoons at the Cage on Eastbourne seafront or the MySkateWorld roller rink. For more information visit their Facebook page at the link below.
https://www.facebook.com/NewBournes

[Photos by John Hesse]