Shove Me Tender: Bombshells v Bullets bout report

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Exactly ten weeks have passed since the Bombshells took to this Hastings track in front of a paying baying audience for the very first time. That meeting with Croydon’s B-team is best described as ‘a learning experience’. This afternoon we’ll discover exactly how much was gleaned from that lesson, plus two subsequent mixed-up closed doors and various scrimmage appearances from the lively ladies in velvet and leopard skin. Today’s opposition come from the wilds of North Hampshire. Of all the Facebook good luck messages posted on the Bombshells page in the run-up to the Croydon bout, the one from the Basingstoke Bullets – incorporating the Eastbourne league’s “tick tick BOOM” rallying call – was probably the most touching and heartfelt.

These sides have rolled a very similar development path these past two years, you see, meeting on track in several closed door bouts and scrimmages along the way; not just in the yellowy electric haze of Hampshire and Sussex sports halls, but also the glorious sunshine of the Bombshells’ outdoor derby tournament. That this initials-sharing pair know each other well and take the whole concept of ‘sister leagues’ to a whole new level is bo(u)rne out with a pre-bout display that even veteran [NB as in experienced not as in old] derby announcer Smashlyn Monroe has “never seen anything like before”. Instead of two separate skate outs, we get a combined one as a Bombshell and Bullet take to the track in pairs, skating around hand in hand as their names are announced. The whole thing ends with the teams parading side by side around the track, as the two captains each wave the other league’s flag. No really, it’s just something in my eye… *sniff*

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Of course when the first whistle sounds the mutual love-in has to take a back seat. For the match-up itself these thirteen pairs of derby sisters get competitive. Very competitive. This is going to be a fairly penalty filled bout for both sides. The Eastbourne league get the best of the opening few jams with successive lead calls for Toxic Block Syndrome, Bullet Bomber, Chunder Woman and Hell Block H, together with the first of many jammer box visits for the Hampshire side. The Bombshells lead 15-0 as Basingstoke take their first time-out, or ‘bullet-time’ as fans of The Matrix might call it. Time hasn’t slowed enough for the visitors though, as The PhilosoFear – making a rare appearance in the star – adds another eleven for Eastbourne in the next jam. A brief scoreless sixth sees the Bullets speeding the pack up to try and outrun Dreaded Shortcake as both sides have two blockers sent to the box. Belle Mortez takes the star for Basingstoke in the seventh and makes use of a power jam to close the gap substantially, the Bullets now sitting on the soft side of a 27-14 scoreline.

Jam 8 is probably the biggest of the first period. Na Trash’Her finally battles her way past tenacious blocker Beast Unleashed to take lead for Basingstoke, but she ends up in the box shortly after. Drag ‘N’ Fly passes the Eastbourne star to Bullet Bomber. This will happen several times in today’s bout, and it will possibly confuse the refs a little bit. You see, in this room full of derby sisters, this Bombshells duo are actual sisters and similar looking enough twins to make following the star passes between them tricky for the folks in zebra stripes. (Indeed, midway through the second half the Bombshells will start a jam with a pivot on track, despite having a star passed jammer in the box; whilst the refs don’t notice, said pivot will realise this mid-jam and turn down the offer of a panty pass from the once released penaltyee, figuring quite rightly that the sight of the other pivot cover appearing might just give the game away somewhat. Personally, we’re more confused by Bullet Bomber being an amalgam of both these sides’ names. We’ll refer to her as BB from now on in this report, confident that this won’t remotely make things any more confusing.) So it’s BB of BB v BB, and the breathless jamming machine, who is able to find an outside line where none would appear to exist – her overtaking lane swoops around the bemused Hampshire pack will be a major factor in today’s result – hits this power jam hard and cranks up the points gap. BB 46 – BB 14.

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As an official time out is called, Toxic and PoiSin Cherry are lined up to jam. Eastbourne’s head coach and probably their most experienced player versus the pink-haired refugee from roller hockey who, whistle in mouth, had coached the Hampshire league’s pre-bout warm up. Looks like the big guns are rolling out now. PoiSin takes lead but Toxic is right on her heels and forces the call. That’s the story of the next few jams as the teams eke out a few points each; a couple to Basingstoke’s Bruise Payne, Ninja Knut Job and Little Miss Mischevil, with similar hauls for Crash and BB. Time seems to stop still in Jam 13 as Bruise and Toxic swap over in the box. 61-31. PoiSin dances through the Eastbourne pack for eight. Crash puts up a gutsy battle to break through a tough Bullets pack for three. Rocky Bashova and PhilosoFear two-wall Darth Smaul brilliantly in the seventeenth, but the going is getting tougher for the Bombshells now. The physicality of the Basingstoke packs are forcing exasperated Sussex jammers to call upon star passes with increasing frequency. Captain and ex-Portsmouth Roller Wench Atomic Affliction in particular is putting up a fierce performance in the Bullets defence; not just tough, derby tough, as is amply demonstrated when she almost takes down half the crowd with hand-slaps at the end of the bout.

As the half time whistle sounds (92-52 to the home team) we head for the café bar, hoping they’ve learned their lesson from the previous bout when they decided to shut it despite the presence of dozens of very thirsty roller derby fans. This time it’s open, but fans of another sports event in the centre – possible something swimming related – are queuing up and ordering ever more elaborate types of hot beverage; half decaf half cocoa, camomile tea with lemon and cinnamon, double decaf with orange zest and pixie dust, coffee and chips (thinking about it, the last one might have incorporated a food order). We reach the counter before the rest of the derby mob, but booze-wise there’s no beer, ale or cider, just five mini-bottles of rosé left in the entire place. Conscious of the queue that has built up behind us, we decide not to be greedy and only buy four of them. In the hall, announcer Smashlyn won’t be winning first prize in the raffle this time as she didn’t buy a ticket. Instead, the prizes are snapped up by an NSO, a birthday celebrating Bombshell in the crowd, Crash of the Bombshells, a Bullet, Crash again, one of the medics, Crash, Rocky’s mum, Crash, a guy in a hat, Crash and Crash. Smashlyn gets one of the aforementioned to admit to having a raffle ticket addiction. (Clue: It’s not Rocky’s mum or the guy in a hat.)

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Dropkick No Mercy is all over Toxic in the opening jam of the second half, trying to bustle the Bombshells jammer off track. It’s a valiant defensive performance, but she picks up a penalty call and is off to join another Bullets blocker in the box. Their jammer Bruise Payne had taken lead and tried to call when Toxic broke past DNM, but she picks up a penalty herself and Toxic makes no mistake with the power jam  –  20-0 for the jam, 20-0 for the period, 112-52 for the bout – but then she picks up a penalty right on the two minute whistle. The second jam starts with no jammer on track, before Bruise is released to pull back ten points before calling it when she sees her star-clad rival standing. There are many blockers but few jammers in the box for both sides for the remainder of the bout. Eastbourne are continuing to edge up the differential. Every time the Bullets claw back four or five, the Bombshells get seven or eight shortly after. Basingstoke coach Scrim Reaper, delightfully dapper in his bowtie and braces, flirts with the NSOs and announcers, but – despite hard hitting pack work from the likes of Dropkick, Affliction and Mischevil plus relentless jammer runs from PoiSin, Payne, Trash’Her and others – this bout is slipping beyond the Hampshire side’s reach now. With Lily Malicious, Smash’er Fierce, Bashova, Crash and others forming well marshalled Eastbourne packs – bolstered by bunny ears, face paint and devil horns – and the likes of Hell Block, Chunder and BB edging out a last few jam’s worth of points, the Bombshells bench are now pondering whether they will go up or down in the rankings. It’s all down to the winning points margin, y’see.

Rankings, oh rankings. Everyone pretends not to care about them, but everyone does. At the after party, taking place in the Union Bar (which looks awfully similar to the Tubman where the Bombshells held their last after party) we inform inquisitive bench coach Sassy McAwesome that by our reckoning her side’s 206-128 win was 0.87 points less than predicted and might result in a slight ranking points drop. As it happens maths is hard, and the Bombshells will actually see a +0.3 points rankings rise, taking them up two places to 171st in the whole of Europe. (NB bear in mind roughly half the teams above them are intraleague etc rather than travel teams, so you can probably halve that 171 for a more realistic Euro A-team ranking.) Toxic picked up the Best Blocker award and a foul out, with Chunder picking up Best Jammer and PhilosoFear MVP. For Basingstoke, PoiSin Cherry took Best Jammer and Affliction took Blocker with Dropkick as MVP. (Um, we think. We’re basing this all on who looks to be holding up what certificates in photos, as we were already in the pub by then to be honest, so sorry if we’re wrong.) As the two teams toast each other with cake – and indeed toast the whole concept of cake itself – and the barometer starts teetering towards raucous, we head off back to the civilian world. Where 2014 will take these two track hungry and ambitious teams is yet to be seen. Whatever happens, as Ms Franklin almost sang, derby sisters are doin’ in for themselves.

[Photos by John Hesse]

ADDENDUM: Most leagues hibernate in terms of public bouting for a couple of months over the winter. The last bout in Sussex this year will see the Brighton Rockers take on Birmingham’s Central City Rollergirls at Haywards Heath this Saturday (23rd Nov) at 3pm, so check that out if you need another local derby fix before 2013 is done. Leagues are up for hearing from people interested in getting involved in the sport at any time, so please visit the websites of the Bombshells, Bullets or whoever your local league is and get in touch if you want to know/do more about the fastest growing, most woman and alt-friendly, coolest damn sport there ever was. Cheers.

LINKS
BOURNE BOMBSHELLS: http://bournebombshells.wix.com/bombshells
BASINGSTOKE BULLETS: http://www.basingstokebullets.moonfruit.com/
RANKINGS TABLE: http://flattrackstats.com/rankings/europe
BRIGHTON v CCR INFO: https://www.facebook.com/events/647691741929370/

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Block Hop: Bourne Bombshells v Basingstoke Bullets preview

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Following on from August’s bout against Croydon Vice Squad, the Bourne Bombshells are back in action on home wood this Saturday 9th November with first whistle at 4.30pm at Hastings’ Summerfields Leisure Centre. The opponents for the mighty Bombshells at this – only the second home open door in their history –  are Hampshire’s Basingstoke Bullets. Regarded as each other’s ‘best friend league’ the two teams have met several times on track before; a mixture of closed door bouts, scrimmages and tournament play in the sunshine at Eastbourne Extreme.

The Bombshells have a slight edge in terms of past results, and the main derby ranking siste (flattrackstats.com) rates the Eastbourne league as 173rd in Europe with 524.6 rankings points. Basingstoke have 487.2 ranking points and occupy 264th place. The web site’s (to be taken with a pinch of salt) online result predictor gives the Bombshells an 86% chance of taking the win, compared to 14% for the Hampshire league. The site’s predicted score ratio of 47:29 equates to a typical bout score in the region of 141-87 in Eastbourne’s favour.

Has the prediction algorithm got it right? Find out by snapping up your tickets now for a bargainous £5 plus small booking fee.
TICKETS: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/event/7408722689
MORE INFO: https://www.facebook.com/events/543790472367768/

Doors are at 4pm, the leisure centre’s only seven minutes walk from Hastings train station (Coastway East trains are not affected by the engineering work blighting several Sussex lines that day), there’s a licenced cafe on site and an after party to follow. The day’s theme is 50s hop/rockabilly, with fancy dress encouraged. We caught up with a member of each team to find out more about what to expect from the bout:

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ROCKY BASHOVA (BOURNE BOMBSHELLS)
http://bournebombshells.wix.com/bombshells

The Bombshells staged their first home open door bout a few weeks ago (v Croydon’s Vice Squad). How did that go, organisationally etc? It must have been a big milestone in the league’s history.
Absolutely, a huge and very exciting milestone! I think once you’ve run Eastbourne Extreme two years running, everything else is easy though. We have a few amazing core team members who do a vast amount of organising and preparation – I thank them humongously for this – and the rest of us run around on the day helping to keep everything running smoothly. It was great having announcers and a real public audience, and of course our own proper after party, which I am assured we did all the winning at.

Since then, you’ve been keeping busy with a few closed doors and many players taking part in mixed scrims. Have you progressed much as a league since the Vice Squad bout. Do you have any new skills or tactics to unveil against Basingstoke?
I think we learned more then we realised playing against the Vice Squad. I personally think we have progressed more between that game and now then we had in the few months leading up to our first home bout. We’ve really renewed our focus and completely revamped the way we play in bouts. I couldn’t possibly spill info about skills or tactics before a game, but anyone who saw us play the Bristol B team a couple of weeks ago would have seen it was a very different game to that which we’ve played before. We’ve all been putting in a lot of track time at the closed doors and mixed scrims to really get our heads into it, and I think as a team we have really started gelling and working together so much better.

You’ve played the Basingstoke Bullets quite a few times before, and they’re seen as something of a ‘sister league’ to the Bombshells (and not just because of the matching BB initials!). You must know them quite well. Are there any particular players or tactics from Basingstoke that people at the bout should keep an eye out for?
We love the Bullets! They are all so lovely. Like us, they seem to develop each time we meet or see them, and I know they have been playing a lot more since we last met up at Extreme. I always watch out when PoSin Cherry is jamming, she’s brilliant! We caught a bit of a glimpse of Dropkick No Mercy and Little Miss Mischevil at a mixed scrim last weekend, so we know everyone has been training their sweaty skate socks off. I’m excited to see what new skills and tactics they will bring to the table since we last met up.

Similarly, for anyone coming along to Block Hop who might not have seen the Bombshells before, are there any particular Eastbourne players or tactics to look out for?
All of us! Watch out. We really do have a great collection of players, all with their own strengths and special skills. Coach/captain Toxic Block Syndrome aka Scary Shiny Helmet likes to hit and hit hard! Bullet Bomber is super quick and super nippy. Smash’er Fierce is just brutal, and Dreaded Shortcake will never give up. I could go on. I think we have such a great diversity of players everyone will be able to pick their own favourites. Then make sure you come to our next bout bearing posters, T-shirts and cakes with your favourite Bombshells on! (We will happily eat cakes with our own faces on.)

Are you expecting a tough bout? Would you like to predict the result/score?
I think you should go into every bout expecting it to be tough. I think mental attitude is a huge factor in playing well, and we desperately want to show the home crowd how awesome we really are. I would love to come out with a convincing win, via a well matched toughly fought bout.

Finally, what advice can you give to anyone watching roller derby for the first time at Block Hop, who might be a bit bewildered by what’s going on? Any tips/advice for anyone in the crowd who might want to give the sport a go themselves?
Absolutely let yourself get swept up in the spirit and enjoyment of the game. Cheer, shout, scream and wave your arms about! If you have absolutely no idea what is going on, there is always someone in a roller derby crowd happy to explain, and we usually have a little ‘how derby works’ demo in our programme. If you’re still lost at half time I recommend accosting one of the sweaty girls in skates (usually in the toilets, as that is what happens at bouts!). We run newcomer programmes a couple of times a year called ‘Fresh Meat’ which we advertise on Facebook and on our website, so keep an eye out. Anyone is welcome to get in touch at any time – we take on players, refs, NSOs (Non Skating Officials), women, men, dogs and bakers (we like animals and cake). The guys team have called themselves Bomb S’Quad, and they’re looking for new members as well. They have just taken part in their first mixed public bout and they all have the derby bug. Roller derby really is an amazing sport, played by all kinds of people with all kinds of skills and lots of dedication. It’s fun to watch, better to play and completely amazing to be a part of. We look forward to meeting you all!

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DROPKICK NO MERCY (BASINGSTOKE BULLETS)
http://www.basingstokebullets.moonfruit.com/

For anyone who might not be aware of the Basingstoke Bullets, can you tell us a little about the league’s history and achievements to date? What plans do you have going into 2014 and beyond?
The Bullets were initially formed under a different name, but when the full group of skaters (most of whom are still with us) got together we renamed. We have been together since summer 2011. None of us knew much about derby. Billie Horrorday our coach had just moved from Plymouth where she used to skate with PCRG, and PoiSin Cherry we poached from Roller Hockey. We skated outdoors for a few months as we really struggled to find an indoor venue. 2013 has been massive year for the Bullets with our first closed door, the Eastbourne Extreme tournament and hosting our first open door bout. 2014 is shaping up to be a fun and busy time for the Bullets.

You’ve met the Bombshells a few times before, and are something of a ‘sister league’ to them. Does that make you extra keen to get one over on them?
We love our sister league! But it’s our turn to win. We always have a good time because they are the loveliest team of people. We may hit them a lot on track, then hug a lot off track.

Are there any particular Bombshells players or tactics that you’re wary of? Who do you expect to be the biggest threats in their side?
We know most of the players really well, so that should go in our favour. A few of us scrimmaged against a few Bombshells last weekend at an Oxford Wheels of Gory mixed scrim. After watching this years Sur5al, I know Bullet Bomber and Toxic Block Syndrome are really strong players. The PhilosoFear’s backwards blocking can really hold up jammers.

Are there any particular Bullets players or tactics people in the crowd should keep an eye out for?
I can’t share tactics. As for players we get quite a mix of after game awards for MVP, Best Jammer and Best Blocker. We’re using a bench and line up that we haven’t publicly bouted with before, but we have every faith in them.

Would you like to predict the result/score?
If we keep focused we can play really well, and hopefully we will come away with a win.

Do you have a message for any Basingstoke fans in the crowd at Hastings?
Cheer loudly with Bullet pride!

[Photos by John Hesse]

Oh My Quad bout report

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We should kick this off with reference to the Battle of Hastings really. Too obvious an opportunity to pass by. Of course a pedant will point out that unlike today’s event – the home debut of the Bourne Bombshells roller derby team against Croydon’s B-team Vice Squad – the events of 1066 took place not in Hastings but in Battle. (How handy a decision was that, incidentally; both armies could just follow the road signs to find the right location.) But we don’t listen to pedants, so expect us to make parallels between the visiting South Londoners and the Norman invaders. We’ll no doubt compare Bombshells captain Toxic Block Syndrome’s repeat visits to the penalty box to an arrow in King Harold’s eye. Heck, instead of words we might just deliver the whole bout report as pictures stitched onto tapestry, Bayeux stylee.

Before that, though, the venue. We can’t put into words how excited we were when Toxic told us the Bombshells would be taking on Croydon B in Somerfields. We’ve never seen roller derby in a supermarket before, and the possibilities seemed limitless. Ten skaters bombing around the aisles, blockers building towers of cereal boxes to try and halt the rival jammer’s advance, penalised players riding in shopping trolleys to a penalty box located behind the deli counter, nibbling on slices of prosciutto while they wait for their 60 seconds to run down. It all sounded brilliant. Then we remembered that Somerfield rebranded as Co-op a couple of years back, and learn that the bout’s actually in Summerfields, a leisure centre. Gadnammit.

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The Eastbourne league get off to a good start. Things are kept fairly clean, with the penalty box completely (or at least relatively) empty across the first few jams, as a procession of Bombshells jammers – Toxic, Bomber, Shortcake – take lead, hustle their way past three or four opponents and call it. The fifth jam sees something of a turning point. Eastbourne have two blockers in the box and three on track for the start of the jam. Boxed pivot PhilosoFear is shouting at the pack to take a blocker off, but she’s too far away to be understood and the jam starts amidst some confusion. We learn at the after party that possibly one of the players in the penalty box hadn’t been sent off. Either way, Croydon have started clawing back at the deficit and sit on the soft side of a 17-10 scoreline as the jam ends.

Next up in the star for Vice Squad is Agent Cooper. This may be the first time this B-team have bouted as a unit, but by no means is it a public bouting debut for the individuals in this tough Croydon side. Take the case of Cooper, who seems to have popped up on track in mixed openers at pretty much every derby event we’ve been to over the past few months; and not just in the South East, try farmyards in Leicestershire and beyond. With a blend of well scrim-fed rookies and A team crossovers, this South London side has eaten up more track miles that almost all of the Sussex contingent, and that experience may well tell. A series of ninja-fast power jam passes from Cooper turns the scoreline around. Croydon now lead 24-17 and that gap is destined to grow bigger.

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Today’s theme, Oh My Quad, is 90s (or more specifically, the movie Clueless) inspired. Announcers Smashlyn Monroe – fresh from a marathon announcathon at last weekend’s 105 contest Sur5al event in Windsor – and Rolling Thunder, who skated in said co-ed tournament, are suitably bedecked in 90s gear. Thunder, who coaches the Croydon A team, has opted to wear skates for announcing. Whilst this proves useful when he takes to the centre of the track to supervise a pre-bout roller derby demonstration, the rest of the time it just seems to be showing off (but there’s nowt wrong with that). This may be the Bombshells’ first home bout, but they’ve nailed it all organisationally, and the scoreboard’s pre-bout display of profile shots and skater names puts even the biggest derby leagues to shame.

A blistering power jam performance in Jam 13 from Hell Block H, who is up against a full Croydon pack with only two Bombshell blockers in support, closes the deficit to 50-76, the kind of gap that a single power jam could bridge. Unfortunately Eastbourne’s skaters, already no strangers to the penalty seating, end up playing musical chairs over the next few jams, starting most of them without a jammer on track. The Bombshells are still tethered to 50 points as Vice Squad up their numbers to 130. Toxic clocks a few passes in the final jam of the period, before a penalty calls switches the PJ in Croydon’s favour. The Londoners take a 136-64 lead into the half-time break.

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We lurk by the door for the last few seconds of the first half so we can make it to the bar ahead of everyone else. Unfortunately we’ve also made it ahead of any serving staff. A young Bombshells fan actually skated up the stairs (Daleks have got nothing on her) to make it in second place. As a long queue builds up, we notice wiped tables and piled up chairs which suggest they’ve actually closed the cafe. Are they mad? Have they never hosted a public roller derby bout before? Oh, that’s they right, they haven’t. Five minutes elapses before someone realises they’d better reopen it. Quite right, before there’s a riot. We have Croydon in the house, and they burnt down their own town – what do you think they’ll do to the cafe of a seaside leisure centre named after a defunct supermarket chain? Meanwhile, in the hall, Smashlyn is warning raffle winners not to take the handbag as she wants it; an unnecessary cautioning it turns out, since the first winning number she calls out is her own.

As the second half gets underway, it’s time to reflect on the difference between these two sides. There isn’t much of one, to be honest, the Bombshells are playing well. It’s the penalties that are costing them though, and very few times in the second period will they start a jam with a full five on track. Croydon meanwhile are dispensing some very physical blocking, but for the most part keeping it clean, or at least cleaner. Of particular note in the Vice Squad pack are Polly Filla, Bertie Bee Stings and Inara Terra; all three making things tortuously difficult for the Eastbourne jammers. Midway through the second period, with Croydon leading 186-94, Dreaded Shortcake finds herself held behind a one-woman Inara wall, barely able to push forward a couple of inches, let alone pass. As the seconds tick down, and Agent Cooper adds another 18 to Croydon’s total, Shortcake passes the jammer panty to Hell Block H, but in all honesty it needs a star pass to Commando-era Arnold Schwarzenegger to get past the wall of Terra.

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Bombshells bench coach Sassy McAwesome and line-up manager All Seeing Ivy are mixing things up as best they can, trying to draw blood from the stone solid Vice Squad pack in the later stages. That regular sea of purple in the penalty box is hampering things, though. Toxic, Eastbourne’s head coach and most experienced player, is popping up all over the track (in true triple threat style) when not making one of her five trips to the box. She’s giving it everything, and tips the Bombshells into triple figures as she ekes out six points in Jam 13 of the second period. The PhilosoFear takes on the pivoting duties in many jams, and controls the pack pace well, but the likes of Dot Cottonmouth, Psycho Sis and Turbo Chick are seeking out the openings as Croydon sneak another single pass four onto the scoreboard in most second period jams.

One of the standout blocking performances for the Bombshells comes in Jam 16. Toxic is through as lead and AmNasty has Croydon jammer Angel DDelight glued to her back. As feisty as this blocking is, the Vice Squad pack are keeping it tight too, and Toxic isn’t able to take advantage. The next jam sees the impressively swift-footed Bullet Bomber (who played alongside Toxic in last week’s Sur5al) unluckily sent off for a track cut, with Turbo Chick taking advantage of the PJ to stretch Croydon’s lead to 256-111. The South Londoners’ fans whoop and holler. There’s just the right size of crowd here for the amount of seating, and it’s pretty much a 50-50 split between Bombshells and Vice Squad fans. The Croydon crowd includes a large portion of their A team roster – Gin Atomic, Sookie Smackhouse, et al – whilst the nosiest enclave of Eastbourne fans are clustered around Surrey Rollerboy Richard Smashcroft (another Sur5alist) near the jammer line, a Budweiser-powered maelstrom of encouraging shouts and tactical advice directed at the Bombshells skaters.

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The final stages of the bout are less penalty heavy, and as a result the Sussex league are holding their own more. Taking the final three jams in isolation, the Bombshells rack up nine points to Croydon’s five. Pivoting Toxic holds back the impressive Psycho Sis well in the penultimate jam, forcing the Vice Squad jammer to call it with only four points posted. Bomber and Hell Block win the other two jams, with classic ‘single pass and call it before the opponent hits the pack’ tactics that hint at what kind of a fight Eastbourne might have been able to put up with a quieter penalty box. The final score is 265-124 to the steely South London outfit. Hell Block picks up Best Blocker, Bullet takes Best Jammer and Toxic is awarded MVP for Eastbourne, with Angel DD, Psycho Sis and Inara Terra claiming the certificates (impressively 90s style, with accompanying bling-tastic medallions) for Vice Squad. There isn’t an award for Best Turned Out – the title a Bombshells-led side won at last week’s Sur5al – so we’ll award one ourselves, and it goes to Smash’er Fierce for her awesome gold leopard skin facepaint; er, at least we assume it’s facepaint, please ignore this sentence if it’s actually some sort of skin condition. Reuben Crash wins Best Baby Blanket.

We race ahead of everyone else to the after party venue, which is perfect for this event. A sleazy rock dive, pool table, garden, death metal band tuning up in the corner, tattoo-style graffiti and a Jägermeister machine. Proper ‘wipe your feet on the way out’ place, unlike the bemused gastro pubs some derby leagues end up after partying in. Croydon are first to arrive, as is usual for an away team (the homies will be breaking down the hall), a blur of rolling suitcases and snatches of conversation. “It was so hot I had to change my bra.” Bombshell clusters land in the venue, a crowd of NSOs here, a Bomb S’Quad merby posse there, as the garden fills up. The general consensus is that the home team played well, and but for all the penalties it could have been a much closer game. Indeed. In many ways, you have to learn to lose before you can learn to win. The Bombshells will be back, stronger and hungrier, a few mixed up closed doors’ more experienced, in November. We head back to the station, pausing only to grab a couple of cans of JD & Coke from Sainsbury Local. We can’t help visually measuring the interior (enough space for a full size track or three quarters?) and tapping our foot on the floor. 89a duro wheels, or maybe 86a for better grip on the apex around the Doritos display? Roller derby in supermarkets – it’s the way of the future. Believe.

[Photographs by John Hesse]

Bourne Bombshells v Croydon Vice Squad preview

Hello the internet. We’re the BBCD and we exist – we must do, you’re looking at us right now. You can find us here and on Facebook, Twitter and maybe some other places that we don’t even know about. You can definitely find us at Summerfields Leisure Centre in Hastings at 4pm this Saturday (31st August) as the awesomes Bourne Bombshells take on Croydon’s Vice Squad in their first public home roller derby bout. Yay! You can find out more here: https://www.facebook.com/events/561998610510350/ You can buy tickets here: http://ohmyquad.eventbrite.co.uk/ You can read about what to expect (from members of both teams) here:

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TOXIC BLOCK SYNDROME (BOURNE BOMBSHELLS)

For anyone coming to Hastings on Saturday who isn’t really aware of roller derby, could you explain the sport in a paragraph? Roller derby is an exciting, fast paced game which brings together speed, tactical gameplay and brute force to create the only sport that’s ever held my attention for more than five minutes.

Could you tell us a little about the history of the Bourne Bombshells and your achievements to date? We formed as the Bombshells in December 2011, though a group of us had been skating under a different league name for about six months before then. We didn’t really have anybody with much prior derby experience, so we spent a long time getting to grips with the basics, recruiting and getting lots and lots of scrimmage experience before finally going public this year. We played our first (closed door) bout against the Basingstoke Bullets in March (and won), our first open door bout in April against Kent Knightmares (and lost), had our first public win against Freaky Mon’sters Derby Ladies in Belgium, then came second at Eastbourne Extreme this year, losing the final by just one point!

You’re widely known for running the Eastbourne Extreme outdoor tournament. How different is outdoor derby to indoor? We’re lucky enough to have a permanent outdoor track, and we spend a lot of time training outdoors, so most of the nervousness about being on an outdoor surface had subsided long before the actual tournament. The only extra injuries any of us really picked up were grazed fingers, and dodgy tan lines!

The opponents for this, your first [home] public indoor bout, are Croydon’s Vice Squad B-team. Do you know much about them? Have you come up against them before? Any particular Vice Squad players you’re wary of? Croydon are one of our closest leagues, so we tend to bump into their players fairly often, and they’ve also been kind enough to have us down to scrimmage on a couple of occasions, so we’ve skated with members of their A and B teams before. A few of us also went down to Rumble in the Cronx [Croydon v Cardiff’s Tiger Bay B-team] a couple of weekends back, so we saw a lot of the Vice Squad in action in the mixed opener as well. Particular players? I’ve scrimmaged with Inara Terror a few times – she’s an A/B crossover, and has been around a bit longer than some of the others, so I’m keeping an eye on her! Angel DDelight is one to watch as well, I think. I saw her floor a few girls in the mixed opener, so I’ll be watching out for her hits.

Are there any Bombshells players or tactics the crowd should keep an eye out for? Ahh, I never share tactics before a bout! We’re a very close knit team, though. We’re all really good friends and we pretty much do everything together, so I think that kind of bonding is really going to work in our favour. Bullet Bomber is a great player to watch – She was on my Sur5al Remix [a 15 team, 105 mini-bout tournament] team this weekend just gone, and the standard of the other teams was so high, we were really out of our comfort zone, and I think it’ll be interesting to see how that will change her gameplay for the weekend. We’ve also got a couple of players who are really improving; Silk Scream just spent the whole summer working at a roller disco, so she’s been spending 20+ hours a week on skates, and Deegenerate has been putting a lot of work into her technique and these last few weeks has really impressed all of the coaches with her progress – even I’M looking forward to watching them, and I skate with them every week!

Once this first public bout is crossed off the To Do list, what other plans do the Bombshells have for the near (and more distant) future? We’re fairly busy until the end of the year, actually. Myself, Sassy McAwesome (bench), Filthy Lorenzo (ref and Bomb S’quad men’s derby team member) and Pettichoke (Head Non-Skating Official) are all off to Block Around the Clock next weekend for the 24 hour scrimmage. In October we’ve got some girls skating and I’m bench coaching in the Malice Through the Looking Glass (Surrey Roller Girls home bout) mixed opener and we’re bouting Bristol Bees and Bath Roller Derby Girls in the same weekend (closed door, I’m afraid). In November we have another public bout against our sister league the Basingstoke Bullets, and then we’re teaming up with them to put together a team for Rookie Sur5al! We’re also hoping to become a UKRDA member league before the year is out. We’ve got some exciting stuff coming up next year too, but it’s top secret at the moment!

Are you expecting a tough battle? Would you care to make a prediction for the score? I think as a team, we have more experience, and we’ve skated and bouted together a lot more, but they have the advantage of a huge and knowledgeable team of referees to keep them in check, and the benefit of being able to have regular practice with their A team, so it’s a difficult one to call. I suppose we don’t really know what to expect, but I have every faith in the Bombshells. I’d love for it to be a close game – they’re more fun to play, and they’re more fun to watch.

Any tips for any derby virgins in the crowd who might be a bit bewildered by it all? Don’t be afraid to ask questions – Generally, a large proportion of the audience is made up of derby players, and we LOVE talking about derby, so if you get confused, ask someone with a number and a silly name on their back. For any total newbies, we will be running a short demo just before the bout starts, so hopefully everyone will be able to follow the basics.

And for those in the crowd who get so excited by the sport they want to get involved in it themselves, what opportunities are there?
We actually have a taster day planned on September 15th. We open up our practice for two hours, and anyone who’s interested can drop by, we’ll lend them some gear and get them started skating (we may even have a qualified skate instructor on hand), show them a few demo jams, and then we generally play some off-skates derby too, which is incredibly silly, but really good fun. There are currently opportunities for both male and female players, referees, non-skating officials, and generally anybody who wants to get involved in any way. We teach everyone everything they need to know, so no previous experience is required – a little commitment and enthusiasm is all it takes.

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SNEAKY MEEKY (CROYDON ROLLER DERBY)

For anyone who might not be aware of Croydon Roller Derby, can you tell us a little about your history and achievements to date? Croydon Roller Derby was founded by Mosquito, formerly of London Rockin’ Rollers, in 2010. With nowhere to skate a collection of friends used to skate outside on the high streets of Croydon. CRD has continued to grow and in August 2013 we are able to launch our B team and have a strong pool of skaters vying for spots on the squad.

How has this year gone for CRD? Our A team Riot Squad have been undefeated in 2013 and won Eastbourne Extreme for the second year running in July. They take on their first International Tournament in Nantes in October and have big plans for the 2014 season. Currently ranked 26 in Europe we know CRD’s A and B teams are going to go from strength to strength.

Whilst your A-team is fairly well established, how new to bouting is your B-team Vice Squad? This bout will be the first time our B team have skated as a single collective publicly. Having popped their cherries in a variety of mixed openers across the country they’ve picked up some skills and tactics that they each bring to their game. Working closely with Riot Squad in recent weeks they’ve been building up their confidence and skills and are now ready to hit the track.

Are there any particular Vice Squad players or tactics people should keep a look out for on Saturday?
It would unfair to pick out skaters on their first game so we think they all need to be watched and check out their awesome individual skills on the track. As for tactics – we can’t give them away!

Do you know much about the Bourne Bombshells? Have you come up against any of them before? We’ve met the Bombshells a variety of times, we’ve hosted them for a training session, attended a mixed session with them at Surrey and were lucky to have been part of their amazing tournament Eastbourne Extreme. We know they’re a dedicated team of women whose game has strengthened this year and they’ve worked extremely hard. We’re massively proud to be part of their first open door!

Are there any BB players you’re particularly wary of? Players we’re worried about of course include Toxic Block Syndrome, the Bombshells head coach. She’s picked up some rad moves over the last few months and is fearless on the track! Bullet Bomber is also one of our favourites; she literally does bomb her way round the track! We love all the Bombshells and know they’re going to be a tough match for our new team. We’ll be happy to put some points on the board and take away a fantastic experience if nothing else.

Are you expecting a tough battle? Would you care to make a prediction for the score? I think with both relatively new teams (the Bombshells’ first public bout and Vice Squad’s first full game together) it could be anyone’s game and I think both teams will put on the biggest fight to take away their first wins. Prediction wise it’s an uncertain one, but we’ll go for Bombshells 150 – 125 Vice Squad. Who knows!

Finally, any message for any CRD fans who might be in the crowd in Hastings? Massive love for all the love and support we’ve been shown in the last months as we’ve grown! Sing it together – ‘Vice squad, Vice squad, Not very nice squad!’

[Photographs by John Hesse]

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