British Champs T4 South East Day 5 Preview

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

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

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

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

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PHILTHY DELPHIA – NORFOLK BRAWDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CLARK…SMASH! – KILLA HURTZ ROLLER GIRLS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Photos by John Hesse]

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British Champs T4 South East Day Four preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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GAME DAY FOUR: STATS AND PREDICTIONS

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

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

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

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

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THE PHILOSOFEAR – BOURNE BOMBSHELLS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SUFFOLK PUNCH – SUFFOLK ROLLER DERBY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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PHILTHY DELPHIA – NORFOLK BRAWDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CLEO CATCH YA – FULL METAL ROLLER DERBY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Photos by John Hesse]

British Champs Tier 4 South East Day Two Preview

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

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

TRAVEL INFO

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

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

PREDICTIONS

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

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

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COUNTESS VON STACKIT – BOURNE BOMBSHELLS

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

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

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

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

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CLEO CATCHYA – FULL METAL ROLLER DERBY

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

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

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

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

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PHILTHY DELPHIA – THE NORFOLK BRAWDS

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

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

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

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

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

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CLARK… SMASH! – KILLA HURTZ ROLLER GIRLS

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

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

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

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

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

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

British Champs Tier 4 South East Day One preview

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

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

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

BULLET BOMBER – BOURNE BOMBSHELLS CAPTAIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CLARK SMASH – KILLA HURTZ ROLLER DERBY

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

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

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

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

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

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HOUND – FULL METAL RD BENCH MANAGER

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUFFOLK PUNCH – SUFFOLK ROLLER DERBY

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

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

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

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

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

[Photos by John Hesse]