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]

Eastbourne Extreme 2014 In Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EER7

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

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

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

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

EER9

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

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

EER10

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

[Photos by John Hesse]

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

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

Bomb S’Quad Interview

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The Bombshells kicked off their bouting year yesterday with a hard battling performance in a semi-closed door game against a very strong mixed league team. Timely preparation for the first of their five Heartland Series group games, which is coming up on April 6th away to Milton Keynes. The Bombshells and MK were the two teams that sat out the first round of SE Division matches two weekends ago – a day that saw Big Bucks squeak past the Hell’s Belles, whilst Norfolk Brawds bested Bedfordshire by quite a margin – and have those four sides to face later in the year.

Whilst the Bombshells gear up for their Heartland campaign, we’ll take a quick look at other Eastbourne-based derby leagues, both of whom have very strong Bombshells links (being in many ways their brother league and offspring league respectively). In a week or two we’ll hear from some coaches and skaters from the New Bournes, a recently christened junior derby league for 11-17 year olds. Firstly, we catch up with one of the founders of the only men’s derby league in Sussex…

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HARRY TROTTER – BOMB S’QUAD SKATER / BOURNE BOMBSHELLS REF

Hi. Can you tell us a bit about the background to the creation of the Bomb S’Quad? How long have you been going?
The Bomb S’Quad were formed by the three Bombshells referees Filthy Lorenzo, Electric Lee Charged and myself. We’d been training with the girls and really got the derby bug. We started talking about it in theory in April 2013. We set up a Facebook page and produced business cards to see what interest we could generate, so basically we’ve been going since then. Our first official Bomb S’Quad training session was in January.

How many skaters do you have at the moment? How many is the aim, and what advice do you have for anyone reading this who might want to give men’s roller derby a go?
Currently we have twelve skaters of varying skill levels, from those learning to skate to the bout-hardened. Five of us are minimum skills passed at the moment, and there are others who are excellent skaters but need to be taught the skills necessary to bout. Our aim is to get as many skaters as we can. The more the merrier. The advice I’d give anyone considering giving merby [men’s roller derby] a try is to just go for it. You’ll make some great friends and have a great time. The best thing to do to get an idea of the sport is either look on YouTube for merby bouts – Southern Discomfort games are usually amazing – or pop down to see us at MySkateWorld in Eastbourne on Monday evenings 7-9 to have a look and a chat, and of course follow us on Facebook

Whilst Bomb S’Quad haven’t bouted under that name yet, we know that some of you have played in mixed scrims. We also understand you’re joining forces with another team for bouting purposes. Do you have a timeline for when you hope to be publicly bouting as the Bomb S’Quad itself?
Four of us took part in co-ed bout ‘The Rookie Horror Show’ (in East London) and three of us took part in a mixed men’s bout at ‘Block of Ages’ in Swindon. The experience we all gained from these was priceless. You learn what you are good at – and what you need to improve on – when you’re put in these situations. If you can work with people you don’t know, then when you come to play as your own team, a lot of your skills will be honed. We’re joining together with the Surrey Jammerwockies to take on Bristol away in April. After that we are looking to play against Portsmouth Scurvy Dogs, again in conjunction with Surrey. We don’t have an exact date when we will be bouting as purely the Bomb S’Quad. Hopefully towards the end of 2014, but if not then definitely in 2015… so watch out!

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You’ve had a lot of help from the Bombshells in setting up the league. Are many of them involved with Bomb S’Quad on a regular basis?
The Bombshells have been amazing with helping us get up and running. We have some of the Bombshells’ directors on the Bomb S’Quad board. Their head coach Toxic Block Syndrome is also our head coach, and Bombshells trainee referee Phoenix is our bench coach. We’ve also have a lot of the girls turn up at our training to train with us and share their experience. And a massive thank you to Beast Unleashed for designing our logo, which everyone loves.

With such close links between the Bomb S’Quad and Bombshells, is a combined co-ed team a possibility at some point in the future?
There are no plans for it. It would be nice if in the future we could do some co-ed scrims with them, or enter the co-ed Sur5als, but as I say we’ve not discussed anything like that yet.

Most men’s teams are based in big cities. Is it difficult attracting skaters to a merby side in a smaller town? Are there other leagues (such as Southern Discomfort) that you are competing for players with?
I think so far it has been relatively easy to find players locally. Through our links with the Bombshells, our training venue MySkateWorld, Sk8school and Facebook, it has given us a pool of experienced skaters who have decided to come along and join us. With regards to SDRD, they’re based in London and the other nearest men’s teams are Portsmouth and Surrey, which are quite far away. This gives us a huge catchment area, which includes Brighton, Eastbourne, Hastings and Worthing.

In what ways does men’s roller derby differ from the women’s game?
That’s quite a contentious issue and it all depends on who you talk to. I think men’s derby can appear more violent because the hits look harder, but saying that there are plenty of female skaters who hit hard. The women’s game can be more strategic and men’s more adrenaline-fuelled.

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What ambitions do the Bomb S’Quad have for 2014 and beyond?
Our ambitions are to get bigger and better. To have as many skaters as we can and to start making ourselves known in the derby world. Hopefully in the not too distant future, we could be involved in the Men’s Euros and have skaters in the England team. That’s our aim.

Any particular Bomb S’Quad players we should look out for when the league starts publicly bouting?
Two players to keep an eye on are Chasin’ Status and Filthy Lorenzo, who were born on skates – they seem to be an extension of their legs. Spank Me Sideways, who joined late last year, is a great skater and one to watch for the future. The rest of us aren’t too shoddy either.

Finally, is there anything people out there in internet-land can do to help and/or support the Bomb S’Quad?
If anyone wants to help, support or join please feel free to contact us via Facebook or Twitter (links below) or e-mail directors@bombsquadrollerderby.co.uk. Alternatively, just pop down to MySkateWorld one Monday evening to see what it’s all about…

[Photos by John Hesse]

LINKS

BOMB S’QUAD ON FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/BombSQuadMerby
BOMB S’QUAD ON TWITTER: https://twitter.com/Bomb_S_Quad
ALADDIN SANE’S BLOG: http://iwishiwasajammer.com/