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/

Heartland Series South East Final Day preview

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There will be a sense of déjà vu for many of the teams taking part in this final day of divisional action in the 2014 Heartland Series. The venue is the same one used for the last round of South East games; the home of the Big Bucks league, Wycombe Leisure Centre, travel directions to which you’ll find in our preview of the previous game day. This epic triple header takes place on Sunday (2nd November) with doors at 2.45pm. There are limited tickets on the door at £12 a pop. With three games to fit in, there’s plenty of derby action in store. We can’t see things finishing in the hall much before 9pm, with an after party following in the town centre (at the local branch of faux Irish pub chain O’Neills). Although there’s nothing to play for in terms of qualification here – the top two teams in the division are already through as the South East’s representatives in the finals on the 23rd – every team could finish in a different position in the table to where they currently stand. In a moment we’ll hear a Bombshell’s thoughts heading into Sunday, but first here’s an almost impenetrable wall of stats and predictions…

3PM BOURNE BOMBSHELLS (5TH) v BEDFORDSHIRE ROLLERGIRLS (6TH)
Bedfordshire have yet to win a game and have lost their previous four matches by between 120 and 480 points. Climbing off the bottom of the table therefore looks a very big ask – they’d need to beat the ‘shells by over 350 points – but they will be keen to at least get a victory on the board in this final game. The Bombshells currently place 294th in Europe on Flattrackstats with 469.2 ranking points, with Beds 351st on 432.2. Splitting the difference between home team predictions on FTS (as they don’t have an option for a neutral venue such as this) sees Eastbourne given an 80% chance of taking the win. Expected points differential of around 10:7 would equate to something like a 250-175 Bombshells win.

5PM NORFOLK BRAWDS (3RD) v HELL’S BELLES (4TH)
If any game is going to have a major effect on the final placings it’s likely to be this one. What divides these two teams is essentially their respective performances against the Bombshells, with Norfolk’s victory accounting for the extra three points (and better score differential) they hold over the Hell’s Belles who Eastbourne beat. The points gap is narrow enough that Hertfordshire only need to win by 67 to take third place from the Brawds. Conversely, if the Belles lose and Bombshells win, the Herts side will drop below Eastbourne in the table. So no team has more to gain or more to lose on Sunday than Hell’s Belles. The rankings are in their favour, with Herts placed 166th in Europe (519.1 points) and Norfolk 181st (513.6). There’s not much in it, but the Flattrackstats predictor, adjusted for neutral venue, calls this as a 55% win probability for Herts, with a predicted differential of 50:47, which is equivalent to a squeaky tight 200-188 Belles win.

7PM MILTON KEYNES (1ST) v BIG BUCKS HIGH ROLLERS (2ND)
This top of the table clash features two sides who have won all four of their games so far. At first glance it doesn’t seem to have much riding on it. Both teams are through as the South East’s representatives at the Series Finals. One tangible effect of taking the win, in addition to picking up the divisional title, is that the victors will face Oxford Roller Derby in the Series quarter finals. The losers will be up against Gloucester’s Severn Roller Torrent. Which is the stronger of those potential opponents is up for argument – Oxford place higher than SRT in the UKRDA rankings (26th v 31st) but lower than them in Euro rankings (98th v 54th). Think that’s confusing? So is this South East title match itself. Big Bucks place 20th in UKRDA on 579.2 points with Milton Keynes 34th (526.3). Given home advantage the High Rollers have a massive 97% win prediction on a 53:28 differential. That would equate to something like a 265-140 Big Bucks win. Treating it as a neutral venue, which it technically is (despite being BBHR’s home turf), softens the win prediction a tiny bit. The Euro rankings, meanwhile, actually favour Milton Keynes – they place 43rd to Big Bucks’ 79th. Even with a prediction based on it being the latter’s home venue, MK are given 70% chance of the win. That rises to 77% if treated as neutral. The score differentials suggest a victory margin of around 40 points for MK based on these Euro rankings. Ah, confusing maths! Gotta lie down now…

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THE PHILOSOFEAR – BOURNE BOMBSHELLS

Your most recent Heartland Series game (against Big Bucks) resulted in a fairly heavy defeat. Was that expected, given the strength of the Wycombe side?
We went into that game knowing that it would be tough and so we were aiming to just minimise the score differential. Big Bucks are ranked much higher than us and were expected to beat us by a lot, but we actually did slightly better than the score prediction from Flattrackstats’ European rankings. We’ve had a few difficult games now in the Heartland Series and we’ve learned to focus on our blocking and strong walls rather than on jamming. Unfortunately in the game against Big Bucks we lost another player to injury (Beast Unleashed broke her ankle) so we’ve had to change our line-ups around for this weekend’s game.

You’re returning to Big Bucks’ Wycombe venue on Sunday for the final day of South East division games. Do you know much about your opponents, Bedfordshire RollerGirls?

We’ve seen them play a few times now in the Heartland Series. Booty Vicious is Bedfordshire’s player to watch out for. She’s a strong blocker and a big hitter. She occasionally jams and is very good at powering her way through walls. I would liken her to the Bombshells’ Smash’er Fierce – a strong blocker who can hold walls together and send the jammer flying.

Any Bombshells players or tactics people in the crowd should keep an eye out for? How do you expect the game to go? Care to predict the result?

According to the online predictor the Bombshells should win. However, we were predicted to win against Norfolk and we lost that one by a fair amount. There’s been a lot of change in the Bombshells ranks recently, with key players leaving and others injured, so I don’t think that the predictor is entirely accurate. Obviously we hope to win! But I think it’ll be a more even game than our last few matches. Elle Hound is a player to watch out for – she’s now a key part of our jammer rotation.

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The day’s other games are Hell’s Belles v Norfolk Brawds and Big Bucks v Milton Keynes. How do you think those two games will go? Any particular players people should look out for?
The Hell’s Belles v Norfolk Brawds game will be interesting for us as we really need the Brawds to win. If they do, and if we win our game, then the Bombshells would finish 4th in the division. On the other hand, if Hell’s Belles win, it would come down to points differential and theirs is currently much better than ours. The Belles played really well in their last bout against MK and could surprise everyone. They’ve got some great jammers (especially Dolly Spartan) who will really test the Brawds’ walls. The Bombshells are big Hell’s Belles fans and we have a recent transfer from the Belles playing with us, so we’ll be cheering for them, even though we really need the Brawds to win! I’m really looking forward to the Big Bucks v Milton Keynes game too, and I think it’ll be very close. At the moment I’m unsure as to who will win it.

How has your Heartland Series campaign compared to your expectations going into it? What have been the highlights and lowlights so far?
I’m not sure we had any expectations going into Heartland – it’s all been very new for us. Coming 4th in our division would be fantastic. For me one of the highs so far was the last jam of our game against Hell’s Belles. It was Swann’s last game with us, so we put her on to jam the final jam of the game and let her choose her ‘dream team’ of blockers so that she could go out on a high. The blockers kept the Hell’s Belles jammer contained and Swann was able to make a quick succession of scoring passes and finish the game on a very high scoring jam. The lows have been the two big injuries in our last two games – Seoul Destroyer broke her elbow in our game against Norfolk, and Beast Unleashed broke her ankle in the game against Big Bucks.

Finally, what plans do the Bombshells have going forward?
We’re taking part in the British Championships (which the Heartland Series is becoming) next year, but we don’t have much information yet on who we’re playing and when. We have a closed door game against Grid City in January. And of course 2015 will see the return of our outdoor tournament Eastbourne Extreme!

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FINALS WEEKEND & THE FUTURE OF HEARTLAND

The grand final of 2014 Heartland Series takes place on the 23rd November at Newark showground in Nottinghamshire – arguably a more Northern (and Eastern) location that the geographical spread of teams might have suggested. Milton Keynes and Big Bucks go through as the South East’s representatives, alongside teams from Gloucester, Plymouth, Oxford, Cambridge, Hereford and Merseyside. The two SE teams are in separate halves of the draw, so could theoretically meet in the final, though all eight competitors are highly ranked strong sides. Tickets are priced at £10 (plus service fee). See the links below.

This year’s Heartland Series has been the biggest and most nationwide yet, featuring 24 teams from across England and Wales, which is quite a jump from what started out in 2012 as a competition for six South Midlands leagues. Next year things get taken to a whole new level. Heartland is being renamed the British Championships and will feature around SEVENTY derby teams from across the UK competing in a football-style pyramid of national, regional and sub-regional divisions. Fixtures are being released to leagues at the moment and should be made publicly available over the coming weeks. We do know that the Bombshells won’t be the only Sussex participants, with the Brighton Rockers also taking part in next year’s competition. As we understand it, there should be a fair bit of British Championships action taking place at the Dolphin in Haywards Heath in 2015. More info when we have it.

[Photos by John Hesse, Rebecca Cornford and Daz Wilson]

LINKS
2ND NOV FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/291813547693603/
23RD NOV FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/327175307467016/
23RD NOV TICKETS: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/893466
HEARTLAND: http://www.heartlandseries.co.uk/
BRITISH CHAMPS: http://www.britishchamps.com/
CHAMPS ON FB: https://www.facebook.com/BritishRollerDerbyChamps
BOMBSHELLS: http://bournebombshells.wix.com/bombshells
HELL’S BELLES: http://www.hertsrd.co.uk/
BEDFORDSHIRE: http://www.bedfordshirerollergirls.com/
NORFOLK BRAWDS: http://www.norfolkbrawds.com/
MILTON KEYNES: http://www.miltonkeynesrollerderby.com/
BIG BUCKS: http://www.bigbuckshighrollers.co.uk/

Heartland Series South East Game Day Six Preview

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RECAP: SOUTH EAST GAME DAY FIVE

Is it Heartland Series time again? Indeed so. The previous divisional game day took place at the end of July in Hemel Hempstead. Two teams sit out each of the first six game days, with only the final triple header (taking place in Wycombe on November 2nd) featuring all six of the South East sides. July’s Day Five saw the teams placed first and second, Milton Keynes and Big Bucks, sitting the day out. With those two unbeaten and pretty much locked-on to take the two South East spots in the cross-regional finals, the day provided an opportunity for the division’s other sides to jockey for position in the lower two-thirds of the table.

Us sensible Sussexites opt for a train to St Albans rather than Hemel itself, since even with the addition of a 25 minute bus ride between the two, we save two hours and a tenner each. The venue is close to a giant ‘magic roundabout’ (voted the UK’s second worst, or possibly second best if roundabouts are your ‘thing’) and a pub overlooking some village cricket. Given that the leisure centre itself is devoid of bars (for derby? for real?) we enjoy the distractions and roll up around the same time – just before first whistle – as the announcer, former Bombshells bench coach Sassy McAwesome. It’s mildly pleasing to see that less than 10% of the crowd here are wearing Arsenal football shirts – in the town centre that figure is closer to 80%.

It’s probably fair to say this game doesn’t go well for the Sussex side. Opponents the Norfolk Brawds put up a tough showing from the outset. Six jams in, the ‘shells are down 3-30 and their new bench manager is calling a first team timeout. With previous captain Swann and vice-captain Chunder Woman having departed earlier in the summer (to Brighton and Croydon respectively), a number of newer recruits now feature for the Sussex league. One of those, the sprightly Seoul Destroyer, goes down with a serious injury shortly after play resumes, and the Bombshells will pick up other knocks as the game goes on, further reducing their options.

With Philthy Delphia and Colletteral Damage jamming in big point tallies, and the likes of Teki Bomb and Short Circuit keeping a lid on the Sussex starheads. the Brawds continue building up a sizeable lead. Although Crash, Drag ‘N’ Fly and others pick up purple points here and there, the Norwich-based side dominate lead jammer status (hitting it five or six jams in a row on more than one occasion). Whilst Philosofear and Smash’er Fierce are amongst the blockers putting in battling stints for the Bombshells, their Norfolk opponents are proving a match for them, and the Brawds go on to take the game 201-73. Eastbourne probably win the “most booze smuggled into venue by fans and NSOs in the crowd” award, although this is the most underlit sports hall in the world (is this strip-lighting powered by candles?) so those golden cans could well be caffeine-free Diet Coke rather than Special Brew. Uh-huh.

The day’s second game sees hosts Hell’s Belles up against the Bedfordshire Rollergirls. Though Beds have battled hard throughout the Heartland Series, they prop up the South East divisional table with an unenviable points differential. It stands at minus 965 going into this game and is destined to sink further today. The Belles’ loss to Eastbourne a couple of months back was something of a surprise, being the only game to go against ranking expectations in this division so far, but the Belles coming within a dozen points of mighty Milton Keynes in February was equally surprising to many. These up and down results would suggest that HB “blow hot and cold” and if that’s the case, then today they’re on the Airblade rather than air con setting. The hometown side take a 160-20 lead over Beds into the half-time break.

Dolly Spartan, putting on a burst of speed to hop past on the inside line, is a standout jammer for the Belles, with Scarlett Heartless amongst their other high scorers. Screw Luce and Kookiekat put up decent enough numbers for Beds when she gets a chance, but the likes of Vera Off Track and Les Be Avenue are tough blockers to pass. Booty Vicious and Yoho are amongst Beds’ own fiercest blocking assets, but the Hemel side have the edge throughout. The Bombshells, meanwhile, not content with dominating the microphone (Chunder joining Sassy to make up an ex-BB commentating duo) also start busting out frankly terrifying dance moves in the crowd at half-time. We blame the Special Brew, sorry Diet Coke. It would take an almost ungodly combination of both to bring Bedford back into contention here, and the Belles take it 305-60 at the final whistle. An after party in what feels like a prison canteen follows. Still, we digress. This blog is supposed to be about today (Game Day Six) not last time out, so now it is. Interviews will follow. First, a few facts and predictions…

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PREVIEW: SOUTH EAST GAME DAY SIX

Today’s games – today is Saturday 27th September 2014, by the way, just in case things exist on the internet for longer than a day (we’re not aware that they do, or at least that’s our excuse for posting this so last minute, yeah) – take place at Wycombe Leisure Centre. The centre is less than ten minutes’ walk from High Wycombe train station and has plenty of parking spaces. Trains from Sussex will cost in the region of £35 and take about 2.5 hours, including a tube hop to Marylebone. Cars will take less than two hours, but will kill thousands of bees on the way or something (*waves eco flag*). It’s a surprisingly late start for a Heartland Series double header, with doors at 4.45pm. The Belles take on MK around 5pm, with the ‘shells v Big Bucks games scheduled for two hours later. Tickets on the door are a tenner for growed ups and free for under-12s. The after party is at Scorpios, close to the train station.

Expectations wise, MK and Big Bucks have won all their games to date, and barring a ‘miracle’ will be going through at the division’s representatives in the ‘national’ finals. Their exact placing (which presumably affects seedings for those finals) could well be decided on the final SE Game Day, which is back here in Wycombe on Sunday 2nd November. The pairings for that triple header (MK v Bucks, Brawds v Belles, Shells v Beds) were surely deliberately planned to see the closest ranked teams, as far as they could be predicted, face off for positioning (1st v 2nd, 3rd v 4th, etc). If that’s the case, then what’s at stake in today’s penultimate divisional Game Day? Quite a lot actually. Points difference is used to split sides that finish on the same points, and that goes both plus and minus of course. So it’s not important just to win by as much as you can, you also need to lose by as little. At least one of the SE Division teams will likely finish below a team they BEAT.

The prediction thingy at Flattrackstats calls the Big Bucks (19th in UKRDA with 579.2 ranking points) v Bourne Bombshells (36th, 440.6) game as a 99% win probability for the Bucks with a 58:13 expected differential. That would equate, in typical derby scoreline terms, to a 348-78 home win. The European rankings give Eastbourne a marginally better shout at 98% and 3:1 (eg 300-100) to BBHR. The predictometer isn’t designed for games at neutral venues, so for the MK Concrete Cows v Belles game we’ve split the difference between their respective home and away ‘calls’. We can also only use the European stats as the Belles aren’t in UKRDA. Milton Keynes rank 45th (604.5 points) with Herts 161st (521.7) and the predicted MK win percentage is around 95% with a 35:14 differential, similar to say a 280-112 win for the Cows. Still, all this stuff is just computerised guesswork, and who knows who things will play out on track?

Either way, as things stand right now MK and Big Bucks are both on 9 from 9 in terms of points, with each having played three games and won them all – as with football it’s three points per win and zero for a loss, with no drawn games in derby. They have +919 and +535 respectively in terms of scoreline differential, hence MK’s current first place. The Brawds are 6/12 with -136. Belles and Shells are both 3/9 with +178 and -279 on the board, and Beds are 0/12 on (eek!) -1,210. So the Hell’s Belles and Bourne Bombshells are probably playing for differentials today. Even if both lose, as most stat crunchers would suggest they will [PS stuff stats, we hope both of them win, what a final day that would make for], the amount they lose by becomes an issue. Eastbourne should statistically beat Bedford in their final game (although nothing is a given in derby) whereas Herts have a tougher contest against Norfolk. Thinking about all the possible permutations makes our brains hurt, to be honest, and that’s before we even get into all the other charts and tables – most jammer points, most blocker facepaint smudges, etc – which you can find on the Heartland Series web page. The 2014 South East Division has been a wild ride, and in some ways it’s only just gettin’ warmed up…

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BEAST UNLEASHED – BOURNE BOMBSHELLS

The Bombshells suffered a fairly heavy loss against Norfolk in your last Heartland Series outing. Did you learn much from that, and how are you adapting to your recent personnel changes?
Yes indeed. We’ve reviewed the game and looked at what needed improving. Unfortunately it was a very injury heavy game for us, but luckily everyone is healing up now. We’ve had some great feedback from our new bench coach, Max Rees. We’ve been concentrating on particular line ups working well together, so as to get the best from our squad, with the help of Max and new line up manager Aladdin Sane.

One of your newer skaters, Seoul Destroyer, unfortunately broke her elbow in the last game. How’s her recovery coming along?
She’s doing good. She’s in the second plaster stage now. It was a pretty nasty break. She was so hardcore though! Fingers crossed she heals fast, as she’s an amazing jammer.

You’re up against Big Bucks today. They’re one of the favourites to top the group. Do you know much about them, and have you got any new tactics up your sleeves?
I’ve played in a mixed scrim with a few from Big Bucks and we’ve seen the Heartland games they’ve already played. They’re a strong team with tough walls, and I’m definitely keeping my eyes peeled for Mrs Sparta and A-Cute Injury. I know they’re a tough side and we’re going to have our work cut out. We’ve really concentrated on getting the best from our line ups and increasing our endurance. We know we need to focus on our own game, but I can’t reveal any tactics and I wouldn’t like to predict the outcome. It’s going to be a tough game, possibly even our toughest yet, but we won’t give up without a fight!

The day’s other game sees Milton Keynes take on Hell’s Belles. How are you expecting that one to go?
I’d expect Milton Keynes to take that one, based on our own game against MK. Hell’s Belles are so lovely. Dolly Spartan is a fantastic jammer, so I’d definitely keep an eye out for her, and MK’s The Valkyrie and Bolshevik are amazing!

You’re currently fifth in the divisional table, behind Hell’s Belles on point differential. What’s your target for this Heartland campaign?
We’d love to finish fourth and I think it is possible. If we really work together we can achieve it. This is our first year in the Heartland Series and whatever the result, we’ve loved every minute of it.

Finally, any message for any Bombshells fans travelling up to the game in Wycombe?

Cheer loads! Eat cake!

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VARIOUS FOLKS – BIG BUCKS HIGH ROLLERS

Hi. Firstly, for anyone reading this who might not be aware of BBHR, can you tell us a little about your history to date?
We were formed in July 2011 and we smashed onto the scene with some fantastic results early on. Since then we have continued to grow and evolve into a tougher and stronger league. This shows in some of our results, such as beating Portsmouth Roller Wenches 227-161. Coming joint second with Tiger Bay Brawlers in last year’s Tattoo Freeze Sur5al was also a huge achievement for us, and certainly showed other leagues that we are here to be competitive and win games.

How has your Heartland Series 2014 campaign gone to date? What are you hoping for from the tournament? And what do you know of the Bombshells?

We have won all of our Heartlands games so far and we intend to continue that pattern all the way to the final! That’s not to say it’s been easy – Hell’s Belles shook us up and put us through our paces, and we learnt a lot about ourselves from that game. With every game we play we feel stronger and more ready for the next. Our hope and focus for this series is simple – to win! As for the Bombshells, we know they host an awesome annual event on the seafront, Eastbourne Extreme, which we LOVE.

Are there any particular Big Bucks players or tactics the crowd should look out for? Would you care to predict the result?
Every single one of our players are skaters to watch. We are a united force! As for tactics, watch out for us throwing hot dogs to the crowd to get them on side, and throwing banana skins on track Mario-style. (I guess you’ll just have to come along and see our tactics for yourselves.) In terms of the result, as this stage of the competition anything could happen, so you’ll have to buy a ticket to see how it all unfolds…

Any prediction for the day’s other game, Milton Keynes v Hell’s Belles?

If derby has taught us anything it’s to expect the unexpected. Hell’s Belles are a great team and are no doubt coming out to win. Milton Keynes are under pressure to hold on to the top spot as SE Division favourites, so either way I think its safe to say that we are all really looking forward to watching that game. It’s going to be intense!

Can you tell us a bit about your skating venue and the after party?

It’s a pretty large sports hall and there will be plenty of room for everyone, whether seated, standing, or in the danger zone at the front. There’s a bar in the hall and cafeteria upstairs, and there’s plenty of parking outside. There will be tables with merch from the various teams and local derby businesses, lots of cakes and of course a raffle. We are renowned for winning after parties, so hold on to your sweaty bout tops and get your bums over to Scorpios Bar near the train station for a HUGE knees up with all the Big Bucks girls. We will be out in force and hope you’ll all join us.

Finally, any other sights or activities in the Wycombe area you can recommend?

No trip to Wycombe would be complete without a trip to the famous Hellfire Caves, once home to members of the notorious Hellfire Club. The caves are said to be one of the most paranormally active locations in the world. If you dare you can spend an evening in them with the Ghostfinder Paranormal Society, but be warned, during the last ghost hunt members of the public experienced small stones being thrown at them, terrifying growls, temperature fluctuations, physical interactions, and the presence of shadowy figures – GULP!

[Photos by Daz Wilson and Rebecca Cornford]

LINKS

FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/859940017364435/
HEARTLAND: http://www.heartlandseries.co.uk/
LIVE SCORES: https://twitter.com/heartlandrd
BIG BUCKS: http://www.bigbuckshighrollers.co.uk/
BOMBSHELLS: http://bournebombshells.wix.com/bombshells
MK COWS: http://www.miltonkeynesrollerderby.com/
HELL’S BELLES: http://www.hertsrd.co.uk/
BRAWDS: http://www.norfolkbrawds.com/
BEDS RG: http://www.bedfordshirerollergirls.com/

Heartland Series SE Game Day 5 Preview

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Tomorrow (Saturday 16th August) sees the Bombshells back in Heartland Series action as they travel up to Hemel Hempstead to take on the Norfolk Brawds. It’s Game Day 5 of the South East division and the Eastbourne side’s game is the first one up, with doors at 1pm for a 1.30pm start. It’s followed at 3.45 by hosts Hell’s Belles against Bedfordshire Rollergirls. Online sales have now closed, but tickets are £10 on the door, £5 for those aged 11-17 and free for younger children. The venue is called Sportspace, and is located a little to the West of the Plough ‘magic’ roundabout, which is officially the second worst roundabout in the UK (after a similar one in Swindon).

“Sportspace is brilliant,” Hell’s Belle Drac Kill’er tells us, “and there will be plenty of seating available. It’s easy to find – it’s well sign posted and is pretty big so you can’t miss it! They have a cafe on site which should be open until 6pm, but sadly there is no bar.” After party venue the Greenacres Tavern is on Leys Road, around two thirds of a mile due East of Sportspace. “The after party venue is awesome,” Drac adds. “we had our last one there and we love it. We stayed until 2am! The staff are so friendly and just brilliant. It’s only a short drive from Sportspace. Elsewhere, there are some lovely areas in Hemel to chill out after a busy day skating, as well as plenty of shops nearby. There are also lots of things to do at Sportspace.”

Travel-wise, the AA route planner estimates around two hours driving time from Sussex for a journey of 80-100 miles, depending on where you’re starting from. There is plenty of parking at the leisure centre, but you’ll need to remember to enter your car registration number into a screen by the building’s entrance to avoid getting a ticket. For those travelling by train, it’s a bit of a hike to Hemel – from Brighton, for example, takes three hours and involves three changes, including a replacement bus from Watford. We’d suggest travelling to St Albans instead. This is not only much quicker (eg 90 minutes and no changes from Brighton) but is also about a tenner cheaper. The towns are only five miles apart, so use some of the money you saved on a local bus to Hemel. It’s also worth pointing out that St Albans is home to CAMRA and therefore one of the best towns in the UK for real ale pubs – just saying, yeah.

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RANKINGS & PREDICTIONS
Flattrackstats currently place the Bombshells 226th in Europe (494.7 ranking points) with the Brawds 279th (475.2). There’s no way to specify a neutral venue on their online predictor, so we’ll split the difference between home and away predictions. This gives the Sussex side a 67% chance of taking the win, with a score differential of 12:10, which would equate to something like a 180-150 win for the Bombshells. This prediction obviously doesn’t make allowances for the fact that Eastbourne have lost a couple of senior players and their bench team recently, which may make for an even closer game. Derby Data Europe actually call this as a two point game! With the Bombshells 160th and Brawds 162nd in their table, DDE’s computer says Eastbourne will win the game 152-150. Blimey! With the Bombshells currently above Norfolk on points scored, a Sussex victory would see them cement their third place in the divisional table, whereas a loss would not be disastrous – Bourne have a game more than Norfolk left to play.

In the day’s other game, FTS rank the Hell’s Belles 193rd (504.8 points) and Bedfordshire 329th (449.3). They give the Hertfordshire league a whopping 92% chance of taking the win, and predict a score differential of 35:18, which would result in a typical derby scoreline of around 210-108 to the Belles. Derby Data Europe calls it even more strongly in favour of the home side, predicting that the 111th placed Belles will beat 207th placed Beds 300-96. These two sides currently prop up the divisional table, with both yet to take their first win. The Belles have a superior points difference to all three of the other teams at this event, however, and a Herts victory would see them leapfrog the loser of the opening game to take fourth place. Dolly Spartan was actually the highest scoring jammer in the entire division after Game Day 3 (when Heartland compiled the stats), so Beds will need to keep an eye on her in particular.

The Belles have two other Top Ten scoring jammers (DodgeHer in 8th, Scarlett Heartless 10th) as well as three Top Ten scoring blockers (Les Be Avenue 7th, Vera Offtrack 9th and Candy Cane-her 10th). Indeed, Hell’s Belles are the only side other than division leaders Milton Keynes to feature in that blockers chart. Returning to the opening game, Norfolk have three of the division’s top five skaters in the ‘most lead jammer’ chart, which might suggest they use a small rotation. Philthy Delphia is 2nd, Colletteral Damage 3rd and Yours Truly 5th – the latter also places fifth for most jammer points. Bedfordshire don’t feature in any of the divisional Top Tens, whilst Eastbourne’s only entrant now skates for Brighton. What do all these statistics mean? God knows. Maths makes our heads hurt. Let’s hear from a Bombshell and a Brawd instead…

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THE PHILOSOFEAR – BOURNE BOMBSHELLS

Hi. Firstly, how did last month’s Eastbourne Extreme derby tournament go?
The weekend went very smoothly, and thankfully the weather held out! I think the highlight was Sunday’s co ed game – the standard was very high and it was really enjoyable to watch. In terms of our own performance, we would’ve liked to have done better against Croydon and LRR.

You’re up against the Norfolk Brawds in Hemel Hempstead this weekend. Do you know much about the East Anglian side?
I’ve actually played with the Brawds before as part of The Eastern Blocks. They’re a lovely bunch and I think it’ll be quite a close bout. Philthy Delphia and Colletteral Damage are both great players and we’ll need some very strong walls when they’re jamming.

This is something of a transitional time for the Bombshells, with the likes of Swann and Chunder Woman having transferred away, and the bench team also departing. How are you adapting those changes?
We haven’t actually got a new bench coach yet, so Max Rees from LRG has kindly agreed to bench us this Saturday, which is a huge relief. Our new line up manager (Aladdin Sane) is doing really well and is getting used to the role. Swann and Chunder Woman were two of our strongest players in terms of both jamming and blocking, so we are feeling the loss. Our new players are working really hard and are progressing well, so hopefully the loss of two key players won’t have too big an impact.

Are there any particular Bombshells players or tactics people should look out for at the game? Would you like to predict the result?
I think it will be a very close game. According to Flattrackstats the Bombshells should win. I’m not sure how much the loss of Sassy McAwesome, All Seeing Ivy, Chunder Woman and Swann will affect that – hopefully not too much! Our new captain is Bullet Bomber and she’s definitely one to watch out for. She’s a great jammer.

You’re currently third in the South East divisional table, above opponents Norfolk on points difference. Is finishing the season in that position your target now?
Yes, we really are aiming for third. That would be a huge achievement for us in our first year of the tournament. I don’t think any of us expected that we would do this well. We are playing Big Bucks in September, and we know that is going to be a really tough game, but having already played Milton Keynes we learned a lot about playing teams that are better than us. We need to try and minimise the points differential in that game – it’s not all about winning and losing for Heartland rankings.

Finally, do you have a message for any Bombshells fans in the crowd at Hemel?
Our message to Bombshells fans is just to cheer lots, and also sorry, but we don’t have any fire in our skate out this time!

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PHILTHY DELPHIA – NORFOLK BRAWDS

Hi there. Firstly, for anyone who doesn’t know the Brawds, can you tell us a little about the history and achievements of your league?
The Brawds started in a tiny church hall in March of 2010. Since then we have grown to a league of over 70 skaters. In 2013 we became a UKRDA member league. In that same year we came third in the East in the Heartland Series and won the inaugural Hotrod Hayride Cup.

You currently place fourth in the South East division. How has your Heartland season been so far? Any particular highlights or lowlights?
This year has been a tough one for us. We’ve had some really strong new teams in our division as well as some changes in our roster. Both Big Bucks and Milton Keynes really pushed us. However, we benefit from having played together a lot and knowing each other well. We are determined to win our last two Heartland games.

Do you know much about the Bourne Bombshells going into this game?
Actually, we know very little about them. In other matches we have tried to work towards what we know about the other team, but it doesn’t always work. This time we’re going into it playing our own game.

Any particular Brawds players or tactics people should keep an eye out for? Would you care to predict the result?
No way are we going to try and predict a result! That’s a jinx. Don’t want to give too much away, but you might see a new face or two on the jam line.

The day’s other match-up sees Bedfordshire take on Hell’s Belles. How do you see that one going?
The Belles and Bedfordshire are two of our favourite teams. We played Beds early this season, so I’m not sure how they’ve come along since then, but we know the Belles are fielding a much stronger team than they did last year. They are definitely ones to watch.

Finally, do you have a message for any Brawds fans in the crowd at Hemel?
Keep cheering for us! It really does mean the world to us and makes all the difference in our game play.

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REMAINING SOUTH EAST GAMES

16TH AUGUST @ HEMEL HEMPSTEAD
Bourne Bombshells v Norfolk Brawds
Hell’s Belles v Bedfordshire RollerGirls

27TH SEPTEMBER @ HIGH WYCOMBE
Hell’s Belles v Milton Keynes
Bourne Bombshells v Big Bucks High Rollers

2ND NOVEMBER @ HIGH WYCOMBE
Bourne Bombshells v Bedfordshire RollerGirls
Hell’s Belles v Norfolk Brawds
Milton Keynes v Big Bucks High Rollers

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

LINKS
FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1428289724127454/
HEARTLAND SERIES: http://www.heartlandseries.co.uk/
BOURNE BOMBSHELLS: http://bournebombshells.wix.com/bombshells
NORFOLK BRAWDS: http://www.norfolkbrawds.com/
HELL’S BELLES: http://www.hertsrd.co.uk/
BEDFORDSHIRE RG: http://www.bedfordshirerollergirls.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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[Photos by John Hesse]

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

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