Eastbourne Roller Derby Fresh Meat: Sunday 29th March


*dusts off cowbwebs* *wipes screen* Well, it seems like 2014 was only yesterday. Or at least it does if you go by this website, which shamefully hasn’t updated for almost six months. Oops, sorry! We’re back though, and there’s so much to mention. The Bourne Bombshells themselves are debuting in the inaugural British Championships tournament on May 9th against Chelmsford’s Killa Hurtz in Stevenage, with at least three further games (including a home tussle with Suffolk in mid-August) to follow. Preparations for the UK’s leading – and probably only – outdoor derby tournie, Extreme Extreme, are also well underway, with a top drawer match-up between the Bristol and Croydon A-teams being part of the fun.

Meanwhile, the burgeoning Eastbourne men’s league Bomb S’Quad recently held their first ever official scrimmage [as far as we know a scrimmage is the same as a game, but scores aren’t officially released] at home to Surrey Jammerwockies. Meanwhile the New Bournes – a juniors league for those aged 11 to 17 – continues to build weekly, and has great ambitions going forward. We’ll be hearing from all three leagues in the next few weeks, but first of all we’re looking at today’s Fresh Meat intake.



Hi there. We’re now twelve weeks into 2015. How has the year been for the Eastbourne derby leagues so far?
We have had a great start to 2015. We’ve combined our men’s and women’s training, which is working well. We have also moved to a new venue, which has enabled us to have the capacity to invite both men’s and women’s teams to come and scrimmage with us, as we can now fit in a full sized track! The New Bournes have also moved to the venue and are taking full advantage of the extra space.

This Sunday sees the year’s first intake of Fresh Meat. What exactly is that for those that don’t know, and what sort of people are you after?
Fresh Meat is the basic training programme set up to enable you to play roller derby, combining both skating skill and newly learnt derby knowledge. We are looking for anyone with an interest in skating or roller derby.

Are you looking for really good skaters, really competitive people or a mixture? What about non skaters?
We are looking for anyone of any age, whether they can skate or not. There are skating and non-skating positions in the leagues. We would encourage anyone to come along and have a look.

Is Sunday’s intake for all three of the leagues – the Bombshells, Bomb Squad and New Bournes?
Sunday is the intake for all three teams, although looking forward the junior league (New Bournes) will be training on Saturday afternoon, whereas the men and women’s adult sides train on Sundays and Thursdays.

What does a twelve week Fresh Meat programme for skaters generally consist of?
The three month FM programme takes people through a progressive journey to gain the skills to play roller derby; starting with the basics like stops and falls, then moving on to hitting, blocking and pack work nearer the end of the programme.

How long after completing FM might a player be participating in A-team games?
After completing Fresh Meat and passing the Minimum Skills tests required, we would encourage skaters to take part in some scrimmages – to build their gameplay knowledge and confidence to help support themselves on the track – after which they will be available for rostering for the team.

What do people need in terms of equipment, sporting background, etc?
In terms of equipment, people need the following: quad skates, helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads and a mouthguard. The Bombshells have ten sets of Fresh Meat kit to loan out for the twelve week programme, which has been supplied by lottery funding from Sports England. So essentially you can start with no kit of your own and build it up over the twelve weeks. People do not necessary need any sporting background before they start. All the skills will be taught over the programme.

Where and when is Sunday’s session taking place? Should people get in touch with you beforehand or just turn up on the day?
This Sunday’s session is staking place at Causeway School in Eastbourne from 2.30pm – 5.30pm. People can get in touch with us beforehand via Facebook or they can just turn up on the day. The first session is free.

Finally, what plans do the Eastbourne leagues have for the rest of 2015?
We are planning for Eastbourne Extreme [the UK’s only outdoor roller derby tournament, July 18th-19th on Eastbourne seafront] at present, with the second day having as many of our skaters on the track as possible. There is a men’s game, a co-ed game and a juniors scrimmage. The Bombshells’ first game in British Championships [the 72 team nationwide women’s tournament that started this year] is on the 9th May in Stevenage, which we are currently working towards. We have some newer skaters on the roster along with some of the original members, so it should be a great mix. The Bomb Squad have had their first closed door game this month, with another planned for April, and their first open game will be at Eastbourne Extreme. With the New Bournes it has been a bit harder to secure any games as junior roller derby is such a new concept, but watch this space!

[Photos by John Hesse]



Heartland Series South East Final Day preview


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…

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.

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.

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…



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.


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!



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]

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 Bout Day 3 @ Haywards Heath Preview


This Saturday the mighty Bourne Bombshells return to Heartland Series South East Division action as they host their home double header. This takes place at the Dolphin leisure centre in Haywards Heath, which is building up something of a reputation for quad skating. It’s played host to many Brighton Rockers home games, the occasional Croydon Roller Derby home game, and is also the regular venue for the National Roller Figure Skating Championships. Boasting one of the fastest floors in the region, the sports hall has plenty of room for spectators, and the venue is also home to two bars – a bright cafe style one in the foyer, plus a more booze-focused health club bar (with a strange policy of paying somewhere different to where you collect your drinks) a few corridor turns past the hall. As is the way with leisure centres, you’ll also find vending machines, the whiff of chlorine, and clusters of small children dressed for judo.

Doors open at 2pm, with Milton Keynes Concrete Cows taking on Bedfordshire Roller Girls at 2.35, followed by the Bombshells against Hertfordshire’s Hell’s Belles around 4.35pm, then after partying down the road from 6.30ish. Tickets are £8 in advance (£10 on the door) from the link at the bottom of this piece. There’s a ‘buy five get one free’ deal, and under 12s go free. The leisure centre is on Pasture Hill Road, around seven minutes walk from Haywards Heath train station (turn left and follow the handmade signs). There’s a large Sainsbury’s halfway along the route, should you require supplies. The pub opposite the station, the Burrell Arms, is decent enough for a sports bar – home to the more civilised rugby rather than football type this Saturday – and will be hosting the after party. Those travelling from further afield who plan to stay over will find little in the way of accommodation in Haywards Heath itself, but Brighton is less than 15 minutes away by train and boasts a plethora of options, from backpacker hostels to pop star frequented designer hotels.

MK Cows currently place second in the SE table, behind Big Bucks High Rollers, who have the weekend off (as do the Norfolk Brawds). MK’s score differential is superior to BBHR’s, so any victory will see them go top. Saturday’s other three teams are all awaiting their first win – although Hell’s Belles came close against leaders Big Bucks – and take the 4th to 6th spots based on points scored v conceded. The Bombshells currently place bottom, so have the most to gain, and could climb to as high as second with a big win, although fourth would be more achievable. The predictor at flattrackstats gives MK (ranked 73rd in Europe) a 97% chance of beating Bedfordshire (268th) with an expected score ratio of 47-17, which would equate to a typical derby scoreline of around 235-85. The Bombshells v Hell’s Belles game is expected to be much closer, with the 179th placed Belles given a 56% chance of beating Eastbourne (223rd) and a score ratio of just 16-15, equivalent to a 144-135 Belles win. As ever, take any predictions with a pinch of salt. We’ll leave you with a few words from departing Bombshells player-coach Lois Swann (formerly Toxic Block Syndrome) and Night Cub from Hell’s Belles…



The Bombshells kicked off their Heartland Series campaign a few weeks ago in Milton Keynes. What did you learn from that game?
Oh, we learned a ton. It was our most difficult game to date, and when we finished we were pretty certain that we’d done everything we could, and we couldn’t have done any better. Having done a lot of footage review since, however, we spotted many silly mistakes that I hope we’ve resolved now. We have got a couple of new skaters in the line-ups on Saturday, and we’re playing with a full squad of fourteen for the first time since (I think) August. We’ve just really drummed in everything we should have been doing in the last game. Hopefully it will pay off.

Do you know much about Saturday’s opponents, the Hell’s Belles? Care to predict the result?
We don’t know an awful lot about them, to be honest. I’ve never come across any of their players anywhere, but I’m aware that they’re coached by [Men’s Team England star jammer] Reaper, so I hope their jammers haven’t picked up too many of his tricks! We’ve seen some footage of them from earlier in the year, and I think if we’re both having a good day, it’ll be a tough, competitive game. I’d like to think it will be nice and close, and then we’ll edge ahead to a comfortable lead in the second half.

With your traditional Hastings venue no longer allowing skating, this will be the Bombshells’ first outing at Haywards Heath’s Dolphin. Do many of you have experience of the floor there?
Not really. We have a handful of girls who originally started out with the Brighton Rockers, who also use it as their home ground, so a couple of them have skated there. Generally speaking, we’re going in a little bit blind, though. We’re just going to have to show up super early!

The double header’s other game sees Milton Keynes take on Bedfordshire. What are you expecting from that game? Any standout players to look out for?
Most of the teams in our division are ones we’ve never really come up against before, so Bedfordshire are a little unknown to us. I attended a bootcamp with them several months ago, though, and if their attendees were reflective of their bouting team, I’d speculate that Milton Keynes will have the edge. The MK walls are just so solid, and difficult to move or break up. The Valkyrie and Bolshevik gave our jammers an awful lot of trouble, and Magic Beanz was a really fun jammer to block against.

It’s not long now until Eastbourne Extreme (July 12-13th). Are preparations going smoothly?
Sassy McAwesome has got it all under control with her committee. Everything’s going great, so long as we don’t talk about the weather. We’ve opened the Sunday up this year to be a true expo event, showcasing all the different kinds of derby on offer. We’ve got three women’s mixed games (rookie, intermediate and advanced), a men’s game, a co-ed game, and a junior demo, so there’ll be something for everyone. The uptake has been amazing and we’ve got some great players on the rosters, including a handful from various national teams!

Finally, we understand Saturday will be your last game as a Bombshell. Eep! Tell us more…
It will indeed. I have my first training session with the Brighton Rockers two days later (Mon 9th), which is pretty exciting. I’ve been with the Bombshells since the very beginning, so obviously leaving was a big decision and one I feel very sad about, but it was just time for me to move on. I feel like I’ve given all I can to them as a coach and I need some time to focus on my own development, so I can push myself to the next level. I don’t know if or when we’ll meet again on the track, but the Bombshells and Bomb S’Quad are like my extended family. They’re already talking about how excited they are to see me play with the Rockers if I get rostered, and of course I’ll always be their biggest supporter, so I don’t think it’s the last we’ll be seeing of each other.



For those who don’t know the Belles, can you tell us about your history to date?
The Belles were founded in 2010 and since then we’ve grown as a league, and we’re now establishing ourselves as Hertfordshire Roller Derby, with the Belles still being our main travel team. We competed in [Heartland Series predecessor] The End of the World Series in 2012, as well as being part of the Heartland Series itself in 2013 and 2014.

Have you learned a lot by playing in a big tournament like the Heartland Series?
The Belles developed significantly as a team over 2013, gaining a few of our travel team players from last year’s fresh meat courses. Playing all the Heartland games, as well as extra scrims and bouts, has developed us to work as a team. We’ve come a long way and we are quickly learning what works for us and how to play ‘our game’.

Are there any particular Hell’s Belles players the crowd should keep an eye out for?
We recently did an article for the Heartland Series website, ‘Stars on the Rise’, introducing some of our newer team players. Scarlett Heartless is one of our newest league members, joining us from Big Bucks last summer. She’s a quick thinking jammer, with equally quick footwork. Candy Cane-Her is one of our strongest blockers, having no problem with wiping opposition players off their feet and off the track. Les Be Avenue is a skilful blocker, and like Candy emerged from one of the more recent fresh meat courses. She has good knowledge of the game and its tactics, which she regularly puts into practice.

Do you know much about the Bourne Bombshells?
We haven’t played the Bombshells before, so we look forward to pitching our skills against a new team.

What are you expecting from the day’s other game, MK v Bedfordshire?
The Valkyrie, Bolshevik and Cherry Bomb are three players to watch out for. We’re sure we will enjoy some high quality derby from both these teams.

Finally, do you have a message for any Belles fans in the crowd on Saturday?
Our message for the Belles fans is lots of cheering and wearing red and black. We hope you enjoy the bout too!

BUY TICKETS: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/heartlands-south-east-division-bout-day-3-tickets-11368648935
FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/536554199787495/
HEARTLAND: http://www.heartlandseries.co.uk/
BOMBSHELLS: http://www.bournebombshells.co.uk/
HELL’S BELLES: http://www.hertsrd.co.uk/
MK COWS: http://www.miltonkeynesrollerderby.com/
BEDFORDSHIRE: http://www.bedfordshirerollergirls.com/

[Photos by John Hesse and PolaDroid/Chris Yarrow]

Heartland Series: Milton Keynes v Bombshells preview


The Bombshells kick off their 2014 gaming season – we’re supposed to call them games not bouts now, WFTDA says so – in style this Sunday (6th April) with a trip up to what we’re calling the South Midlands. Another name for this part of Britain is the Heartland, so it’s a fitting locale for the Eastbourne league to begin their first Heartland Series campaign. The competition sees 24 teams split into four regional groups. The six teams in each group (Eastbourne are in the South East Division) play the other five teams once each at (more or less) monthly double/triple header events, with the top two sides in the final divisional tables going through to an overall finals weekend at the end of the year.

Milton Keynes – or more specifically Bletchley, a town the MK New Town was built a couple of miles north of – is the destination as the Bombshells take on the hosts, Milton Keynes Roller Derby’s A-team Concrete Cows. The double-header’s other bout/game sees divisional favourites Big Bucks High Rollers up against the Norfolk Brawds. Bletchley Leisure Centre is the location, with doors at 2pm and bouts starting at 2.30pm (Big Bucks v Brawds) and 4.30pm (MK Cows v Bombshells). Tickets on the door are £10 adults and £3 under-12s, but adult tickets are a couple of quid cheaper including the service fee if bought online – see the link at the bottom of this piece.

The venue has parking and those driving up from Sussex can expect a journey time of two to three hours each way. Public transport-wise, the leisure centre is ten minutes walk from Bletchley train station. Trains leave from Euston, although you can bypass central London by changing at Clapham and Watford Junctions. Journey time is anywhere from two to four hours depending on where in Sussex you’re starting from. The adult return fare varies between £25 and £50, and Bletchley is within the Network Railcard area so card holders can get a third off these fares. After party location The Enigma Tavern is conveniently situated halfway between the leisure centre and station (about six minutes walk from either).

You’ll find all sorts of links at the very bottom of this article. In a moment, we’ll be talking to Bombshell Smash’er Fierce about her thoughts ahead of the bout, but first Milton Keynes bench manager OzymAndyAs talks Heartland history and more…



Hi there. Firstly, for anyone who might not be aware of the MKRD league, can you tell us a bit about your history and achievements to date? What’s the derby scene like in your area? We were formed in May 2010 by skaters who were originally from Bedfordshire Roller Girls, but wanted to set up a team where they lived, alongside BRG. There’s a lot of derby in the area. Bedford has two teams, Northampton has two teams, Oxford now has three and there’s another one in Milton Keynes. We all know each other very well, which makes it a very friendly and competitive area. We hold monthly mixed scrims (on the first Friday of every month) where a lot of us get together. We would love to see some Bombshells there! Our first bout was a closed door against Romsey Town in November 2010 and our first public bout was against the Seaside Sirens in September 2011. We hatched the idea of wanting to play teams more competitively, rather than one-offs, so we launched the End Of The World Series in 2012, a year long tournament with our local friendly leagues. It was a great success (even better as we won the tournament in 2012!) and it grew into the Heartland Series, which had 12 leagues last year and 24 this year. And now we get to play the Bombshells as a result, so it’s pretty awesome!

What do you like about the Heartland Series, and what have been your highlights so far? How do you think this year’s – much bigger – series will go? We love the Series as it gives a structure for the year, organisation for our officials and a real focus for training and development. It has meant that we’ve formed really close relationships with a lot of the leagues involved and we’ve made many friends as a result. It’s also great to see teams repeatedly and watch them grow. A highlight for us was winning the first Series. As Bench Manager, I was able to call a timeout right before the last jam of the last bout, just to get the team to appreciate the moment and their unity as a team. Very lucky to be able to do that. We’ve also seen great matches from other teams. Oxford vs Wiltshire from last year was nail-biting, right down to the last seconds. Mean Valley’s games vs Hell’s Belles and the Brawds from last year were real seesaw battles and the Finals Day was an incredible atmosphere, with three excellent tense games and a worthy champion in Severn Roller Torrent. We’re hearing extremely exciting things about the continued growth of the Series into 2015. The most important thing is for all the new teams to have a positive experience and spread the word, and so far the performances of the North West Division teams, Nottingham Roller Girls in the North East and Dorset Roller Girls in the South West shows the strength in depth across the country. It’s great to see all the new teams have fun and improve!

Who do you think are the teams to look out for in the South East Division? Did the Bout Day 1 results (Brawds beating Beds by over 100, Big Bucks edging past Hell’s Belles) go as you expected? Big Bucks are the favourites I think, but Hell’s Belles played exceptionally well and were unlucky not to pull off a victory. The Belles have a lot of good skaters and being coached by Reaper [from men’s Team England] could make them a force to be reckoned with this year. The Brawds were awfully unlucky not to make it to the finals day last year. They’re well organized and have strength throughout the team. We look at other team’s performances and results, but essentially we try to focus on what we can control. If we win all our games, it’s in our own hands.

What do you know of the Bourne Bombshells (individually and as a team)?
We don’t know a great deal. We haven’t made it down to Eastbourne Extreme yet, but we know it’s a great event. We’ve met some Bombshells skaters at mixed scrims and bootcamps, and we’re excited to play them. The great thing about the Heartland Series is meeting new teams and skaters.

Are there any particular MK players or tactics people should keep any eye out for? Would you like to predict the result? Our tactic is to be awesome – hopefully it works out! We like to think we have strength throughout the team, and we get a good rotation of our best jammers and blockers. In terms of the result, who knows? As long as derby is the winner!

The day’s other match-up sees Big Bucks take on the Norfolk Brawds. How are you expecting that to go, and any players in those teams people should look out for?
We’re really excited to see that bout, especially as the Mayor of Milton Keynes is blowing the first whistle! I think it’ll be a really close game. The Brawds will be encouraged by the performance of Hell’s Belles in the first game, while Big Bucks will be wanting to show more of what they’re about. I think it will be a real cracker! Agent Sparling is a jammer to watch for Big Bucks, while Colletteral Damage always impresses for the Brawds.

Finally, for those travelling up from Sussex, what can you tell us about your venue? What can we expect from the after party? Any tips on other things to see or do in the local area? Bletchley Leisure Centre has lots of parking onsite and a café. There should be plenty of seats in the hall and suicide seats for the daring. There’s no bar but there will be vendor stalls, including skate gear from Swift Customs. (Swifty is one of our men’s team, the Quads of War, and played for Team Wales in the recent Men’s Roller Derby World Cup.) The after party is at the Enigma Tavern, a three minute drive from the leisure centre. They serve food and it’s also next door to a Burger King (we’re all class in MK). We love meeting the skaters afterwards and comparing bruises! I don’t know if there will be much time for people to do anything else after the bout finishes, but if you’re there for the weekend you can check out Bletchley Park to find out how the war was won by the unsung boffins and cryptographers. Also XScape for skiing and skydiving, and CentreMK for shopping and being underwhelmed by the original Concrete Cows.



You recently took on a mixed league team (Skate Invaders) in Hastings. They were very strong opponents with a number of well known skaters from sides like Brighton and Portsmouth involved. How important was that bout in terms of preparation for the Heartland Series? Going up against the Skate Invaders recently was really exciting. We knew we had a tough challenge ahead of us and wanted to see how far we could push ourselves, ahead of the Heartland Series. It was great to play against such a high level team, and after the match they gave us some critical feedback that we have been working on so as to improve. We learned that we needed to focus on our endurance and play to the best of our ability until the very last second!

You’ll be playing at least five Heartland games over the next seven months. Do you have an overall strategy for the Series? What do you know about the teams you’re up against (Hell’s Belles, Norfolk Brawds, MK Cows, Bedfordshire and Big Bucks)?
All the leagues are somewhat a mystery as we haven’t previously played any of them. It was interesting to see that it was such a tight game [in February] between Big Bucks and Hell’s Belles, showing that anything can happen on the day. Statistically we are ranked middle of the range in terms of our region, so we will take every game as it comes. Personally I think Big Bucks will be our toughest competition overall, but we can learn and improve from every game we play in the Series, before we meet them later on in the year.

Your Heartland Series kicks off this Sunday 6th April with a trip up to the South Midlands to take on Milton Keynes. Are you looking forward to the game, and how important is being involved in something like Heartland to the Bombshells? Being involved in the Heartland Series has huge importance for the Bombshells and we are really proud of ourselves with how much we have progressed over the last year. It’s great to have reached a standard that allows us to participate in such a well known tournament, which hopefully we can make our mark in. We can’t wait to get started.

Yourselves and Milton Keynes are the only Heartland teams (from 24 in total) yet to play. Are there any advantages/disadvantages to starting your campaign after everyone else? Are there any particular MKRD players or tactics you’re going to be keeping an eye on? An advantage of being one of the last two teams to bout is that no one will know what to expect of us. We’ve been keeping an eye on all the other teams bouting for future reference. A few of the Bombshells have scrimmaged with some of the MK girls before, so we do have some idea of the competition. I’ve heard to watch out for Red Hot Chilli Whipper and The Valkyrie. I think some big hits are to be had!

Are there are any specific Bombshells players/tactics that people travelling up for the game should watch out for? Would you care to predict the result?
We haven’t publicly bouted since November, so the team dynamics have changed… in a good way! We’ve really been focusing on team work, on and off the track (and maybe at the pub). The crowd can expect a new strategy and different line-up tactics. I wouldn’t want to jinx us by predicting a result, but we are ready to put up a fight.

The double header’s other game (Big Bucks v Norfolk) will give you an opportunity to check out two of your upcoming opponents. Anything in particular you’ll be looking out for?
It will be really good to watch our future competition in action at the double header. We’ll be taking note of their strategies and style of game play to take back with us and work on how we can maximise our skills against them. I’ll be watching out for standout players in both teams too, so I’ll know who to watch out for on the track.

Finally, you’re not just focusing on the Heartland Series this year. We understand the Bombshells recently secured a sizeable Sport England grant and have helped set up neighbouring men’s and junior leagues. Also there’s the Eastbourne Extreme tournament coming up in July. How are preparations for that going, and do you have anything else in the pipeline for 2014? The Sport England grant has been absolutely amazing. It will enable us to be a better league and increase our development; for example, being fully equipped for new fresh meat intakes will make trying the sport out more appealing for first-timers. Both the men’s league (Bomb S’Quad) and the juniors (New Bournes) are coming along great. All the Bombshells are really proud of them and love helping out or going to their practices. They will be showcasing their talents at Eastbourne Extreme. The outdoor – and free! – tournament on the 12th and 13th of July is definitely a highlight of the year for us. Preparations are going well and we have some great teams and players joining us. I have no doubt it will be bigger and better than last year. Let’s just hope the sun is out again! All of our efforts will be focused around Heartland and Extreme this year, but if there’s an opportunity to get involved with anything else then I’m sure we will. Some crazy Bombshells are taking part in a 5km Spartan obstacle race later in the year, which looks awfully tough, crawling through mud, etc. I think I’ll stick with my skates!

[Photos by John Hesse, Daz Wilson and Janine Keat]


BUY TICKETS: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/603644
FB EVENT PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/208107349387555/
BOUT VENUE: https://www.facebook.com/BletchleyLeisure
PARTY VENUE: http://www.enigmatavern.co.uk/about-us/#
SWIFT CUSTOMS (VENDOR): http://www.swiftcustoms.co.uk/
HEARTLAND SERIES: http://www.heartlandseries.co.uk/
MK ROLLER DERBY: http://www.miltonkeynesrollerderby.com/
BOURNE BOMBSHELLS: http://bournebombshells.wix.com/bombshells
BIG BUCKS HIGH ROLLERS: http://www.bigbuckshighrollers.co.uk/
NORFOLK BRAWDS: http://www.norfolkbrawds.com/

Bomb S’Quad Interview


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

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



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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

[Photos by John Hesse]


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

Bourne Bombshells Preview of 2014


A busy 2013 for the Bombshells saw the league’s first ever open door bouts (two of them at home) and a debut appearance – and runners-up spot – at their own outdoor Eastbourne Extreme tournament. There was also a first continental road trip, a swathe of scrimmage and mixed team appearances, and more. The Bombshells now share the town with a sister (or brother?) men’s league, the Bomb S’Quad, as well as a newly formed junior league, the New Bournes for 11-17 year olds. We’ll be talking to people from both of those leagues on this website in the next week or two.

First up, though, we wanted to find out about the Bombshells’ own thoughts for the year ahead. 2014 sees the Eastbourne league’s first appearance in the Heartland Series, which runs through much of the year. The South East region kicks off this Saturday (22nd Feb) but the Bombshells sit out the first bout day, before swinging into action with a trip to Milton Keynes on 6th April. The Bombshells host Hertfordshire’s Hell’s Belles at Haywards Heath on 7th June, with the day also featuring an MK v Bedfordshire bout. The Sussex league then face the Norfolk Brawds in Herts on 16th August, with a tricky away trip to play Big Bucks on 27th September. Their final SE Division opponents are Bedfordshire on 1st November, with the final day’s triple header location yet to be decided. Should the Bombshells finish in the top two, the series finals weekend follows three weeks later.

Packed though this schedule is, the Sussex side’s plans for the year don’t end there and one or two other home bouts may well be scheduled. The highlight of the league’s year is as ever the Eastbourne Extreme tournament, which takes place on the 12th & 13th July. This year the Sunday features mixed teams of a variety of different types/standards (including experienced, rookie, women’s, men’s, co-ed and junior). The Saturday sees the Bombshells competing against a tough trio of opponents in Surrey Rollergirls, Croydon Vice Squad and London Rockin’ Rollers B. Anyway, that’s enough from us. Now let’s hear from someone ‘in the know’ about the Bombshells’ plans and ambitions for 2014 and beyond…



2013 saw a lot of milestones for the Bombshells. How important a year was it for the league and what were the highlights for you?
It was a massive year for the Bombshells. We went from not having enough players for a full travel team, to having a full roster of experienced and tough skaters. I think everyone learnt a lot from all our games last year, but it was our big loss at our first home bout (v Croydon B) that taught us the most, and we’ve upped our game significantly since then. A big highlight for everyone was playing in Eastbourne Extreme for the first time, and coming within a couple of points of the win. We also had an amazing time on our big road trip to Mons in Belgium (and the beer at the after party went down a treat). I would say my personal highlight was my first time coaching the team. I was terrified to begin with, but it’s become something I really look forward to every week.

Moving on to 2014, the Bombshells have entered the Heartland Series. What do you know of the five sides you’ll face in the South East group?
The Heartland Series is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time, and we couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it for 2014. We haven’t played any of the other teams before, which is great as it gives us a chance to test ourselves against a whole new set of opponents. Our first game sees us facing Milton Keynes, who are one of my picks to win the whole division. A few of us have been lucky enough to skate with some of the MK girls at mixed scrims, so we have a bit of an idea of what to expect. Another big challenge is going to be Big Bucks High Rollers, but fortunately we have until the Autumn to see how much we can improve before we take them on.

The Bombshells are hosting a Heartland double header in June. Is it more of a challenge putting on a two bout event?

The Bombshells have a great bout production team who I’m sure will be more than up to the challenge. Double headers are exciting, and the fact that it’s a Heartland Series bout day should make for a great atmosphere. As people know from Brighton Rockers home games, the Dolphin Centre in Haywards Heath (where we’re holding the event) is a great venue for roller derby.

You’ve chosen a tough trio of opponents for Eastbourne Extreme. What do you know of those leagues and what are your expectations for the tournament?
We’ve tried to pick teams that will be very evenly matched, so it’s impossible to predict the outcome until we get there. Having said that, we’ve played two of the three other teams before. Our game against Surrey at the last tournament was very close, and Bombshells narrowly edged it by one point in the end. Who knows what might have happened had it continued? We’ll have a chance to find out, as all the games are going to be 10 minutes longer this year. When we last faced Croydon’s Vice Squad, they annihilated us. However, we went away after that and completely overhauled our style of play. We now have a totally different line-up system, and our bench coach Sassy McAwesome has been working incredibly hard to improve our strategy and overall gameplay. I suspect the result will be very different come July.


Whilst the year is already pretty packed – Extreme and Heartland accounting for at least eight bouts – do you have any other matches planned for 2014?
At the moment the short answer is no, but I suspect that will change in the coming months. We’ll be travelling for most of our games this year, so we’d like to book a few at home for the local fans to enjoy. It’s also common to take turns hosting games, so there’s always the possibility of inviting some of our previous opponents back for a rematch. One team I’d personally like to face again is Belgium’s Freaky Mons’ter Derby Ladies, who gave us a real run for our money the first time around. Now that two of their players have made the national squad, I imagine they’ll be even more of a challenge. They were also excellent hosts, so it’d be great to return the favour.

Do the league have any non-bout events planned for the year?
The PhilosoFear, Pettichoke and I are going to be skating six miles in aid of Sports Relief at the end of March with a lovely bunch of ladies from the Rochester Royal Rollers. Then in August a big group of Bombshells are taking part in the Spartan Race – a brutal 5km obstacle course. I don’t know what we were thinking! On a lighter note, you can usually spot a boozy group of Bombshells in the annual Hastings Pram Race.

2013 saw the formation of two other derby leagues in Eastbourne – the Bomb S’Quad men’s team and New Bournes juniors. Do the Bombshells have much involvement with those leagues?

A few Bombshells are involved in coaching and running the Bomb S’Quad, which was set up by our refs Harry Trotter, Filthy Lorenzo and Electric Lee Charged. They’ve had quite a few of our ladies join them at their weekly practices, which is great for the development of both teams. I’m personally hoping to train up as one of their refs, as I think it’ll give me a bit of an edge on the track (I do get quite a lot of penalties). Beachy Headcase and Drag N Fly came up with the idea for the New Bournes after their own kids became obsessed with roller derby. While the team is still in its infancy (pardon the pun), kids have such a great capacity to learn that there’s no telling where they’ll be at the end of the year. They’ll have a chance to show what they can do at Extreme, as we’ll be showcasing some junior derby. The kids are really excited, and it’s refreshing to see so much enthusiasm.


You’ve recently started training at Eastbourne’s My Skate World roller rink. Does the new venue bring any benefits over Shinewater Community Centre?
We’re currently splitting our time between the two venues, with Sunday training led by Toxic Block Syndrome at Shinewater, and Thursday training led by yours truly at My Skate World. The new venue is very useful, as there isn’t enough room for a regulation size track in Shinewater. It’s also good to be practicing on two very different surfaces, as it’s easy to get too used to a place.

What are the ambitions of the Bombshells in general (and yourself in particular) for 2014 and beyond, derby-wise?
The Bombshells’ main ambition is total world domination, but we’ll settle for winning a few of our upcoming games. We’re still a relatively new team, and South East England is home to some of the best sides in the country. We’d like to prove ourselves to the derby community and show them how our hard work has been paying off. My personal ambition is much more vain – I love winning awards at bouts. I even stick them up on my wall like a proper sad case. So yes, I want to have a few more to display by the end of the year.

Finally, do you have any advice for anyone reading this who might be interested in taking up the sport of roller derby themselves?
Just do it! Look up when your local team is next recruiting, get some skates and practice your arse off! I was absolutely rubbish when I first started, and spent most of Fresh Meat on the floor. Now derby is a massive part of my life. I’ve made lifelong friends and found a real source of personal pride. Ignore any doubts you might have and take the plunge.

[Photos by John Hesse]

Oh My Quad bout report


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

[Photographs by John Hesse]