Derby starved peoples of Sussex, be starved no longer. Incredibly we embark upon three consecutive Saturdays of roller derby at the Dolphin in Haywards Heath, with all three of the leagues that call it home hosting double headers there. The Brighton Rockers will be taking on teams from Eindhoven and Southampton/Basingstoke in two weeks time (Nov 12th)… Croydon have two games against Dublin tomorrow week (Nov 5th)… but before all that, the mighty Eastbourne Roller Derby are dusting off their skates with women’s and men’s games TOMORROW (Sat 29th Oct). Yowsers!
The Bourne Bombshells women will be taking on Wiltshire Roller Derby at 1pm, with the Bomb S’Quad men (and guests) staging a rematch against Suffolk Roller Derby around 3pm. Doors open at 12.30pm with tickets priced at £5 for adults, free for under 16s. The Dolphin is seven minutes walk from Haywards Heath station – turn left on leaving the station and follow the signs stuck to lampposts, trees and small dogs. There’s no engineering work, so two direct trains an hour from Eastbourne. Car users should point their Sat Nav at RH16 1LY. There’s a cafe bar and vending machines at the leisure centre. The nearest cash machines are at the big Sainsbury’s halfway between the venue and station. For early arrivers, the pub opposite the train station (Burrell Arms) is a decent enough football and food place with a terrace – it’s also hosting the after party.
Are you one of those people that don’t like reading predictions prior to a game? Then skip past this paragraph. Flattrackstats rank the Bourne Bombshells 283rd in Europe on 457.3 ranking points, some way behind 198th placed Wiltshire (491.7 points). The visitors are given 69% chance of taking the win here, with an expected differential of 17:13 suggesting a pretty close scoreline, something like a 170-130 Wiltshire win. As for the men’s game, unfortunately neither team appears in any FTS ranking system (less than ten UK men’s sides do) so the only barometer we have here is the 190-129 win that Suffolk Men took against Bomb S’Quad here at the Dolphin in August 2015.
Enough maths and stuff, let’s hear from all four teams taking part…
THE PHILOSOFEAR & ROCKAMILLIE – BOURNE BOMBSHELLS
Hi, several Bombshells teamed up with Brighton B-teamers at the Dolphin in September. How was that and what else have you been getting up to since Extreme?
It was good fun, and it was interesting to see how another team does things. For example, Brighton do their line ups very differently to how we do ours, and they often face away from the track whilst sitting on the bench so that skaters can’t watch the game (that was new to us!). Since Extreme, we’ve also had a closed door against Oxford Wheels of Gory. And we’ve been working on increasing our skater numbers and training new fresh meat – we’ve now got almost enough Bombshells for a B-team!
How important is hosting an event in one of the UK’s top derby venues (as used by Team England, Croydon, Brighton etc) to you and what are your experiences as a team or individuals on the floor of the Dolphin? Do you wish you had a venue closer to Ebo?
Personally I quite like The Dolphin floor – it’s not too sticky or too slippery. The Dolphin is a great venue, and it’s easy to drive to or get the train to. However, I think we suffer as a team for not having a venue in Eastbourne. If we could have games in Eastbourne it would be easier to build a local fan base and to recruit new members. We advertise our games locally but people often aren’t willing to travel to Haywards Heath to watch games when they’re not necessarily roller derby fans yet. If we could host games in Eastbourne we’d get more people popping along to see what it’s all about and hopefully enjoying it! Even though the Dolphin is a top derby venue, I think having a smaller local venue would be beneficial to us. We could still use The Dolphin for big events occasionally, but we could hold more regular open door games in Eastbourne. Unfortunately, there’s nowhere that fits the bill.
What do you know about your opponents Wiltshire? A new opponent? Do any Bombshells know of them? Any players or tactics that you will be looking out for from the away side?
We don’t really know much about Wiltshire to be honest. I’ve only encountered a few of their players before – Gemma has played against the Bombshells before when she played for Basingstoke, and I know from playing against her that she’s a strong, pushy jammer. The only other players I’ve encountered before are Shell, Ginger Fear and Snake Bite. I have heard that they are a team with strong jammers, but I don’t know anything about their blocking tactics so I don’t know what to expect! When we first starting talking to Wiltshire about playing them they were ranked quite near us. But since then they’ve moved up the rankings a fair bit, so it could be quite a challenging game for us.
Who and what should we look out for from the Bombshells ranks? Any new or returning players, etc? Care to predict the result?
In the Bombshells we’ve had a great recruitment drive recently, seeing many new female skaters join the ERD ranks. We currently have a few in our Fresh Meat who are consistently doing great each week; it won’t be long until they are ready to pop their cherries! As for A-team skaters, we’ve had Tiki Timebomb, T-Wrecks, Insterslam and Driller join the group, whilst welcoming back Elle Hound. Unfortunately, due to breaking her wrist at Extreme, Beast has semi-retired, mainly from the competitive side as she still attends training to have a little skate and impart her derby-wisdom. As for the game this Saturday, watch out for our new jammers Driller and Insterslam plus team members finding their jammer feet CalEmity and Lily Malicious. They are quick on their feet through the pack, blink and you’ll miss it! As for the blockers, they’re a solid bunch ready to put the drop on any jammer or offense. I wouldn’t care to predict the result, but I think it will be an awesome game to watch!
Do the Bombshells have any other (open or closed door) games coming up in 2016? What are your plans for next year and beyond?
In November the Bombshells have a closed door bout against Surrey’s B-team. That’s a double header, with the game between our respective co-ed sides. We’re looking forward to those games – Surrey are a good bunch and always fun to play against. Then in December we are holding a Christmas scrim for women, men and co-ed, which should be a lot of Christmassy fun! There’s plenty in the pipelines for 2017. Most importantly, we’re looking forward to our Fresh Meat passing their Minimum Skills and becoming game ready in the New Year… we may even have enough skaters for a B-team!
WILTSHIRE ROLLER DERBY
For any Eastbourne fans reading this who might not know about Wiltshire Roller Derby, can you give us a quick summary of your history to date?
We were founded in 2012 and train in Swindon. We consist of a women’s travel team and a men’s team, and we’re also trying out a newly started co-ed team. We have competed in annual tournaments such as the Heartland Series and both years of British Champs. We are slowly growing and are keen to get our men’s team competing as soon as possible. After a tough bouting year last year, we trained hard and (as a result) have achieved a number of wins this year. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we get promoted back to Tier 4 in Champs 2017 after only one loss in the tournament this year.
Do you know much about your opponents the Bourne Bombshells? Any particular Eastbourne players or tactics that you’ll be looking out for?
We are pretty much going in blind. Being so far away we don’t really know much about the team we are playing, but that adds to the fun and excitement. We’re excited to meet a new team!
Any particular players or tactics from Wiltshire that the crowd should look out for at the game?
We have a few who like to hit hard and also take hard hits. With a lot of changes happening in the team lately we don’t have our usual full travel team, so you might see some of our usual blockers having a go at jamming occasionally. If Bookworm’s Revenge gets that star, watch out for those apex jumps 🙂
What are you expecting from the game? Care to predict the result?
We have learnt never to be complacent or predict scores. If Flattrackstats is anything to go by it looks like it’ll be a close one. No matter what the result we always aim to be friendly and have the best time on track. We always try and crack smiles from our opponents on the start lines…
Finally, what do WRD have planned for the rest of the year?
We have our final game and home bout of the year in Swindon on Sunday 13th November. We are having a mixed men’s opener in a simple Black vs White, and then we take on Hereford Roller Girls B-team. Word on the street is that we may also have human Hungry Hippos as our half time entertainment… it’s worth coming over just for that, right?!
PONT BLANK – BOMB S’QUAD
Hi, it’s been quite a while since you last derbyed (is that a word?) locally hasn’t it? What have Bomb S’Quad been getting up to since Eastbourne Extreme?
Yes, that’s right, we’ve been fairly quiet since Extreme having played only one closed door game in the meantime, which was a tough match against Oxford Mens Roller Derby. The team has gone through a few changes in the latter part of the year. SuiCider and Spank Me Sideways have both welcomed new additions to their families and are dedicating more time to their family lives, but still giving as much time to derby as they can. We suffered two more major losses; the first of which was Mercernary to a serious knee injury during the build up to Extreme, which left a big hole in the team. And since Extreme, Aladdin Sane has decided to take a break due to his partner Beast’s wrist injury. The team has really missed his arse on track! But we have had two recent Fresh Meat graduates – Nesta Vipers and Quick Deaf – joining our line ups. So although we’ve lost a few players, we are rebuilding and looking forward to things to come for the team in 2017.
What are your experiences as a team or individually on the floor of the Dolphin?
The Dolphin is a great venue, but the Bomb S’Quad have only played here as a team once before, which was the open door against Suffolk last year. It’s got plenty of space for spectators, and the extra hall on the side for getting kitted up, but it’s a real shame that it’s so far away from Eastbourne, which perhaps dissuades the more casual spectator when it comes to our open door games. The floor is a really good derby floor, not too sticky, and not too slippery, and it should suit everyone, making for a really exciting game.
What do you know about your opponents Suffolk?
We met Suffolk on track in August last year here at the Dolphin. They’ve come on leaps and bounds since then, having topped their tier in British Champs. They’ve got some heavy hitters in the likes of Guy Pie and Tubesock Shakur, plus some awesome jammers who we will be doing our best to hold down out there on the track.
Who and what should we look out for from the Bomb S’Quad ranks? Any new or returning players, etc? We understand you have some guest skaters – who/what should we look out for from them? Care to predict the result?
As mentioned previously, we’ve had a couple of recent Fresh Meat graduates. Nesta Vipers will definitely be one to watch out there, as he’s turning out to be quite the double threat. We’ve also been fortunate to have landed five awesome guests for this game; Amanta Harmyer, Pulp Friction and Studas Priest of the Surrey Jammerwockies, plus Weald Warriors’ Chandler Bang and BrutAl Deluxe, will be lining up with us. And as always, Tenacious P’s jamming will be worth watching, as well as Spank Me Sideways’ awesome blocking. I wouldn’t like to predict the result, but I’m hoping it’s as close, if not closer, as last year’s game.
Do Bomb S’Quad have any other (open or closed door) games coming up in 2016? What are your plans for next year and beyond?
We’ve got a few things in the pipeline as we prepare for next year. As seems to be the case with a lot of the local men’s teams at the moment, we’re struggling with consistent numbers. There have been talks of collaborations with other teams, but it’s very much up in the air at the moment and we hope to have some more details soon. Watch this space.
SUFFOLK PUNCH – SUFFOLK MENS RD BENCH COACH
For anyone reading this who might not be aware of Suffolk Roller Derby, can you give us a quick summary of your history to date?
Suffolk RD started towards the end of 2012, so we’ve been around for three or four years now. We’re a co-ed league who train three times a week in Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich. Our women’s team joined the British Championships in 2015, and the men’s team joined this year. The men placed top of our regional division against Bristol, Nottingham Outlaws and Brawls of Steel, and at the playoffs in September took the win over the Brothers Grimm to achieve promotion to Tier 2 next year!
Suffolk Men took on Eastbourne’s Bomb S’Quad last year? What do you recall of that game? Any particular Bomb S’Quad players or tactics that you’ll be looking out for in this rematch?
Last year our men’s team took on the Bomb S’Quad and won, so we’ll be hoping for the same again. We never underestimate our opponents. We know Bomb S’Quad have been busy with the Southern Sevens tournament, so it will be great to see how the different experiences of each team face up to each other in this match.
Any particular Suffolk players or tactics that the crowd should look out for at the game?
We have lots of new up and coming skaters, as well as our experienced individuals, so there will be a great mix of talent on show.
What are you expecting from the game? Care to predict the result?
I’m not going to predict a scoreline, but obviously we are looking for the win – and to have an awesome fun game!
Finally, what do the SRD chaps have planned for the rest of the year?
This will be the last game for our men’s team this year, after a busy Champs season. However a few of them will be taking part in our co-ed game vs Team Essex next Sunday (6th Nov) in Ipswich, when our women’s B-team will also be making their first public appearance.
[Photos by John Hesse, except Wiltshire RD by Graeme Willetts]