MISTER ADAM IS REWINDING THE CLOCK
It’s Valentine’s Day 2020 and BRATS has a date. It’s with the wall of a pub near the Brighton/ Hove border. Said pub is where the Rockers were founded exactly ten years earlier and we have a blue plaque to put up. Just a temporary one. Or so we thought... The folks at the Lion & Lobster have since been in touch about possibly putting our plaque up permanently in the courtyard where that legendary meetup took place. Either way you should pop in there if you’re passing to soak up some of the history. And beer. We at BRATS were a little late to the Rockers party. They’d already played two public games (one home, one away) by the time we rockered up to a warehouse in Shoreham in October 2011 and got bitten by that pesky derby bug. Loads of stuff has happened in the months and years since then. We’ve had to wear our stupid toddler skates topped helmet on a flight to Dublin to avoid a 50 Euro “bag’s too big” charge (they relented after seeing the frightened faces of other passengers). We’ve woken up in a hedge beside the M8 after an after party in Glasgow (we did have a hotel
room, just couldn’t find it). Embraced those heady days when the league didn’t just have their own warehouse, but also their own theme pub (the Cornerstone) and beer (Off Your Rocker by the aces Downlands Brewery). As for on track action, there are too many amazing games to mention, so let’s mention some. That epic final seconds victory at home to Paris. Loss after loss in Normandy. Win after win in the Netherlands. Those two games (one in Haywards Heath, one in Bedfordshire) lost by a single point. B-team smashing it in the Eastbourne sun. Cup wins. Corn Exchange. Belgium and beyond. But this isn’t BRATS’ story to tell, not least as that would largely just be a list of hedges we woke up in. Whilst we have summarised each year of the Rockers’ existence, we have left the main recollections to those who were at the centre of the storm. That is to say, the superstar players and coaches (past, present and future) whose wheels have carved this history into the floors of countless sports halls. So settle back, strap in and join us as we take a toe stop tour of the last decade. GO ROCKERS!
TEN YEARS OF AWESOMES
We promised we’d resurrect our magazine (as an actual magazine) for the 10th anniversary and here it is. The Rockers have a number of home games planned for 2020 – including a special anniversary event – and you can pick up copies of this free souvenir edition at all of them. Let’s get historying!
EDITED, DESIGNED & YEARLY TEXT BY ADAM PETERS OF BRIGHTONBRATS.COM // INTERVIEWEE PICS BY JOHN HESSE // OTHER PHOTOS BY JOHN HESSE EXCEPT THOSE BY: MISTRESS (2010) // REBECCA CORNFORD (2011-12) // DAVE McALEAVY (2013) // VINCIANE PIÉRART AKA NSP189 (2017) // EM O’SULLIVAN (2019 MAIN) // THE ROCKERS (2019 TOP) // BRATS (2020 MAIN) // COVER MONTAGE PHOTOS BY JOHN HESSE, REBECCA CORNFORD, VINCIANE PIÉRART, MISTRESS, DAVE McALEAVY, JASON RUFFELL, PATRICK SPRUYTENBURG, THE ROCKERS & MORE
THE YEAR OF CREATION
It’s fitting that the Rockers were founded in a bar since modern roller derby itself was founded in a bar (Casino El Camino, Austin TX on the 21st January 2001). While the sport reached the UK five years later, initial growth was slow with three or four new teams appearing each year, mostly based in the biggest cities. The fact that a 10th anniversary event will take place somewhere in the UK pretty much every weekend this year hints at 2010 being the year Britain went derby mad. A host of reasons have been suggested for the sport spreading to so many towns and cities that year. The arrival of Hollywood derby movie Whip It on British shores was surely a major factor, but the Rockers were born two months before it hit UK cinemas On the 14th February 2010 a group of (mostly) strangers met up in the Lion & Lobster in response to a Facebook post and notice in the Friday Ad about starting up a new sports team in Brighton. From these tiny acorns a roller derby forest would grow. Enter stage left, holding the watering can, The Mighty Mighty Bash...
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THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BASH KICKS IT OFF
There were fifteen to twenty of us at that first meeting. It was Valentine’s Day 2010 at the Lion & Lobster. A girl called Bella had posted the ad. She hadn’t planned anything beyond that – it was literally a meeting for people who wanted to start up roller derby in Brighton. I was the only one with any experience of the sport. I’d actually flown back from playing my first ever game in Glasgow that morning, so my experience wasn’t exactly massive. I didn’t necessarily turn up thinking I’d play a key role in the league. I had been training and skating with London Rockin’ Rollers for six months though, having done Fresh Meat in New Zealand, so I already knew a few things. Maybe I did do a lot of talking? Yeah, I probably did! Coaching wise, I knew I could teach everyone some basics at least. Putting the skaters though Fresh Meat took a while, and we wouldn’t have a full squad of fourteen until years later. I was such a hard ass with them, insisting that anyone who didn’t
have a full set of derby gear after the first two sessions at Moulsecoomb couldn’t skate due to safety. A lot of people moaned and thought I was being unfair, but most of them got their gear. We had a staple group from early on that was the core of the main team for quite a few years. I didn’t want them to play until they were 100% ready, so it was over a year after starting up before the first game. People were so nervous but they totally nailed it. We also had this mindset that if we weren’t going to beat the opposition in skill we’d beat them in fitness, so we did lots of on skates fitness type drills, lots of getting up off the floor really quickly. I never really thought beyond the year ahead, but it’s great to see where the Rockers are now. The community, inclusivity and general vibe of the league has always been amazing. I love that they still do the random skate outs and away game dress up themes that we started up. Those make me crack up every time.
MISTRESS TAKES IT TO THE OPPOSITION
After a year of training behind closed doors we were itching to play some games. We were having so much fun. We’d formed a really great bond and had even taken in our first set of Fresh Meat. Just as Bash didn’t join us on skates until we were ‘good enough’ (since she was already skating with some greats at LRR) she also wanted us to be the best we could before we faced our first opponent. Our first official game against Windsor B was surprising. We were lucky enough to be joined by Flazerus [a trio of guest skaters from LRR] who inspired us to overcome the nerves and work as a well-oiled machine. Our first open door match, away to Southend’s Seaside Sirens, was a perfect storm. We only had nine skaters and having the crowd there spurred us on. We’d brought along quite a few supporters on our first party bus. (We had a few good ones over the years.) The game itself went so fast and so did our jammers. We scored a lot of points with so few people and Mass Janeycide’s energy on the bench was infec-
tious. My personal highlight was scoring my first grand slam and hearing them announce it on the PA. That made me feel totally badass. Our first two games at home were in two different venues – the Dolphin in Haywards Heath and our warehouse in Shoreham. They had totally different vibes and Shoreham was extra special. It was in rough shape when we first had access. We cleaned it up and set up the permanent track. By the time we got our logo painted on the wall, we knew we’d created our home. We learned so much as a league in 2011 and made so many friends in the derby community. I had previously made a trip to Dublin and befriended the league there, so having Dublin Roller Derby come to us for such a close and challenging game (our first international match) made me so proud. I knew the Rockers were truly on the rise.
THE YEAR OF COMPETING
The Rockers spent the first year of their existence locked away from the world in Moulsecoomb Leisure Centre, passing Minimum Skills and learning the rules and tactics of this quirky new sport. Come 2011 the team were finally ready to show the rest of Planet Earth what they’d learned. The Rockers’ first two contests took place behind closed doors against Croydon and the Windsor B-team. The fledgling Sussex skaters had learned the mysterious art of roller derby well and won both by a margin (to their surprise). The next milestone to tick off was playing in front of a paying crowd. The denizens of a leisure centre in Southend had that honour (see flyer above) and the Rockers smashed it with a 281-16 victory over Seaside Sirens. This remains the lowest number of points they have ever conceded. Not bad for a first open door game. Now it was time for Bash’s Black And Blue Army to show the folks back home what they were made of. Roller derby officially arrived in Sussex as a spectator sport on the 6th August 2011 as the Rockers edged past Cambridge Rollerbillies by 141-132 at the Dolphin in Haywards Heath. Phew! A home game against Dublin would follow, but this one wasn’t at the Dolphin. As well as all their rigorous training, the Rockers squad had been getting some more exercise in. Scrubbing, scraping, painting, polishing... helping to turn the old Parcelforce depot in Shoreham into a derby warehouse. Unbeaten on track with a place to call home, the Rockers ended 2011 with their heads held high.
THE YEAR OF CHECK-INS
Fresh from skating for England at the inaugural World Cup in Toronto at the end of 2011, The Mighty Mighty Bash entered 2012 as a Rockers player (transferring from LRR) as well as their coach. Having previously kept within British shores, this year saw the Rockers pack their skates and passports to set off across the water for games in Ghent, Belgium (March) and Dublin (September). There were home games too in a year where the Rockers would beat their highest points haul record several times, scoring 304 away to Cambridge in April, 351 in Dublin, then 357 versus Big Bucks in Shoreham at the year’s end. The Rockers seemed invincible, but they weren’t. Having won their first nine games (culminating in Dublin) they would record their first loss on the 8th October. Consolation came from this loss being behind closed doors and by a weeny margin (177-180) against the London Brawl Saints, then ranked #2 in the whole of Europe. The Rockers took part in their third Brighton Pride parade in the summer (pictured) and entertained the crowd with dazzling skating stunts as a giant roller skate dragged them along. Just one more mode of transport for these nation-hopping sports stars.
The trip to Ghent set a lot of precedents for the Rockers’ future overseas adventures. I don’t think any of us really knew where Ghent was. We arrived and got completely lost in the city centre, driving two minibuses through a pedestrianised square, then asking for directions from a random passer-by who turned out to be Mister Adam (future founder of BRATS and Turn Left magazine). I never really remember games to be honest. I remember the after party. We dressed as brides as a surprise for Grenade who’d got married that weekend. She just thought we’re complete idiots (she was pretty new). Derby McGee set fire to her head, amazingly no one fell in the canal, and the city was very happy when we left. I do remember something from the away game in Dublin. Bash took out a whole line up by power sliding into them when she had a power jam, looked at them all on
the floor, burst out laughing and took herself to the box. In a way only Bash could. That after party included the reveal of McGee and Sophia’s amazing wrestling unitards, many dance-offs and again no one fell in the river. I did climb in a huge fountain though. The guard who caught me turned it on while I was trying to climb a lion. Why did we have such a long run of victories? I think in part because we had a small team, usually rostering just nine or ten skaters each game, so were very close knit with a good hive mind. Having Bash as a player (not just coach) definitely pushed us forward, but it was a real team effort. We also didn’t take ourselves too seriously, which worked in our favour. When we lost for the first time ever (at Brawl Saints) we were just happy we didn’t get annihilated. I fouled out and got given a cider and a puppy. That sums the Rockers up pretty well.
SHAMBOLIC TAKES US ALL ON A JOURNEY
MASS JANEYCIDE & MAUDE FONDEO LOSE IT
THE YEAR OF COMEDOWN
When the open door defeat came it came big, but the year got off to an exciting start as the Rockers saw off Bash’s former team LRR 237-210 in Haywards Heath. Then came the first of two trips to Scotland. Spoiler: To this day (February 2020) the Rockers A-team have never beaten any Scottish side. In this case Glasgow Roller Derby dispensed a crushing 310111 defeat to well and truly end Brighton’s unbeaten run. The game was marked by a 20 minute delay as Shambolic lay on the track awaiting an ambulance. True to form Sham (who had torn her knee ligament) refused all painkillers so she could drink the boozes at the after party. Six months later she and the Rockers would return to Scotland for an even bigger tonking (34989) from Edinburgh’s Auld Reekie. In between times the unusual roller derby location of Alexandra Palace beckoned, as the Rockers entered the UKRDA’s first weekend long tournament amidst the inked hordes of the London Tattoo Show. The Rockers placed a little below expectations in this tournie (fourth out of five, having been ranked third going into it). While defeats away from Sussex were piling up in 2013, the team remained unbeatable at home, ending the year with their eighth straight home win in ranked games, a narrow 170-156 vs Central City. The year also saw the Rockers launch their first B-team – the Brighton Bruisers – but this side would only exist for 18 months.
Glasgow was brutal and that result hit us hard as a team, physically and mentally. I think we needed a reality check as we were getting cocky and needed to move on and learn new stuff, which you do when you get obliterated. The team took it well and probably had a better after party as a consequence. Players need to be encouraged constantly, whether winning or losing. Their fight is actually stronger when under pressure, so in many ways it’s easier to bench during a loss. They took a right pummelling in Glasgow and were so tired. The expletive count from the bench definitely increased as the game went on. It felt like the longest match in history. As for the tournament in London, we made a silly error there. We underestimated Bristol and made a terrible decision to save a couple of key jammers [eg Rose Bleed] which was a big mistake as we got wiped out. Having agreed to get matching tattoos if we won the tournament, we were secretly quite glad we didn’t.
Away games are a lot harder in many ways. You have to pack for a start, then stay in youth hostels, have someone puke in your shoes, navigate strange cities to find out of town sports venues... then after all that, focus on the game with maybe four or five people cheering you on. On the plus side, at least only a few of our fans saw us getting absolutely whipped in Scotland! Those travel games in 2013 were an amazing part of the Rockers’ journey as a team though. Watching your team mates fly around on an airport carousel is as fun as watching them fly around the track. Then there was the sightseeing, feasting on deep fried Mars bars, surviving middle of the night fire alarms in hostels... All these things build you up as a team, helping you to work together better on the track. Most of us had grown together from the founding of the Rockers at this point (people hadn’t started dropping out to have kids yet, for example) so we were still very much one big derby family.
Losing the Shoreham warehouse was a huge blow. We’d spent a long time working with GYSO Roller Disco to get the floor ready to skate on, so we felt a big part of that venue. It was absolutely freezing in winter, but it was amazing to have such a unique place that the Rockers, rival teams and spectators all loved. A graffiti strewn warehouse is many people’s ideal of what a derby venue should be, rather than a rented sports hall. In terms of games, 2014 saw us picking teams to play who we thought would be challenging based on the rankings. We were gearing up to apply for WFTDA membership so we made an effort to take on WFTDA leagues. We love a close game and this year had so many. Games like that are better to watch and push every player to perform their absolute best. Hooligan vs Whooligan happened in the Paris game (my first open door as part of the A-team jammer rotation) and that match was so exciting. I really felt like all my actions were making a difference.
It was an amazing year for the league. We got our website up and running, Sal Gore got married, our merch was awesome, the team focused on fitness and were all really strong, plus we started our WFTDA application, our PR committee worked really hard and got us in loads of blogs and publications... On top of all that, we did lots of wins and hosted some epic after parties. Losing Chariot Sophia, Mistress and others that year was huge, but Gin Atomic and Swann arrived, both incredible skaters who brought different skills and experiences to the team. We had to adapt to offence for different jamming styles and incorporate them into our walls, but learning new skills only made us stronger as a team. The sadness I feel for the loss of the Pop ‘N’ Fresh (Mistress’ signature move) will stay with me forever though.
DR WHOOLIGAN KEEPS TO A FEW POINTS
THE YEAR OF CLOSENESS
The year began with the closure of the Rockers warehouse in Shoreham (a luxury flat development has since being built on the site) and the league were now training in various local leisure centres. On track the Central City game at the end of 2013 began a series of nailbiter victories at the Dolphin. The start of 2014 saw a 174-163 against Rainy City followed by a 178-174 vs Paris decided in the last ten seconds. As a result this was one of the most exciting times to be a Rockers fan. In an A-team season of five wins and one loss, it would be nice if the latter was the sole away game (at Portsmouth) but in fact it was home to Middlesbrough. So ended the Rockers’ record of never having lost at home, but overall it was a super successful year for the A-team AllStars. Less so for the B-team Bruisers who shut up shop with a ranked gameplay history of three games, three losses. A bigger, stronger Brighton B-team would come into being, but for the next year the Rockers focused on their A-team. This was entering a period of change as original members such as Mistress and Chariot Sophia hung up their skates. Could the Rockers absorb all these changes and keep up their momentum...?
SWANN IS CHAMPING AT THE BIT
2015 THE YEAR OF CHAMPS
Introducing quite possibly the busiest year in Rockers history to date. This was partly because of British Champs. The first season of said nationwide roller derby contest remains the only time the Rockers have taken part in it. Placed in Division 2 South, Brighton took on Bristol, Windsor, Southend’s Sirens, Portsmouth and London Rockin’ Rollers over the course of the year. As well as hosting one of the divisional double headers, the Rockers also helmed the final day triple header at Haywards Heath in August. Despite their best efforts the Sussex side finished fifth out of six and were technically relegated, although they had already decided to withdraw from the following year’s contest. A large number of other leagues (including all but one of Division 1) also withdrew. Whilst it continues as an annual tournament (with some leagues returning and rules changed to allow a few B and C-teams to take part) this turnover of competitors has prevented British Champs from becoming the all-encompassing UK tournament originally planned. The Rockers still found time for a few non-Champs games. The launch of a brand new B-team (dubbed the Brighton Rockerbillies) added to the busyness of the year. This new second team played in several closed doors before a public debut in the sunshine of Eastbourne Extreme. In November they took on Iceland’s national team in Reykjavik. That narrow defeat remains the furthest derby trip by any Brighton side at very nearly 4,000 km there and back. The biggest piece of player news was the departure of The Mighty Mighty Bash, who returned to her native New Zealand in the summer. One of her replacements on the coaching side, Swann, also left before the year’s end and is now a London Brawl Saint.
British Champs dictates where and when you’ll play for most of the year. Having little to no say over dates means that (with holidays and other commitments) your ideal roster often isn’t available. We got to develop B-team skaters who wouldn’t normally step up so early, but once we saw the dates we knew we wouldn’t always be able to put our best team forward. That can be a hard pill to swallow, but I still have fond memories of Champs. My favourite game was against Bristol. It went to the final jam and we only lost by a couple of points. The Rockers had also joined the WFTDA Apprentice Program at the start of 2015. Focusing on WFTDA rankings, ie playing more European teams, can be difficult to slot in alongside Champs. I wouldn’t say I’m surprised they haven’t returned to Champs since that first season. However, with the much bigger roster they have now, I think the Rockers could flourish in that kind of tournament structure.
We launched our brand new B-team at a time when the league was having some difficulties with training attendance. They were a committed part of our membership, so we included them in A-team training as much as possible. Gin Atomic and I coached them through their first away game. It was great. Your B-team is your future A-team, so it’s really important to invest in them. It was difficult for the league when Bash left. She had been a very significant presence who everyone relied on to make decisions about coaching. Gin and I took over the coaching. Because we’d joined Brighton from other leagues [Croydon and Eastbourne] we had different backgrounds and strategies to Bash, so of course the whole team is trying to learn our way all of a sudden. 2015 marked quite a big shift in the Rockers’ timeline.
THE YEAR OF CAEN & CORN
GIN ATOMIC TAKES THINGS IN HER STRIDE
We had a great time in Caen despite the absolute spanking we took on track. All the teams were great to play and we even had a rematch on home turf against Eindhoven’s Rockcity later in the year. My highlights are all after party focused. These included crowd surfing around a small pub, snow machine conga and excellent lip syncing from the Rockers (Rose Bleed in particular) to Total Eclipse of the Heart. I also believe the after after after party was shut down by the police! I think one reason this was the Rockers’ worst year for results was that Brighton previously had a settled team for many years. 2015-2016 saw a large number of stalwarts such as Bash, Mistress, Derby McGee, Chariot Sophia and Rose Bleed (to name just a few) hang up their skates. Some folk retired, some took a break, others moved away. Even with additions like myself, Swann and Finn McCruel, such a big turnover is going to affect outcomes.
I don’t think there was any despondency at the time, just a shift in the dynamic of what the team wanted. Did they want to push to be one of the best teams in the country? Did they want to play just for the fun of it? I think 2016 was the year we worked all of this out. We came out of it as a team that wants to bring it on game day, but still has that personality and energy the Rockers are known and loved for. I left before the event at the Corn Exchange, but I know why it was such a big deal for everyone. The availability of venues has a huge impact on derby. Back when the Rockers had the Shoreham warehouse it meant better access to training, plus being closer to Brighton than the Dolphin meant bigger crowds and better fundraising. You can tell how sparse decent venues are by the number of teams who stage events at the Dolphin. Having a venue in Brighton itself would make such a difference to the Rockers.
Statistically the A-team’s worst season in ranked competition with two wins and eight losses. The league were midway through the WFTDA Apprentice Program, which they joined in January 2015 and graduated from in July 2017, and were learning their global level. Early in the year they headed to Caen, Normandy for a weekend tournament. The Rockers were the second highest ranked team, but finished last after losses against Brussels, Caen and Eindhoven. The A-team would lose every game played outside Sussex in 2016, although in the case of a trip to Rebellion (Bedfordshire) it was by a 236-237 sized whisker. Four close home games saw the honours split equally, whilst the B-team had an entirely winning year. Albeit one that only consisted of two games, both against Eastbourne (A and B). The latter victory – by just four points – was a sign of things to come as the Rockerbillies built a reputation for close results. For many Rockers the highlight of the year came not from facing an opponent but facing themselves. For the first time ever, December 10th saw the league stage a public derby event in Brighton itself. Whilst venue restrictions re the size of track meant it was a Rockers vs Rockers blue-black exhibition match (pictured), the Corn Exchange was buzzing as a sold out crowd of nearly 500 cheered on the hometown heroes. The year’s departures included Gin Atomic who set off across the globe before settling in Melbourne where – as Gin ‘N’ Jukes – she now skates with Victorian, the world’s #2 ranked derby league.
THE YEAR OF CRUSHES
The Rockers squad that faced Cambridge Rollerbillies away in late 2017 was hugely different from that which had played in the same fixture five years previously. On track only Cake Or Death, Hairy Fairy and Shambolic played in both games, while Mistress was now bench coaching (long-term bench crew Janeycide and Fondeo had also departed during 2017). Rose Bleed and Dr Whooligan were amongst the latest originals or early adopters to leave, but the league had picked up some exciting transfers over the years such as Kapow (Milton Keynes) and Racey (London Batter C). With Bash’s replacements Swann and Gin both gone, the role of coaching guru had fallen to 2016 incomer Finn McCruel (formerly of Helsinki and Belfast). It was a real baptism of fire as the Rockers made a return visit to Slip It (an annual tournament in Normandy) in January. This time they were ranked sixth from six and the results (80-315, 66254, 120-235) reflected this. Only one of their last twenty games (against Windsor in Champs) had seen a spread of more than 100 points, but it seemed that the days of ‘blowouts’ were back. These crushes weren’t all in a losing direction though. In June the Rockers headed to Limerick for a three team tournament with the hosts and Belfast. Their game against the latter saw what is (to date) the highest points scored haul in the Rockers’ history as Brighton took the win by 453-65. Having started the year with four losses, the A-team rounded it off with seven straight wins. The B-team Rockerbillies also shook off an opening defeat to win their final three 2017 matches by excitingly close margins (all 20 points or less). Woohoo!
FINN McCRUEL MINDS THE GAP
With some core members moving away or retiring and newer players brought in, 2017 was a year of transition for the A-team. We wanted to play WFTDA games but didn’t really know what level we were (as we weren’t WFTDA ranked) so choosing opponents was tricky. The match-ups weren’t always right, meaning some big losses and big wins that year. We’d agreed to return to Caen before my time. I knew it was a bad idea but it was too late to withdraw. Our skate out song was Prodigy’s Take Me To The Hospital which kind of sums it up. In fact Shambolic got concussed and did go to hospital. We fought the best we could, but it was demoralising as we weren’t ready to play such high level teams. I think if we’d played Caen, Amsterdam and Madrid in say June rather than January the scores would have been very different. My highlight of the trip was the after party. Alongside winners Kallio Rolling Rainbow from Helsinki, we smashed it in true Finnish style. Sham ditched the
hospital and got everyone crowd surfing. The shots were flying and the Eurostar home felt very long. The trip to Limerick in June was fantastic both on and off the track. There was a heatwave and we stayed in ‘murder house’ (a creepy Airbnb) where no one wanted a room on their own. Belfast and Limerick are super lovely teams and great to play. (I started out in derby with Belfast.) We went in with a good feeling and it showed on the scoreboard. Everything we had been working on clicked on track. We took control of the DJ at the after party and spent hangover day exploring the town and castle. Lovely. The B-team Rockerbillies had a great year. A series of close results helped build their discipline and trust more than blowouts would. They had to fight and work their asses off for the points, playing their hearts out. Slap Dash had a huge impact as captain. So many of those players are now core A-teamers.
GO GO GOZER SIZES THE ROCKERS UP
I played my first games for both the A and B-teams in 2018. Double headers are tiring, but a great opportunity to flex different skating muscles as you’re usually covering different positions. There’s nothing like playing a game to get you in the mood for a second one. During 2020 we have some triple headers. I’m due to skate A/B then bench C in the first, so I don’t know the meaning of tired yet...! To travel away as a league (both A and B-teams) is always a great experience and the Vienna trip was when we introduced our first dance skate out. Vienna have an amazing male cheer squad (the Fearleaders) and we didn’t want to be outshone! The after party was pretty epic, though it mostly took place on public transport as the promised 80s club “seven minutes walk away” turned out to be much, much further...
2018 was an exciting year for me. I was so proud to wear the Rockerbillies shirt and to then see my number on an A-team one felt like a dream. It still does! The Rockers expanded in size over 2018 to the extent of launching a C-team. As we’ve expanded we’ve definitely seen an increase in diversity of gender identity, but derby in general is still a very white sport. There are systemic barriers to POC skaters and it’s something that the sport in general right across the UK must work hard towards improving. I saw this week that a new international side called Team Black Diaspora is forming in the States, following on from the success of others such as Team Indigenous and Team Jewish. Supporting and amplifying skaters from marginalised backgrounds like this will help. We’re trying to do all we can to ensure that the Rockers is a safe and supportive environment for all skaters.
THE YEAR OF CROWDED
2018 saw the A-team concentrating on building upon their recently acquired full WFTDA membership, their first official ranking (#269 in the world) arriving in July. That’s not to say that the Rockers were neglecting their B-team Rockerbillies. Indeed, the second of the year’s two overseas trips – Barcelona in March then Vienna in October — saw both the A and B-teams facing the hosts. The league also continued with bringing through new skaters via their annual Fresh Meat intakes. The skater pool was growing bigger each year, as became clear with the launch at the end of 2018 of a new third team: Rockers C-Side. The AllStars sat out the year’s final event so that C-Side could make their debut. We understand that for 2020 and beyond there will even be some triple headers. Only the very biggest UK derby leagues run a C-team and this is a real sign of the Rockers’ growth, reach, drive and ambition. Onward and upward!
HAIRY FAIRY IS STILL MAKING HISTORY
THE YEAR OF CUP WINS
Welcome to the most successful year in terms of silverware in the Rockers’ history. Technically the league had thus far lifted just one trophy (although there wasn’t an actual trophy) by winning that 2017 tournament in Limerick. All this was to change in 2019... It began on April 14th. Having beaten Rockcity in Eindhoven the previous day, the A-team travelled to Rotterdam to take on the hosts and Belgian side GO-GO Gent (who Brighton’s first overseas game way back in 2012 had been against) in pursuit of the Harbour Cup. The games were quite close but Brighton edged both to proudly lift up the ship-shaped trophy. Three months later the B-team saw off Eastbourne, Surrey and Terra Hurtz to claim the Eastbourne Extreme title and a cup so big a crowd can glug Prosecco from it. The league almost made it a hat-trick of victory blings in October, but they narrowly lost the final of Humber Struck in Hull to Utrecht’s Dom City (144-148). 2019’s home opposition included Dundee, Glasgow and Limerick, as the Rockers maintained their odd record of always losing against Scottish teams and always winning against Irish ones. With a packed trophy cabinet and packed skater rosters, the league were at their strongest as their tenth birthday approached...
The April weekend in the Netherlands with three wins and our first trophy was one of my alltime highlights of the last decade. It was everything we had been working towards and we played some of the best games I’ve ever been involved in. I hope we can return to play those teams again as they were amongst the friendliest and most welcoming people I’ve met in my derby career. Why was 2019 the league’s best year for trophies? A combination of factors. Mainly the incredible hard work of every skater who trains hard for seven hours a week to help learn and grow as a team, but also the incredible savvy, kind and calm bench crew we had. Mistress, Sam, Aimee, Kira, Sez and Finn all looked out for us in every game, making it easy for us to focus on what we do best. I can’t believe I’m the last remaining Rocker who was at the 2010 meeting. I didn’t even mean to go. I was there as moral support for Rose Bleed who was the interested one. I sat there think-
ing this sounds crazy. My mum was very ill at the time and died shortly after we began to properly train in April. I think derby gave me something positive and fun to focus on when everything else felt dark and sad. Over the years I have seen how transformative derby can be for some people. I honestly believe that derby is something that you find when you need it. It gives you structure, discipline, makes you healthier and stronger, and it brings you a family of beautiful, fierce and imperfect people who all want to work together to make something happen. Ten years ago I maybe thought we could win some games and get some fans, but I had no idea roller derby would become something bigger and more powerful than a sport. The Rockers are part of a global movement that inspires people and has gone far beyond any of our expectations.
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THE YEAR OF CURRENTLY
DAVIS LOOKS TOWARDS A BRIGHT FUTURE
I’m so excited to begin playing adult roller derby this year, especially with the Rockers. Before I trained with Brighton they were (and still are) my idols. They were the first team I ever saw playing derby, and I never thought I’d be at a stage in my skating career that I would be good enough to skate alongside them. Now that the time has come, I can only be grateful to the league for all they have done for me, and I will be out there to make them proud. The Rockers’ history isn’t that well known to me, other than looking at their old Facebook photos, but the first game I ever saw was at home to Hell’s Belles and I don’t think I’ve missed a home game since. It was January 2019 when the Rockers first invited me to join them at training alongside some other juniors from Eastbourne’s New Bournes, but I didn’t properly start training with them until I passed my driving test in the summer.
My three years in junior derby have been a rollercoaster. I went from not getting picked for the Team GB squad, to being given a reserve spot, to then making the actual jammer rotation – all in my first year of skating. Junior and adult derby are quite different. Junior is more hectic. Adding that extra energy into adult derby will be really interesting to watch. At Rockers training I’ve found that the adults and those of us coming in from junior derby are learning a lot from each other. Often I’ll get asked how to do a jump or ‘that twirly thing’, but equally they’ve taught me how to skate smart and conserve my energy. It’s a win-win situation. I’m likely heading to uni in Cardiff in the autumn, so a transfer to Tiger Bay could be on the horizon, but I love Brighton and the Rockers. I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself back skating for them when they are celebrating their 20th anniversary in 2030.
The retirement from benching of Rockers legend Mistress in 2019 leaves Hairy Fairy as the sole remaining Rocker who was there in the Lion & Lobster ten years ago. A strong continuity remains however, especially given that Hairy has coached and mentored several recent generations of rookies through their Fresh Meat to B-team and beyond. All three Rockers teams are thus imbued with the spirit of those who met up in that pub that day in 2010. As for the future, it’s bright. Not just for the Rockers but for the sport in general. Particularly given the rise of junior derby and its new wave of skaters who have grown up playing the game. Eastbourne’s New Bournes are one of the UK’s top junior sides (making up around 25% of Team GB) and the Rockers recently began incorporating several of these derby stars of the present/future into their training sessions. Look out for some of them in the blue and black of Brighton soon. This is just the beginning.
Tour. ckers On ght is Ro vour“My highli to play my fa am of ng Travelli e best te th th wi t azing. ite spor rld is am ance in the wo Flashd g friends in do league rm is The whole o platfo enna metr e passengers) on a Vi th nd (a g I BUSH somethin !” SKATE r forget will neve
“The Rockers have given me nine years of the biggest laug hs, the weirdest injuries, crow d surfing after parties, dance-offs, ridiculous outfits, but most of all the incredible friendships I’ve made. These people mean the worl d to me and always will.” CHAKA CARNAGE
“The Rock er miss them s changed my li fe. I loads. Th spent sk e two ye ating wi ars I th them of the mo was some st fun I’ ve had, an had a fa d I’ve ir bit!” FARMERGE DDON
“Reaching our 10th year in such a great position with a thriving league is a reflection of everyone’s hard work, dedicati on and the strong community we’v e built. Time to party!” FELLEN E ASSAULT
“Being part of the Rock ers for the past four years has ch anged my life. I’ve met some of my friends, lear best ned so much and had loads of fun. Here’s to many years ahead. more ..” SLAP DASH
“In a rare stroke of chan ce, I’m all out of sass, so I’ll have to be honest. Those Rockers folks are the greatest bunch I’ve ever had the honour to share my time with. Here’s to another ten years of them smashing each othe r and, ergo, the patriarchy.” RACE Y “Where’s your mouth guard? That’s a penalty! Are you using your hand to type this? That’s anot her penalty! Rockers birthday? They’re not here are they? I have to leave before they see me.” LASE RHAMMER
“Memories include resettin g Cake Or Death’s broken nose on our first trip to Caen; alwa ys winning the after party whet her in Lille-otards, as 70s glam rockers or sweaty straight from the game; being the most glamorou s bench team with Mistress.” IRIS H MIST
LET’S ROUND THINGS OFF WITH BONUS QUOTES & NERDY STATS
These stats cover the first ten years of the Rockers’ existence, ie up to 14th February 2020. They only include the open door games played against regular teams (not challenge teams) and exclude nonregulation (eg 30 minute) games.
Here's the special souvenir edition of Turn Left we produced to mark the Brighton Rockers' 10th anniversary in 2020. Physical copies of this...
Published on Apr 16, 2020
Here's the special souvenir edition of Turn Left we produced to mark the Brighton Rockers' 10th anniversary in 2020. Physical copies of this...