STATS AND STUFF
ADDING A TURN FIVE Just four short weeks ago we were treated to Brighton’s most epic bout to date, the Rockers turning around a growing deficit to edge past Rainy City by a handful of points. Putting together this fanzine in such a short time frame has been something of a mission, but we’ve (just about) managed it. Huge thanks to all the interviewees and photographers within, and especially to the lovely advertisers who pay our print bill. Today’s bout sees the Rockers’ first home game against a non-UK/Ireland side. We’re particularly excited about this one, since Brighton’s last two home bouts were the second/third best derby games we’ve ever seen. The best? That was London Rockin’ Rollers v Paris, a real humdinger ending with a single point win in extra time, so Brighton v PRG should be a corker. The Rockers are back here in Haywards Heath in eight weeks time, which would normally seem a short gap were it not for the recent four week interval! Brighton are currently the sixth highest placed English league in the Euro Rankings, and have seen off the third, fourth and fifth ranked English sides in their last three home bouts. Next opponents Middlesbrough rank second and their A-team is packed with England internationals, so it’s destined to be a toughie. Tickets for the bout, which is part of Brighton Fringe, are already on sale. Go get you some... GO ROCKERS!
PARTY FOR EUROPE As the league prepare for their first ever cross-Channel bout, we catch up with three members of BRIGHTON ROCKERS ROLLER DERBY for some words on Euroderby... You’ve only played a team from outside the UK/ Ireland once before. That was an away trip to Gent in Belgium, almost exactly two years ago. What was that like? Mistress Von Über Vixen: Gent was a fantastic experience from start to finish. Mother Trucker and Tango each drove a bus full of excited skaters to an absolutely gorgeous city. We played a very rough and tumble bout, celebrated some (very) recent nuptuals at the after party, and had the time and freedom to explore the town before returning. We did it all in 36 hours. What a whirlwind! Dr Whooligan: Hyde ‘N’ Shriek and I had the luxury of being driven to Gent in Scoot’er and Snow’s camper van of awesome. We stayed slightly out of the centre on a campsite, which in early March did get a little chilly. I remember the bout being very physical – those Gent girls hit hard! – and wearing a wedding dress (not my wedding) at the after party. Today’s the first time the Rockers have hosted a continental side. Does that take more organising? What are your expectations against Paris? Racey Slamhard: Surprisingly, it’s not really that different to organise. Except that we don’t speak French, which is awkward. I guess it’s probably more of a pain for them as they have to try and cram a whole bunch of rollergirls onto a flight, into hotels and all the rest of it. We just have show up! I don’t like to think about expectations for a game too much. I just go into it
with the aim of playing my best, though there is no doubt it will be a tough game. A lot of them are Team France players and very experienced. Whooligan: Speak for yourself, Racey – je parle un peu de français! I’m hoping to pick up some new tactics from the Paris team. Let’s see if they really do do things differently on the Continent! Are there any other European leagues that the Rockers would particularly like to meet? Can we expect more Euro bouts in the future? Racey: I really hope so. To be honest, I just want to go on holiday! I would love to have a re-match in Paris, and Copenhagen and Stuttgart are also on my wishlist. Mistress: We really want to play other continental leagues. I think at the moment we’d love to set up bouts with Crime City [Malmö] and Kallio [Helsinki]. Whooligan: I would love for a mixed Rockers team to play Les Petites Morts (Bordeaux). In Seine, a great member of the Rockers, went back to France last year and it would be brilliant to go over and say hi. There’s roughly a dozen UK and a dozen Euro leagues at Brighton’s ‘level’. Will you soon have to look further afield for opposition? Racey: I think we’re probably a little while off that for the next year or so, as there are still quiet a few teams at our level that we haven’t played yet. We are currently applying for WFTDA membership, so that will hopefully open
TL up some international opportunities for us, as it has for Auld Reekie and Glasgow in the past. I would love an excuse for a USA roller derby road trip :) Mistress: I personally would really like to play some Canadian teams. We are gutted to be losing two integral members of the Rockers in Snow Mercy and Scoot’er. They’re moving to Calgary, Alberta. Perhaps one day the Rockers may be able to go and visit them and take on their new home league? Overseas bouts can be expensive for the team doing the travelling. How do you keep costs down and how do you raise money towards it? Are there any ways people in the crowd today can help you out? Racey: Yes, unfortunately all these things cost money and we are entirely self-funded. We have a brilliant fundraising committee who arrange lots of different things. We hold regular fundraisers like quiz nights at the Cornerstone, which everyone should come along to! Two teams of us are taking part in the Warrior Run on 30th March to try and raise travel funds. Any sponsorships would be hugely appreciated! You can find more details (and pledge) here: justgiving.com/yimby/brightonrockersrollerderby. Mistress: We do our best to create fundraising events and we’re always looking for local businesses that would like to sponsor us. Raising the money to pay for the travel costs of 16-20 personnel for an away bout is very difficult and we struggle to make ends meet. We do accept donations to the league, but more importantly, we ask people to support our very generous sponsors and to continue to come to our events! This weekend also marks the inaugural Men’s Roller Derby World Cup in Birmingham. Are there many Rockers who follow the men’s game? Mistress: Quite a few. Current ref Noise Tank and former ref Boomer both play for London-based Southern Discomfort, and we support them as much as we can. I’m in Birmingham this weekend, thus missing my first ever Rockers bout (super sad face). The level of skill and the breadth of nationalities competing for the World Cup was too tempting to resist. Whooligan: I’ve not yet seen my first merby bout. Shocking I know! I am desperate to get round to it though. It’s just that there are so many roller derby bouts on in the UK nowadays. You could quite easily spend every weekend of the year watching derby, and yet still miss most of it! Finally, does anyone have any words in French for today’s visitors? Racey: Excusez-moi, où est le bureau de poste? Whooligan: Didon dîna, dit-on, du dos d’un dodu dindon.
MAPS ‘N’ CHARTS
MISTER ADAM does some (odd) maths...
So which are the strongest derby nations in Europe? The ones where the sport has made the biggest impression to date? You could base a table on the 2011 World Cup placing of Euro sides, which would put England 1st, Finland 2nd, Sweden 3rd, France 4th, Germany 5th, Ireland 6th, Scotland 7th. Or on which country’s top league is highest ranked in the Euro standings: England 1st, Scotland 2nd, Sweden 3rd, Germany 4th, Wales 5th, Finland 6th, France 7th... We wanted a ranking that reflects a country’s size, one where a nation with strong sides and a population of 5m would rate higher than a similar strength country of 50m people. Derby has clearly had more of an influence to have that strength/impact with far fewer people (potential players) available. It took several hours and several pints of Guinness, wading through websites and maps, but here’s what we came up with. Accurate, controversial or weird? You decide...
ABOUT THE TABLE: Two websites rank hundreds of European leagues. We used Flattrackstats as it has a narrower points spread (500-900) and more regular updates than Derbydataeurope. We separated teams into countries based on national side boundaries and only used the ranking of travel A-teams. (In some cases, an intraleague or B-team ranked higher, but using these would only have made 0.1 points difference to a country’s score.) We ignored mixed league teams, such as Vagine Regimes and skate shop exhibition sides. For each country we took the average ranking points (divided by ten) of their top X teams, where X is based on size. For the first million of population we took one team, for the next 2m a second, for the next 3m a third, and so on. Giving us between one (small nations) and 14 (Russia) teams per country. As well as the ten countries in the table, only the Netherlands (11th, 54.1) had enough ranked leagues to qualify using our system, although Denmark came close. Each nation’s three highest ranked sides are listed for reference. NB League rankings are very volatile and change often.
PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE
VOCAL Tales from the track and from the road...
You’re involved in derby in various capacities. How did you get into it? How many bouts have you called to date? As a semi-feral NSO I’ve spent a lot of time on the road since I started in 2009, working with and for various leagues around the UK and Europe. In early 2012 the Hellfire Harlots put out an open call for someone to help with announcing their bout against Crime City Rollers (Malmö) and I offered to do it – foolishly they accepted, even though they knew I was popping my cherry. Since then, I’ve announced just shy of a hundred bouts, including a handful of WFTDA events. I’ve worked women’s, men’s, co-ed, and juniors bouts, both in-house and online, in addition to interviews and end-of-day wrap ups for WFTDA.tv. Are there any specific skills, apart from liking the sound of your own voice, required to be a derby announcer? Believe it or not, I hate the sound of my own voice – regardless of the accent I’m using! – and always have. For me, it’s most important to engage the audience and keep them involved in the game. Excitement is infectious and if you can convince the audience that what’s happening is exciting then you’ve done your job. Most times, a solid working knowledge of the rules and players will get you by, but you have to be ready to improvise on the spot, and I’ve always felt that the best calls are the ones that balance play-by-play, colour commentary and wilfully nearthe-knuckle irreverent humour – sometimes at the expense of actual facts. One of my personal favourites came during the Brighton-Leeds bout last year, when I was able to namecheck Shambolic in regards to (what I considered to be) her stellar blocking by simply saying “Shambolic really is all over the place!” An average bout day crowd contains a mix of people, from derby virgins to derby nerds. Is it tricky to call a game for both extremes? Different audiences demand different approaches. There are things that will always require explanation – because even the players and bench managers get it wrong – and other things that only need to be touched on once for the virgins. It’s all about balance. One challenge of an in-house call is that you can only talk about things af-
TRAVEL ...with travelling announcer extraordinaire EL TOUPÉE. ter they have happened. Players and officials can hear what’s being said (depending on the venue and PA) and will respond accordingly. I’ve had a lot of interaction with players on track based solely on what I’ve said over the mic, so I can only talk about what everyone already knows or has seen. You’re renowned for doing a lot of travelling in pursuit of derby. Any idea how many miles you’ve clocked up on NSOing/announcing duties to date? I genuinely stopped counting the miles after my first year of being a NSO. To give you an idea of distances, I’m based in Leeds and a London gig will take about six hours on the road from door to venue (all using public transport) and at least another six to get back home. I measure it in hours not miles. If I’m flying anywhere it’s usually from Manchester, which is about two hours from door to airport. Last year I took six transatlantic flights in the space of eight weeks, as well as a long weekend in Gent (Belgium) for 2013:SKOD. One of the American trips – to Eugene, Oregon – was a real killer. It involved finishing an eight hour day at work, getting an overnight coach down to Heathrow (7hrs), a delayed flight to San Francisco (10hrs), a delayed then cancelled connecting flight, alternate flight via Portland and a cab driver who couldn’t find where I was staying. By the time I got my head down I’d been awake for 53 hours! (I can’t sleep on coaches, trains or planes.) My derby destinations in 2013 included Berlin, Denver, Gent, Eugene, Philadelphia, Helsinki, Swansea, Falkirk, Antwerp, Havant, Halifax, Haywards Heath, Birmingham, Manchester, Hull, London, Grantham, Croydon and Eastbourne. I may even have done one or two gigs in Leeds. A total for the year of around 70 bouts as an NSO, plus 60 as an announcer. Are there any derby leagues or venues you particular enjoy announcing at? Being entirely independent, I generally only work with leagues I like, so pretty much every gig is a fun one. Leeds Roller Dolls are the league I started out with (I refer to them as the ex-wife) and London Rockin’ Rollers put their faith in me to run their infield way back in 2010 (they were the mistress) so they will always hold a special place in
TL my heart, through rain or shine. Nottingham’s Hellfire Harlots and Hot Wheel Roller Derby likewise. Beyond that I’m pretty much a floozy. I love Kallio Rolling Rainbow, I adore Stockholm Roller Derby, and I may have a bit of a thing for Portsmouth Roller Wenches. I know some of my fellow announcers prefer to call certain leagues, but I prefer to call closely contested bouts, because a story is always more fun if you don’t know how it ends. That being said, I would have loved to have called a bout at London Rockin’ Rollers’ old home venue – York Hall, in Bethnal Green – if only because of its history… and, if I’m honest, because the opportunity to prowl that stage would have been too much for my ego to resist. Finally, if there’s anyone in today’s crowd who fancies giving derby announcing a try, what advice can you offer them? Roller derby is a place where you can be whoever, and whatever, you want to be. If you want to step up and announce roller derby, then you need to have an angle. It might surprise some people to know that a large number of derby announcers are also wrestling fans and/or have done stand-up comedy (which some people might argue are one and the same). Regardless of your opinion of
PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE WWE-style wrestling, the whole point of each match is to tell a story and the announcers at ringside are a part of that. Whilst their story is scripted, roller derby isn’t, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn a lot from the great wrestling announcers, such as ECW-era Joey Styles and WWF-era Jim Ross. Watch bouts, live or online – DNN and WFTDA.tv have plenty of free-to-view archives, even if it means you might accidentally end up listening to me on some of them – so you know what is expected. Learn the rules. You don’t have to be a rules geek, but you need to know the difference between a jammer lap point and a not-on-the-track point; you need to know why the jam ref is only holding up three fingers when the jammer obviously passed all four blockers; you need to be able to explain – quickly – why the jammer sat down then immediately stood up instead of spending a minute in the penalty box. And maybe, just maybe, hook up with a league who want their own in-house announcer. Someone who is willing to travel with them and be their own personal cheerleader when they’re away from home. After that, sit down and read the AFTDA (Association of Flat Track Derby Announcers) handbook, hit up their website (http://www.aftda.org/) and you’re away...
TODAY’S THE DAY
Kicking off our four page preview of today’s bout, we asked NSO SNOW MERCY whether she thinks the Rockers could challenge Paris at things other than derby. Such as art, cuisine and more... Paris is known as the world’s top tourist destination. Have you ever visited the French capital yourself? What was your impression of it? Yes, I visited when I was sweet 16 and had a day trip to Disneyland Paris. I had a quick whistle stop tour of the city, and in the first five minutes out of the coach I nearly got plowed down as six cars came towards me from various directions out of nowhere. Absolute carnage, I would say! Perfect training for being a penalty wrangler and avoiding flying refs and skaters in the middle of the track. The roundabouts are also quite scary. Plus it’s very expensive, just like me :) Paris is known as a capital of world fashion. We understand the Rockers often have a fashion theme for away travel. What are the best and worst examples of outfits to date? Oh wow. So many choices. The shiny tracksuits were definitely the most offensively embarrassing. I quite liked the tennis theme one. I would love to see some team onesies, they’d be perfect for human pyramid competitions and general after party mayhem.
TODAY IN HISTORY
Today’s date is one of the most famous in the Roman calendar. The 15th of each month was known as Ides, and the Ides of March in 44BC saw the assasination of Julius Caesar – an event that formed the basis for one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. It’s also an important date in the Discordian religion’s calendar, being the 1st of Discord (the start of the second of the calendar’s five 73-day months). A few historical events to have taken place on March 15th include: the Hungarian Revolution (1848), founding of Liverpool FC (1892), death of horror writer H P Lovecraft (1937), premiere of musical ‘My Fair Lady’ (1956), the first internet domain name registration (1985), election of Mikhail Gorbachev (1990) and Brighton Rockers’ first home bout against a continental opponent (2014). TURN LEFT – NOW 73% MORE EDUCATIONAL!
The French capital is also well known worldwide for its cuisine. Do Rockers NSOs have any special diet regime for a bout day weekend? As NSOs we work super hard and need the best fuel possible. I would say Haribo all the way and a nice little Nutella cupcake. Also, for long days of officiating, fruit and pasta pots are my friends. Taking a lead from Disneyland Paris, if the Rockers created their own theme park what would it be called and what rides/attractions would it contain? Haha. If the Rockers were to open a theme park I’m not sure if would pass health and safety! A name for it... Rock Her Sideways? I may need more time to think of a better one. Bumper cars would definitely be in there, plus a big looping skate-shaped rollercoaster to represent the nail-biting moments they deliver to their fans. Also, a log flume that people slide down on giant sweaty knee pads. Paris is home to the world’s most famous painting, the Mona Lisa. If you could pick any artist from history to paint a Rocker, which artist and which skater? Tamara de Lempicka, who was a Polish art deco painter. She was the first female artist to be a glamour star. I reckon she would do a mean picture of Racey’s evil grin! Moving on to the bout itself, do you know much about Paris Rollergirls? I have never seen PRG on track before, so am a bit clueless on that front. Sorry! Any particular Rockers players or tactics to keep an eye out for at the bout? As Head NSO I don’t get involved in tactics on the track, but I’ll be keeping an eye on their naughtiness and we will be working like a well-oiled machine tracking all their penalties! Would you like to predict the result? I’m impartial so can’t be taking sides, but I can predict that Team Zebra never loses ;) Also we always win the pyramid!
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As Brighton meet up with Paris on track for the first time, voilà quelques mots from PRG captain ROXY BAT GIRL... Hi there. Firstly, for anyone at today’s bout who might not be aware of Paris Rollergirls, can you tell us a bit about your league’s history? Hello there. We just celebrated our fourth birthday one month ago. Like all the other leagues, I guess, we were just a few at the beginning. Then roller derby invaded France! Now we have three travel teams; the All-Star team, the B-team les Quedalles, and the C-team les Sans-Culottes (which means ‘no panties’). I think our greatest achievement is when we became a Full Member of WFTDA last year, and at the same time we hosted Team Unicorn, mostly composed of American players. 700 people came to support us. It was a huge event for French roller derby. We won by seven points – it was a very close bout that was totally awesome! You’ve travelled across to play quite a few UK leagues. Is that expensive? Which trips have you enjoyed the most? We do indeed come to the UK quite often. We’ve played Glasgow, Windsor, Leeds Hot Wheels, LRG’s B-team, London Rockin’ Rollers... and Dublin too, which is not so far. And tomorrow we play in Bristol. It is really expensive for us, but we do not have the choice if we want to play regularly and keep our place in the European rankings. I guess we all enjoyed our first trip to London to play one of LRG’s previous home teams and their B-team. I will always remember when we were just ten points behind them for like ten minutes. And our second trip when we played London Rockin’ Rollers. What a bout! We saw that amazing bout at LRR last year which ended with an overtime jam. Was that the closest game you’ve played? That was the first time we had to play an overtime jam – two actually – and for the last one all the audience surrounded the track! That was the closest game in terms of points, but unfortunately for our heart rates we play close bouts quite often. We had eleven players and no line-up manager at LRR. Because of the cost of the trips, we play that way too often when we visit leagues, but it’s a bit different when we play in Paris. We are recruiting a bench coach and line-up manager, by the way. Whoever they are, he/she must know we already love him/her ;-)
What’s the roller derby scene like in France now? The number of leagues increased so much over these last two years, and the ability level too. The second Team France [2013-14 roster] has been a lot harder to select and compose than the first one [2011 roster] because of all the good candidates. Paris Rollergirls were the only WFTDA Apprentice League in France for a long time, but now several leagues have that status and every player is aware of the vitality of French roller derby and participates in it. This will be your first meeting on track with the Brighton Rockers. Do you know much about the league? I must confess we do not know any Brighton players. First rendez-vous! I will not predict the result because we have had many surprises before when trying to estimate results. We are just going to play our game, do the best we can, focus and enjoy. Any particular Paris players/tactics to look out for? Watch the bout and come to tell me after it! You’re playing in Bristol tomorrow – does that mean you have to take it easy at tonight’s after party? Well, technically Paris Rollergirls always win the after party. It is a tradition. This weekend also sees the first Men’s Roller Derby World Cup. Do PRG have many links with the men’s Team France? A few players come from the Panam Squad, the Parisian men’s league – we know them from practicing and scrimmaging with them from time to time. We don’t have many links with the men’s Team France, but men’s derby is very well established in France. They play at a good level in Europe, so I think they can do something interesting in the World Cup. Finally, do you have a message for any PRG fans in the crowd here today? Just shout “Paris brings the… Passion!” and it will feel like home.
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OUTSIDE LINES “Paris Rollergirls are definitely one of my favourite ‘new’ leagues. I had the pleasure of being their guide when they played Hot Wheel Roller Derby in April 2013, and announced their away bouts against LRR and Dublin Roller Derby in 2013 too. Don’t be surprised to see PRG choose to skate short, as they have done each time I’ve seen them play so far – you can trust me when I say that international travel isn’t cheap. As for who will be playing? Well, that’s the question. Paris is a gateway to the rest of Europe for us Brits, and the ladies of PRG aren’t shy about wandering off the reservation themselves. If they’re on hand – and on skates – keep your eyes on Butch Shan, Sally Broyeur, Roxy Bat Girl, Meryl Strip-Her, Crapule and Bully Bunker, to name just a few. In fact, don’t take your eyes off any of PRG. They have a habit of turning a massive loss into a victory, even if the points don’t truly reflect that.” EL TOUPÉE, today’s bout day announcer “PRG put up a real fight when they played at LRR. Indeed, this writer was sure they’d won the tie-breaker and was very surprised to see it awarded to London by two points. A ref huddle saw it given as a drawn jam eventually, by which time the LRR fans were already trackside, making for a real bearpit atmosphere for the deciding overtime jam. This didn’t seem to phase PRG at all, though. Hooligan and Meryl Strip-Her (who, true to her name, collected her Best Blocker certificate in just a towel) were amongst the standout players, but all eleven really dug in before a very partisan crowd. Based on rankings, today’s bout should be less of a challenge for Brighton than the last few home games. With the Rockers ranked 16th and PRG 28th, flattrackstats gives Brighton a 79% win chance and predicts a 17-12 differential. This would mean a typical scoreline of say 187-132 in Brighton’s favour. Having said that, PRG have ten or more French internationals to choose from, so whatever permutation of players makes the trip over it will be a tough visiting side. Brighton seem to have cured their pre-2013 habit of second half dips, and now come out battling stronger in the final period. You can probably gauge the toughness of the contest by how many jammers they field when scores are close. If it drops to just two or three alternating in the Brighton star, it’s extra feisty!” MISTER ADAM, Turn Left editor
RECENT PRG RESULTS 16/2/14 v STUTTGART VALLEY 136-175 8/12/13 v Stockholm Roller Derby 93-413 17/11/13 v Central City Rollergirls 202-226 6/7/13 v Dublin Roller Derby 163-158 22/6/13 v London Rockin’ Rollers 149-150 18/5/13 v Kallio Rolling Rainbow 182-243 4/5/13 v RUHRPOTT ROLLER GIRLS 266-85 20/4/13 v Bear City B-Team 197-139 Paris scores are listed first, home bouts are in capitals
“We had such great games against both Brighton and Paris (lovely lasses and close bouts) so this match-up should be an absolute corker. Our game against the Rockers was, to my memory, defined by Brighton’s very strong defensive walls, which called for effective offense on our part to get our jammers through. Paris, on the other hand, liked to keep the packs quick and were forever nipping around the front to speed things up a little to disjoint our walls. The strong slow defence of Brighton versus the fast packs of Paris should be an interesting clash of styles and test of adaptability. Hooligan from PRG really impressed me. She could both block and jam if needed and had nippy footwork, sound tactical calls and strong pack awareness, much similar to Brighton’s Rose Bleed. The differing styles really make this a hard one to call, but based on our results against both teams and the strength of their defence I’ll go with Brighton, especially if they can keep their box empty (giggity).” BOOTS MANUVA, Central City Rollergirls
NEXT: MIDDLESBROUGH The Rockers are back in Haywards Heath on May 10th to take on the Middlesbrough Milk Rollers... Ranked second in England and packed with internationals, the North East league will provide a stern test. MMR: “We’ve been keeping an eye on Brighton for the past couple of years, having noticed them come seemingly out of nowhere. This is the first time our schedules have allowed us to finally play one another. We’re looking forward to the challenge against a team we know very little about.”
JAMMER ON JAMMER
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Do you have any special bout day rituals or superstitions?
No. I used to get very nervous before bouts but now really enjoy the team breakfast, getting the train to the venue together and helping set up the hall. It’s a routine that helps me actually look forward to the bout. At the end of the day there’s only one hour of skating standing between me and the after party.
It can be hard to keep a ritual when you are playing abroad, so I try to keep my environment from affecting my focus. Ideally I need a good’s night sleep and a good breakfast to feel serene, but meeting up with my teammates in the changing rooms usually does it all.
Is there any special song/music that motivates you for bouting?
No, I don’t listen to much music, but the Rockers tend to have an impromptu sing-song while warming up and I always join in loudly.
I like ‘Bad Karma’ by Ida Maria. It has a great positive energy.
How many points are you personally hoping to score today?
I don’t know. It all depends how many times I jam, and also whether I can stay as focussed and clean as I would like to.
Enough to get my team to the victory!
Are there any of today’s opposing blockers you’re scared of?
I am never scared of blockers – only in awe of their skills! I don’t know any of the Paris girls and I’m keen to see what they can do.
I trust my teammates to get them out of my way if needed.
What skates/wheels do you bout in and how long have you had them?
The Dolphin Centre has a variable floor that depends heavily on the last time they varnished it. Wheel-wise, I think I will skate in Atom Jukes with Poison pushers.
I have had Crazy DBXs for one year now. They used to belong to our ex-jammer Kozmic Bruise, who gave them to me.
Not so much a move, more of a determination. I’m known for never giving up, no matter how many times I end up on the floor.
I wouldn’t say I’m known for it, but I can do a cartwheel with my skates on!
Do you have a particular ‘signature move’ you’re known for? What’s your greatest achievement in roller derby?
Making it into the Rockers All-Stars jamming rotation.
So far, joining Paris Rollergirls A-team.
Where do you keep your MVP/best jammer/etc certificates?
I would love to say I keep them all in a special place. They are safe but I have no idea where!
Well, some of them are in a drawer, others are on my desk with all my mess…
Do you think you could swim the Channel/Manche?
Not a chance – I don’t like swimming.
What was the hardest part of learning to play roller derby?
Trying not to flatten the kids at roller discos. Watching them all zoom around the hall is quite demoralising when all you can manage is a wall hug.
Good question. When I was a beginner I thought reading and knowing all the rules was a pain in the ass. Now I’d say the two hardest things are to be able to keep in control of each of your moves and also the mentality required.
What’s your favourite cheese?
That’s a tough one. I’ve recently discovered La Cave à Fromage in Hove – their selection is amazing! My current favourite is a port washed blue. Thank goodness it doesn’t taste how it smells!
I’m a big fan of the combo of goat’s cheese with honey on top.
Do you have a message for your opposite number?
Allez vite et n’oubliez pas de tourner à gauche! Voyez vous au pub. .
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The position of pivot is less well understood by many fans than that of blocker or jammer. RACEY SLAMHARD explains all... So, we all get that the skater with the star on her helmet scores the points, but what exactly is the role of the player with a stripe? Basically, the pivot is supposed to be in control of her pack. She is meant to be directing them, trying to guess what is going to happen next, and getting her players into the best possible position to react to the expected plays. She can also receive the star panty from the jammer and become the jammer herself.
Pivots are viewed as captains of a sort. Do you dictate play to your jammer at all, or solely to the other blockers? Jammers are a wild breed of rollergirl that are difficult to tame and tend to respond only to their master: Mass Janeycide. Pivots mainly take charge of the pack, though the jammer is aware of what we are planning to do before the jam starts – not that it always goes to plan! And we might shout something at them as they go screaming past :)
Is pivot your favourite position? What are the hardest aspects of the role? I love to pivot. I think it suits my personality, as I am a bit of a control freak and tend to like things done my way. I guess that the hardest part is knowing that you should be making the final decision on what play you are going to be enacting. If it goes wrong, then you kind of feel like it was on you. Keeping a pack of rollergirls in check can also be hard work.
The star pass rule means pivots occasionally have to suddenly switch from blocking to jamming. Is it difficult to change roles so quickly? I hide from the jammer when they look like they might do that. Being passed the star fills me with fear and luckily it’s never happened to me in a game (touch wood). I suck at getting the panty on my helmet properly, which doesn’t help. We’ve actually spent quality training time practicing putting panties on before (that sounds really wrong doesn’t it?).
What are the specific skills required to be a pivot rather than a regular blocker? Is being a bossy so-and-so one of them? Having a loud yet clear voice is essential. I remember going to a boot camp a while back where we had a pivot class. The trainer was talking about how difficult it can be to take instruction from someone with a high-pitched, screechy, shouty voice as it’s nearly impossible to feel controlled by it, and that kinda stuck with me. I tend to have an authoritative, loud yet calm voice when pivoting (like when you train a dog!) and just say things once. That seems to work really well. You also need to be able to keep an eye on EVERYTHING that is happening as you are playing. I’m always watching both jammers, the box, my players, their players – everything – just to try and keep in touch with the situation.
Which other pivots within the Brighton Rockers (and world derby) do you admire, and who have you learned most from? It’s hard to say really as you don’t often hear much about the poor old pivot. I guess Bash perhaps as she is the master of calm instruction. She can command you with an icy cold direction and fear alone makes you obey. What advice would you give to a blocker about to take on the pivot role for the first time? Be confident in your decisions and make sure everyone follows your plan – a bad decision executed by the whole team works much better than a good decision that’s not being played by all. Work on your skating skills as much as on your direction-giving skills as you will need to be moving forwards, backwards and all around the pack to be able to keep an eye on the game properly. Make sure you take the opportunity at practice to be the leader of the pack and make play decisions. Don’t rely on more experienced players to tell you what to do. Oh, and also, you probably know the game better than you think you do – you just need confidence and then everyone will believe what you say :)
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How far in advance of the day of a bout does the planning for it begin? What does it involve? The dates are usually set months in advance. Most of the legwork is done in the six weeks leading up to bout day, with a flurry of activity in the last week. There are many spreadsheets involved to make sure everyone is doing what they say they are doing! On the day of a bout how long does it take to get the hall ready before opening the doors? We have the hall for an hour and a half before doors open. Looks of honing around, setting up the merch table, the ticket table, laying the track, making sure everyone knows where the changing rooms, loos and most importantly the bar are! How did you come to take up the role of bout day organiser? What kind of people help you out on the day? Are there specific roles? Do the skaters who are playing on the day help out with stuff themselves, or are they more focused on preparing for the actual bout? I stopped skating last year as it was getting too much for my back. However I still wanted to be involved in the league as I love them so much! I’d been helping with the accounts and seemed to be quite good at organising. Non-skating league members are expected to help out on the day. Generally people know what they like doing; merch, mopping spills, mending track. There are specific roles and I make sure they are sorted before the bout day. We try not to have skaters doing things on the day, but they are often involved in preparation.
THE ORGANISATION How much work goes into setting up an event like today and when does it begin? Rockers bout day organiser SAL GORE tells all...
Who makes the decorations and other elements related to the bout’s theme? Who’s involved in the techie side – scoreboard, announcer mics, etc? The art committee are responsible for the decorations. For the theme we generally discuss it through our online forum until a decision has been reached. One of our refs is our scoreboard techie; he’s au fait with the software and can bring the kit. The announcer is normally poached from a neighbouring league as we don’t have our own yet (job opportunity for anyone willing!). The Dolphin are great and have the PA already. The different committees know their roles and liaise with me so it all comes together. Do things usually go smoothly? What are the worst problems you’ve encountered to date when putting on Rockers bouts? On the day things normally go smoothly. We’ve learned a lot about what to include and what to leave out. The worst problems have been trying to find a public venue in Brighton, but having said that the Dolphin have been hugely supportive. Biggest successes have been selling out AND winning at the same time. How long does it take for you to break down the hall after a bout? Is there much lost property found? It’s quicker to take down so I would say under an hour. We find a lot of jumpers afterwards! Finally, do you and the bout day team have any specific roles at the after party? At the after party I think we all become one big drunken borg so no!
18 T L Which skater on the Rockers roster has the stinkiest elbow pads? I can’t say for sure – that’s not a test you’d like to conduct – but I’d put good money on it being either Dr Whooligan or Cake Or Death.
Have you ever seen a ghost? No, but an old roommate often played jokes on me by slightly moving things around the house, which really freaked me out before I discovered what she was doing. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten and did you regret it? I don’t care for any kind of seafood, but have been willing to try a few things over the years. A friend took me to a posh restaurant and convinced me to try an oyster. Do you know the feeling when you turn a bit green? I do. Instant regret. What’s the worst thing you’ve been sent to the penalty box for? The only time I’ve attempted an apex jump in a game was v LRR. It was an epic fail as I clipped an opponent in the air, then stacked it on the landing. Not only did I go sliding off track on my knees, but Noise had to send me off for a misconduct major. ‘And she never tried to jump the apex again...’
Who’s the scariest opponent you’ve ever faced on the track? The entirety of Glasgow’s Irn Bruisers, but specifically, Chemikill Hazard. She’s a terrifyingly good player and graced me with the biggest takedown I’ve ever received. My feet went airbourne and I only realised I’d returned to earth by hearing my helmet hit the floor. I did return to the track, imagining little ‘tweety birds’ circling my head, but the pleading looks from my jam ref after taking a few more hits convinced me I should remove myself from that jam. If you could play for any other derby team in the world, who would it be and why? Without a doubt, it would be Montreal Roller Derby. Those girls are badass and know how to have a lot of fun. Talented players one and all, and I’d be well chuffed to be entirely clad in neon dancing around in one of their videos. If you were head of the Canadian Tourist Board, what slogan would you use to promote the country? Maple syrup and bacon. What’s not to like, eh?