MISTRESS BOWS OUT
As Brighton meet neighbouring Croydon for the first time in front of a crowd, retiring Rockers icon MISTRESS VON ÜBER VIXEN previews this, her final competitive game... The Brighton Rockers have met Croydon Roller Derby’s A-team twice before, once at home and once away, both times behind closed doors. Presumably you learn more about an opponent’s strengths and weaknesses the more you play them? The Croydon Roller Derby Riot Squad are an excellent team who work hard to constantly improve. They’ve come on in leaps and bounds with their performances in the last year. We are quite familiar with many of their long-standing players, but they have quite a few players who have moved up from the B- to A-team that will be a challenge for us. We have made the mistake of underestimating teams in the past and that’s not something that we care to repeat. We’re going to give everything we’ve got for this game! A few Croydon players live in Brighton and CRD have played a couple of home games here at the Dolphin. Will that benefit them? Compared to our other opponents? Possibly only in that they will be familiar with the floor at the Dolphin. However, compared with our last few home games, Croydon will definitely have more crowd support here in the hall, as their fans are more likely to travel with them. Do you have any new tactics or line-ups prepared to counter the Riot Squad threat? You know we’re not going to give away any secrets! We have been working hard on some new tactics and have watched Croydon’s constant improvement in both offence and defence, so we’ll be ready for them. As far as line-ups go, we have our methods to create the strongest packs possible and we’re sticking with that. You recently made your return from long-term injury in a mixed level Rockers team that played Switchblade RollerGrrrls in Lille. Will many of the newer players who featured in that game be taking part today? You’ll have to wait and see for our full roster on game day, but the match in Lille was a great experience for us. Unfortunately, we didn’t come away with a win, but the newer players who took part learned a great deal and were able to showcase their skills. We are all very proud of them.
Flattrackstats initially classed the Lille trip as if it was an A-team game. Brighton then dropped to one place (and 0.3 points) below Croydon in the European rankings chart. Will today’s game be as close as that might suggest? That classification was unfortunate, as we did not field our A-team in Lille. However, it may work out to our advantage being lower ranked in the future. I don’t like predictions, as any team is only as good as they are on the day, but I do think that this will be a hard-fought, close contest and another thrilling game for our fans to watch! Today will see your own first All-Stars appearance in 15 months, which is also your last. We hear you’re retiring from competitive derby after this game. Was that a tough decision and have injuries been a factor? It has been a very tough decision and one that took me a long time to reach. Yes, my injuries did play a large role. I have sustained many over the years, but I was determined to come back from the broken leg I suffered last year. I felt I might have cheated myself had I not tried. This game is the culmination of all of the hard work required to get back to All-Stars level play, and I’m immensely proud of that. I no longer have anything to prove to myself in that regard, and I feel extremely fortunate that I’m able to leave competitive play on my own terms. What have been the highlights of your roller derby playing career? We assume you’ll remain involved with the Rockers and the sport in general? I’m definitely still going to be very involved with the league. As one of the founding members, I’m not sure I’d ever be able to leave the Rockers behind. There have been many highlights – I’ve been fortunate to have received several blocker/MVP awards and I’m forever grateful for them. Being a part of this team and competing in the UK and overseas has been a bigger gift than I ever could have imagined. I have derby friends all over the world and it’s enabled me to connect with them on the derby stage. I’ve found work that I love doing as Public Relations Manager for RDNation (rdnation.com) and Editor-in-Chief of Europe’s biggest derby news site, rollinnews.com.
CROYDON ROLLER DERBY
We asked CRD Riot Squad captain APOCALEX what we should expect from today’s game... Can you tell us a bit about your league’s history and achievements to date? Croydon Roller Derby (CRD) was founded in the late autumn of 2009 by Mosquito. To this day we are still a relatively small league compared to our neighbours (LRG and LRR). We are growing, though, and are currently the biggest that we’ve ever been with 55 members. So it’s a very exciting time for us. As well as being very focused on roller derby we are also involved in the local community, working with charities like Nightwatch. What’s the skating scene like in the Croydon area? Is sharing Greater London with LRG and LRR a benefit or hindrance? I think we are the skating scene in Croydon! And it’s great :) A lot of us live close enough that we can organise groups to go skating outdoors when the weather permits, which is always fun. We have skaters from all over London and Surrey, and our proximity to leagues like LRG and LRR is great! We have fantastic games on our doorstop and played LRG Batter C Power and LRR B-team a few years ago. Hopefully we will get to play more games with both of these fantastic leagues in the future. What are CRD’s ambitions going forward? As a league we try not to place too much emphasis on rankings. We’ve played plenty of teams who are ranked far lower than they should be, for reasons like location, ie it’s hard for them to get teams to play them. A recent example of this would be Belfast – those ladies were TOUGH. Our main concern is to play great derby and keep challenging ourselves by playing fantastic teams. WFTDA membership is definitely something that CRD are keen to look into. CRD have played Brighton in home and away closed doors. Presumably the teams know each other well? Croydon love playing Brighton! These games are always lots of work but also very enjoyable. Of course some names are a little more well known around the derbyverse, but what makes Brighton great is that all of their skaters are a formidable threat.
Will you be adapting your own play/tactics based on what you learned from previous games against Brighton? Any CRD players the crowd should look out for? We have been working on a few new tactics that we hope to debut in today’s game. Given how strong today’s opposition’s jammers are, we have really been working on our defence. Strong walls are key! As for star players, everyone on Riot Squad has earned their spot on the team, and in my eyes that means they are all ones to watch. Some of CRD live in Brighton and you’ve used this Haywards Heath venue for a few home games. Are there benefits to such local knowledge? I don’t think our Brighton-based skaters could tell us anything about the Rockers we don’t already know, having played them twice. Today can be summed up by saying that they are very tough and the game will be super hard. Haywards Heath is not our usual venue, though we have played a couple of games here, so I don’t think we’ll get much of an advantage there. You were briefly one place (and 0.3 points) above Brighton in the flattrackstats.com Euro rankings. Would you like to predict the result of the game or after party? As mentioned we don’t hold too much by the rankings and their accuracy, though we are happy to state that Brighton are a VERY tough team to play. Regarding the game, much depends on what happens on the day. Given the status and reputation of Brighton, as long as we play our best and work as hard as we can, I’ll be happy with the outcome. As for the after party... WATCH OUT EARTH... this could get messy! Finally, do you have a message for any CRD fans in the crowd here today? I think what you have in the hall today are two teams that have a great respect for each other and roller derby as a whole. That should mean that we have a very exciting game. Enjoy!
STATS AND THAT
RECENT CRD RESULTS
17/8/13 v TIGER BAY BRAWLERS B 206-108 19/10/13 v Oslo Roller Derby* 214-200 19/10/13 v Nantes Derby Girls* 233-121 17/11/13 v ROLLER DERBY TOULOUSE 129-179 26/1/14 v Milton Keynes Concrete Cows 304-72 22/2/14 v Portsmouth Roller Wenches 215-121 29/3/14 v Central City Rollergirls 109-232 25/5/14 v Belfast Roller Derby 216-116
18/6/11 v Seaside Siren Roller Girls 281-16 6/8/11 v ROMSEY TOWN RLRBILLIES 141-132 15/10/11 v DUBLIN ROLLERGIRLS 158-115 18/2/12 v LRG BATTER C POWER 223-192 10/3/12 v Gent Go-Go Girls 169-140 14/4/12 v Romsey Town Rollerbillies 304-60 26/5/12 v DOLLY ROCKIT ROLLERS 224-69 15/9/12 v Dublin Rollergirls 351-84 17/11/12 v BIG BUCKS HIGH ROLLERS 357-110 9/3/13 v LONDON ROCKIN’ ROLLERS 237-210 20/4/13 v Glasgow Roller Derby 111-310 25/5/13 v Kent Roller Girls* 207-120 25/5/13 v LRG Brawl Saints* 101-223 26/5/13 v Bristol Roller Derby* 175-251 21/9/13 v LEEDS ROLLER DOLLS 176-142 26/10/13 v Auld Reekie Roller Girls 89-349 23/11/13 v CENTRAL CITY ROLLERGIRLS 170-156 15/2/14 v RAINY CITY ROLLERGIRLS 174-163 15/3/14 v PARIS ROLLERGIRLS 178-174 10/5/14 v MIDDLESBRO MILK ROLLERS 123-230
CRD’s score listed first for all games. Capital letters indicate Croydon at home, lower case away, * = neutral/tournament
AN OUTSIDE LINE “Croydon are a tough and dynamic team who are full of surprises, making them a strong side. Brighton are a powerful and established force in the UK and certainly pack a punch on the flat track. If our last meets with these two teams are anything to go by, this game is going to be a battle of epic proportions with neither side wanting to concede a loss. I think it could well be decided on the final jam. Definitely one to watch.” GHOULDIELOCKS, Central City Rollergirls “A senior Croydon player admitted to us at Eastbourne Extreme that they were a little bit terrified of meeting the Rockers today. We’ve heard similar in reverse from some of the Brighton squad. These teams know each other very well, so the bragging rights offered by victory go far beyond the usual, which should make this one of those ‘everyone giving 110%’ games. There’s no UKRDA league table in this issue, partly as Brighton’s position hasn’t changed (10th, 636.8 points) and partly as CRD aren’t UKRDA members so don’t feature. Brighton were ranked one place below Croydon in the Euro table, but this has since been corrected, with the Lille game no longer classed as A-team. The Rockers are 21st (647.4) with CRD in 26th (632.8). The online predictor gives Brighton 72% chance of the win, with an expected score differential of 40:31. This would equate to something like a 200155 scoreline, which matches our own expectations. The Rockers are missing one or two regular jammers today, however, so their key player may well be Mistress, returning from injury to play her final game.” MISTER ADAM, Turn Left editor
Only first team open door games are listed. Brighton’s score is listed first for all games. Capital letters indicate Brighton were at home, lower case away, * = neutral/tournament
EDITOR/DESIGNER/PUBLISHER: Adam Peters CONTRIBUTORS: All of our lovely interviewees PHOTOGRAPHERS: Chris Bell: front cover, page 6 (background) & page 16 // Dave McAleavy (boutday.com): back cover // Rebecca Cornford: pages 3 & 4 // John Hesse: pages 5, 6, 8 & 9 PLEASE SUPPORT OUR LOVELY ADVERTISERS – THEY HELP TO KEEP THIS MAGAZINE FREE –
BRIGHTON v CROYDON
Do you have any special game day rituals or superstitions?
Mainly practical ones like obsessively gaffer taping myself into my pads. Also making sure they are washed and not too stinky, but that’s more for the benefit of the other players
I don’t like to change anything before a game, like food, wheels or clothing. I never wash my kit before a game!
Is there any special song/music that motivates you for a game?
No, but it’s always fun to have little dance when waiting on track during a time out. It helps to pass the time, lifts the mood... and also makes me look really cool, yeah?
Andrew WK – ‘Party Hard’.
Is there anyone from today’s opponents you’re particularly wary of?
I have trained alongside Gin Atomic a couple of times and – from experience – I shall be avoiding her hard hits at all costs!
Rose Bleed can really lead her pack. I always have difficulty with blockers like Bash, plus she hits super hard! I’m also wary of Shambolic’s jamming as she knows how to destroy a wall.
What are you personally hoping for from today’s game?
I hope to have a clean game after nearly fouling out in Lille. And of course I hope to WIN!
To execute some of the footwork I’ve been working on recently, and meet the challenge of jamming against the Brighton blockers!
What skates do you play in and how long have you had them?
Riedell R3 skates that I’ve had 2.5 years (since I started) have served me well, but I’m seriously saving up for a pair of Bonts.
Bonts, Pilot Falcon plates, Atom Jukes 93/95s. I’ve had them for just over a month – this will be my first game in my new setup!
Not really. I’m making that my new personal derby goal.
I’m known for my speed (hence my derby name) and footwork. I work and work at it. I’m always watching clips of other skaters.
Do you have a particular ‘special move’ you’re known for? What’s your greatest achievement in roller derby? Making it on to the travel team
Winning best jammer in my first game after a ten month injury.
Where do you keep your best blocker/jammer/etc certificates?
I don’t have any, but If I ever get one it’s getting pride of place on the fridge, stuck there with one of our lovely new Rockers magnetic bottle openers. A bargainous £3.50 from our merch stall.
I only have two. One is on my wall at work, and the other is on my bookcase with other things that are important to me.
What’s your favourite part of a derby track?
I prefer lane 1 or 4. I like to live life on the edge... haha... duh!
The outside line.
What did you find the hardest element of Minimum Skills to pass?
Probably the endurance part. I thought I was fit and then I attempted my first 25 (laps) in 5 (minutes)...
It feels like ages since I did Minimum Skills. I would say hitting. I’m still not the biggest hitter but it’s something I continuously work on.
I don’t play any other sports competitively but I cycle everywhere and I love swimming, especially sea swimming in the summer.
I don’t play any other sports as I’m a little bit obsessed with derby, but I do lift weights at the gym so that I can be a stronger jammer.
Worldwide I would have to say Bonnie Thunders. However, closer to home, I’d have to say our very own Mistress Von Über Vixen. She has always been an inspirational player to me in terms of skill and her sheer dedication to the team. Today is her last game before she hangs up her skates. Let’s make it a good one!
Bonnie Thunders. Her footwork is phenomenal and I could watch her jamming all day. *swoons*
Do you play any other sports and if so to what level? Who is your own roller derby hero and why?
BOURNE FOR BRIGHTON
Kicking off a four page special on roller derby in the South East, we catch up with the lastest Rockers recruit, SWANN, who recently transferred from Bourne Bombshells... Welcome to Brighton. Can you tell us about your skating background prior to taking up derby? It was fairly limited. Apparently I did some artistic skating when I was young enough not to have a functioning memory box, then took up inlining for a couple of years in my early teens, but other than that my sporting history in general was pretty non-existent. You were very heavily involved in the Bourne Bombshells. To what extent and what are your highlights from your time there? I started backing off over the past six to eight months to focus on coaching the travel team, but over the course of my time with the Bombshells, I was involved in more or less all of the committees at some point. I’d been on the board of directors from the start, and I guess I kind of ended up being the ‘general manager’ of sorts for a while. Extreme was always a highlight for me – the first year was amazing, because we were a barely known league who managed to pull off this awesome event before we’d even held a regular bout. It was even better to be in the final the following year. The Heartland game Bombshells hosted (my last game) was my favourite. I think we played the best we ever had as a team, and it was my best performance as a jammer to date. Just a great way to end my time with them. It’s fair to say you’re known as a derby obsessive who travels the world to scrim, coach and train. Historically, I never felt the need to try too hard or push to be better at things because I generally ‘coasted’ and did OK. When I started derby all I wanted to do was get better. It was so exciting because I’d never really had that drive for anything else before. I realised that I’d been working constantly and never had any days off for about four years, so I quit working weekends altogether, then used some of the money I’d saved to go on a load of bootcamps and derby-related trips. I’m fortunate to have a job where I can say when I want to work, so I’ll take advantage of that while it lasts.
Why did you opt to transfer to the Rockers? How long have you been considering the idea? I first considered transferring about a year ago, but I never really put any serious thought into it until towards the end of last year. I was struggling with my Bombshells workload, to be honest, and at that time resigned from a lot of my responsibilities in preparation for making the move, but I didn’t properly decide until two months ago. I felt like I was stagnating as a player and a coach, and I wanted the opportunity to learn from players more advanced than me on a regular basis – that was the hole that bootcamps had been filling for me previously. Brighton were an obvious choice, really. Not only are they the next closest geographically, but they’re a highly competitive league with some great, inspirational players who could offer me the extra push I was looking for. There have been transfers between the two leagues before, but traditionally it’s been the other way round, with Rockers rookies and Bteamers joining Eastbourne. Have you been made suitably welcome at Brighton since your move? It’s actually been a really smooth transition. Derby McGee is my training buddy at the moment, so she’s been making sure I know what’s going on in training. Hairy Fairy actually came to my last bout with the Bombshells, and we knew each other a bit previously, so she and Rose have been particularly friendly faces – but to be honest, everyone’s been great. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. How does training with the Rockers differ from what you were used to with the Bombshells? Are there any things you’re finding easier or harder now? It’s definitely harder. I’m out of my comfort zone, and I’m not the person who’s in control any more, which is very weird for me. I was also one of the stronger jammers with the Bombshells, whereas that’s not the case any more. It’s great though,
TL because for the first time in three years, I’m constantly being challenged and being given feedback on my performance, which means I’ll improve faster and become a better and more versatile player. This issue is a South East England derby special. What do you know of other local leagues? Surrey, Bombshells and Basingstoke are all kind of going through this ‘newer team’ phase; some of the stable members are moving on and they’re integrating newer players into the roster, so it’ll be interesting to see how the personnel changes affect their gameplay in relation to each other. Surrey have a great jammer in Buffy Smothers – I believe she’s one of the top scorers in their Heartland Series division – while Basingstoke are lighter on standout jammers but have some great, dedicated blockers. I think Dropkick No Mercy probably qualifies as more of an obsessive than me lately, and she’s a rapidly improving blocker. Portsmouth blow me away. I saw RIP McMurphy scrimmage about a month after I got involved with roller derby, and I thought she was completely terrifying. I’m less scared of her now, but she’s still one of the players that I’m most inspired by. They’ve totally powered up the rankings and keep getting better and better. Croydon are similarly impressive. I find that they suffer less from this thing where you have a few standout players, and instead CRD have a really tightknit team overall with a lot of double threats. Kent are similar with less standout players but good, solid blocking. Saying that, Boot’Em Khamun and I guest coached together a while ago, and she’s been a really rapid improver – she also has the best bout pictures. I haven’t seen much game play from the other local leagues, except for London Rollergirls, and let’s be honest I don’t REALLY need to comment about them, do I? They’re ridiculous. In a good way. Finally, what are your hopes and ambitions as a Rocker and for your roller derby career in general? The great thing now with the Rockers is that everything has shifted up a gear, so things I took for granted with the Bombshells have become something to work for again. Making the roster for an A-team game was the first challenge, so the next one will be getting regular play on the roster, making the jammer rotation etc etc. Of course I have dreams of playing internationally, of being on the national team and so on, but mainly I just want to be part of a dedicated team and push my own abilities as far as I can. I hope to do some more derby travelling, doing entry level coaching, and generally to embrace the opportunities the game and the community have to offer before I have to start being a proper grown-up...
EXTREME RULES Four South East teams recently met in an outdoor roller derby tournament. MISTER ADAM reports...
As much of an annual tradition as Eastbourne Extreme roller derby tournament itself is the fear in the run up to it. Fuelled by conflicting weather reports, the R-word is mentioned in hushed terms. Skating on wet ground is a no-no, of course, and the whole tournament hangs on the whims of the Weather Gods. As ever, blazing sunshine wins the day. As ever, so do Croydon Roller Derby. Having snagged the trophy in its first two years with their Riot Squad A-team, CRD are sending out their Vice Squad second team this time – although some do have A-team experience, such as Agent Cooper, who made her debut here last year. Croydon’s opening opponents, London Rockin’ Rollers Rising Stars (aka Badasses), also have A-team experience within their B-team roster. These two are the highest ranked sides here, so most folk expect this opener to be a dress rehearsal for the final. LRR take a sizable early lead and hold on for an eight point win. Bourne Bombshells v Surrey next. Though these are both A-teams, realistically they are playing for third place in the tournament. Bombshells recently lost Swann to Brighton. With Chunder Woman imminently joining Croydon and the bench crew also leaving, this is a time of transition for them, but with other games going as expected the 101-40 win over Surrey sees BB take third. To the final then. Several Rockers are in the crowd and they watch Croydon take a strong early lead to go 54-0 up halfway through the first period. Badasses battle back but CRD take it 118-87 to complete their hat-trick of tournament wins. A second day sees mixed exhibition games; women’s, men’s, kids and co-ed, the last of these liberally peppered with showboating from Rockers ref Noise Tank. Once again this tournament demonstrates there’s more to Eastbourne than pensioners – and it never rains on Extreme weekend!
SOUTH EAST ENGLAND
10 T L
DERBY ON THE MAP
A handy guide to (what we think are) the twelve closest derby leagues to Brighton...
1. BOURNE BOMBSHELLS
Eastbourne, East Sussex (20 miles) YFD: 2011 SPS: 17 RNK: 231
Brighton’s nearest neighbours are just along the coast. There’s been a fair bit of movement between the two leagues, with several Bombshells A-teamers having gone through Fresh Meat and/or rookie training in Brighton. Eastbourne’s Swann recently moved to the Rockers, and the two leagues share a great deal of their respective referee and NSO resources.
Brighton & Hove, East Sussex Year Founded (YFD): 2010 Skills Passed Skaters (SPS): 40 FTS Euro ranking (RNK): 21
2. SURREY ROLLERGIRLS
Guildford, Surrey (34 miles) YFD: 2011 SPS: 20-ish RNK: 292
One of the lowest ranked leagues in the region actually has probably the best training facilities. Based at the Spectrum Leisure Centre, which also plays host to top North American teams when LRG hold their Anarchy tournaments there. Surrey are taking part in this year’s Heartland Series (South West division).
3. CROYDON ROLLER DERBY Carshalton, Surrey (38 miles) YFD: 2009 SPS: 32 RNK: 26
Arguably the South East league that Brighton know best, certainly on the track, with the two sides having met behind closed doors more than once. CRD have grown in size and powered up the rankings in recent times, so today’s first public meeting between the sides will be a good gauge of their current strengths.
4. PORTSMOUTH ROLLER WENCHES Portsmouth, Hampshire (41 miles) YFD: 2010 SPS: 36 RNK: 35
Took on and beat Brighton’s B-team Bruisers in March 2013. Since then PRW have come on in leaps and bounds, climbing the rankings quicker than any other ‘new’ Southern league. With stars like RIP McMurphy, Peggy Peril and The Duchess of Crutches in their ranks, a meeting with Brighton’s A-team surely can’t be far off?
5. ROYAL WINDSOR ROLLERGIRLS Ascot, Berkshire (47 miles) YFD: 2007 SPS: 45 RNK: 20
Sitting one place above Brighton in the rankings, it’s perhaps surprsing that the two leagues have yet to meet. RWRG are known for their innovations, such as the Sur5al tournaments and intraleague games with rolling benches (so everyone gets the same track time).
T L 11
LOCAL DERBY SPECIAL
6. LONDON ROLLERGIRLS
8. SOUTHAMPTON CITY ROLLERS
What is there to say about LRG? The top ranked derby league in Europe by a calendar mile. So much so that even their B-team has only lost one game EVER. Packed with Team England players, A-team Brawling are ranked the third best team in the world going into the 2014 WFTDA Play-Offs. Brighton edged past LRG’s C-team (from whom Racey joined) in 2012 and came close to beating their B-team behind closed doors, before losing to them in a tournament last year.
Even the biggest derby nerds might be unaware that Southampton has a league, so fresh and new are SCR. They have yet to start playing competitively, but have been taking part in mixed scrims alongside neighbouring Portsmouth.
North & West London (50 miles) YFD: 2006 SPS: 80 (+35 Rec) RNK: 1
Southampton, Hampshire (56 miles) YFD: 2013 SPS: 2+ RNK: N/A
9. KENT ROLLER GIRLS
Chatham & Herne Bay, Kent (57 miles) YFD: 2010 SPS: 20-25 RNK: 60
Brighton met these ladies in gold at Alexandra Palace in last year’s UKRDA Southern tournament. Brighton took a fairly comfortable win on that occasion, but KRG have been putting up some good scores in the last year. Extra publicity comes from celebrity derby fan Phill Jupitus often sporting a KRG T-shirt on TV.
10. BASINGSTOKE BULLETS Whitchurch, Hampshire (58 miles) YFD: 2011 SPS: 16 RNK: 308
The region’s lowest ranked competitive team have played six games to date and are still chasing their first win. Two of the games were against similarly initialled sister league Bourne Bombshells, at whose 2013 Extreme tournament the Bullets made their debut.
11. BIG BUCKS HIGH ROLLERS High Wycombe, Bucks (62 miles) YFD: 2011 SPS: 31 RNK: 80
Many people’s favourites to win the Heartland Series South East division (which includes the Bombshells and four leagues from the South Midlands and East Anglia). BBHR have the dubious honour of being on the receiving end of the Rockers’ biggest points haul to date, a 357-110 victory towards the end of 2012.
7. LONDON ROCKIN’ ROLLERS
12. SEASIDE SIREN ROLLER GIRLS
Bash’s alma mater. Brighton’s sister league are as widely known for their alt culture stylings (rockabilly fashion, tattoos and facepaint) and rowdy fans as for their play. The Rockers took the win when the teams met early last year, and LRR surely have an eye on a rematch in London?
Brighton’s first open door game was away to the Sirens, and the Essex league have taken some notable scalps since then. “We have a lot of love and history with the Seaside Sirens. It’s always a good game and we hope to be able to play them again in the near future,” Mistress tells us.
North & East London (53 miles) YFD: 2007 SPS: 50-ish RNK: 41
Southend-on-Sea, Essex (62 miles) YFD: 2009 SPS: 30-ish RNK: 44
MEAT THE CHALLENGE
12 T L
FRESH ON TRACK...
In their drive to ‘grow’ more local derby skaters, the Rockers now run several Fresh Meat programmes a year. BRATS member BECCA DYER is part of the latest intake... Hi. Can you tell us a little about your background in roller skating and sport in general? I definitely have never thought of myself as ‘naturally’ sporty! I had a pair of inlines back when it was all the rage in the Nineties, but I was never particularly good; Bon Jovi at school roller discos and trying to compose dance routines with my friends was about the extent of it. I found a pair of skates three years ago in a charity shop and have sort of gone from there. The appeal was more to do with being a big kid again, rather than any sporty inclination. Was Brighton v Paris the first derby game you’d seen? What did you know about the sport prior to then? Yeah it was. All I knew before then was that (a) everyone thought I should do it because I owned some quads and was a girl, (b) there was a film about it with Drew Barrymore in, and (c) everyone who does it hurts themselves seriously at some point. Was it at that Paris game that you decided to take up the sport? We seem to remember you spent quite a lot of the game looking up potential derby names on twoevils. Haha! Yes I did. I’ve got over the name obsession now, which is good because it was frying my brain! Taking up derby was something I’d been thinking about for a while. Like many people the deciding factor was whether I was really that bothered about getting hurt. I tried learning to skateboard last year and all of the falling over made me realise I wasn’t really that worried (!), so it was only a matter of time before I went back to my skates and started to learn derby. Seeing it live gave me the impetus to join the next batch of Fresh Meat as I was so impressed by the tactics and skill of the game. And by how cool everyone on the track was, of course!
How have you found Fresh Meat? What were your expectations going into it? There have been a lot less bruises than I thought there’d be. At least half of the course so far has focused on falling safely, which has been good and has definitely helped my outdoor skating. We’re learning the fun stuff now though – pushing people over and doing blocks – so maybe it’ll get more painful. What has been really great is how everyone in the group has different strengths and weaknesses. Some of us are great at crossovers, but rubbish at stopping, or vice versa; so we’ve all got tips to pass on to each other and it dilutes the temptation to see it as a competition to outdo each other. It’s also funny how you can think you’ve learnt something, then someone will give you a tip and you’ll suddenly be doing it better and going faster. What parts of Fresh Meat have been the most fun or the most difficult? I was nearly in hysterics trying to booty block my teammate Laura the other week. She’s nearly three inches taller than me, and was essentially pushing me along. We’ve only just started learning that, so hopefully I’ll get better! It’s all been really fun actually, even when Mistress makes us do tough drills! She’s been great, as have the other Ateamers who have coached us. I try to go for a skate outside at least once a week but it’s hard to make time when you’re busy. To compensate I’ve been trying to do squats at home. Derby stance absolutely KILLS your thighs, so anything you can do to strengthen those muscles is good. Also it’s surprising how much practising the actions without skates helps. That’s how I’ve been (slowly!) working on my left foot T-stop. There are several things that involve my left side which I find particularly hard. The blocks and hits are also pretty difficult, but I’m hoping I’ll get better at all of it. If I don’t pass this time round I’ll definitely do Fresh Meat again though! Finally, harking back to the Paris game, have you chosen your derby name yet? I’ve got one under my hat, but I’m keeping it to myself until I pass Minimum Skills. It seems like bad luck to share it before then... sorry!
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LOOKIES AT ROOKIES
MIST ON THE WAY
Here are a few words about learning derby and more from IRISH MIST, who recently made her playing debut and picked up the Rocker of the Month award for June... Did you skate as a child, or was it something you took up specifically to play derby? I had a pair of beautiful pink My Little Pony quad skates when I was very young, and I used to terrorise my mother and the cat speeding around the house and yard. I got a pair of inline skates when I was 13 and thought I was very, very cool. Played the most awful version of roller hurling ever seen in Ireland! Unfortunately I stopped skating completely mid-teens, so it was a huge learning curve when I started derby last summer. When did you first become aware of roller derby and can you remember your first Fresh Meat session? My friend in Cardiff plays with Tiger Bay. She was one of the founding members and raved about it for years, but there wasn’t a team where I was living in Ireland. First thing I did when I moved to Brighton was get in contact with the Rockers. My first session was last summer and it was terrifying. I’d bought a pair of Rio Rollers and was practicing along the seafront, so I knew I could at least skate in a straight line, but I was not ready for derby skills. My FM intake was odd because after a month I was the only freshie left, so they just added me into the full training. I was still using the wall to stop and falling over if I lost concentration. Talk about being thrown in at the deep end! Was there any point during Fresh Meat when you thought you might not be cut out for the sport? What parts of learning derby did you find the toughest? I’ve only just learned how to plow stop! For months I’d still be speeding around the track with Mistress glaring at me. The derby-specific skills will always be the hardest because they are so new. No matter what your prior skating experience, you will never have hip checked someone. I’m lucky that ever since I first skated with the Rockers I’ve loved it. Each session I’m covered in bruises, stiff, sore and desperate to put my skates back on again. Are there any particular individuals who have helped you when learning the sport? All our coaches are amazing. Really friendly, motivating, so knowledgeable. I’ve had most experience with Mistress – she’s so accepting and kind to freshies, like a Derby Mom. Bash scares me! She’s so skilful that just
watching her footwork always teaches me something. She often manages to tell me something that’s so obvious I wonder how I’ve ever being doing it any other way. Rose breaks the rules, ignores the training plan and plays the best games. You recently made your Rockers debut playing in a mixed level team over in Lille. What was that like? We understand you didn’t pick up a single penalty all game. It was brilliant fun. A Rockers road trip through sunny France. We started really well and were leading in the first quarter but then the heat, the long day and a short rotation really took its toll on us. We were exhausted and dehydrated and hadn’t eaten properly all day. Naughty Rockers. Switchblade RollerGrrrls were perfect hosts. Confusion at the track over kit and hotels, and walking versus the metro, meant I got lost and left behind. I was adopted by Switchblade’s lovely GabriHell and mascot Kevin-Kevin and made it to the after party safely. And then the after after party! Do you think learning roller derby has helped in other areas of your life? Definitely. Had a bad day? Putting in some hard hits at training equals instant good mood! Derby has made me remember how much fun skating and sport in general is. It has also made me more confident in trying new things, no matter how scary they might look from the sidelines. What advice would you give to someone watching today’s game who might be interested in taking up the sport? Do it – you’ll love it! No one is good at the start. It takes time and dedication, but it’s worth every second for that first jam with no penalties where you stay on your skates throughout...
GAMBLING ON DERBY
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YOU WANNA BET? Brighton v MMR here at the Dolphin was the first derby game you could bet on, as MISTER ADAM explains...
It was in May last year that we first tried to place a bet on roller derby. We were at the UKRDA Southern Region tournament and had an inkling that Bristol were going to beat the higher ranked Rockers. So we tapped and swiped our smartphones across a hundred Surebets, Betfasts and Supabets, thinking at least one must be running a book on the tournament. No such luck. Was it naive of us to expect online bookies to be taking bets on it? We’re forever being told that roller derby is ‘the world’s fastest growing sport’, so why shouldn’t that growth breed gambling? Because it’s an amateur sport? So are betting centrepieces like the Boat Race and Olympics. All GAA sports, such as hurling and Gaelic football, are resolutely amateur yet widely covered by all UK and Irish bookmakers. So why not derby? Three months ago we contacted the ten biggest UK and Irish bookmakers directly, asking them if they would take a bet on the Brighton Rockers v Middlesbrough game. Only two get back to us. “You’re the first person to request a bet on roller derby,” SkyBet tell us, “and we’d need more interest to warrant us offering betting markets on it. The sport needs greater publicity. TV coverage helps. An example here is women’s netball, which we have recently started offering purely because it’s now aired on Sky. We offer almost every sport that appears on TV as the reach is wide.” Joe Crilly, press officer for the UK’s biggest bookmaker William Hill, concurs: “If we were to receive enough requests for betting on roller derby, we would of course consider it. The sport is growing at an incredible speed. Should that continue, then creating a betting market for it becomes a no brainer. Our
website is not the last port of call, however, and we encourage people to go into our shops and request anything they are not able to get hold of online.” We decide to take Joe’s last line literally, and set off on foot around our local William Hill shops, trying to find one that will take our bet. The benefits to derby should it become a betting shop sport are huge – it’s no secret that attendances are way down on two years ago, and leagues rely a great deal on those ticket sales to fund away travel, hall hire and more. As well as increasing derby’s profile, which would surely translate into bigger crowds, the gambling industry is big on sponsorship – names on shirts, ad boards, etc – which would also drive the sport’s growth. Then again, roller derby’s unique DIY ethos and female-driven ‘punk’ attitude seem at odds with the notion of gambling and big business in general. Recent Rockers transfer Swann likes the idea, though. “I have worked in the betting industry for most of my working life, though I don’t gamble myself as I don’t like sports,” she tells us. “If I could bet on roller derby that would be a different matter. As a spectator, watching a game where I have no connection to either team, unless it’s a really high level game, I tend to zone out after a while. If I could chuck a couple of quid on one of the teams that would add some interest. I’m personally quite excited about the prospect. I like the idea that my customers could come into the shop and place a bet on me to be ‘top scoring jammer’ at my game the following weekend, for example.”
T L 17 It’s a view shared by Terri Sudron of Middlesbrough and Team England. “The people in MMR that I’ve spoken to agree that we’re pretty indifferent to gambling,” she admits. “If the opportunity was available to bet on teams during big derby tournaments, though, I probably would.” Sudron has concerns though: “Currently there is no one properly overseeing derby officiating, or more specifically the quality of it. This is a massive weak spot within the sport that would need to be tightened up before gambling was encouraged. Referees are still having too much impact on the outcome of our games. I’m not just talking about wins and losses, but the amount of penalties we accumulate and the points differentials we achieve.” To our bet then. Initial efforts come to nothing. One shop’s manager tries his hardest, calling HQ staff in three different departments, but getting nowhere. On the evening before the game, when we had pretty much accepted defeat, another manager contacts us. Determined to get the bet on where colleagues had failed, they finally have confirmation from on high. William Hill will take our bet. The provisos are we can place a maximum stake of five pounds, and we have to do so in a specific shop in a town along the coast. So it is that we find ourselves there an hour later, nervously scribbling on a betting slip what could well be – and, given the effort it’s taken, probably is – the first ever official bet on the result of a UK derby game. We also place the second, thinking it’s only fair to bet on both teams, a policy that guarantees both the first winning and first losing bet. Based on the predictor at flattrackstats.com, which gave MMR 68% chance of taking the win, Hills have priced them at 2-5, with Brighton at 2-1. If the Rockers win we’ll make a fiver profit and if Boro do we’ll be three quid down. We’re not sure if this makes us cheer any louder the next day (we’d be cheering pretty loud for Brighton anyway) but it’s a strange and somewhat exciting feeling to have the price of a drink riding on the result. MMR’s jamming trio rack up a hefty points haul, and thus we can afford one less Jägermeister at the after party. We show our betting slips to a few players there, expecting some negative reaction – we deliberately hadn’t told either team in advance about the bets – but the mood is generally one of enjoying the novelty of it all. Betting on roller derby is no longer as hypothetical as it was when we started work on this article. With a persistent enough approach (and a friendly enough betting shop manager) you CAN bet on roller derby right now if you want. The question is, do you want? And, more importantly, do the skaters you’re betting on – and UK derby as a whole – want? [A different version of this piece will appear in issue 13 of national derby magazine Inside Line.]
GAMBLING ON DERBY
TOO MUCH RISK? Most derby folk we spoke to seem quite against betting on the sport. Here’s a selection of views... “If betting were to be involved with roller derby, I would not want to be part of this sport anymore. I grew up with a dad who placed bets almost every night on football, boxing, horses etc, and I saw how outraged he was when his coupon got beat. Not to mention the financial strain this put on our family.” Anonymous, Glasgow Roller Derby “The local Grosvenor Casino are sponsoring us to the tune of £500 this year. They initially wanted to give us two grand, but for that we would have to rename the team Grosvenor Casino Slayers. That did not go down well with the girls. Some of SCRD have a moral objection to gambling and were quite vocal in their opposition to the deal.” Duggie, Swansea City Roller Derby “The league’s official stance on this is that most of our skaters were attracted to roller derby because it has a renegade, independent, rock ‘n roll vibe. Affiliation with an industry as odious as gambling feels too much like selling out.” Reina Terror, Stoke City Rollers “My personal opinion is that it’s an awful idea. Although betting on games will probably bring more attention and an audience to the sport, the only winner would be the bookie. Betting and lotteries are essentially a tax on the poor.” Dog, Tyne And Fear Men’s Roller Derby “WFTDA has not taken an official stance regarding legal gambling that doesn’t create an ethical conflict of interest for participants in the sport.” WFTDA Statement “Until roller derby is a paid, professional sport, it’s unfair to stake money on the success or failure of teams who are all giving 110%. When money changes hands, it changes everything. Fans may become more loyal towards teams that perform better, rather than those that are local to them.” Anonymous, Glasgow Roller Derby “Because the players are unpaid, someone could offer them a few pounds and they might throw the game. Also, how can you offer spread betting when a team can score 40 points on a single play/jam? It doesn’t work. Many years ago when roller derby went to Cuba (before my time) they wanted to set up betting on it, but in the end they didn’t.” Jerry Seltzer, The Commissioner
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Do you have a special party trick? If so, what is it? I can lick my elbow. My very good friend can also put six inch nails up his nose. We’ve managed a fair few free pints from this! Which cartoon characters do you think would make the best derby players? The Animaniacs. What’s the strangest place you’ve ever skated? An army compound in Saudi Arabia chasing stray cats.
Have you ever found use for derby equipment (pads, mouthguard etc) in other aspects of your life? Knee pads are great when scrubbing the floor.
How many piercings do you have? A lot less since I started playing derby!
If you could invent a new ice cream, what would it contain? Chocolate, rum, honeycomb and gummy bears with purple marshmallow.
HOW IT WORKS: We have 26 small sealed envelopes, each bearing a different letter of the alphabet. Our interviewee chooses seven of these to open. Each envelope contains a random question they must answer. If they wish they can swap one question for the ‘Star Envelope’ which contains a mystery question specific to them.
You’re a survivor in the zombie apocalpyse. Which Rockers teammate would you most like to have alongside you, and why? Racey, as she is vegan so she can make food out of grass and the like. Also she won’t want to eat me and she is badass!
A fan magazine dedicated to the awesomes Brighton Rockers roller derby league. This issue was first published on 26th July 2014 for the home...
Published on Jul 27, 2014
A fan magazine dedicated to the awesomes Brighton Rockers roller derby league. This issue was first published on 26th July 2014 for the home...