HITTING TURN THREE It only seems a few weeks ago we were last here in Haywards Heath to watch the Rockers in action. Indeed it was, the gap between this bout and September’s against Leeds being far shorter than the typical break between home games. This year has been one of big ups and downs for the mighty Rockers as they picked fights with several tough opponents, including four of the UK’s top six sides. Of those four Leeds were defeated here at the Dolphin, and whilst the other three (Glasgow, London Brawl Saints and Auld Reekie) proved too much for the Sussex league, the bouts were a valuable learning experience. The year ends with Brighton losing their training venue. The Shoreham roller rink will close by the end of December, with the warehouse to be demolished by developers. As the Rockers hunt alternative training facilities (let them know if you have any suggestions) they’ve picked up a venue of another sort, with the Cornerstone becoming the league’s official home pub – they’ve even had a beer specially brewed for the derby stars, which will be available at tonight’s after party. Please drop by all our lovely advertisers, they pay our print bill. For a bout report on today’s long awaited Central City match-up, visit brightonbrats.com later this week (you can also find us on Facebook or Twitter as BrightonBRATS). Finally, of course... GO ROCKERS!
ROCKING THE BLOCK
The art of blocking seems more of a mystery than jamming to casual observers, but here’s Rockers blocker HYDE ‘N’ SHRIEK to hit us all down with a Blocking 101...
BEATER BLOCKERS Firstly, can we apologise that interview-wise Turn Left has focused more on jammers. That’s the case with derby media in general though, isn’t it? As a blocker, does that annoy you? Not at all. I think it also depends on what medium it is and who it’s aimed at. Derby media by players for players gives a good mix. Derby media for fans may focus slightly more on jammers, but they are quite often the most recognisable players. It’s the same with many other sports – people are more likely to have an opinion on a sports team’s forward players rather than on their defence (unless of course that defence screw up). Blocking is probably less well understood by fans than jamming. Are different skills and physical attributes required to be a good blocker? I think a lot of people might think you have to be a bigger, tougher player to be a great blocker, but that’s not necessarily the case – it’s all about technique. Physical strength can be a great asset and can help you remain solid in a wall, or push your way through the opposition, but if you look at the Rockers in comparison to a lot of other leagues, we are (in general) reasonably small, and our jammers are all more than capable of great blocking. In fact, some of our best blockers are also our jammers. The thing is to play to your own strengths; for instance, you might be a powerhouse who is fantastic at sending people flying, but great positional blocking is just as effective as smacking
someone over. Sure, it doesn’t look as impressive to the audience – and perhaps it’s not as much fun! – but it’s a vital part of gameplay that can get overlooked. Can you explain a few of the basic tactics involved in blocking, such as different wall shapes. A basic ‘wall’ or line of blockers to trap the opposing jammer can contain three or four players. You can also form two sets of two, in a slightly staggered formation. Another good basic tactic involves a three wall and a ‘sweeper’ behind, who hits the jammer off. A ‘swarm’ tactic can look like a bundle, but you’ll be able to spot the opposing jammer in the middle of the crush, being either held back and contained or guided to the edge of the track to be hit off. Or you might see a three wall with a blocker in front, skating backwards and helping to brace the wall – they are acting as the wall’s ‘eyes’, communicating where the opposing jammer is, guiding the wall and helping to put on the brakes against pushy jammers. You’ll see many different tactics in play today. Some of them will happen pretty quickly though, so keep your eyes peeled! The often used power jam tactic of the pack just standing aside on the edge of the track (passive offence) comes in for a fair bit of criticism from all quarters, yet teams continue to use it. What’s your honest opinion of the tactic? How best could the rules be changed to negate it? That’s a
TL whole ‘can of worms’ question! It’s a tactical part of the game that isn’t going to go away unless there are major rule changes to power jams, and I’m not sure what those should be. What I find unforgiveable is when jammers don’t get any offence from their team at all, particularly when they are up against a four wall. It’s tough going as a jammer, and our job is to try and make it easier for them, not leave them to break through walls on their own and get knackered! How important is the role of the pivot in setting the pace and positioning for the pack? Being part of a pack means knowing what you are doing and what everyone else is doing too. Your pivot is the one who is controlling everything; the pack’s speed, the plays and formations. If things start going in a direction you weren’t anticipating, the pivot is the one that you should be listening to, getting you all back on the same page. Every blocker has the responsibility to look and pay attention, to talk and communicate with the others though. It’s not like you can just switch off and let your pivot do all the thinking for you! Presumably you have to quickly change tactics when penalties reduce your pack to three or even two players rather than four. What’s the hardest part of playing in a smaller pack? Players in the box can have a major impact on the game. It can be really difficult if you’ve only got two blockers on the track against four from the opposition – you are outnumbered and it’s much easier to shut down two people than four. The main thing you need to do is try and stick together. You’ll always be stronger as a pair or three rather than on your own. When you are at a blocker disadvantage you tend to think more defensively, although that’s not to say you can’t do a sneaky, well timed offensive move. Who’s your favourite blocker to play alongside, the toughest opposing blocker you’ve faced, and your blocking hero from the whole of world derby? My favourite blocker to play alongside is Dr Whooligan, but she’s my wife so I probably have to say that! We ‘get’ each other – I usually know what she is going to do and vice versa. Our team is really versatile though and we mix it up at training. Our line-ups adapt to each game, so we can all play alongside each other. Toughest opposing blocker? We’ve faced a
ROCKING THE BLOCK few, but we get hit over by Bash all the time in training so I think that’s pretty good practice! As for my blocking hero from the whole of derby ever, I can’t really pick just one, but if I had to then I love Lil Mama from Montreal’s New Skids – she’s really entertaining. You’ve also played as a jammer for the Brighton B-team. Which of the three derby positions do you prefer playing and why? My favourite position to play is blocker, without a doubt, but I’ve learnt a lot from playing in the other positions too. Each helps you improve at the others. For example, seeing things from the point of view of a jammer helps you understand what it is that jammers are looking for, what can be really frustrating to them and how you can help or hinder. Playing pivot improves your communication and game awareness. You have to learn to think faster, to see things almost before they happen, so that you have enough time to actually say something to your team. Sometimes the words don’t come out! Moving on to today’s bout, a match-up between Brighton and Central City has been long awaited. Indeed, many expected the two teams to meet in May’s Roller Rumble tournament. We really wanted to play them at Roller Rumble, it just didn’t work out for us that time round. Let’s just say we learnt a lot about tournament play that we didn’t know before that weekend. But here we are and I reckon it’s going to be a really good match-up. Any particular jammers or blockers in the CCR squad you’re wary of? I think it’s wise to be a little wary of everyone, but not to focus too much on one player or you’ll get hung up about it, maybe start targeting them and take your eye off the game. Any particular players or tactics (particularly blocking ones!) from the Rockers that people should be looking out for today? You’ll have to wait and see. I don’t want to give anything away about our tactics! Finally, are you prepared to predict the result of today’s bout? No. I think making predictions is a bit of a pointless exercise as neither team knows what will happen out there, and a single power jam can change everything. I predict the after party will be awesome!
LOOKIES AT ROOKIES
DERRY DOES DERBY
This new regular feature will spotlight players coming up through the Rockers ranks. From recent Fresh Meat graduates and well scrimmaged rookies to those such as our first interviewee MAIDENDERRY who could soon be rolling out in A-team bouts. Hi. Can you tell us a bit about your background in roller skating? What encouraged you to take up derby? I had a pair of quads when I was a kid so I did a bit of skating, but that was about all of the skating I’d done before I started roller derby. I had just moved to Brighton and a friend took me to watch the Rockers bout ‘Quadrophobia’ here in Haywards Heath. I had never seen anything like it and there was such an amazing atmosphere. I just thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. Was there any point in your Fresh Meat training when you thought you might not be cut out for the sport? Absolutely! I don’t come from a sporty background so Fresh Meat was very different from anything I’ve ever experienced before. You go through this pretty intense training programme where there’s blood, sweat and tears… mostly sweat. It’s hard but with the Rockers Fresh Meat you are trained by the people you see playing, so it’s really inspiring and it pushes you to want to do your best. What parts of FM did you find the toughest? The toughest part of training for me, was knowing what I should be doing on the track, but getting really frustrated because my skating skills weren’t up to task. At what point did you realise you were going to make it into the Rockers ranks? When everyone else dropped out? Seriously though, it was probably when I started to let it take over my life. I became determined to stick at it. I’m a bit of a perfectionist; my best is never quite good enough, so instead of getting frustrated with my development, I made a goal in my head and tried to battle the negative self-talk.
Was it tough to choose a derby name? Yeah, it was hard. You see some people with really witty names and you think why didn’t I think of that? I chose MaidenDerry because I come from Derry in Ireland and its nickname is the Maiden City because its fortification walls have never been breached in battle. Which position do you prefer playing and why? I feel most comfortable playing as a blocker. Jamming terrifies me because all eyes are on you, but I’m trying to push myself to get more used to it. Are there any particular Rockers A-teamers who inspire you? All the girls inspire me if I’m totally honest. We’re really lucky to be able to train with people who are at a such a high level every week What are your roller derby ambitions for next year and beyond? My immediate derby ambition is to be at the A-team level. I’ve just broken into being part of the Rockers A-team practices, so I’m looking forward to consolidating my position there. Beyond that? Who knows what the future holds. Do you think learning roller derby has helped in other areas of your life? Definitely. Aside from the obvious fact of getting much fitter, it’s also given me a lot more self-confidence. Roller derby celebrates female athleticism and creates this alternative space which challenges the restrictive ideals that are placed on female identity. It’s a really positive environment for a woman to be in. What advice would you give to someone watching today’s bout who might be interested in taking up the sport? Just go for it! Put your name down for our next Fresh Meat intake, you won’t look back.
SEVEN LETTERS We have 26 random questions sealed in lettered envelopes. Interviewee DERBY McGEE must pick seven to answer. She turns up armed with garden shears. Ulp! We hope she likes the questions... Who’s your favourite sportsperson in another sport and why? I could name about five, but first who comes to mind is snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan. He has immense natural talent and a huge swagger playing the game. I love to see big personalities in sport. Watching someone enjoy the game and put on a good show is what it’s all about, it’s inspiring. What magic trick would you like to be able to do? Making overzealous referees disappear mid-game. Although some I’d be happy to saw in half. Who in the Rockers organisation has the worst fashion sense? Probably me, although there are quite a few contenders. If you could swap hairstyles with a team mate for a day, who and why? For playing derby I’d go Rose Bleed, she has the perfect helmet hair. Unlike myself who just looks like a helmet most of the time. What was the name (and species) of your first pet? Do you have any currently? My first pet was a tortoise called Charlie that escaped cremation every year as he hibernated in the bonfire pile. Now I have an English Bull Terrier cross Rottweiler called Marge and the irrepressible Mr Stevens, an evil girl cat. Which do you think would be the best – and which worst – at playing roller derby out of a panda, cat and kangaroo? Gotta be a kangaroo, for sheer power and speed. Also they’re mean. A cat would probably be the worst, it would just wander off bored mid-jam. Which celebrity would you most like to see on the derby track and why? I’d love to have Dame Edna Everage in the Rockers team. She’d fit right in.
RACEY SLAMHARD TALKS 2013
How has 2013 been for the Rockers? It has been an interesting year to say the least! We went into it wanting to really give ourselves a massive challenge, which is why we set up games with some of the toughest teams in EU derby. Although there were losses, we came away from those games with a really clear idea of what we need to work on in order to up our game. What plans do you have for 2014? We are still in the process of confirming next season’s schedule, but I can tell you that 2014 will be super exciting! This time around we are looking to focus on playing teams that our skaters really want to take on for any variety of reasons, as well as to set a challenge for the team. So there’s going to be widely varied opposition on the cards, from all over the EU hopefully! Any major changes to the Rockers this year? We have had a few line-up changes, such as Mistress taking time out for injury and a lot of less experienced players coming up the ranks to join the Rockers as regular bouters. That has required us to re-shuffle our packs, working on incorporating newer players into the team and building ourselves into a strong unit again. When you consider this alongside the teams we had already chosen to take on, we really needed to reconsider how we were going to approach a lot of our games for this season. All in all, I think it has put us in a position to become a lot stronger as a league. Any skaters we should look out for next year and beyond? This year has been really good for moving our rookies onwards and upwards. We threw them in at the deep end on a lot of occasions and they dealt with it brilliantly! Names to watch out for are AntiGravetty, Emma the Condemner and MaidenDerry, who started with us as Fresh Meat and are all really coming along in leaps and bounds. Recent transfer Ultrafoxx is also someone to be wary of – she’s scary. Are you on the look out for more rookies to join your ranks? Yes, we totally are! Our next Fresh Meat intake is set for January. We basically want anyone who can already skate. You don’t have to be amazing, you just need to be able to skate forward confidently at a fairly decent speed, and we’ll teach you all the rest. Anyone interested can visit the Fresh Meat stand today and sign up to our mailing list, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You won’t regret it.
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TODAY’S THE DAY
The first meeting on track between the Rockers and Centrinnians may be out of this world, but that isn’t the only historic event taking place today. Turn Left crossed timelines with DR WHOOLIGAN for these words about the sci-fi series that inspired her name... Today marks the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. Given your derby name and number (K9) we assume you’re a fan of the show? When and how did you first get into it? I haven’t been a diehard fan from birth, sorry! I got in to Doctor Who quite late. I’d watch it after school while I ate dinner. I’m currently trying to work my way through the early Doctors and the ‘missing now found’ episodes.
Weeping Angels would be amazing at a closed door bout, though at an open door hopefully at least one person in the crowd would have their eyes on them at all times. Sonatarans are already armoured up and are ruthless; they wouldn’t even bat an eyelid at The Mighty Mighty Bash! I think the most successful as jammers would be the Silents – you would forget they had ever got past you.
Who is your favourite Doctor and which is your favourite Doctor Who story? What enemy from the series would you be most scared of encountering in real life? I’m a very big fan of Matt Smith; fezzes are definitely cool! But you can’t go wrong with ‘The Dandy Doctor’ Jon Pertwee. There are far too many good Doctor Who stories to pick just one, but recent favourites include The Empty Child, Blink and Silence In The Library. I would not want to bump into the Vashta Nerada… Hey, who turned out the lights?
Did you come up with other Doctor Who related derby names before settling on Dr Whooligan? Do you know of many other derby folk out there with Doctor Who themed names? I was very nearly CyberDan, but also toyed with the idea of being No Hit Sherlock #221b as I’m a big Sherlock fan too. It was Alex (Hyde ‘N’ Shriek) who came up with Dr Whooligan. I don’t know of any other Doctor Who related names in the UK, but have found The Doctor is a ref for the Lakeland Derby Dames Florida, and there’s The Tardis with Ballarat Roller Derby Australia and Tardis Timelord in Mississippi Rollergirls.
Who would win in a roller derby bout between the Daleks and the Cybermen? Which side would you prefer to coach and what tactics would you use? I’ve thought long and hard about this one. There are far too many questions I would have to ask our head ref Scoot’er before even considering an outcome. Does a Dalek have hips? Is converting NSOs at half time a misconduct penalty? Exterminating an illegal procedure? I don’t think that either side would figure out where to put their gumshield and I’ve no idea where a Dalek would put its knee pads. All these rule breakers aside, my money is on the Cybermen. We’d use truck and trailer, Rose Walls and lots of offense from the start – look out for these in the bout! Which goodies and which baddies from the show do you think would make the best roller derby players? Martha Jones when in UNIT would make a fantastic pivot – you would have no choice but to listen. Any of the Slitheen; they could jump in the other team’s skin and really confuse things! The
Will you be watching today’s 50th anniversary episode before heading to the after party? A Brighton Rockers after party reigns supreme over Doctor Who, 50th anniversary episode or not! To be honest I can’t think of anything else I would rather do on a Sunday morning than watch Doctor Who with a bacon sandwich, so I’m recording it. (No spoilers!) Will you be using any tricks you learned from the series on track against CCR today? I don’t think anything learned from Doctor Who would be legal on the track. There is one big similarity between DW and roller derby, though – bad things normally happen when you’re on your own, so stick together! Finally, if you had to choose between roller derby and Doctor Who, which would you pick? I’ll play roller derby until it’s time to retire, then I’ll have a marathon DW catch up!
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BIG SHOT OF BRUM
Brighton meet the Belles of Centrinnians A-team of Birmingham based Central City Rollergirls for the first time on track today. CCR co-captain WOO-HA tells us more... Firstly, for anyone at today’s bout who might not be aware of the Centrinnians (and CCR as a whole), can you tell us a bit about your history? Formed in 2007, Central City Rollergirls are a bunch of hard working, fun loving guys and girls looking to make roller derby the sport to get involved in in the Midlands. We are very proud to be one of the founder leagues of the UK Roller Derby Association, set up in 2010, as well as being a full member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, graduating in 2012. Birmingham is one of very few UK cities with more than one women’s derby league. Does that present any particular advantages or disadvantages when it comes to growing the sport in the city? Similarly, what effect does the presence of a well established men’s league in the city have? We count ourselves as lucky to have two other leagues in such close proximity to us. The derby scene in Birmingham and the the West Midlands area is growing very quickly thanks to this, and having readily available boys and girls on skates means we can regularly do the fun stuff like co-ed scrimmages, boys v girls and closed door friendlies. A bit of healthy rivalry will always exist, but it’s what pushes our sport further. We recently held a double header with our bro-league featuring CCR A vs Go-Go Gent and Crash Test Brummies vs South Wales Silures – it was a massively sucessful bout day for us and gained us lots of new interest. Our three leagues are also conveniently linked by various couples and coaches so there’s no getting away from us working together!
Today’s match-up is one that many people expected to see during May’s UKRDA tournament at Alexandra Palace. Did you catch much of the Rockers in action that weekend? We were really looking forward to meeting Brighton at the tournament, but actually ended up playing both LRG and Bristol Harbour Harlots twice instead! We managed to catch some of the Rockers in action against LRG and they looked fierce as ever on track – controlled packs and a deadly offence made for an exciting game. Off track – what a bloomin’ nice bunch too! Are there any particular CCR players or tactics that people should keep an eye out for today? We’re a close bunch both on and off track and this is reflected in our play. However, we also have a secret weapon within the CCR ranks. His name is Bret Hart and you’re very likely to see him sitting by our bench on game day (although he is not as big as he used to be). What plans do CCR have for 2014 and beyond, both in UKRDA and WFTDA terms? We have a history with UKRDA and have had the privilege of being present at many of their tournaments so far. We’d like to continue to show our support for them and hopefully you’ll see us at more UKRDA tournaments in the future. When it comes to WFTDA, we were lucky enough to get in on this early in UK terms, and we have been showing support for other leagues making their way through the apprenticeship programme. We’d like to continue to do this, and help other leagues climb to full membership to keep building competition within Europe. Finally, do you have a message for any CCR fans in today’s crowd? CCR has some really ace supporters, who always make the effort to come and show us their dedication. When I say Bret, you say Hart. BRET!...
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AN OUTSIDE LINE NUMBER CRUNCHING With a close bout expected by many today, we caught up with some skaters who have faced both teams to find out how they expect things to go... “Both sides have improved and had some good results in recent months since May’s UKRDA tournament, with Brighton beating Leeds and CCR beating Gent. The Rockers have some good nippy jammers and have a bigger jammer rotation which might give them the edge. However, CCR are a cleaner team, spending less time in the box, and now have Hustle’Her back from injury. I think it will be a pretty close game, but I reckon Brighton will take the win.” TOTAL FREY-HEM, LONDON BRAWL SAINTS “We’ve met CCR many times on track, each bout with a very different result; big win for them, big win for us and a nailbiter. Recently they’ve been on the build and after some time away it’s hard to know what they might come out with. They’re a team known for tight pack work, quick switching and super agile jammers like Viv La France. Brighton are coming into this game off a fairly substantial loss to Auld Reekie and it’ll be interesting to see what they’ve learnt and taken forward from that defeat. The Rockers have a lot of variety in their player bag, with capable blockers who are strong jammers and vice versa, as well as strong pack work and killer walls. I think they could take this game but it’ll be close and CCR will be putting up a strong fight to the finish.” MAGIC 8-BRAWL, LEEDS ROLLER DOLLS
Whilst these teams may look quite separated on the official UKRDA rankings table on page 22 (Brighton ranked 8th and Central 14th) that table only includes certain bouts. The same website (flattrackstats.com) hosts a dynamic Europe-wide rankings table that is updated daily. At the time of going to press Brighton Rockers rank 25th with 659.8 ranking points. Central City are very close behind (27th) with 655.6 points. Using the European rankings with the website’s prediction algorithm suggests a 64% possibility of a Brighton win compared to 36% (for them that can’t do the maths) for CCR. Points-wise, the Rockers are predicted to score 50 points for every 43 Central get, which would equate to something like a 175-151 final result – very close in derby terms. Whether it plays out in line with the computerised guesswork we’ll see, but we do predict awesomeness from both teams. “We went into May’s UKRDA tournament seeded below both Brighton and CCR, knowing that both were very strong teams full of talented skaters. We ended up playing CCR twice, narrowly losing both times, and came away with a 75 point win over Brighton, upsetting the seedings. However, despite these differing results I think these two teams are evenly matched. Both have had good wins recently against higher ranked sides like Gent and Leeds. The Mighty Mighty Bash was an obvious standout player for Brighton; she donned the star more and more throughout our game with the Rockers and we really struggled to hold her back or divert her from her chosen path. For CCR, Viv La France is definitely one to watch – she has great agility and stamina and is very difficult to contain when jamming. If you forced my hand I would predict a home win despite (or even because of?) Brighton’s surprise loss to us. I won’t be surprised if it goes the other way, though. Regardless of the result of the game you’re in for a treat!” BLACK THORN, BRISTOL ROLLER DERBY “Brighton have been rising in the rankings and skating with the big girls these days. Central City are an extremely well established derby team who in the past frequented the top ten in Europe. Whilst the stats favour the Rockers, I don’t want to make a call on this one. Who knows what could happen? I will put money on Brighton having the best after party dress-up though.” CIDERELLA, AULD REEKIE ROLLER GIRLS
THE JAMMER LINE
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Do you have any special bout day rituals or superstitions?
Watching The Mighty Ducks the night before then getting really nervous and not being able to talk to anyone.
Not so much. I like to have a calm morning so I sort my stuff out the night before and get a good meal down me.
Is there any special song/music that motivates you for bouting?
Whatever Janey chooses to sing us for the dancing warm up.
No, but on a tip-off from fellow skater Boots Manuva I’ve started watching feel-good movies with my breakfast on bout morning!
Do you set a target for the number of points you hope to score?
Any more than I managed against Auld Reekie would be a bonus.
I don’t usually have a plan for how many points I will score personally as there are so many factors that could affect it. We have team objectives that we focus on.
Any of today’s opposing blockers you are particularly wary of?
Yes! I saw them play against Brawl Saints in the tattoo convention tournament (Roller Rumble) and they looked like a horrible lot.
I thought Brighton gave a strong performance at Roller Rumble in May. I wouldn’t like to pick out individual skaters but the whole team performance was great to watch.
What skates do you bout in and how long have you had them?
I’ve got some really cool black skates that I got a couple of months after joining the league. I’m not so good about knowing about equipment so I have one set of wheels and never change them.
Riedell 495 boots with Avenger plates. I’ve had them for nearly a year now and they seem to be working well.
Do you have a particular ‘signature move’ you’re known for?
Falling over when I’m standing still. And getting sent to the box. A lot. Do they count?
I’m quite small so can squeeze through small spaces!
What’s your greatest achievement in roller derby?
Skating alongside my amazing team in the best skate outs known to the whole derby world. Also I think I’m best at dropping the 50p in the cup at after parties and boy that is one great achievement.
A season ago I got the league’s player of the season award, which really meant a lot to me.
I’ve got them on the kitchen cupboard on our house wall of fame.
I make sure I display them on my fireplace for at least a week, just to show off a little bit until the other half gets bored, then I put them away in a drawer.
Where do you keep your MVP/best jammer/etc certificates?
What’s the best piece of advice you received when learning derby?
Put your knee pads on BEFORE your skates. I always get that one wrong and have to start all over again. Then I get laps for being late on track.
Aside from the feel-good movies – cheers Boots! – “turn up to practice, listen with your ears, try new things” are all things I’ve been told by CCR coaches from day one, and still stick by.
I’d permit engaging with an opponent when you have both feet off the ground – it would save me going to the box so much.
Hmmm, there’s nothing that sticks out. If I’m uncertain about a rule I ask a ref and that usually clears things up.
Get your blummin’ skates on and join BRRD! Seriously sign up today. It might not be for you, but most likely it definitely will be and you won’t know until you do it.
Do it! But be prepared for it to take over your life for a while...
Thank you so much for agreeing to buy the whole of BRRD a post-bout Jägerbomb. What a nice offer, we are all so grateful.
See you on track!
If you could change one rule in derby, which one and why?
What advice would you give anyone in the crowd interested in taking up the sport? Do you have a message for your opposite number?
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ROLLER DERBY 101 WITH JIMMY THE SHIMMY This new regular feature sees North West Kemp Town’s 23rd best roller skating coach JIMMY THE SHIMMY teach his student HAYLE OF FIRE (and our readers) the basics of roller derby. Um, kind of. GET KITTED OUT: It’s important to wear the right protective gear for a boat. “Do you mean bout?” As a top coach, I have provided you with everything you need. “Um, this looks like a cycle helmet... and the elbow pads seem to be a pair of socks. How will they protect me?” They’re very thick socks. “Is this packet of Blu-Tack supposed to be my gumshield?” Yes, yes, hurry up and put it in, the lesson is about to start. GET LOW: This is a key element of roller derby. The lower you position yourself, the more stable and harder to hit off track you become. There are various theories about how best to ‘get low’ but mine is the best. Simply break into the boating venue before it opens. (Oh, and bring a pneumatic drill.) Then just dig yourself a hole on the track to around three feet depth and make it your home. You’re guaranteed to be lower than anyone else. “Erm, done that, but what happens when the jam starts and I need to move, Jimmy?” One lesson at a time, Hayle. GET ANGRY: A large part of roller derby is frightening your opponents, so you need to learn an angry face. “I’m already quite angry, actually. For starters, I’m stuck in a hole.” Good, good. Show me your angry face. Be a tiger. “Grrrr.” Not a constipated tiger, an angry tiger. “Grrrr.” Not a constipated half-angry tiger struggling to answer 7 Down on the Times crossword, an actual angry tiger. “Grrrr.” Not a constipated part-angry “-shut up just shut up what sort of a teacher are you, you’re nuts, I hate you.” OK, now you’re maybe a little too angry. Somewhere in-between perhaps? Please put down that house brick, it’s a cherished heirloom. GET STOPPING: By now you’ll be building up a bit of speed. “No, I’m still stuck in this hole you made me dig.” Now you want to know how to stop. “Can you help me out? Thanks.” There are a number of ways to stop in roller derby. A common one is called the tea-stop. Please head at speed in this direction to demonstrate it. “Ah, ow, ow... I’m scalded, ow ow.” That’s a common roller derby injury, Hayle Of Fire. The tea-stop is so called as you stop by crashing into the nearest tea urn. Now I’ll show you a different stop, called the plough-stop. We’ll have to get a bus to my friend’s farm though. “A farm? This plough-stop involves stopping by crashing into a plough, doesn’t it?” Um, not necessarily. Hey, come back, next I’ll teach you the ChurchillSquareBusQueue-stop...
PLEASE NOTE: At the time of going to print we have been made aware that Jimmy The Shimmy’s derby training techniques may not be advisable or even legal. We suggest that if you do want to take up the awesome sport of roller derby you speak to folk on the Fresh Meat stand at today’s bout or otherwise contact the Rockers. We can’t stress the last point enough. Contact the Rockers not Jimmy.
When he’s not coaching skaters, Jimmy The Shimmy fronts local band The Bobby McGee’s and puts on an annual indie pop weekend that’s going on right now: Sat 23 & Sun 24 Nov 4pm-midnight. Horse & Groom. Free entry!
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YOU WANNA BET? BRASS CANUCKS Our idiot editor MISTER ADAM reckons betting on derby bouts is odds on to happen eventually...
Ex-Stink City Roller Psycho ANN C BITCH looks back on the first ever cross-border match-up...
We write this the day after the 2013 Championships weekend. The first ever to feature a non-US team, although London Brawling sadly bowed out in the first bout. New York’s Gotham Girls took their regular place in the final, but opponents Texas Rollergirls, the originators of modern roller derby – give or take the odd drifter, perceived betrayal and banked track league split – put up a far better fight than expected. Anyone spread betting on Texas would have seen a fair return. Except you can’t, as far as we know, bet on derby. Not even Champs. Earlier this year we correctly anticipated a major upset in a UK bout, but couldn’t find any online bookies that were taking bets. Why should they? It’s an amateur sport. Sure, but so is much of the Olympics and a large section of available soccer betting. This summer online bookies were taking bets in play (live betting on throw-ins etc) on an Icelandic Third Division match, for example, which is genuine one-man-and-a-dog park football! Derby has such detailed rules, such a large ref/NSO contingent and crowds comparable with many sports you can bet on, so why shouldn’t you be able to? What would be the benefits to the sport if you could? A bigger mainstream profile, for starters. Many derby people might not want to admit it, but without wider awareness crowds will get smaller rather than larger as the sport grows. We’re already seeing that at every level from Champs down. Whereas much of a derby crowd used to be people from newly formed nearby leagues, those people are now bouting themselves, not just lost as spectators but also competing for neutral attendees on increasingly bout-filled Saturdays. Derby cannibalises its own primary crowd base. There’s also the possible sponsorship opportunities from bookmakers that derby betting would bring. Disadvantages? Do derby players want to be bet on? Does the sport want to be scrutinised to the level that cash changing hands on results would demand? The issue of gambling is surely a bridge that will have to be crossed if roller derby grows and develops as many people expect it to, though, and the inevitable fight between DIY ethic antigambling purists and spotlight-seeking derby ambitionists is likely to be long and bloody. I’ll have a tenner on it going at least six rounds.
“We’re here to whup some Canuck butt,” hollers Spit Ball, waving coach Jeffoff around her head. Grrrrl tips a bottle of maple syrup on the ground as Cookie Kicker and Carjackie impersonate Mounties using our league goat as a horse. It probably ain’t the best way to answer the question “what is the purpose of your visit to Canada?” but we’re super excited about the bout, and the border guard lets us through anyways. The old dude we rang in Squishibisqit has indeed assembled a ‘derby team’ of sorts. None of them look a day under 70, mind yous. “My wife and her knitting circle eh,” he tells us. Ha, these oldsters don’t know what (or who) is gonna hit them. Or maybe they do. “Knit one, purl one eh,” shouts Mrs Edna WilliamsLee (these gals sure have rubbish derby names) as she zig-zags around us to take lead in Jam 1. “What should I do now eh?” she says, turning back to look at her pack. “Stop,” we shout. “Keep going eh,” they shout. Seems she trusts them more than us. Gadnammit. Half-time and our coach ain’t happy. “What are y’all doing?” he screams. We remind him a single power jam could change it all. “You’re 237-11 down.” OK, so it would have to be a pretty damn good power jam, but, y’know… “It’d help if y’all turned up for training,” he sobs, “the last six weeks has jus’ been me and a spider I found in the janitor’s office. I’ve gotten it pretty good at crossovers by nows, so maybe I should put it on the team.” We all nod. CK and Veblock start discussing how to make knee pads for a spider, but Jeffoff’s still pretty angry. We remind him that us gals have been doing a pigload of off-skates training together instead. “Bar brawls don’t count as training,” he wails. The number of times he’s claimed that. Sheesh. The second half ain’t much better. “Don’t worry, I’ve got this,” says pivot Arson Smells as she becomes our fifth player expelled from the game. She leaves the hall, returning a coupla minutes later stinkin’ of gasoline. Suddenly fire alarms go off. “Rule seven point six point, uh, seven,” shouts Arson, “in the case of evacuating the building the away team are awarded the match 200-0 and the home team must give every away team player an MVP certificate plus, um, twenty bucks. American, obviously.” We had no idea Arson had read the rulebook. The rest of us certainly hadn’t, but then again nor had the Canadian knitting circle. We party our way back across the border. Did we just chalk up the first international win in the history of modern roller derby? Hell yeah did we!
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PICTURE THIS Turn Left would be a much duller magazine without the awesome photographers who kindly let use their pics. We caught up with one of them, REBECCA CORNFORD, to learn more about the art of shooting derby bouts... Hi. How long have you been photographing roller derby and how did you get into it? Are there are any other types/subjects of photography you specialise in and how does shooting derby compare? I’ve been photographing roller derby since April 2011. I was in Brighton Rockers Fresh Meat, and the Rockers were having their first ever bout (a closed door against Royal Windsor’s B-team). I brought my camera along and found it very challenging due to the low light and fast-moving skaters. I also do urban exploration photography in derelict buildings like old asylums and power stations. It’s completely different. Urbex photography involves using very long exposures with a tripod and artificial lighting (eg light painting with torches or setting up candles and lamps). There’s also no one moving about in the photos, but there is usually security to watch out for, so I have to be quiet and stealthy! Are there any special skills involved in photographing derby? Being able to avoid refs (and NSOs) when in the centre of the track must rank highly? The sort of lighting used in sports halls can’t help either. One skill that is useful for roller derby is panning (focusing on the skaters and moving the camera as they move whilst taking the photo). It means that I’m often spinning around in the middle of the track getting dizzy whilst panning as the skaters go past. Most bouts are set up with photographer boxes in the centre of the track that we stay in so that we aren’t hit, but that doesn’t always work. I have to have one eye on the camera and one on the refs, and I always give way to them. For shooting centre track, a small lens is useful. A massive zoom could easily be hit by refs as they skate past, so I just use a 50mm lens. One other problem with being centre track is that refs and NSOs end up in the photos in front of the skaters a lot, but I’ve now got quite used to taking photos around them (and of course their job is more important than mine, so I don’t mind at all that they end up in the way!).
Being centre track can also be rather hazardous when shooting men’s derby, as the guys skate so fast and hit so hard that there are often men flying into the middle of the track. At one bout I actually stopped shooting centre track and went to the suicide seats as I had dodged so many skaters who had ended up being hit into the middle of the track. The lighting used in sports halls is indeed often terrible. One such hall that I’ve shot in regularly is extremely dark, and another popular bout venue has orangey yellow lighting that looks awful. Are there any particular teams or players you like to shoot? Any derby people you know you’ll always get a good expression from? I love shooting the Rockers as I know them all and although I don’t skate with them any more I still try to attend all of their bouts. Until very recently, I’d never missed a Rockers bout. I like shooting Croydon as they have some great characters on their team. I love shooting the Southern Discomfort men too – certain players (eg Noise Tank) are happy to pose for the camera. What’s your favourite part of a derby bout (or bout day) to photograph? Do you have a favourite derby photo of your own? I try to document everything, if I can, from track set up to the awards and after party. I also like to take photos of everyone, not just the skaters – I always end up with loads of photos of the crowd, NSOs, refs, medics and announcers too. My favourite derby photo at the moment is one I took at the Men’s Euros of Jerry Attric from The Inhuman League hitting Noise Tank [see far right corner]. There seems to be a fairly small pool of people who photograph derby. Is there a great deal of communication/competitiveness between derby photographers? Any whose work you particularly admire? I haven’t noticed any competitiveness. In fact, everyone is very helpful. Craig Richmond takes great photos (I especially loved his photobooth pic-
T L 21 tures from Sur5al Remix) and he has given me a lot of helpful advice. Pete Florey of MDP images has been great and has let me borrow his lenses and camera. John Hesse is our (Bourne Bombshells) league photographer and he shot all of our wonderful headshots. I’m a big fan of PolaDroid’s work and also that of Steve Newton. I’ve seen some amazing portrait shots from Rhinoa’s photography. There are so many others I could mention too! You’re pretty rare amongst derby photographers in that you play the sport at a competitive level yourself. What advantages or disadvantages do you think that gives you when shooting a bout? A big advantage is that I know so many people in the derby world that I get better access than I otherwise would. I turned up to a bout recently where I hadn’t contacted anyone to get a media pass and was told that I would be restricted to suicide seating, but within minutes I was handed a pass as I was ‘known’. I think it’s also beneficial that I play derby as I can sometimes predict the action, eg if I see a situation where I think someone might apex jump then I can get ready for it. Having said that, sometimes I find it hard as whenever I’m playing I also want to be shooting. I video the Bombshells bouts, despite playing in them, and often find myself distracted by the camera, especially when someone is standing in front of it and I can’t do anything about it as I’m on the track! Finally, you photographed both of today’s teams Brighton and Central City at the UKRDA tournament at Alexandra Palace earlier this year. Are there any particular players/tactics on both sides that people should keep an eye out for? Would you like to predict the result? I think that it will be a very close game, but that the Brighton Rockers will win it. At the UKRDA tournament, the Rockers had a lot of key players missing, which in some ways was good as some newer players had a chance to play with the A-team, but on the other hand it meant that they didn’t perform as well as they could have. Due to the way it worked out, Brighton and Central City never actually played each other at that tournament, so the best way to judge it is probably to go by how they each performed against the LRG Brawl Saints that weekend. At the UKRDA tournament, the Rockers performed significantly better against the Brawl Saints than Central City did, so that makes me think that they’re the stronger team. One particular Brighton skater who always plays well is Rose Bleed. Not only is she a great player, but she’s also a great coach. I really hope that I’ll see her on Team England soon!
Some other fab derby photographers share their tips and tactics from life in centre track with us... “A 70-200mm f2.8 lens seems to be the workhorse lens for many derby photographers. I stopped using mine a couple of years ago and now use fast primes instead; 50mm f1.8, 135mm f2 and a 200mm f2.8. They are lighter and better balanced on the camera, which allows me to hold them steadier and for longer.” JASON RUFFELL (ROLLER DERBY ON FILM) “Contact the home league prior to the bout and let them know you want to photograph the event. When you arrive have a chat with the head ref and league to introduce yourself and establish what is cool with them and what’s not. Off-camera flash is seldom used in the UK, so if that’s a no-go prepare to do battle with poorly lit sports halls like the rest of us. The majority of roller derby photographers worldwide love freeze frame shots – f2.8 style. They’re great, but for me roller derby is a dynamic, colourful sport and I’m more into getting up close to the action and producing highly saturated, panned shots composed to highlight the total awesomeness of a bout. But that’s just me. Sometimes it all comes together, sometimes not. Whatever finished shot you’re going for, I reckon it’s really important to find your own style, push yourself and avoid complacency at all costs as it will show in your finished images. Once set up, move around the hall and look for unusual angles, candid bench shots, massive wipe outs, big smiles, dynamic action, blood, sweat and occasional tears. Above all I would recommend not getting too precious about your shots. Share them freely because it’s cool to be involved in this marvellous all-consuming sport.” JOHN HESSE (BOURNE BOMBSHELLS)
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