Brighton Rockers All-Stars v Bristol Harbour Harlots preview


The mighty Brighton Rockers are back in action at the Dolphin in Haywards Heath this Saturday (20th Sept) and their opponents could arguably be described as their ‘nemesis’. Brighton and Bristol went into what was both sides’ first ever tournament back in May 2013. Taking place in the heady surrounds of London’s Alexandra Palace, it was the inaugural (and to date, only) UKRDA Southern tournament. Brighton had initially entered the tournament as second seeds, but a late switch (Central City replacing Big Bucks) saw them ranked third of five. They were certainly expected to beat Bristol, however, which made their 175-251 defeat to the Harlots something of a shock. Indeed, this was the first – and so far, the only – time that a lower ranked side has beaten the Rockers.

There’s an element of revenge about Saturday’s game then, and if the prediction computers are to be believed, Brighton ought to get it. Based on the official UKRDA table, the online predictor calls this as 92% chance of a home win an expected 60:31 score ratio – which would equate to a 270-140 Rockers win, for example. The European rankings predictor varies very little at 91% and 15:8. Having said all of that, Brighton were recently losing for most of a game they had 82% win probability for (July’s match against Croydon, reviewed here). Bristol actually overturned very similar odds to Saturday’s to take last year’s shock win, so let’s just wait and see. We have previews and predictions from members of both teams, along with others, right after the next paragraph…

The game starts at 3pm with doors at 2.30. Tickets are £8 adults (free under-12s) with group and student discounts if you buy online in advance. The venue (which has ample parking) is roughly six minutes walk from Haywards Heath train station – turn left when you leave the station and follow the signs/crowd. There’s a big Sainsbury’s en route, and the pub opposite the station is sporty but palatable, with a big garden to the rear. The leisure centre recently changed hands and offers a fairly cheap (if fairly warm) bottle and can bar within the sports hall itself. There’s also a foyer cafe bar and vending machines. Be sure to pick up a free copy of our redesigned Turn Left fanzine (from which the quotes below come) at the game – this one’s a fashion special. The after party is back in central Brighton at the friendly and alcovey, if slightly spendy, Victory Inn.


“The predictions do suggest this could be something of a mismatch. As does the respective performances of these two teams against Paris Rollergirls in March. The French side played both teams away on consecutive days – they were unlucky to lose by the thinnest of margins to Brighton, but bested Bristol by a huge amount. The points against column doesn’t look good for the Harlots year-round, in fact, at least in open doors. Having said that though, these teams were similarly ranked and rated when they met at Ally Pally last year. The South West side took the ‘shock win’ quite comfortably on that occasion, so who knows what might happen on Saturday.”

“Brighton clearly underestimated Bristol in their meeting last May. The Rockers hadn’t rostered a few key players for the game and seemed to be giving newer players more track time than usual. Some of these were jamming and really struggling to get through Bristol’s strong walls, picking up penalties which meant Brighton had a string of power jams against them. About 20 minutes in, the Rockers changed tactics, began putting on star jammers like Chariot Sophia and started to make a comeback, but it was too late by then to close a big Harlots lead. I think Brighton will win this rematch, but watch out for Bristol’s The Blizzard and Goldie Lookin’ Pain.”

“I didn’t play in that game against Bristol as we decided to rest myself and Rose Bleed for any further games we might play, so my recollections are different from others. Losing that game, there was a sense of disbelief. We were so keen to progress and totally focused on the rest of the tournament. Rose and I had all our kit on ready to warm up for the next game when we realised Bristol were going to knock us out. We really enjoyed supporting them in the rest of their tournament. Bristol and Brighton are kindred cities. Though their team is much changed, we saw them play Portsmouth recently, so we know they have some very experienced and strong skaters.”

“A year and a half is a long time in derby. Travels, relocations, pregnancies and sabbaticals have slowly shaven off most of our May 2013 roster, so the line up looks very different now. You will spot a few familiar names though, such as myself, E-Z Roller and international stars The Blizzard (Finland) and Da Silva Surfer (Portugal). I’m sure Brighton’s line up is different too, so it’ll be a surprise! We do recall they had big strong blockers and feisty jammers, with dynamic and hard hitting pack work, so we’ll be ready to evade and block accordingly. We always try to play our own game and won’t be changing it based on probably out-of-date recollections.”

[Photo by Rebecca Cornford]



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