STORMING THE CASTLE: WILL THE ROCKERS REIGN IN THE HOUSE OF WINDSOR?

Last weekend’s Brighton Rockers away trip (to face Kent Roller Derby in Herne Bay) saw one of the rarest outcomes in this sport: a one point game. With derby scorelines often featuring a gap of several hundred, Saturday’s 141-140 win for Kent had every spectator on the edge of their seats. Unfortunately some Rockers fans (including several BRATS types) couldn’t catch this epic clash due to rail strike issues. We don’t have long to feel disheartened about missing out though.

Just as one point is a rarely seen difference in derby scores, so one week between games is almost unheard of… yet that’s what Rockers fans have been gifted here in the run up to Christmas. Brighton are back in action tomorrow (Saturday 3rd December) as they venture to one of the most famous venues in British derby, Windsor Leisure Centre, to take on Royal Windsor Roller Derby (RWRD) in a game prediction sites suggest could be just as close as the Kent clash. There’s no rail strike tomorrow so we have no excuse not to be there and neither do you. Check out our full preview below…

TRAVEL GUIDE AND INFO

Doors at Windsor Leisure Centre are at 3pm with first whistle at 3.30. Admission is a great value £7 on the door or £5 in advance (see the FB event page in the links below for details). Whilst the Rockers haven’t played an open door game in Windsor before, here at BRATS we’ve watched several Sur5al tournaments (RWRD’s own manic twist on the sport) and other derby events there. Located close to the river, the leisure centre is a mere ten minute stroll west from the town centre and train stations.

Stations plural? Yes, for some complicated reason Windsor has two (Central and Riverside) each acting as the terminus for a different branch line. They’re only two hundred yards apart with similar journey times from Brighton (a little over two hours) although Riverside is the less faffy option since you can change at Clapham Junction for it. Car users should point their Sat Navs at SL4 5JB. There’s plenty of parking at the leisure centre with the two or three hours you’ll need to cover the event costing less than a fiver.

Pub wise, for anyone who doesn’t boycott them, the King & Castle opposite said castle is one of the better examples of a Wetherspoons with a labyrinth of rooms/floors and a riverside terrace. There’s a decent cluster of pubs (eg the Carpenters Arms for aleheads, Queen Charlotte for ginfolk) just south of Castle Hill and more around Riverside station. Fans of pale ales (but not dark beer) should visit the Windsor & Eton Brewery tap room which is super close to the leisure centre. Despite its historic prominence, Windsor is a very compact town and everywhere should be easily walkable for most people.

PRE-MATCH EXPECTATIONS

We’re sticking with our policy of not giving detailed score predictions from Flattrackstats until next year, ie once most teams have got a few post-Covid games under their belts. Suffice to say they expect this one to be close (ten points or less) so we could be in for another Kent style nailbiter. Speaking of which, both sides have played away in Herne Bay this year. Could those respective results provide a clue for Saturday? Probably not given that Windsor’s loss to Kent (104-101) was virtually as wafer thin as Brighton’s (141-140). Eek!

In terms of past meetings, the first officially recorded scoreline (179-39) in Rockers history was a closed door home win over Windsor’s B-team in April 2011. Their only public meeting with the Windsor A-team meanwhile was on the grandest stage of all: British Champs. Brighton only took part in the tournament (since renamed Five Nations Roller Derby) for its 2015 incarnation. RWRD would sweep them aside 348-196 (the game played in Bristol) on their way to winning Division 2 South. Both teams are very different in 2022 so we won’t learn much from these past results. What do the two sides themselves expect though?

CAKE OR DEATH (BRIGHTON ROCKERS)

Did you learn anything from last weekend’s narrow loss in Kent that you’ll be using against Windsor? Ooh yes, we learnt loads. On and off the track. We’ve looked at how to delay with very strong blockers, different starts and smarter offense, as well as how to work our bench to the best effect. Kent were an awesome team and so lovely too. We can’t wait to bring our new found skills to Windsor.

You last met Windsor in 2015 British Champs. Any thoughts based on that? Both sides have very different players and different teams especially since Covid. I’m just excited to see what the current Royal Windsor side brings to the table

All three Rockers games since derby resumed have been away. Should we expect a home game soon? Yes indeed, there’s a home game in March! Roller discos have largely taken over Haywards Heath Dolphin but we’re booked in now so expect all of the fun of a Rockers game. 100% it will be excellent.

Do you have any words for Rockers fans and other readers as we head into 2023? We are so so grateful for fans who have continued to support us after Covid. It means the world to us and keeps our amazing sport going. We are so proud to be ambassadors of a sport that is so inclusive, so empowering and so beautiful. We’re always thankful that our fans help to make it happen.

VARIOUS FOLKS (ROYAL WINDSOR RD)

How did Windsor deal with the big gap in competitive derby over the pandemic? Where possible we skated together outdoors in the sunshine. We also did a lot of online team workouts, quizzes and a murder mystery event.

How many games have you played since derby resumed? We have played a total of four games excluding tomorrow’s Brighton match. Only one of these four was an open door event (against Kent). We also played a Sevens tournament in Eastbourne in which we came second.

Presumably a lot has changed since your last open door game against Brighton back in 2015? Yes! Almost all of the team are different now but we still have the Windsor spirit and we’re looking forward to taking on the Rockers again.

Is there anything Brighton fans heading up to the game should know about the event? There will be a cakes and a merch stand and a stand for Brighton’s merch if they would like to bring some. Windsor Leisure Centre also has a standard leisure centre cafe and a pool if people fancy a dip after the game!

LINKS

FB EVENT PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/864261984580091/

ROYAL WINDSOR RD: https://www.facebook.com/royalwindsorrollerderby/

BRIGHTON ROCKERS: https://www.brightonrockers.com/

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