Fear And Lothian: Auld Reekie v Brighton Rockers bout report

The phenomenon – for that is the only word as would adequately describe it – is one that bewilders this scarcely developed young mind. I had hoped that the Professor, in whose employ I lie and upon whose behalf I compile this journal, might be able to explain it. Yet even he is herewith as confounded and fearful as an urchin in a bathhouse. For this city we now document – Edinburgh, supposedly as civilised an urban area as one might find in this still half-barbarian enclave of Victoria’s glorious empire – bears within its borders the most unlikely, even impossible, quirk of nature.
    Every journey… from the shortest to the longest, the most dallying to that of most import; be it upon foot, horseback, carrying wench or road ball… every single journey in this beautiful yet befuddling place is uphill. One might question the logical boundaries of such an assertion, yet it holds true at every opportunity upon which myself and the Professor have tested it. We traverse the path known as the Royal Mile utilising various modes of transit, both Castlewards and Palacewards, and each journey is entirely upon an uphill gradient.
    Having found all side streets in both the New and Old Towns similarly upwardly inclined from every approach, the Professor turns our attention to the menacing hill to the South East of the centre. He has notions most would consider quite fanciful about this particular object, known locally as Arthur’s Seat. Not only does the Professor believe this stunted mountain (from whose soil emanates a peculiar distant buzzing sound) to have once been a blood boiling volcano; yet also does he claim it still now houses a creature of devlish intent. This creature – one whose name the Professor is too terrified to ever utter let alone set in print – is not the subject of our studies this day. We remain focussed on the notion of upward trajectory. Having scaled halfway to the submit, an arduous enough pursuit had one not also been tasked with carrying the Professor and all his instruments upon my shoulders, we retrace our steps to its base. Yet again, this journey is at odds with all points of logic and science for it too is an uphill struggle, even when aided as it is by the encouraging sting of the Professor’s motivation whip upon my buttocks.
    So what effect does this curious phenomenon of all journeys being uphill have upon the people of this city? The Professor has noted from the provisions stores upon the Royal Mile that the diet here is the same as in other parts of this savage Northern nation; a mixture of haggis (a small pig-squirrel hybrid from whose carcass the national instrument of torture, the bagpipes, is also made), neeps (orangey-yellow mush) and tatties (yellowy-orange mush), followed by a dessert platter of deep fried confectionery products. Yet whereas the indigenous people of other Scottish towns and cities appear slovenly of form and sluggish of countenance, here there is a ruddy health and springbound athleticism to most of the local populace we encounter. This is clearly a result of living in a locale where even a short trip to the petticoat stall will involve an ascent – both there and back – similar to that of the as yet unconquered Himalayas.
    “‘Tis fearful as the men of this place would turn to sport,” says the Professor, “for their uphill-treaded legs would enable them to beat the greatest that even London and the South of England might offer.”
    “Worse still that the women of this city would turn to sport,” I counter, “for they could conquer not just our fine English women, yet perchance our men too, then perhaps Victoria’s glorious empire itself.”
    “Women playing sport?” splutters the Professor. “What sickness must lie in your head to even countenance such a future. Hand me the punishment whip and ready your buttocks.”

Admiral Attackbar drops her left shoulder and hits the Brighton pack, which – quite rarely for this penalty heavy outing – features a full four-wall. The middle two have been looking over their own shoulders to centre track, hoping to see her probable line of attack, but struggling to view her at all through the solid yet ever shifting Auld Reekie defence ten feet behind. There’s often a perception in derby that some blockers can be relied upon more for their physicality and others for their movement, yet these Edinburgh line-ups have largely consisted entirely of skaters who can switch between the two faster than the flap of a bee’s wings.
    The Rockers’ own jammer remains pegged back behind the Scottish pack in darkest black, as she has been for the past minute. Harold Wilson once famously declared that “a week is a long time in politics”. Whilst that might be true, a single minute is a lifetime in derby and Attackbar has already made three passes through the Brighton pack. Score wise it’s the stuff of power jams, and in a way this is a power jam – it’s just that instead of being banished to the penalty box, the Brighton jammer is seemingly banished to a jam’s lifetime of futile duking up against the shoulders, butts and hips of the Reekie pack. There have been one or two golden half-chances of breaking through, sure, but each one has been crushed by a blocker’s last ditch hit and a much longer than it seems trip from the inner or outer track to the bottom of the Edinburgh recycle bin.
    Attackbar’s first pass was an apex jump, the second around the outside, the third a feigned inside line and dart through the middle of a split Brighton wall. This fourth happens so fast we don’t really know which way round the pack she went, and we’re not entirely sure the Rockers defence did either. It was more through them than around, probably. In all honesty, we don’t know. We likely never will.
    ARRG’s Twisted Thistles pack boasts amidst its various line-ups the likes of perfectly named Crazylegs, the tactically commanding Ciderella, feisty Velosidy, Mo B Quick, Minnie Riot… and that’s just those from the Team Scotland 2011 World Cup squad. It’s a defence bristling with experience, both from international competition and regular bouts against tough USA and Euro sides, from a league whose playbook runs to several times that of teams like Brighton. There’s a reason why Auld Reekie are ranked #1 in the first official UKRDA table, and this pack is confident enough in their own abilities to regularly leave just two holding back the rival jammer whilst the other one or two run interference, hitting the back of the Brighton pack just before their own jammer arrives.
    They didn’t do that this pass though. There’s no reason why they didn’t. They surely could have. Maybe Brighton were expecting them to. Maybe that’s why Attackbar got through so easily and so cleanly, barely a drop of sweat blemishing her game face (paint). That speaks volumes about the tactical talents of this Scottish side. When you realise that the ARRG Twisted Thistles can run interference by *not* running any interference – knowing that doing nothing at such a point in the jam/game will most likely interfere with the other pack’s expectations even more – well, you know…
    A man in a film once said: “We run the plays, we win the games. There are only ten of them. It’s not rocket science.” As far as the Auld Reekie playbook is concerned, there seem to be about a thousand and ten of them, and yeah, some of them look pretty close to rocket science to us.

Deep inside the volcano, The High Priest Of All Evil rubs his hands together and cackles. His minions, Minion One and Minion Two – or, as they’d rather the High Priest call them, Frankie and Rabbie – grin at each other. THPOAE surely only cackles like this when there’s real evil afoot. What could it be? A plague of locusts eating their way through the entire Amazon rainforest? A tidal wave decimating West Coast USA? Or the biggie – nuclear armageddon? The High Priest cackles louder still and conjures up a live image of the subject of today’s malevolence. The Minions stare at the scene before them, more than a little confused.
    “Uh,” says Frankie (or Rabbie).
    “That looks like a car parked on a hard shoulder,” says Rabbie (or Frankie).
    “Aye,” says THPOAE, smiling a smile that would look like one of pure evil even without the bits of spinach stuck in his teeth. “Burst tyre. I did that. Invisible bees. Better still, I made it so all the roadside assistance vans nearby are on other jobs. Two hours they’ll be waiting there.” The minions look on blankly, unsure as to the purpose of this – at best –  slightly diabolical act. “Some of them are playing roller derby up here tomorrow,” the High Priest explains, “and they’ve barely left the South Coast, hahaha.”
    “What’s roller derby?” asks Minion One (or Minion Two, whichever’s the one without a beard)
    “It’s a modern revival sport primarily played by women. Two teams of five roller skate anti-clockwise round an oval track in a series of periods called ‘jams’ lasting up to two minutes each. One on each team has a star on her helmet and scores a point for each opponent she passes. The other four have to try and hold back the opposing team’s star-clad ‘jammer’ whilst aiding their own.”
    They way he delivered it sounded like it was a pre-prepared speech THPOAE made several times a week, largely to tourists and locals asking about the T-shirt he always wears. This is pretty much lost on the Minions, however. They have always assumed the ‘ARRG’ text on their master’s top referred to the cries of pain from those he curses to the eternal fires of Hellfire and Damnation. Not that they’ve seen him do much, if any, of that. Bursting a car tyre was about standard for the level of evil the Minions had witnessed since starting their jobs, here in the bowels of Arthur’s Seat, three months earlier.
    “I’m going to mess with their Sat Nav when they hit the Midlands,” adds the High Priest as the Minions start slowly backing away; the duo nodding nervously as one would to someone on the bus who tells you their feet are possessed. “That’ll add another two hours. Then wait and see what I’ve done to the hostel they’re booked in. I’ve filled the walls with mice. When the invisible bees start on the mice around 2am… squeak, squeak, squeak. They’ll barely get a wink of sleep. And when they discover I’ve made everything around here uphill… hahaha.”
    The tail end of THPOAE’s speech echoes along the corridor behind as the two Minions hurry out for lunch. The following day they will meet to watch a football match up the road and discuss the new jobs they start on Monday – jobs that will give them a chance to do some proper evil for once. They haven’t dared tell THPOAE they’re leaving. He doesn’t take that sort of thing well, apparently.

Shambolic sits in the penalty box, a pivot panty atop her head. It’s not an unnatural habitat for her, to be honest. Particularly not when she’s putting in the kind of ‘popping up all over the track’ hard fought performance today’s über tough challenge requires, one for which she will take home the Best Blocker medal. Last time out though, against Leeds five weeks ago, her (and indeed the whole Brighton team’s) first box visit didn’t come until Jam 13. This time it comes sooner. In all fairness, Sham had an event packed (burst tyre, Sat Nav probs, etc) fourteen hour trip up here – many others in the Brighton roster had not far short of that – followed by half a night in the noisiest hostel room ever. It’s almost as if her journey up was cursed. Still, Brighton are fighting back now.
    Their best moment may have come before first whistle. A well choreographed and Enya soundtracked skate out, all swirly arms and spins; it looked for all the world like the lovechild of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights video and Starlight Express, but it was pretty damn awesome and put the Edinburgh side in the shade. Once the bout starts, the reverse is true, at least for the first nine jams. Brighton are doing what they can, but the Scots are 19-0 up after Jam 1 and the next few exchanges rattle past in quick succession. Pass and call, pass and call. Some awesome work through the pack by Rose Bleed in the third takes Brighton up to fourteen points, but six successive scoreless jams for the Sussex league see the Twisted Thistles up to 79.
    A quick three pointer with Sham in the star breaks the Rockers’ scoreless streak and sets up a resilient fightback. The Mighty Mighty Bash puts up some big numbers and some big hits in a power jam twelfth as the Scottish pack start using the same revolving door to the sin bin Brighton were previously bogarting. There are long official timeouts between almost every jam now. Sham takes a whip from Bash in Jam 14 to edge down the differential some more. Rockers pack starting to get more of a handle on the ARRG jammers now, holding back Lilo & Stitches as Kapow breaks through, forcing Stitches to call.
    As Bash and Imperial Bint shoulder up on the jammer line, a game that had looked to be running away from Brighton is much closer. The Scots’ early 65 point lead has been pegged back to a circa 40 differential, holding around there jam by jam as the scores accumulate… 46-87. 58-99. 61-101. The Sussex side are giving Auld Reekie a run for their [brightly coloured and not accepted by most Brighton pubs] money now, their jammers drawing penalties from the Scottish pack to create a more evenly matched – rather than primarily cyan – penalty box.
    Jam 17 is arguably the biggest of the game. Rose takes lead and looks to be in a position to close the gap further still, but she’s sent off, as is blocker Cake, and Edinburgh take advantage, stretching their muscles and lead over the last few jams of the half to go in 139-69 up. This car-lagged Brighton side are missing a couple of key players, and although relatively new additions like Emma The Condemner and Kapow are putting in good battling performances, we fear this opposition – a European derby powerhouse eager to impress in front of a home crowd in their last bout of the calendar year – may well be preparing to turn the screw in the second half.

The drums. Good Lord, the drums. The relentless echoing rattle, rat-a-tat-tat, reminds Jack of Vietnam. Those were dreadful days. Serves him right, really, for choosing the cheapest backpackers’ dorm room available – one with paper-thin walls and a hard house nightclub just the other side – but even so, he could no longer handle the sound of drums. Even when played as well and joyfully as by the eleven-person troupe (Counterpoint Drummers) providing the half time entertainment in this Scottish sports hall.
    Jack heads up the stairs, past the huge banked rows of bleacher seating that occupy the North side of what must be one of the most impressive roller derby venues in the whole of Europe. He still doesn’t quite understand what roller derby is, but he has a job to do. Cub reporter for one of the country’s more scurrilous newspapers. Not a sports reporter, as it happens, just general crime and scandal. There might not be much of that going on here at the moment – apart from the Edinburgh jammers pickpocketing points from Brighton on almost every pass – but he has a brief to find some, in or around today’s event.
    What would his great great great grandfather make of it all? A well respected London-based Professor, triple great gramps Fenchurch had written one of the most infamous anthropological studies of the Scottish capital back in the Victorian era. It was a book full of ridiculous claims, such as the assertion that all journeys in Edinburgh are uphill. Jack laughs at the thought as he struggles to climb the steps down to the Mezzanine, where windows overlook a Scottish FA Youth Cup match between Leith Athletic and Bishopton (a barnstorming 6-4 win to Leith, someone on the sports desk will later tell him).
    On the next level down, around twenty steps further uphill, the Brighton roller derby team are holding a half-time post mortem and offering up suggested tactical changes for the remainder of the match; a secret meeting audible only to themselves and all those using the toilets or watching the football as their voices echo round the cavernous stairwells. So what would the Professor – hardly a fan of women at all, let alone the idea of women’s sport – have made of this fast-moving counter-cultured new sport? Most likely he’d be horrified. Who knows? Later academics claimed old Fenchurch was just plain mad, of that Jack is well aware. His ancestor’s book on Edinburgh would certainly suggest so, packed as it is by talk of a Devil-like entity living inside Arthur’s Seat; an entity that apparently sends invisible bees to attack its opponents, particularly those who quit said entity’s employ.
    Jack laughs to himself at he walks back through the merch area – glancing at the varied stylish offerings from the Edinburgh and Brighton teams, whilst puzzling at the strange buzzing sound around the cupcake stall – before heading up the stairs back down to his seat for the start of the second half.

Team talks spoken, skaters refreshed, what will the second period bring? It starts much as the first did, with a series of quick jams; Thistles taking lead in most and calling before the Brighton jammer gets on a scoring pass. The Scots are using a smaller jammer rotation now – primarily just the Big Three of Attackbar, Stitches and Bint – and it’s working in their favour as they start stretching their lead at quite some pace. The Brighton pack are battling hard, with Hyde ‘N’ Shriek, Derby McGee, Cake Or Death, Hairy Fairy, Bash and others putting in some solid physical challenges. Shambolic regularly spreads herself wide as the last line of defence, pegging back the Edinburgh jammers for as many seconds as she can.
    The problem with this physical blocking, of course, is that penalty calls are always going to be a by-product, and the more Brighton chase this game, the more blue shirts are ending up in the box. ARRG have upped the differential to well over a hundred and we’re barely five minutes into the period. A series of Scottish power jams and full Rockers boxes follows. At the end of a sequence of nine pointless jams, Brighton find themselves on the skinny side of a 300-85 scoreline and in all honesty are now playing to keep the final points gap to as few hundred as possible. Sham sneaks a single point in Jam 17 of the second period, Rose adds three in the twentieth. They look to add more two jams later as the impressive Chariot Sophia breaks through first, but it wasn’t a clean pass and Attackbar clears the Brighton pack to call it off. With no more scoring opportunities, the Sussex side have to settle for a total points haul of 89.
    The Edinburgh league have added Skinn’er Alive back into the rotation for the last quarter of the bout, and their four stellar jammers have swooped inside, swooped outside, apex jumped, duked, ducked, hustled, bustled and weathered big hits from Bash and others to storm their way to one shy of 350 points as the final whistle sounds. Whilst that’s testament to the awesome strength of the Scottish rotation, perhaps more telling is how few points (twenty) Brighton managed to put on the board in this second half. Indeed, a casual observer would mistake LaserHammer – jam reffing Brighton this period – for a Black Power protestor, so often does he raise a clenched fist.
    The Auld Reekie pack aren’t just tough, they’re super tough. A dynamic, fast reacting, deceptively physical and tactically flexible offensive defence. One born not just of the practice halls of the Scottish capital, but on the bouting floors of London, Berlin, Toronto, Philadelphia and everywhere else these skaters have sharpened their skills and ground down their wheels across ARRG’s storied five and a half year existence.
    Anarchick and Pukeahontas lead the celebrations on the Edinburgh league’s bench. Over on the Brighton one, coach Mass Janeycide and Mistress Von Über Vixen (deputising as line-up manager for the absent Maude Fondeo) have no time to reflect upon the result right now. Such reflection comes later, days down the line. Boozing and long uphill walks come first. When that time for reflection does arrive, one hopes it will focus on one truism of this so young, so rapidly developing sport: You don’t get better by playing teams you can easily beat, you get better by playing teams that will more than likely beat you (and learning from that experience).
    It’s an avenue Brighton have increasingly gone down in 2013. For the first couple of years of the Rockers’ bouting existence, some quarters of the UK derby community accused them of only picking contests with weaker opponents. That accusation certainly can’t be levelled at the Sussex side now. This year they took on the three toughest opponents feasibly available to them; Glasgow, LRG Brawl Saints and Auld Reekie. Whilst those matches all ended in defeat, there was a lengthy period in both of the latter two where Brighton were matching their tougher opponents point for point and starting to build up a head of steam. Interestingly, it was the second half of the first period in both cases, as the Rockers closed in what looked like unassailable scoreline gaps, shaking up the Saints and Thistles and going into half time just a couple of power jams behind on the tallies. If the Sussex side can channel the resilience of those fightbacks and spread them out across more of a bout, then that list of “teams that will more than likely beat you” – already a pretty small list, a dozen at best in the whole of Europe – will get smaller still. I certainly wouldn’t like to be their next opponents, Central City. The can of whup-ass that is the Brighton Rockers just got shook up in Edinburgh, and you know what happens when you open a shaken up can…
    As for the Twisted Thistles, they end their 2014 bouting season on a high, having just racked up the highest points haul in their history. Defending ARRG’s position at the top of the UKRDA rankings, with neighbours Glasgow breathing down their necks, is a priority. So too their WFTDA ambitions – they currently lie 103rd in the overall rankings, tantalisingly close to the Top 100, and 15th in the 72 league third tier. With the breadth of talent and experience across this A-team roster and beyond, an impressive bouting venue and the best chant in UK derby, the opportunities the next couple of years will bring for the Edinburgh league – and indeed, the whole of derby – are limited only by their ambitions. Auld Reekie, you are indeed so fine, and there’s a whole continent out there across the Atlantic whose minds you will soon be blowing.

I’m a bee. (I don’t mean I’m an overacting drama student running from side to side in a black-walled studio, fingers flapping up by my shoulders as I make unconvincing buzzing noises. No. I’m an actual real actual bee.) Oh yeah, I’m also invisible. My name’s Miriam. My mate’s called Buzz (his parents were well unimaginative). I don’t know what you’ve heard about invisible bees, but we’re a couple of the good guys. Today we were assigned to work in the heads of the duo announcing some roller skating contest in Scotland. It was supposed to be (or ‘bee’ – geddit!) a simple job. If it looked like they were running out of things to say, we’d buzz around a bit, stirring up the thought bobbles of the brain.
    It probably would have been a simple job if not for Anthony. He’s an invisible bee too, but he works for the other side, he works for YouKnowWho. We couldn’t see him (he’s invisible, yeah) but we sensed he was around, and we soon worked out what his job for the day was. He was buzzing about at floor level, chewing on the black and yellow tape that marked out the skating area. Every time he chewed up a bit so much it frayed, some guys in stripy tops had to pause the match for a while. Our commentators couldn’t stop talking though. They had to fill up that gap in the action, which often ran to several minutes. That’s where me and Buzz came in.
    Say something about the officials’ shirts, Buzz told his announcer… Make a joke about the kit check looking like a dance routine, I told mine… Talk about it being Auld Reekie’s last bout of the year… Mention the wire that runs under the track tape… Plug the craft and merch stands… Mention the cupcakes (mmm, cupcakes)… Shout “make some noise”… Both announcers did a damn good job filling the time with things we suggested, but all that buzzing about in their heads was terribly tiring for Buzz and I. Damn Anthony and his tape chewing ways.
    We bumped into him at the cupcake stand at the end of the bout (heard, not saw him, at first, obviously) and he was very excited. Said he’d got a “really big job” that evening at a nearby pub. Him and seven other evil invisible bees. Wouldn’t tell us what the job was, of course, but we pity the intended victims. Poor souls.

Best Jammer: Admiral Attackbar
Best Blocker: Crazylegs
MVP: Imperial Bint

Best Jammer: Chariot Sophia
Best Blocker: Shambolic
MVP: The Mighty Mighty Bash

Skate out: Brighton Rockers
Bout: Auld Reekie
After party: Brighton Rockers

The Scottish Stun on Sunday investigates the murky world of ROLLER DERBY: This sinister new sport, devised by TATTOOED FEMINISTS and OTHER DEVIANTS, has really taken off in Scotland, with the country boasting the TOP TWO TEAMS in the recent UK RANKINGS TABLE.
    Whilst this might be a source of NATIONAL PRIDE to some, those who have witnessed this ‘sport’ in the flesh might find it a source of NATIONAL SHAME. Women, some of whom hold down respectable professional jobs, VIOLENTLY KNOCK OTHER WOMEN TO THE GROUND in front of a BAYING AUDIENCE.
    As sickening as this spectacle may sound, it doesn’t end there. This sport – which many have likened to A PAGAN CULT – has its own language and slang, deliberately designed to be indecipherable by outsiders, or ‘NORMS’ (normals) as they are known. Those who partake adopt SICK PSEUDONYMNS to hide their true identities from the authorities. When these ‘WOMEN’ talk about JAMMERS, BLOCKERS and ZEBRAS are they using their own slang terms for DRUGS, SPELLS and RITUAL SACRIFICE?
    After a roller derby match (known, due to its high level of violence, as a ‘BOUT’) the players then hold a secretive ‘AFTER PARTY’. This newspaper infiltrated one such event in an Edinburgh public house over the weekend. Although several players from the local AULD REEKIE team were present, most of those involved were members of a team from BRIGHTON – a city well known to be the UK capital of SEXUAL DEVIANCE, SATANISM and VEGANS. In order to hide their affiliation to the roller derby cult, they had come dressed as tennis players, using said conventional sport by way of DEVIOUS DISGUISE.
    Several onlookers, many of whom had innocently wandered in from a Hibernian football match, were REPULSED by what they saw. “There was this thing like a tennis ball, aye,” said Frankie McDonnell, 27, from Galoshes, “except it probably wasn’t, it was probably a MONKEY’S BRAIN or something. And these women were passing it between each other using only their NECKS, and they were LAUGHING about it. Well, they may get up to that sort of shenanigans in Brighton, but we’ll nae be havin’ it in Edinburgh, I’ll tell ye that.”
    His friend Rabbie Wilson, 29, from Lochatherayre, added: “Then they did this thing with a coin, where they took turns placing it in their BUTTOCKS, waddling around like ducks then dropping it in a cup like they were doing a JOBBIE. A coin of the realm! That’s QUEEN ELIZABETH HERSELF they’re doing that to, as good as. I was fair disgusted.”
    Wilson and McDonnell, until recently employed by a ‘private contractor’ in the Arthur’s Seat area and due to start work as ATOS advisers on Monday, then both started to yelp in pain and shout about being ‘stung’. We watched in horror (but didn’t help) as BIG RED WELTS started to spring up all over their ARMS and FACES. Then they both SCREAMED and raced for the door.
    This newspaper is not one to leap to assumptions, yet what we just witnessed on those poor souls was clearly a PLAGUE OF LESIONS, a well known CURSE used over the centuries by WITCHES. A warning, no doubt, to any men who might criticise this new ‘sport’ and the secret and sinister culture that surrounds it. McDonnell and Wilson are surely just two more innocent victims of the menacing DARK WORLD of ROLLER DERBY, and the HELL-WOMEN who partake in it. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Auld Reekie Roller Girls 349 – Brighton Rockers Roller Derby 89


BRIGHTON ROCKERS are next in action on November 23rd, when they take on Birmingham’s Central City Rollergirls in Haywards Heath.

On the same day, AULD REEKIE will be hosting one of their popular Edinburgh boot camps, with a few places still available.


Auld Reekie v Brighton bout preview

On Saturday the 26th of October the mighty Brighton Rockers face arguably the biggest challenge in their history. They’ll be taking on the multiple award winning and majorly feared Auld Reekie Roller Girls on the latter’s own well defended Edinburgh turf [for turf read polished wood]. The Scottish side hold first place in the recently released (first ever) official UK Roller Derby Association quarterly rankings. Brighton place seventh, but go into the bout on a high having last month beaten third place Leeds Roller Dolls in Haywards Heath.
    The bout takes place at Meadowbank Sports Centre, which is located on the A1 (London Road) around two miles East of Waverley station and well served by Lothian buses. “Our bouting venue is pretty large with plenty of seating,” ARRG’s Double D’Struction tells us. “We’ll have a great vendor village with fantastic cakes (seriously the eats on this stall are not to be missed), merch, crafts from Edinburgh’s craftiest ladies and gents and we usually have stalls with skate stuff too. We definitely recommend bring along some cash because you really won’t want to miss the cake. Unfortunately there is no bar because of the licensing law constraints but we do go to the pub after where the drinking will commence with gusto!”
    Tickets, priced at a super reasonable £5.95 (including booking fee) and free for under-14s are available from the link below.
TICKETS: http://arrg.co.uk/events/event/twisted-thistles-vs-brighton-rockers/
VENUE: http://www.edinburghleisure.co.uk/venues/meadowbank-sports-centre/facilities
BUSES: http://lothianbuses.com/

Recommending air travel may not please the environmental lobby, but it works out cheaper than the train. The latter is £127 from London (plus whatever it costs to get to the capital) and takes going on for five hours, six plus from Sussex. Depending on what days and times you plan to travel, at the time of writing you can fly return from Gatwick starting at around £100 on Easyjet with British Airways a tenner or so more. We heartily recommend BA by the way, as it’s one of the few airlines in the world still offering unlimited free booze on domestic economy flights. [Psst, sit near the front so you get served first; it’s only a short flight and six double vodka and cokes each is the best we’ve managed, but that more than covers the price differential over Easyjet.] Skyscanner is the best bet for comparing flight prices.
    Hotel-wise, Trip Advisor remains the go-to place for comparing the various booking websites (booking.com, hotel.com, lastminute, expedia, etc) and their few pence of price difference. As you’d expect for such a hugely popular tourist destination, the central area – Old Town, New Town, Haymarket – is pretty pricey, around £100 a night being standard. Edinburgh’s not a huge place though, being about twice the size of Brighton & Hove, so even the suburbs rarely put you more than 20-30 minutes bus/drive away from the centre. You can pick up rooms in B&Bs from about £40 in the suburbs. There are also a number of centrally located dorm-room hostels.
    Can’t afford to travel up? Can’t get the time off work? Doing something else that Saturday? Whilst excuses for not travelling all the way up to Edinburgh to cheer on the Rockers may be acceptable, there’s no excuse for not doing the next best thing. The Sunday beforehand (20th October) the Rockers host a pub quiz at Brighton’s Cornerstone, a derby friendly pub at the bottom of Lewes Road and Elm Grove. It’s £3 entry with a maximum five in a team, there’s a school night friendly 6pm start, and all proceeds go towards the Rockers’ Edinburgh travel fund. So while you’re waiting for Brighton’s next bout on home wood (against Central City on November 23rd), get your thinking caps on and take on your favourite skaters in a quiz. See the link for details.
FLIGHTS: http://www.skyscanner.net/
HOTELS: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/
OCT 20TH PUB QUIZ: https://www.facebook.com/events/208697702642275/

Can you give us a summary of ARRG’s history and achievements to date, and your future plans? We’ve been together since April 2008 and recently celebrated our fifth birthday. In those years we’ve grown from a group of women meeting up to talk about derby into a full WFTDA member league with over 80 members. We have two travel teams: The Twisted Thistles and The Cannon Belles; three home teams: The Leithal Weapons, Cherry Bombers and The Skatefast Club, and a stellar referee and NSO crew. We’re currently first in the UKRDA rankings and after the Brighton bout, and our School of ARRG Knocks 2 bootcamp on 23rd Nov, we’ll be refocusing and looking at our plans for next year and beyond.
    Any particular Brighton players you’re wary of? Any ARRG players/tactics to look out for? We saw Brighton play and fight hard against our neighbouring league Glasgow Roller Derby earlier on this year so we know there are some fantastic skaters to look out for. Someone told us that our skater Unprotected Bex looks like one of the Brighton skaters too. Everyone at ARRG is awesome so we’ll let you pick your favourites. As for our tactics we work hard to be focussed on track, work as a unit and work with a hive mind.
    What kind of after party can we expect? Sorry, the exact details of the after party will be kept under wraps until nearer the time. Rest assured we love to Party ARRG, we recently had a very exciting dancefest with LRG after their bootcamp up here so maybe we’ll recreate that vibe. It would be best to bring your dancing shoes and be prepared for ‘taps oan’ or ‘taps aff’ as we say in Scotland.
    For any travelling fans making a weekend of it, do you have any suggestions for other things to see and do? Obviously there is the usual touristy things like The Edinburgh Castle, wandering down The Royal Mile, ghost tours, bus tours, lots of free museums and galleries, The Edinburgh Dungeons… the list goes on. As for pubs and clubs, let’s just say Irn Bru is good for treating hangovers!
ARRG: http://arrg.co.uk/
NOV 23RD BOOT CAMP: https://www.facebook.com/events/555244554542884/

For any ARRG fans reading this who might not be aware of the Rockers’ history to date, can you give us a quick summary? We’ve been around for four years in February, bouting for almost three. In that time we’ve gone from undefeated to badly beaten to doing OK. So fingers crossed we’re now on a steady rise.
    Any Brighton players or tactics people should particularly keep any eye out for at the bout? I would be killed for sharing any of our TOP SECRET tactics but the usual Rockers stars will be there to cheer on, such as The Mighty Mighty Bash, Rose Bleed, Shambolic and Chariot Sophia.
    What do you know of ARRG? That they’re awesome.
    Any particular players in their ranks you’re wary of? Admiral Attackbar 11:11 – great jammer, great leggings!
    The first official UKRDA rankings recently came out and Auld Reekie are ranked first in the country. Does that make you extra eager to get one over on them? Hmmm… a little. We always aim to play well and have fun. Then we’ll leave happy.
    Brighton are ranked seventh in the UKRDA table, but you recently beat third place Leeds. What lessons/experience are you taking from that bout into the Auld Reekie one? Never go into a bout assuming anything – in the case of Leeds that we would lose. Always play our best, always wear black!
    Are you looking forward to seeing Edinburgh in general. Any touristy plans, or are you too focused on the bout for anything else? The after party is always something we look forward to and lots of Rockers are hanging around for a day or two after to see the sights.
    What other events do the Rockers have coming up this year and beyond? Our next home game is against Central City on the 23rd November – early bird tickets are on sale now – and we’re looking to have a few European guests next year. Oh and there’s a pre-ARRG pub quiz on 20th October – details are on our Facebook page.
BRRD: http://brightonrockers.com/
NOV 23RD BOUT: https://www.facebook.com/events/647691741929370/

The inaugural UKRDA quarterly rankings (up to 30th Sept) were recently released, with some noticeable absences, primarily the London Rollergirls and Cardiff’s Tiger Bay who both failed to play any UK A-team bouts over the past year. Auld Reekie are top of the table with 724 points, Brighton are placed 7th with 654 points. The predictometer at flattrackstats.com gives Brighton just a 5% chance of winning this bout, compared to ARRG’s 95%, and they expect the Scots to score nine points for every four the Sussex league picks up. That would equate to a scoreline in the region of 180-80 in Auld Reekie’s favour. Derbydataeurope’s formula offers a wider difference in ranking points (825 v 368) but a very similar predicted scoreline of 200-89. Still, the whole point of predictions is they’re more often wrong than right, yeah? We asked a few people who have faced both sides for their own thoughts…
    “Auld Reekie are a really strong team who have upped their game even further in recent years through playing loads of tournaments including one out in the USA. Players to watch are Crazylegs and Mo B Quick from Auld Reekie. Brighton’s The Mighty Mighty Bash is another one to look out for with her bone-shaking challenges.” Fonda Chaos, London Rockin’ Rollers
    “We’d probably say the biggest similar threats would come from ARRG’s Crazylegs and Brighton’s Mighty Mighty Bash. Both are formidable hard hitting blockers but extremely agile and smart pivots. Brighton were an amazing team to play and we had the best fun at the after party with them so I think paired with Party ARRG it will be a great experience both on and off the track.” Mona Rampage, Glasgow Roller Derby
    “I think this is a really tough game to call. Brighton are a team moving quickly up through the ranks and have shown their skills and determination to succeed in every bout they’ve played this season. Auld Reekie are an established machine however, with super skilled blockers and some incredible jammers. My money is on Auld Reekie to take it, but I think it’ll be a hard hitting and action packed game. Players to watch out for: Auld Reekie old favourites, super blocker Crazylegs and Ciderella and fleet footed ninja jammer Admiral Atttackbar. I think Brighton’s Mighty Mighty Bash will give them a hard time though, both as a super agile blocker and a strong pushy jammer. Both teams play tight-walled dynamic defence and I really think it’ll be a close call between the two.” Magic 8-Brawl, Leeds Roller Dolls
RANKINGS: http://flattrackstats.com/rankings/ukrda
LEEDS: http://leedsrollerdolls.com/
GLASGOW: http://glasgowrollerderby.com
LRR: http://londonrockinrollers.co.uk/

DD photo by Laura MacDonald courtesy of http://www.arrg.co.uk
Enyo pic by Jason Nightall of http://www.leicesterskaters.co.uk

Turn Left Issue 2 now online

COVER_2_mockup copy

Did you miss out on a hard copy of issue two of our fanzine ‘Turn Left’ given out at yesterday’s Brighton Rockers v Leeds Roller Dolls bout? Not to worry, here’s the next best thing: an online viewable (and downloadable if you join Issuu) version. Just click the image above or visit http://issuu.com/turnleftmag/docs/turnleft_issue2. And if that’s not enough, you’ll also find further images from Bash and Racey’s fashion shoot (for Dig for Victory’s ad in the mag) right here: http://www.roachphotography.co.uk/portfolio/#3545. Yay!

Sussex Summer of Derby


“When is summer going to properly arrive,” people have been moaning over recent weeks. This weekend, as it happens. Not necessarily in weather terms, but in FACT terms. Friday 21st June is officially the first day of summer in 2013 and Saturday 21st September is the last day, so enough of the “it’s supposed to be summer” whining in spring, yeah? Truth be told, we derby fans don’t really like summer anyway as it tends to be the fallow season for derby. Given the age and gender of most combatants, lots of skaters disappear off for holidays with their kids. Yet more – whether students, teachers, tutors or otherwise education sector based – spend much of the gap in the academic year visiting relatives or enjoying the break in other ways. Consequently, many derby leagues take a month or two off, at least in terms of bouting, at that time of year. Having said that, don’t let the blank (apart from something that happened in March) Event Calendar page on the Brighton Rockers website fool you; there’s actually plenty of derby action coming up over the summer months. Here we run down some bouts featuring the Rockers A-team, B-team, individual skaters and/or ex-skaters, plus other derby events with a Sussex twist. We’re sure there are several other events out there that should be on this list – we know of at least one bout in Sussex that only doesn’t feature here as there aren’t enough details available yet – so please drop us a line at brightonbrats@yahoo.co.uk if you know of anything else. Also, be aware that some of these events (particularly those towards the end of the list) might be subject to change as derby schedules can be a little, shall we say, ‘fluid’. Cheers.

Roller derby is a great force for good in the world, and it’s heartening to see the sport thriving in a location many people perceive through media reports as a divided community riddled with disorder, prejudice, lawlessness and fear, so hats off to the skaters of Croydon. This bout doesn’t feature any Brighton skaters, but there will likely be a smattering of Rockers refs and NSOs involved, along with Brighton superstar/coach Mistress Von Uber Vixen in the role of co-announcer/commentator. The event is also taking place in Brighton’s regular bouting venue, the Dolphin leisure centre in Haywards Heath – Croydon’s usual bouting venue at Monks Hill is currently being rebuilt (despite the rumours, CRD’s Riot Squad didn’t burn it down themselves, it’s a planned upgrade). Doors open at 1pm with first whistle at 1.15, and tickets are great value at £6.50 online until Friday or £7.50 on the door, with an after party in a (fairly) nearby pub to follow. PS Kudos to anyone who, like us, is going to try and take in the London Rockin’ Rollers v Paris 4pm bout in East London too – Haywards to West Ham in 70 mins via weekend public transport is certainly going to be a challenge!

Not only does this bout not feature any Rockers on the track, but it’s also in another country. So why is it listed here? Because the fast rising Eastbourne league feature various ex-Brighton B-teamers and freshies in their ranks, and this bout marks only their second public appearance and first international trip. Plus, of course, they’re the Rockers’ East Sussex sisters. So if you happen to find yourself in the French bit of Belgium this particular weekend, get yourself down to the Max Audain sports centre in Frameries (on the outskirts of Mons) to show Eastbourne some Sussex derby love.

Wooah! An actual Rockers bout. Nominally a B-team one, but given the pretty strong opposition and no-one in the Rockers squad having had a public run-out since the London tattoo show tournament in late May, we’re expecting this Bruisers line-up to contain even more A-team ringers than normal. It’s taking place at the Midlands Roller Arena, which is a fab looking venue normally used for roller hockey, somewhat incongruously located in the grounds of a rural garden centre! There’s easy road access from the M1 etc, but for us public transport types the only option is the hourly 140 bus from Leicester (45 mins journey) to an unmarked bus stop outside a farm 10 minutes up the road! There’s a mixed bout of some sort before the Brighton one, and at least the after party is closer to civilisation, taking place in a pirate themed bar in central Leicester. Still in some ways coming to terms with former star player Rogue Runner’s transfer to London Rollergirls a year ago, the Dolly Rockits currently rank 23rd in the UK and will provide a stern test for the Bruisers, no matter how many A-teamers Brighton sneak into their fourteen.

Anyone who can’t make it up to the East Midlands this weekend, will find a wealth of derby taking place just off Eastbourne seafront. Even those who did go to Ashby Parva – and isn’t that the best derby venue location name ever – should be able to shake off the hangover in time to catch most of the second day. The UK’s only free outdoor roller derby tournament, now in its second year, is hosted by the Bourne Bombshells, who will be facing off on the Saturday against Surrey, Basingstoke and a debutant B-team from Mean Valley (Bedford/Peterborough). The Sunday features an upper bracket of Croydon, Portsmouth, Big Bucks (Wycombe) and Kent. Teams will play one 30-minute period against each of their three opponents, with the day’s top two facing off in a 5pm final. There are other events, including after parties and a roller disco in a Napoleonic fortress, over the course of the weekend. Derby-tastic!

SATURDAY 24TH AUGUST – SUMMER SUR5AL REMIX – 11am, Windsor, Berkshire
The Royal Windsor Rollergirls are innovative sorts. We caught an intraleague bout of theirs a week or two back where they operated a queuing system for line-ups which meant all players getting (more or less) the same amount of track time. One of their biggest innovations is Sur5al, a frantic full-day derby tournament featuring 15 teams of five who play one full-length two minute jam against each of their 14 opponents. There are no subs or replacements, so if players get injured or expelled for seven penalty box visits that team is down in numbers for the rest of the tournament (some teams have been left with only one player!). This particular ‘remix’ version adds the extra innovation of mixed gender teams, three women and two men per side. Given there are only about a dozen bouting men’s leagues in the UK (compared to 200-odd women’s) the guys have been much sought after. Indeed the 2012 European men’s champions, London-based Southern Discomfort, have provided players for more than half of these 15 sides! Brighton interest comes via the Rollin’ Rockers team which features Brighton superstar The Mighty Mighty Bash alongside Rockers ref Noise Tank; bolstered by Bash’s England team mate Jack Attack and derby power couple Betty Swollox and Piston Broke, this looks on paper like one of the strongest teams taking part. The Eastbourne league is also represented, with head coach Toxic Block Syndrome, Bullet Bomber and The PhilosoFear (who provides most of the photos for this website and our fanzine) featuring for the Foxy Morons.

Eek! Not just a Rockers bout, but an A-team bout and in Sussex to boot! Last we heard Brighton were still hoping to arrange another home bout prior to this one, but if that doesn’t come off this will be their first outing back in Sussex since the March double-header v the London Rockin’ Rollers and Portsmouth Roller Wenches. Brighton, incidentally, haven’t officially confirmed this bout v Leeds on any social media, but Leeds themselves and semi-official UKRDA ranking site flattrackstats.com have both listed it as happening for quite a while now. No more details (eg time, venue) seem available at present, but one thing we can predict is a bruising encounter; with Leeds currently ranked 5th in the UK and home team Brighton 9th, this one should be close. Even tougher opponents look on the cards for the following month – 2nd ranked Auld Reekie have a home bout with Brighton listed for Saturday 26th October (2pm) at the Meadowbank Arena in Edinburgh. We’re getting ahead of ourselves here, though. This preview is only supposed to cover the summer and the Leeds bout is scheduled for the very last day of whatever sort of ‘summer’ we’ll end up with this year.
No Facebook event pages yet. Please check the home and away league’s websites, Facebook, Twitter etc closer the time for more confirmation and/or details re these two potential bouts.

[Photo by Rebecca Cornford]