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.

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 (,, 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.

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!

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.

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 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

DD photo by Laura MacDonald courtesy of
Enyo pic by Jason Nightall of


Brighton v Leeds bout report


Hi. My name’s Brian and I’m a roller derby penalty box. People sometimes don’t appreciate how much of an important role I can play in the outcome of bouts I’m involved in. That’s why people rarely ask for my view on a game. How many times have you seen a vlogger or announcer interviewing the penalty box (the box itself, that is, not people in it) during or after a derby bout? Never, I bet. It’s not like that in other sports, of course. Karen, a tennis net I used to go out with, is barely off the telly in Wimbledon fortnight, arguing with John McEnroe in the studio on the majority of highlights shows. And don’t get me started about Julian Johnson, that football goalmouth who thinks he’s the bee’s knees ever since the Mail on Sunday gave him a weekly column, gadnammit.

So I’m sure you can understand how delighted I was when unofficial Brighton Rockers fans’ group BRATS asked me to cover Pump Up The Jam, the Sussex league’s hip hop themed home bout against the Leeds Roller Dolls Rebel Roses. Of course, it’s going to be tricky. I don’t want any of the players to know I’m covering the bout, so I’ll have to quickly hide my notes, blu-tacking them to the back of one of my chairs, when someone comes skating over to serve out their minute. Anyway, here’s my report. I hope you like it, and I hope that if you run a roller derby blog or magazine of your own you’ll give someone like myself, Salim (a pivot line in Scotland) or Camille (a Belgian turn one apex) a chance to write for you in future.


I’m bored. I really didn’t expect to be this bored. Thing is, it’s been four jams now and no-one’s come to visit me. I have these six seats here, all dusted down and ready, and none of the players – from either team – have dropped by yet. Yeah, I’ve got a trio of NSOs sitting behind, but to be honest they’re not the liveliest of company. So darned serious most of the time. Plus having them back there makes me a bit nervous, like they’re going to look over my shoulder (rhetorically speaking of course, us penalty boxes don’t have shoulders, that would be ridiculous) when I’m scrawling notes for the bout report. These opening jams have all been pretty short to be honest, a zero-zero opener followed by a trio of single pass 3 or 4-pointers. Leeds 6-3 up in a very closely matched start. Oh yay! A visitor!

Bruise ‘Em Banshee in the Leeds star takes a seat. I like it when the jammers come to visit, especially when they both arrive in quick succession, swapping over in the box for a few seconds chair time each. It gives a real sense of excitement to things, knowing that I – the penalty box – am the centre of attention at such times. No sign of a Brighton jammer taking a pew alongside Banshee any time soon, though. A battling pass through the burly Yorkshire pack and Racey Slamhard calls it. Kapow next up in the star for Brighton; one of the nippiest jammers in their rotation, toughening up with every bout, but finding it heavy going against a solid Leeds defence. The seventh jam is a biggie for Brighton as another lady in red (Livid Doll) occupies one of my starred seats and Rose Bleed power jams some daylight between the sides, 28-6. Hairy Fairy lines up to jam next. Brighton using a large rotation here, but of the six to take the star across the opening dozen jams, not one has the decency to pop by and visit me. Since when did Brighton turn so penalty shy? I’m confused.


For the remainder of the first period, Leeds rarely have their jammer on track for both the start and end of any jam. A rousing series of jumping passes from Bash in the tenth has given Brighton a somewhat surprising 57-7 cushion. Perceived wisdom going into this bout was that Leeds would take the win by anywhere from a dozen to 60 points, but it doesn’t look to be panning out that way at present. The lack of penalties for the Sussex side is surely a big factor in that. Remarkably, unless I missed one while I was scrawling my notes or surreptitiously tying my NSOs’ shoelaces together, it’s not until Jam 13 that someone from Brighton drops by. Whilst the fact it took so long to happen is a surprise, the identity of the miscreant isn’t. Shambolic usually spends half the bout in my chairs, or so it sometimes seems. She’s not wearing the star this time so the effect on Brighton’s points tally won’t be so great. In fact, her star-clad outings will be kept to a bare minimum today. A couple of my chairs get chatting to some of the home bench chairs at half time. They reckon Sham was carrying a slight knock going into the bout, hence limited star time, but any knock doesn’t prevent her from popping up all over the track as a commanding pivot and blocker.

Out on track, Chariot Sophia runs good interference on the Leeds defence as Rose chalks up another hefty haul of points. Super tough blocker Charisse Chapman gets a rare turn in the star for the Yorkshire outfit, with the likes of Livid Doll, Magic 8-Brawl, Feral Fairy, Banshee and a very pacy R.I.Punzel heading up the Leeds rotation. Bash puts up a towering last line of defence performance in many of these jams, as the frustration of getting constantly felled and recycled translates into various Rebel Roses paying me a visit. Leeds have finally starting getting lead status more regularly, but sprightly Rockers starheads like Racey and Sophia are catching them and forcing the call before they can do much damage. Brighton starting to pick up a few more penalties now, and a visit from Bash plays part in a mini-revival as the last few first period jams see the Rebel Roses pull it back from a 93-19 deficit to 100-33.


I’m hoping to be busier in the second half, and a cutting call against Sham in Jam 2 sees my first star pantied guest from Brighton. Lead jammer call offs in quick succession see her sit out most of the next three jams as Leeds pull it back to 104-50. Feistier play from the Yorkshirewomen now – they’re chipping away at Brighton’s differential, but will there be enough time to overturn the first period deficit? Hairy Fairy drops by to say hi in Jam 6, a star atop her helmet, and Brighton are now suffering from the Rebel Roses’ first half affliction of rarely starting and finishing a jam with their jammer on track. She’s with me again after a few seconds back in action as a very physical Leeds wall start drawing Brighton players towards more penalty risky play. Livid Doll and Fuzzin’ Boots are proving particularly tricky to get past. Business is much better for me this half, and the majority of it’s coming from the Sussex league now. 107-69. 107-78. Nearly twenty minutes left on the clock and Leeds know the way those numbers are stacking up, they have a good chance of turning this result around.

Jam 9 and my chairs are empty. Boo, I want the company. Sophia single pass and call. Track cut brings Kapow my way, but Bash is sending R.I.Punzel to the floor again and again as Brighton repeatedly recycle her like the city’s Green-led council are watching. Leeds power jam comes to nothing, team timeout Rockers, Mother Trucker holding Banshee back solidly and legally as Kapow takes lead, Brighton have taken ten points in the past three jams, Leeds none. Gap widening but Sophia’s in one of my star seats now and the Rebel Roses have split the pack, Emma the Condemner held back as Leeds take control, Banshee juking them into triple figures. Jam 14 and I’m all empty again. Sad face. Lead to R.I.P. but Bash is suddenly on her shoulder, forcing the call. Feral making more appearances in the star for Leeds now, a lot of very physical Team England on Team England action between her and Bash, gap down to 121-107. Mass Janeycide calls Brighton’s last team timeout. Announcer El Toupée struggles to hide his Leeds bias as his bassy tones reverberate around the hall. Bash and Feral in the star, pivot line start, Sham expertly edging Feral off track as Bash chalks up a couple of passes. That was an important jam, the clock ticking down on the Rebel Roses’ chances now.


Leeds pack on the pivot line, Brighton on the jammer line, Sophia takes lead, could put some distance on the scoreline, but a few seconds later she’s sat in one of my seats. Banshee’s being well hustled and bustled by the Rockers pack, but’s Racey off now – ouch! Coming in too fast, she crashes right into me, sending a couple of my chairs flying. Grrr. Last time something like that happened to me, the perpetrator (London Rockin’ Roller Jack Attack) got expelled from the game, but this time the authorities let it pass. Jam ends with Brighton leading 142-127, about five minutes left, this one could be going to the wire. Rose off next jam, the chance Leeds were looking for, but R.I.P. gets punted too, the duo swapping over in my star seats as Brighton edge it up. 151-130. Jam 21 and I’m empty again. It might be quiet here, but it’s all happening out on track. Sophia v Banshee, 160-134, team timeout Leeds with scant seconds left on the clock, Sophia back in to jam again. Feral takes lead for Leeds, but the Rockers pack are double tough and Sophia is flying around. Feral can’t call it or the game will end, has to hope and pray the Brighton jammer pays me a visit and she can take advantage of the power jam, but it’s not happening. Final whistle: Brighton Rockers 176 – Leeds Roller Dolls 142.

As the players take their handslaps from the crowd, and Rockers staff start removing the stuff they’ve decorated me with – a brightly coloured illustration of a boom box, speech bubbles and all – I get a quick moment to reflect on the bout before people fold up my chairs and pack me away until November 23rd. Back in April, the Rockers were soundly beaten in Glasgow at a bout my mate Salim was pivot line in. He told me it was a bit of a mauling, something that must have come as a shock to a side that had only ever lost one bout at that stage in their history. (That loss was a 3-point closed door reversal by London Brawl Saints, at the time the best performance any UK league had managed against the Londoners, thus felt like a victory anyway.)


Maybe it took them a few months to come to terms with the aftermath of Glasgow, get their morale back, develop new tactics, blood some rookies, etc; but today, with an under-strength squad­ (minus honeymooners and the recently injured) the Rockers were 93-19 up after 16 jams against the higher ranked A-team of a full WFTDA member league who have been in existence for twice as long as Brighton. Just as impressively, when Leeds dug in and fought back so well and so hard – when the Rebel Roses started turning the tide and seemed to have the momentum behind them – Brighton held firm, held strong, held on. Next up for the Sussex warriors is a tough away trip to face Auld Reekie, the UK’s second best league, followed by the showdown with Central City many expected to see at May’s UKRDA Southern Tournament. Two bouts that seem less intimidating a proposition than they might have done before today. Because if the Rockers can continue to play as solidly and as penalty light, with all the resilience, teamwork and tactical nous they displayed today, then there’s not a team in Europe (well, except Brawling, obvs) that they can’t beat. But what do I know? I’m just a penalty box called Brian.

[Photos by John Hesse]

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 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: Yay!

Brighton v Leeds bout preview


This weekend sees the mighty Rockers back on home turf for the first time in more than six months. They take on Leeds Roller Dolls’ A-team Rebel Roses on Saturday (21st September) at the Dolphin Leisure Centre, a few minutes walk from Haywards Heath station. Doors are at 2.30pm with first whistle at 3pm, and you’ll find links to the FB event and tickets page at the end of this preview – online tickets are just £10 (free to under 12s) and will likely be taken off sale at some point on Friday, so get in there quick if you haven’t already.

We’ve been looking forward to this bout since it first popped up on LRD’s website calendar a few months ago, as we’re expecting it to be a bit EPIC. There are various ranking sites that rate different derby leagues based on complicated algorithms, but the one we’ve always found the most reliable (and the one the UK Roller Derby Association itself is involved with) is that at They currently rank Leeds as the 7th best league in the UK and Brighton 10th. Given Brighton’s home advantage, that suggests this should be a close one.

Rival rankings site derbydataeurope has more disparity. Although there’s a similar placing differential – Leeds 6th and Brighton 9th – their system gives the Yorkshire league far more rankings points than the Sussex side (426 v 303) compared to the wafer-thin margin on flattrackstats (681 v 661). Prediction wise, both sites favour Leeds. FTS give them a 59% chance of taking the win (so 41% Brighton for those that can’t do the maths!) and, whilst not predicting a specific score, they expect Leeds to score 11 points for every 10 Brighton make, which would equate to a typical derby scoreline of say 200-182. DDE call it 200-142 to Leeds, but both these predictions are well within the huge margin of error such formula-based guesswork entails, so the actual result could – and likely will – differ quite considerably. (The third rankings site,, is currently offline for maintenance incidentally.)

You’ll find interviews with two Brighton skaters (Racey Slamhard, Shambolic) alongside bench duo Mass Janeycide and Maude Fondeo and ref LaserHammer, as well as Leeds skaters Bruise ‘Em Banshee and R.I.Punzel, in our fanzine ‘Turn Left’ available to pick up at the bout. Here are snippets from some of those interviews by way of a bout preview. Knowing that teams taking part rarely offer much more than “we’ll give it our best shot” by way of a prediction, we also got in touch with the five derby leagues who have played both Brighton and Leeds to gauge their thoughts on this match-up. (Not everyone has yet replied, and we’ll be adding any further responses to this piece as and when they arrive.)

“We have our own tactics and game play, but this obviously has to change for various opponents. We always want to work to our strength and play our game, but it’s important to understand the other team’s way of playing too. We may watch other teams, but it’s all done casually and we like to talk about other teams even if we are not playing them. We’re not looking to ‘catch them out’. Leeds are a great team and we are really looking forward to hosting them. As for tricks, we hope to dazzle them with mine and Janeycide’s infamous boutfits. They won’t know what’s hit them.”

“We have some awesome double threats in LRD, so you might see few of us jamming and making an impact in the pack. Let us know who was your favourite. We won’t be giving away our tactics pre-game though! We like to enter every bout focused on playing our game and working the game to our advantage.  We won’t be predicting scores, but you can be certain we will be fighting for points to the last whistle whatever the scoreline.”

“Having played against both Brighton and Leeds I can say that they are both formidable opponents. Particular players to watch out for include double threat Charisse Chapman from the Rebel Roses Leeds A-team. Skating since 2009, she is both a skilled jammer and hard hitting blocker. Bruise ’em Banshee from Leeds is another smart player to watch both in the pack and with the star. Of course Leeds will have their work cut out for them coming up against The Mighty Mighty Bash from Brighton Rockers, a real force to reckon with who has also skated for Team England. Rose Bleed is a nippy jammer to keep your eye out for, she is so quick at juking through the pack she makes it look easy. With such talent on both sides it is hard to determine who will come out on top in their upcoming bout, so it is set to be an interesting match up.”

“Both teams are amazing, the pack work between them will be out standing and they have both been building in strength for a long time. Players to watch are The Mighty Mighty Bash (Brighton) for her bone shaking blocking and CeCee Slammer (Leeds) for her slippery jamming!”

“Two teams GO-GO Gent enjoyed bouting against, two teams with fierce blockers (we all remember The Mighty Mighty Bash) and amazing jammers and unbeatable team spirit. Giving a prediction is hard, so let the best one win! GO-GO ladies!”

For those yet to experience the delights of the Dolphin Haywards Heath, first be careful which map you use to find the place. A medical centre and pub (whose name has now changed) also appear as The Dolphin on many online maps. The leisure centre is located on Pasture Hill Road, roughly five minutes walk from the train station (10-20 mins journey time from Brighton, 40-50 mins from Central London). Turn left and follow the roller derby arrows stuck to lampposts. The pub opposite the station (the Burrell Arms) isn’t too bad for a station sports pub if you have time to kill. The leisure centre itself is blessed with two bars; a cafe style place also doing bites to eat in the main foyer (with limited outdoor seating for cigarette types) and a small bottle and can bar a few corridor turns past the sports hall.

There will be the usual selection of derby delights in the hall, and the designated charity for the bout is Tree of Hope. The event’s name PUMP UP THE JAM gives away the theme, so wear your finest 80s/90s style hip hop gear if you’re into dressing up and that. As well as the official bout programme, issue two of our unofficial fan magazine will be available to pick up on the day. The after party is back in central Brighton in the legendary Rockers-favoured Marwood coffee shop. Coffee shop? Don’t panic – it has an alcohol licence, as well as a gnarly ‘secret garden’.




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 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 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]