Brighton Rockers v Rainy City bout preview


Yesterday we took in a non-Rockers derby event up in London. The main bout featured the London Rollergirls all-conquering A-team Brawling up against Cardiff’s Tiger Bay Brawlers, the only European team to have ever beaten LRG’s B-team Brawl Saints (although Brighton have come close behind closed doors). The Brawling v Brawlers bout was notable for being a testing game for WFTDA’s mooted new 30-second penalties rule, and did as intended do away with much of the ‘negative’ tactical play – passive offence, as it’s called – that has been criticised in recent years.
    As far as the result was concerned, that was never in doubt as London built on a 20-0 opening jam to hold a 100-point lead barely ten minutes into the match. The final score was 500-30. Of course it was great to watch the amazing skills of the Brawling roster (and Tiger Bay’s Kid Block, amongst others), but as a ‘contest’ it was hardly edge-of-the-seat stuff. What a comparison with Brighton’s last bout; a 170-156 home win over Central City that saw the Rockers overturn a half-time deficit, with a final 15 minutes involving at least half a dozen re-tied scorelines or lead changes. They say the close games are the best ones to watch, and the bout that kicks off Brighton’s 2014 season this Saturday is widely predicted to be one of those.

Opponents Rainy City Roller Girls (from Greater Manchester) currently rank fifth in the official UK Roller Derby Association table with 666.5 points. The Rockers are tenth on 644.5. The website predicts, based on these rankings, a 60% chance of victory for the visitors with an anticipated score differential of 19-17. The same site’s Europe-wide ranking system has Rainy in 14th (671.9) and Brighton 17th (658.3) and predicts a 53% chance of a Rainy win, with the visitors picking up 34 points for every 33 that Brighton score. That’s one of the closest differentials we’ve ever witnessed on a bout predictor – certainly the closest involving Brighton – and would equate to a typical scoreline of, say, 165-170. Wow!
    Rainy won away at Newcastle yesterday by a slightly higher margin than had been predicted (152-191), so their ranking points total is likely to increase, but not enough to hugely affect the predictions. Conversely, the Northern league will be without their most high profile skater against Brighton – Missy Rascal is away playing for Team England on Saturday – which may well tip the balance towards the Rockers. One of those who took part in yesterday’s massacre in London, Brawling’s Lorrae Evans (who faced both sides last year with the Brawl Saints) expects the Haywards Heath bout to go to the wire. “This is gonna be such a tight match-up,” she told us. “Both teams have some iconic players on their rosters, yet the style of play will be quite different. We predict Brighton will have the edge, but it should be a close game.”

The game takes place this Saturday 15th February at the Dolphin Leisure Centre in Haywards Heath, about five minutes walk from Haywards Heath station on the London-Brighton mainline. (Turn left outside the station and follow the roller derby signs stuck to lampposts, trees and small dogs.) The pub opposite the train station, the Burrell Arms, is footbally but decent enough for a station pub. The after party is back in Brighton in the Rockers beloved home pub, the Cornerstone on the corner of Elm Grove and Lewes Road, and will once again feature the league’s own beer Off Your Rocker. The bout venue itself has a café bar in its foyer and a smaller (but better stocked booze-wise) sports club bar a few corridor turns past reception. The game marks the Rockers’ fourth birthday, so don your best birthday outfit – NB not ‘birthday suit’ – and party hat if you’re fancy dress inclined. Doors open at 2.30pm with the bout scheduled to start at 3pm. Tickets are priced £10 adults and free for under 12s. These are still available while they last (Rockers bouts often sell out) from the link at the bottom of this piece.
    Attending the bout is also the only way to get hold of a physical copy of Issue Four of our unofficial Brighton Rockers fanzine Turn Left, which this time around features interviews with no fewer than fourteen Rockers stars! We’ll be featuring a fanzine quote from a different Rocker each day in the run-up to the bout (some of the quotes may be a little odd when taken out of context) on the BrightonBRATS Facebook page, group and Twitter feed. So check back each day and see if you can guess who said it and what the hell they’re talking about. We’ll leave you with the thoughts of Saturday’s bout day announcer, derby legend El Toupée, on the two sides taking part…

“Rainy City Roller Girls are, like so many leagues, in an almost constant state of flux. The North West has a large number of players and league opportunities, and RCRG now maintains three travel teams, so there’s always movement within their ranks. Just like any other league, the outcome will depend on so many variables. RCRG fared reasonably at the 2013:SKOD tournament, and they’ll carry that experience and growth into 2014. Expect them to play a fast-paced game, which always amuses me given that RCRG are, by and large, one of the unhealthiest leagues I know – if they’re not all outside having a cigarette at half time I’ll be very surprised! From my own personal experience, the players to watch (in the absence of Missy Rascal) will be R.E.D and Dee-Mise – who, I should point out, skates just as fast backward as forward! It would be remiss of me not to mention Maddy Nuff who, as part of Team Nitemare, is one of ‘my’ skaters too.”

“The Rockers are one of those leagues that I’ve had very few dealings with, and yet I’m relatively close to and/or know a number of people involved with the league. Mistress and I have been trading barbs/knowing looks since the first Men’s Euros in 2012; Noise and Banger know me – and I them – from the infield, likewise Mercy, Scoot’er and LaserHammer; Bash is someone whose path has crossed mine numerous times since 2010 due to my involvement with London Rockin’ Rollers; and whether she remembers it or not, Mother Trucker and I had a conversation about her getting involved in derby back when she watched her sister play for Leeds Roller Dolls in Huddersfield.
    As for who to watch? Truthfully, I don’t like to single players out, but Bash always leaves me in awe. I used to joke that there were only two players in the UK who could get away with hip checking a car – Central City’s Tragic Wrath (no longer skating as far as I know) and The Mighty Mighty Bash. Having watched her grow and develop as a player I can’t put into words how many shades of terrifying she is in the right setting. Shambolic also gets two thumbs up based solely on her performance against Leeds last year – I can only wonder at the nightmares she left them with post-bout. It’s also fair to say that the Rockers have a deep jammer roster, and they’re always ably supported by the pack. Give them an inch and they’ll hit it and quit it all the way to the end of the bout.”


[photographs by John Hesse and D Crompton Photography]