In this week's EuroClash interview, covering the attendees at Newcastle Roller Girls' first international Tournament, this March 25th to 26th, we're back in the UK with one of the first teams in the UK... Birmingham's Central City Rollergirls.
In common with many of the attendees at EuroClash, CCR A attended the Beach Brawl in Florida in 2016, winning two out of three bouts with impressive margins. They also managed to compete against two other EuroClash attendees towards the end of the year - holding Dublin to a near draw, and also playing Paris.
Next year, as well as EuroClash, Central City are once again joining forces with Dublin to play San Fernando Valley Roller Derby, of California.
CCR's Co-Captains, Bunny Massacre and Woo Ha!, answered a few questions for us about the team.
In common with quite a few EuroClash attendees, CCR had their first trip to the USA last year, at Beach Brawl. As with most first-time USA trips for European teams, you got a good 40+ place rankings boost from this… but how was the experience for you generally, and did you find it different to what you expected?
Bunny: We had a fantastic time. This was something that we had wanted to do for such a long time and making it a reality was incredible. The whole trip increased our bond as a team; everyone worked so hard on and off track. I had tried to curb my expectations about our tournament experience. We had taken part in European tournaments in the past which had given us a great basis to work with and unsurprisingly a lot of the set up was similar! We had anticipated challenging and tough games, and weren’t disappointed! Overall it was a wonderful experience.
Woo: It was an incredible experience - right through from the team decision to take part to the fundraising and combined league efforts and on to the actual tournament. The team was in great shape when we arrived and ready to face the somewhat unknown. We had limited intel on the teams we were facing so we approached each game with a view to playing OUR game and nailing our strategy objectives. We learned a lot (the logistics of a USA trip alone comes with its challenges) but we loved the challenge of games outside of the norm for us and the experience of tournament play was invaluable. It was a 100% positive experience! You're also one of the few teams to beat London's B team, Brawl Saints, in 2016. Even London B used to be considered untouchable by other UK teams - how was it to play them (and do you think it's a sign that the rest of UK derby is really catching up to London)?
Woo: What a great game it was too! We're huge fans of the LRG Brawl Saints girls! The competitive Derby landscape is an exciting place to be; teams are getting tighter, strategy is getting slicker and the UK coaching standard is at an all time high. There's so much more we've got access to now for learning from vs 2 years ago... so yes, the playing field is definitely shifting.
Bunny: We had been working really hard to the build up to this game, as we knew it would be stiff competition. It was also our first home game in 18 months, so there was a real mixture of excitement and nerves! There was an overwhelming sense of pride and of course happiness when the final whistle blew. They were a great team to play. As Woo says there’s so much more knowledge, strategy and coaching available to us now and in such a diverse variety of ways. This is all having a significant impact on the standard of UK game play and definite sense that a real attempt is being made to catch up.
You'll be playing hosts Newcastle, and Tiger Bay Brawlers at EuroClash. When you played them last, both in 2015, TBB had a strong win, and Newcastle a close defeat… but in the last two years, both teams have changed things up quite a bit. How are you feeling about the two games?
Bunny: We have a long history with both these teams, there’s real excitement to play them again. We are well aware that both teams are going bring their A game and be incredibly challenging to play. What’s great is that they are fantastic teams to compete against, we always really enjoy facing these ladies on track and no matter how fierce the game, it will also be great fun!
Woo: There's huge excitement here at CCR for these match ups. We're really chuffed to be part of the action. Both opposition teams represent a massive opportunity for us to bring our best game to track against a bunch of classy, hardworking women. It's going to be tough, we're under no illusion, but having played both teams previously as well as going through some changes ourselves, we're really excited to see how it plays out on track.
And, in the time between your two fixtures, which teams are you most looking forward to watching?
Woo: So many awesome match ups! It's always great to watch Paris in action - we love those girls. We're excited to see the international game at the end of the tournament, too.
Bunny: Playing at tournaments for me always brings along the added bonus that we get to watch incredible derby too! All of the fixtures look particularly exciting, but I’m looking forward to seeing Bear City play as I haven’t had an opportunity to watch them live in a while. And, of course, watching Team Ireland, where we may get the chance to support a couple of CCR team mates.
Tickets to EuroClash are available at: https://www.euro-clash.com/tickets and are £25 in advance. More information is available at the event page, linked at the top of this article.