After a nail-biting finish resulting in a narrow victory at their last game, the Seaside Sirens were hoping to steal a much more comfortable win against their next opponents; Manchester Roller Derby’s (MRD) Checkerbroads. However the ladies in green had other ideas and their sturdy, speedy jammers & tight pack work gave the crowd another thrilling close-run game.
The game saw both teams with a small jammer rotation; MRD making use of VicToriBee, Sirenide (captain) and Go-Go Chanel whilst the Sirens bolstered their previous rotation of Force Ten Gail and Killer Bite with The Beckoning. You may recall from our previous bout that the Sirens had a special guest mascot for the day; a young fan who flew the flag for our skate out! This time around we dug around in our sandpit and found ourselves another super fan to blow the first whistle for the game; comedic panel-show legend Phill Jupitus! Everyone loves a good celeb, but at Sirens HQ we particularly love Mr Jupitus; a long-term Seaside Sirens fan who is often spotted wearing a Sirens or Kent Roller Girls shirts on TV. Thanks Phill for getting this bout started for us!
The Sirens’ blockers took to the pivot line for the start of the first few jams but MRD’s nimble jammers took advantage of this and took the Sirens packs by surprise with their speed, earning 4 of the first 5 lead jammer calls of the day. However with the Sirens jammers always hot on their heels they were compelled to use “hit it & quit it” tactics giving them just a 0-15 lead going in to the 6th jam. Similarly when Killer Bite picked up the Sirens first lead jammer call in the 3rd jam, Go-Go Chanel was too close for comfort, resulting in a 0-0- jam.
With Force Ten Gail lining up for the Sirens in the 6th jam, she made use of a 4-3 pack advantage and placed the first 4 points on the board for the ladies in blue before calling the jam off; much to the crowd’s pleasure! The Beckoning scored the next 4 points for the Sirens a few jams later; 9-17 to MRD.
Our first power jam of the day came at the 12 minute mark after recent Sirens transfer Katy Peril forced a track cut penalty on MRD’s jammer VicToriBee. With some offence from her pack Force Ten Gail picked up 3 grand slams before VicToriBee was released, giving us a lead change 24-17 to the Sirens.
Two jams later, Force Ten Gail broke free from the pack first, taking advantage of a gap left on the inside line coming out of the apex; however the jammer referee spotted half a wheel over the line, seeing Gail off to the box to join her blockers Katy Peril and The Bexorcist. With The Beckoning joining them a few moments later and a full box for MRD too, jammer Go-Go Chanel called the jam off immediately and handed the power jam responsibility to VicToriBee. Her blockers opted to play patient offence and she made light work of thinly spread Sirens pack, picking up 15 points and calling it before Force Ten Gail could be released. Another lead change; 24-36 to MRD.
A few jams later Go-Go Chanel was once again lead and facing a power jam, as Killer Bite picked up a cut track penalty for the Sirens. With all her blockers on the track this time, Go-Go opted to keep the star for herself and with the MRD pack again playing patient offence, Go-Go picked up 4 passes of the Sirens pack who were quickly muscled out-of-play each time. Her 18 points saw MRD further their lead to 58-24. This run saw MRD capitalising on the Sirens penalty trouble who were only able to pick up one point in 7 jams.
The Sirens responded by switching up their starting strategy and joined the MRD blockers in front of the jammer line; a strategy that without doubt paid off for them. The first jam after saw VicToriBee & Killer Bite breaking out of the pack together. Followed by a scrappy jam that saw both jammers and two blockers from each team take trips to the box went slightly in the Sirens favour and the next one Force Ten Gail picked up lead, calling it for 4 points.
MRD took the chance for a team time-out to re-group. Unfortunately for the Checkerbroads the Sirens also used the opportunity to build on their change in starting-line strategy; the home team had a 3-2 pack advantage going into jam 20 and opened up a space on the inside line for Killer Bite to take lead. Brutal pack work from The Bexorcist, Frocky Balboa, Ella GNAW and The Beckoning trapped & repeatedly recycled MRD’s jammer Sirenide, allowing Killer Bite to pick up 2 grand slams before Sirenide broke out. The unrelenting hits from the MRD’s Kate Push & Psycho-Sis pack led Killer Bite to call the jam midway through her next pass as Sirenide was approaching the pack. With tensions running high and keen to score points, Sirenide was mid-block as the 4th whistles were called and was unable to stop herself landing the hit, that saw her off to the box with an Illegal Procedure penalty for blocking after the whistle.
With the crowd on the edge of their seats and huge cheers of encouragement for both teams, Force Ten Gail took the star facing a formidable MRD wall of Sui-Cider, Kate Push and Psycho-Sis. The Sirens pack again opted to play an active power jam, making holes for Force Ten and trapping blockers to maintain a slow pack, allowing her to pick up 19 points before she called it just before Sirenide was released. Another lead change! 67-65 to the Sirens.
Killer Bite quickly picked up 4 points in the next jam with a 3-2 pack advantage at the start but by the time she’d called it there were 2 Sirens blockers in the box and Hula Gunn in the queue. The MRD response was glorious; VicToriBee shot off the jammer line to earn lead whilst her blockers Penny Pinch’er, Kate Push and Psycho-Sis held Force Ten Gail & recycled her to the back of the pack long enough for VicToriBee to pick up 9 points, giving us another lead change 71-74 to MRD!
It seemed like MRD were on a role and keen to finish the first half with a lead; Go-Go Chanel collected the lead jammer status on her initial pass, but some smart recycling from The Bexorcist forced a cut track on her first scoring pass. Killer Bite had just under 2 minutes to capitalise on the error and a combination of smart, distracting blocks from her pack and a couple of nifty apex jumps saw the first half come to a close with a stunning 29 point jam for Killer Bite and gave us another lead change; 100-78 to the Sirens.
The second half saw the teams trading lead jammer calls and taking 3 or 4 point passes before being forced to call it; the Sirens clinging on the lead and MRD refusing to allow them to extend it much further. The Bexorcist tricked VicToriBee into a sneaky track cut penalty early on, giving Force Ten Gail 2 minutes to rack up 5 full passes and 24 points; eeking the Sirens lead to 128-90. A few jams later and the power-line-up of Psycho-Sis, Jowanna Clout, Ma-Rollin’ Munster and The Incredible Ish trap Killer Bite long enough for Go-Go Chanel to pick up a jammer lap point & taking MRD to triple digits before being sent off for a cutting penalty. With a 3-4 pack advantage and truly impressive blocking skills, MRD are able to keep the pace slow and control Killer Bite, only allowing her 2 scoring passes in the 2 minutes. 142-100 to the Sirens.
When the tables are turned a few jams later, with the The Beckoning sat in the penalty box to give MRD a power jam, the ladies in blue aren’t able to match the same slow pace & controlled blocking against MRD’s patient offence and jammer Sirenide is able to force split packs to collect 18 points, calling the jam before The Beckoning is released. The next jam VicToriBee is able to put up a further 7 points before calling it to prevent the Sirens scoring and they close the gap to a tantalising 146-125!
Once again the Sirens responded to this attack on their lead; their much-practiced hammer & nail recycling held back the MRD jammers for two jams, allowing two scoring attacks on the MRD packs from the Sirens jammers. With around 9 minutes left and the Sirens ahead with 155-125, it looks like a done deal when VicToriBee is sent to the box for a cutting penalty, receiving a 2nd minute for an illegal procedure when she left the box seconds too early. Force Ten Gail is able to score 25 points in 2 minutes before calling it to give Killer Bite the chance to pick up the lead jammer call unopposed, who is then able to collect a further 14 points before calling it off to give the Sirens a seemingly comfortable 194-129 lead. That is until Force Ten Gail cuts the track in the following jam; whilst Ella GNAW, Hula Gunn, Katy Peril and Dr TerrorBrAwLL are left to make Sirenide’s life difficult for 2 minutes, only allowing her 4 points before the jam reaches its natural conclusion.
VicToriBee takes the star once again for the Checkerbroads who field their power line-up (see above!) and picks up 15 points before Force Ten Gail is released from the box; but knowing they need all the points she can get ToriBee relies on her blockers to do their job and how they do it! Against a much-reduced Sirens pack, that sees Frocky Balboa and The Beckoning foul out, they’re able to hold Force Ten Gail for a further 3 passes and finally force a cut track on her. All in all, VicToriBee collects an incredible 35 points for the Checkerbroads! The Sirens are clutching onto the lead 201-164; the clock says there’s enough time for only one more jam and proving her stamina, VicToriBee keeps the start and sets out to try and put down another huge jam for the Checkerbroads. She manages a valiant 9 points before Force Ten Gail is released from the penalty box and calls the jam dead.
Final Score: Seaside Siren All Stars 201 – 173 Manchester Roller Derby Checkerbroads.
An absolutely thrilling game from start-to-finish and best of all was the response both teams had about the game; each & every skater I spoke to from both sides gushed about how much fun and good-natured the gameplay was. Despite fighting tooth & nail on the track, the teams had a huge amount of respect for each other and it really showed at the after-party at The Alex with MRD joining us to celebrate a great game. Thank you Manchester Roller Derby!
Manchester Roller Derby
Best Jammer – Go-Go Chanel
Best Blocker – Psycho-Sis
Most Valuable Player – VicToriBee
Best Jammer – Force Ten Gail
Best Blocker – Hula Gunn
Most Valuable Player – The Bexorcist
Photo © Andrew Sims