There is no official “bout of the season” award in UK roller derby, but if there was then this bruising encounter would be a red-hot favourite to win it. DRR and Big Bucks played out a stone cold classic game that saw the Wycombe team come back from a hefty first half deficit to produce no less that five second half lead changes and bring both sets of fans to their feet for a nailbiting finale.
Big Bucks may be relative newcomers to the UK roller derby scene but with their their roster including a wealth of experienced skaters, including Euro Allstar AnDracula, it was clear that DRR would need to be on top of their game to get anything out of the bout.
The Leicester team came out strong in the opening jams of the first half, looking to prevent Big Bucks from playing their normal game and settling into any kind of rhythm. Gob Stop’her, Onya Case and DRR’s own Euro Allstar, Rogue Runner, all put points on the board early on to give DRR a 13-6 lead after eight minutes.
BBHR pulled the game back to one point shortly afterwards, Rucking Hostile and AnDracula combining for six points overall, but the Dollies were sticking tight to their game plan and beginning to reap rewards as a result. Two quickfire powerjam opportunities let Rogue Runner flex her jamming muscles, and the England skater opened up a decent lead for DRR as she took 37 unanswered points.
The Dollies had plenty of momentum as the mid point of the half approached, and continued to extend their lead as their pack fought for control of the jam line. First Gob and then Onya benefitted from some excellent assist play as they took the score to 62-12 at around ten minutes left in the period.
Big Bucks were given the opportunity to claw some points back when Liddy Savage found herself on a powerjam, but the BBHR jammer was boxed midway through Gob’s jammer penalty. The opportunity wasn’t yet over for Big Bucks, however, as DRR conceded another powerjam to get Liddy back out and on track unopposed. A frantic period of play ensued, allowing the home team to regain some ground and take the score to 70-47.
After a relatively clean first 25 minutes the jammer penalties were suddenly coming thick and fast, and a Holly Sheet powerjam for DRR just before the half seemed to have put the Allstars firmly in control of the game. She took 17 points and called it as the Big Bucks jammer was standing, allowing Rogue to start the next jam unopposed and add another 10 to the scoreline. At half time the scores stood at 99-49 to DRR.
BBHR came out for the second half needing to disrupt the Dollies’ rhythm, and they immediately succeeded. A convincing 4-0 scoring pass for AnDracula on the first jam of the period was followed by a huge Big Bucks powerjam after an illegal DRR star pass, and the Dollies found their lead halved within the space of a couple of minutes.
Another powerjam for BBHR immediately followed, and Rucking Hostile gave her team the lead for the first time in the bout at 106-99.The Wycombe team had outscored their opponents 57-0 after a devastating eight minute blitz, and with the momentum having well and truly swung the home team’s way it seemed highly likely that they would walk away with the win.
Going behind seemed to rally the Dollies, however, and they were finally able to start picking up points again. Big Bucks maintained a slender advantage over the next few jams, with the lead veering between five and nine points, but neither team was able to make a killer play as the clock ticked down and tension levels began to rise.
The next few minutes were a blur as DRR retook the lead from Big Bucks after well executed jamming from Holly Sheet and Rogue, only for the home team to regain their advantage through an AnDracula scoring pass that put them up by a single point.
With six minutes to go the Dollies had the opportunity to win it once and for all, after a Gob Stop’her powerjam and subsequent Rogue scoring pass saw the Leicester team regain the lead yet again and put some daylight between the sides at 139-122, but a Liddy Savage powerjam for Big Bucks saw that advantage wiped out and left the scores at 143-141 in favour of DRR with one jam left to play.
Almost inevitably it was Rogue and AnDracula facing off against each other on the jam line for the last play of regular time, two of the UK’s most high-profile players going head to head in a contest that had become almost unbearably tense.
Twenty seconds in it looked for all the world like AnDracula had done enough to win, as she quickly cleared the pack on her initial pass and was a full half a lap ahead by the time Rogue exited. The pressure was entirely on DRR’s blockers to stop a four point scoring pass which would have won the game for BBHR there and then, and they stepped up to the plate admirably, walling up in front of AnDrac and buying time for Rogue to catch up with the pack. With the DRR jammer fast approaching, AnDracula ducked past a couple of blockers, called it and waited for the final score.
2-0 jam. 143-143.
The game was about to become only the second ever DRR game to go to overtime. BBHR elected to keep AnDrac out to jam, while the Dollies went with Gob Stop’Her as her jam line counterpart. As ever with overtime jams both sets of blockers set off at maximum speed, leaving a footrace between the two jammers to engage the pack first.
Gob exited the pack in front, but AnDrac chased her down, passing her on the second lap. As the jam went on it seemed that the BBHR jammer had fresher legs than her DRR and would get an extra scoring pass.
The Dollies had seconds to react, and shook things up with an audacious star pass from Gob to Rogue. Rogue set off after AnDracula like a shot, ducking past BBHR’s blockers, and by the end of the jam seemed to have picked up a fair few points. As the whistle sounded all eyes turned to the scoreboard.
8-8 jam. 151-151.
A full 60 minutes and an overtime jam had failed to separate the two teams. Everyone in the room – players, fans, even the officials – looked emotionally drained by the notion of a second overtime jam. DRR elected to keep Rogue on track for overtime jam number two, while BBHR threw a curveball by going for Holy Munroller, who had mostly blocked in the second period.
As the jam started it became clear that Big Bucks had made a smart move. Holy Munroller was clearly feeling fresher than Rogue, who had played over a full bout on heavy jam rotation, and quickly raced past DRR’s blockers. As she rounded for a second scoring pass, the home crowd going wild, it became clear that she was about to take a famous victory for Big Bucks. In the end she took 18 points to Rogue’s seven on the final jam and sealed the win for her team.
Both Big Bucks and the Dolly Rockit Rollers look destined for great things in the future, and as European roller derby continues to progress it seems like a fair bet that both teams will have their fair share of great victories in the years to come. Whether either league will ever take part in a bout this intense or finally balanced again, however, is another matter. Big Bucks showed their experience and skill time and time again, especially in their pulsating second half performance, but were pushed to the very limit by a DRR Allstars team that is looking (and on this evidence, succeeding…) to make the transition to one of the powerhouse leagues of the UK scene.
The next engagement for the DRR Allstars is at Brighton Rockers on May 26th, while Big Bucks’ next bout sees them take on the London Rockin’ Rollers Badasses on August 18th.