Heartland Finals – Cambridge win 2014 Heartland Series!

Updated: December 17, 2014
Cambridge RollerBillies triumphed after an epic day of roller derby in the Heartland Finals at Newark Showground on Sunday 23rd November, beating Plymouth City Roller Girls in the Final 184-59.
by Andy Harris. Photography by Questionmark Photography and MDP Images.

The mouth watering prospect of 8 games in one day between the best teams in this year’s tournament was enough to set pulses racing, but few could have expected the level of derby on show, and the closeness of the competition, as the divisional champions and runners-up traded blows to the very last seconds of their games. Comebacks, lead changes, last jam victories – we had them all in the two track Newark Showground venue.


The day opened with 2013 finalists Cambridge taking on North West runners-up Wirral Whipiteres Roller Derby. This was the biggest rankings differential between two teams on the day, but any expectation that this would be a Cambridge blowout, were soon dispelled as Wirral took an early lead and then matched Cambridge stride for stride as the North East champions came back into the game. Cambridge overhauled the lead by jam 12 of the first half and opened up a lead, which saw them finish the half leading 63-27.

Wirral were far from finished though and roared into the second half, causing a lead change in jam 3 st 68-67. In the end though, Cambridge’s fitness and organisation told, and they ran out 154-101 winners, in a match which set the tone for the day.

In quarter final 2, sparring partners Big Bucks High Rollers and Oxford Roller Derby played each other for the first time in public. Oxford had leapt into the finals with a last day victory and Big Bucks had won their divisional championship by a narrow 3 points, but Oxford’s warm up victory the previous week against Severn had set tongues wagging and expectations were high. In the event, the game did not disappoint as Oxford ran into a 25-4 point lead. Big Bucks struck back and caused a lead change in jam 13 at 39-37, which was instantly reversed in the next jam. Oxford’s physical and well drilled team, buoyed by Team Ireland And Team France skaters Celtic Tiger and French Revolution, held the lead until the penultimate jam of the first half when their 65-63 lead was overturned to 78-65, as Big Bucks went in ahead.

More of the same in the second half. Big Bucks maintained a strong lead, but Oxford overhauled the lead in jam 9 at 96-90. Oxford stalled at little and Big Bucks pulled away at jam 20. With two jams remaining, Big Bucks were looking good for victory at 120-110, but a stunning Oxford onslaught, capitalising on powerjams saw them overturn the lead at 135-122 and then going into the last jam leading, 142-122. The last jam saw a nailbiting Big Bucks powerjam and retiring skater No Disciplyn edged the win with a 23 point powerjam in the dying seconds, causing delirious scenes in the Big Bucks bench as they took the win 145-142 to play Cambridge in the semis.

Quarter final 3 saw reigning champions Severn Roller Torrent take on South East runners up Milton Keynes Roller Derby. Having met once before, with Severn taking the win in April 2013 155-119, a close game was expected. Severn ran into a 35 point lead in the early jams, as Milton Keynes struggled to get to grips with Severn pack. However, Milton Keynes slowly started to reel in the Champs, going into the half time break 83-82, having pulled back the gap.

The second half saw big hits and two evenly matched teams pushing each other. Both teams suffered foul outs to key blockers, but Milton Keynes managed to pull away jam by jam. A hard fought contest ended with the first upset of the day, as Milton Keynes ran out winners 163-134, knocking out the reigning champs and giving them their first Series defeat in 2 years. Severn remained gracious in defeat, and set out to enjoy the rest of the games.

In the last quarter final, North West champions Hereford Roller Girls took on South West runners up Plymouth City Roller Girls. Hereford are unbeaten this year but found the Plymouth attack very strong as they opened up a 24 point lead, but 2 powerjams brought them back into the game with a lead change at 25-24. Plymouth however immediately regained the lead and continued to extend the gap. In Warhannah, they had one of the performers of the day and at the break, Plymouth had opened a 93-40 point lead.

Hereford started strong in the second half and matched Plymouth point for point for the first part of the half. However, Plymouth started to pull away and the absence of Hereford’s TrebleMaker with a first half broken wrist didn’t help. Plymouth eased away and became the second runner up to beat a champion on the day, with a 190-106 victory.

The first semi final saw Cambridge play Big Bucks in a heavyweight clash. Big Bucks took an early lead, running into a 36-14 and then 47-19 advantage, but Cambridge are notoriously slow starters. They pulled neck and neck in jam 14, narrowing the Big Bucks lead to one point at 59-58, and began to pull away. The lead changed in the next jam, as the Big Bucks jammers found points hard to come by for the rest of the half, scoring only 7 to Cambridge’s 48, with Cambridge leading at half time by 106-66.

Big Bucks again started strong in the second half, pulling the deficit back to 24 points by jam 11. The teams proved evenly matched for most of the half but Big Bucks couldn’t make any more inroads into Cambridge’s lead and as the closck ran down, Cambridge found themselves in their second Heartland Final in 2 years with a 193-131 point win.

The second semi final saw the battle of the runner ups as Plymouth took on Milton Keynes. Milton Keynes again started slowly as the speedy Plymouth attack again proved effective. Plymouth led 34-32 midway through the half, with big hits being thrown by both teams. Milton Keynes then fell foul of jammer panalties in the latter part of the half as Plymouth took full advantage and Plymouth went into the half with a 34 point lead, 84-51.

Plymouth started the second half strongly, extending their lead to 106-65, but as in the Severn game, Milton Keynes hauled themselves back into the game, with a passage of play when they scored45 points to Plymouth’s 2, causing a lead change with 10 minutes remaining, 110-108. Plymouth responded and regained the lead and went into the last jam with a 132-122 lead. A nailbiting jam saw Plymouth gain lead jammer and run out the clock for a 137-122 victory, securing a place in the final at their first attempt.

In the 3rd place playoff, Milton Keynes began their 3rd game in a row against Big Bucks. Big Bucks again started well going into an 18-3 lead. Huge hits on tired skaters led to more GB-EMS work, but Big Bucks continued to extend their lead. Injuries to 2 Milton Keynes skaters meant that they were to play the second half with only 12 skaters, as the first half ended 61-43 to Big Bucks.

The second half started brighter for Milton Keynes, as their reduced roster meant for little lineup changes,and they began to cut into the deficit, narrowing the gap to 10 points at 77-66. Two well-matched but tired teams continued to trade blows, with Milton Keynes getting to within 8 points at 97-88, but Big Bucks held on to take a well deserved third place with a 102-89 point victory. Credit to Milton Keynes for playing three in a row!

The final began with Cambridge opening strongly, saving their most authoritative performance for the final. They quickly ran into a 17-3 point lead, but then powered into an unassailable position, 72-5 by jam 19. Their pack was especially impressive, dealing with the Plymouth jammers in a way that other teams had not been able to, cutting speed and remaining impassable, while their own jammers tore through the Plymouth pack. At the half, Cambridge had powered their way to a 97-9 lead.

Plymouth recovered in the second half and began to put points on the board. A more open game, Cambridge lead 170-40 by jam 16 and the crowd began to sense the result. The game finished with two teams appreciating each other and a jubilant crowd hailing Cambridge’s 184-59 victory, seeing them take the trophy that they had narrowly failed to win in 2013. Plymouth gave their all, but after a long day, Cambridge proved themselves fitter, faster and stronger and deservedly lifted the trophy.

Congratulations to all the teams on a thrilling and nailbiting day, and to all the officials, staff, vendors, medics, media and production crews who contributed to a fantastic day. Thanks to Milton Keynes for hosting and congratulations to Cambridge for being worthy Champions. Roll on 2015, and the British Championships!

Final Bracket