Werewolves of London 120* – 20 Edinburgh Holyrood Hippogriffs Firsts
Head Referee: Steve Cockram
Assistant Referees: Rachel Lily, Brandon Fitz-Gerald, Tom Challinor
Snitch Referee: Matt Bateman
Snitch Runner: Sally Higginson
After a weekend of unpredictable victories and defeats, the third place play off between Edinburgh and the Werewolves of London promised to be a game to watch as both teams fought for the coveted bronze medal position.
Throughout the tournament Edinburgh’s first team had exceeded expectations, topping their group against Sheffield, Southampton Quidditch Club Seconds and Southern Cup champions Warwick Quidditch Club before securing decisive victories over Leicester and Keele Squirrels before losing in SWIM to finalists the Brizzlebears on Day 2. Werewolves of London had also performed consistently over the weekend, finishing first in their group after easing past Leeds Griffins, Norwich Nifflers and the Durham Direwolves before seeing off Bangor and Tornadoes Quidditch Club in bracket play, losing out in the semi-finals to eventual champions Velociraptors QC.
From brooms up the match set off to an unusual start as Edinburgh chaser Sohum Bhatt was awarded a blue card within the first 5 seconds, a false start resulting in his early goal being disallowed. As play resumed, the Werewolves of London were keen to assert their dominance with Akos Furton opening the scoring after receiving a long pass over the hoops from Werewolves’ co-founder Alex Harrison. Although the Hippogriffs successfully retained bludger dominance and utilised a Baylor-Zone defense not often seen in the UK, their defense was broken by a duo of effective solo-runs from Callum Humphreys who brought the score to 30-0 for Werewolves of London in a short amount of time.
Each Edinburgh possession had a tentative but composed manner to it, preferring to retain quaffle possession and wait for the perfect driving opportunity. After a brief stoppage for injury as beater Jan Mikolajczak injured his hip, it fell to Edinburgh captain Ollie Riley to secure the first goal of the match for the Scottish team, driving through the stout Werewolf defense after five minutes of game time as his beaters kept their Werewolves opposite numbers occupied.
It cannot be ignored that as the margin decreased and the tension built, both teams seemed to have difficulty in playing a crisp game of quidditch, passes and shots were frequently misjudged and sent flying over the hoops, and the tiredness of a long tournament weekend and two depleted rosters began to show. However, both teams were keen to put on a strong final display and Edinburgh constantly demonstrated a strong defensive line up, resetting quickly and reacting to any threats the Werewolves presented.
A fine solo effort by Sohum Batt, dipping and dodging around Werewolves chasers before performing a dunked finish brought to the score to 30-20 and signaled the reintroduction of Jan Mikolajczak to the pitch for the Werewolves, having recovered from his previous knock. A protracted quaffle possession by the London side eventually resulted in a slick passing attack, finished off by Team UK chaser Aaron Veale to make the score 50-20, and from there the Werewolves and in particular Veale grasped control of the game.
Despite having the better of proceedings Werewolves could not capitalise and missed opportunities from both sides meant the score was only 60-20 as snitch runner Sally Higginson was released. With the bronze medal position undoubtedly all to play for Edinburgh continued with their probing offense, hoping to craft the perfect opening, however with their beaters splitting time between the snitch and quaffle game one was not forthcoming. Edinburgh beaters Nye Baker and Emilia Kuisma made Werewolves of London seeker Jordan Aymer-Jeffrey work to receive any time with the snitch and defensive seeker Kieran Newton also proved to be a strong shield. This combination was a formidable barrier to the Werewolves of London’s seekers and it was not until just before the snitch was brought to first handicap and during a card for Newton that they really gained any alone time to albeit unsuccessfully attempt a catch.
With the Werewolves of London out of SWIM range, they continued to play aggressively for the most part as captain, Simon Bidwell and Tash Ferenczy secured another goal for the team bringing the score to 90-20. However, the strength of Edinburgh’s defense and beating continued to frustrate their opposition and kept the score reasonably close, with Tara McDonald and Ollie Riley at beater continually preventing the Werewolves from getting significant time alone with the snitch. McDonald in particular performed admirably, achieving a well judged kick beat on seeker Vincent Fouré before Riley denied Fouré one of his few opportunities with the snitch via a half pitch beat.
It fell to Tom Norton to end the game with a clean catch securing a well-earned victory for the Werewolves of London, the final score announced at 120*-20. Although perhaps not the medal they were originally aiming for, the bronze position bodes well for the community team who will undoubtedly go from strength to strength in the future.
Despite their loss, Edinburgh have also achieved much from BQC 2017, bringing Scottish Quidditch into the forefront; the community can surely look forward to seeing what Edinburgh can achieve in the upcoming seasons.
Article by Emma Bramwell.
Photographs by Claire Purslow.