TeamUK is the pinnacle of quidditch in the United Kingdom. The players are more than that - they are athletes and activists, and their dedication to represent the UK on pitch internationally knows no bounds.
In 2012, TeamUK hosted the first ever international tournament, the Summer Games, in Oxford. TeamUK came last, but the event kickstarted quidditch in the UK and led to an explosion of growth and development.
In 2014, TeamUK travelled to Vancouver, Canada to compete in the IQA Global Games. The team came fourth, beating previous rivals France but losing out to Australia, Canada and the United States.
Whilst the date and location of the next international competition has not yet been announced by the International Quidditch Association, TeamUK has a responsibility to attend all opportunities to represent the dedication and dynamism of quidditch in the United Kingdom.
TeamUK - Although finishing outside of the medal positions was disappointing for TeamUK, they nevertheless showed that they had the talent and tactics to match up to the best teams in the world. Quoted as giving Team USA their hardest beater match, and narrowly missing victories against the second and third place teams Australia and Canada, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that UK quidditch is a force to be reckoned with. The full squad from 2014 are listed below. Photo credit to Amy Maidment.
Ellie Aean, Lucy Barrington, Anna Barton, Lee Baughan, Jordan Beresford, Simon Bidwell, Dan Bridges, Alice Faux-Nightingale, Abbi Harris, Emily Hayes, Sally Higginson*, Ben Honey, Ollie Hymers*, William Johnson, Tom Jones, Holly Kerslake, Lee Marsh, John Martin, Craig Midwinter, Matthew Murrell*, Emma Nicholson, Emily Oughtibridge, Melanie Piper, Nicole Stone
With a disappointing impression made from the 2012 IQA Summer Games, TeamUK prepared for the 2014 Global Games with a lot to prove. Head Coach Ben Morton began the process in February 2014, and was quickly joined by Captain Ashley Cooper, then-captain of the European and British Championship-winning Radcliffe Chimeras. From over one hundred and twenty prospectives, two weekends of tryouts reduced the pool to a squad of forty-two. This squad underwent regular and intense training sessions, allowing the leadership to mould from it the roster of twenty-one who would compete at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex, British Columbia, Canada on July 19th 2014.
Morton and Cooper are leaders of great vision, and TeamUK arrived in Burnaby with the highest of hopes, believing it was their time to take the world by storm, and knock the United States off their pedestal at the top of the international game. As it happened, this was not to be, but the TeamUK journey was still a remarkable one. Opening with a solid 90-50* victory against an intelligent and resilient Belgian team, TeamUK then faced a game which was the biggest of each of its players’ lives: the USA. To report that TeamUK lost 150*-0 is to flatter their opponents. The UK team dominated bludger possession throughout the game, and were unlucky not to take an early lead as some excellent last-ditch tackles from the USA outdid a fine UK passing game, before the reigning world champions pushed through a never-daunted UK defence with some excellent passing. Although behind, the UK refused to ever go for the snitch, demanding a fine catch from US seeker Sam Roitblat to secure his team’s victory.
Proud of their performance against the USA, if a little disappointed with the scoreline, TeamUK faced the prospect of a rematch to compete for the title if they could win their remaining games. Unfortunately, a slow start against Canada left them always trailing in a game they eventually lost 100*-20, meaning only victory against Australia and an advantageous series of results elsewhere could see them through to the final. The Australian game began well, and although the Drop Bears pulled ahead, one of the finest snitch grabs of the weekend from the UK’s Dugald took the game to overtime at 50*-50. Devastatingly for TeamUK, however, it was the Australians who secured the catch in an otherwise scoreless overtime to inflict a 50*-80^ defeat on the UK and put them out of the running for gold.
With morale low and tears shed by more than one of the UK players, it was no mean feat for Morton and Cooper to rally the team and ensure they finished the competition on the best footing they could. With their next game against the underdog story of the tournament, ten-player Mexico, the UK had to ensure they made their mark as the day closed. Mexico started the game on equal footing, but a switch had flipped in the UK’s minds, and they surged as the momentum swing their way, with Jemma Thripp leading a charge that culminated in a 140*-40 victory for the British team. With only a devastating defeat in their last game against France able to keep them out of the third place playoff, TeamUK nevertheless felt that beating their local rivals and securing another win was important as they went into their last round-robin game. After Dale King-Evans opened the scoring for the UK, France pushed to a twenty point lead, and although the scores remained close for a while, a heroic performance from captain Ash Cooper, playing through a fractured wrist for his team, inspired the UK to claw the game back under their control. When Alex Greenhalgh secured victory with a diving snitch catch, the final score was 130*-50.
Going into the third place playoff against a Canada side who had soundly beaten them earlier in the day, UK spirits were high. The team knew they had played well enough to earn a medal, and had every intention of proving it with a final victory. That drive was visible in the way the team started the game, roaring to a thirty point lead with a performance that saw keeper Andrew Hull shut out the Canadian offence with ferocious tenacity. Unfortunately, however, the effort the UK had put into the day began to show, and although they remained on top of the game, they could not prevent their opponents from clawing back into snitch range. British hearts were shattered as, ahead on pitch, the snitch was grabbed from under their noses for the Canadians to secure bronze with a 60*-40 victory.
Both sincere pride and bitter disappointment washed over a highly-emotional team as the day came to a close with a 210*-0 victory for the USA over Australia in the final. On the one hand, TeamUK had beyond doubt given the USA their hardest game of the day, had missed out on several games only by the narrowest of margins, were one of the most popular teams, and had remained unbroken despite some poor results and misfortune. However, they had achieved far less than they had set out to, and everyone on the team knew that their potential went so much further than their results. More than anything, however, one feeling was rife throughout TeamUK. They would do better next time. The UK players left Canada with 2016 already in their minds, and with the confidence that, at least, they had left a far better impression than their predecessors in 2012.