Hello readers and welcome to the one and only comprehensive guide to the New Years top Quidditch stories! Featuring news from the British and Irish League along with our latest transfer gossip, this issue is set to tantalise your Quidditch taste buds! Those that were in attendance during The Bat’s comprehensive dismantling of the Chudley Cannons need no further information about the 1020-10 victory for the Ballycastle outfit, who came out of their changing rooms with a mood to do naught but demolish the opposition! Chudley Cannons fan representative Bert Brawn had nothing to say in response, and our reporters were met with little more than grumbles.
This victory for Ballycastle records for the first time in seven years that the British and Irish League has seen the top three tied for points, with the Falcons, the Harpies and the Bats all tied for first place, 4 points above their closest competition in the Caerphilly Catapults, who jumped above the Pride of Portree with a scintillating victory over the Tutshill Tornados in order to secure their position at fourth! With Falmouth initially being in the lead in the league, victories both for Ballycastle against the Cannons, and for the Holyhead Harpies – who equally put the pressure and pain on the Wimbourne Wasps with a punishing scoreline of 600-340, after what looked to be a relatively close game turned into a wipeout after the Snitch was caught by the Harpies’ Seeker Kelsie Galloway – puts the league at a standstill, and with the next face off between one of these teams not due until March when the Bats host the Harpies in their own roost, things look to be getting spicy at the top of the league!
Elsewhere, the Appleby Arrows put the Banchory Bangers to the sword with a rather tame match score of 140-280 to the visiting Arrows, who left Banchory with pride as a mixture of high octane tactics and a recklessness that the Arrows have been seen employing since their recent new coach Rudiger ‘Rudy’ Miles – the same Rudy Miles of USA Quidditch Chasing fame – took over the squad and reworked their playstyle. It’s new, it’s improved and it’s something that the Bangers weren’t ready to counter, merely relying on their good solid play to keep themselves in the game.
The Wigtown Wanderers managed to lumber to a draw to previous league leaders Falmouth after their Chasers put up a ferocious display of attacking spirit, their keeper refusing to let a single Falcon score a shot. The game ended 150-150 after the Wanderer’s were unlucky to not catch the Snitch to take the victory for themselves. Those spectating gestured that it was easily the most pushed that Falmouth had been all season, including their game against the Harpies last week where Jasper Baxter and Peter Riches had displayed their dangerous combination at Beater to dismantled the Harpies side. Word from the Harpies medical team and St Mungos is that all of the injured players are set to make a recovery and the Gemma Thornton who suffered the breakage of both of her legs and her Achilles heel during the game has been reported to be making a quick and speedy recovery to get back to the league at hand. Perhaps a victory could yet be in sight for the Harpies.
The Pride of Portree were able to get back to their winning ways as they hosted the Magpies at their stadium, managing to bring their team to a kindhearted and well played defeat of 500 – 360, with some deft work from the chasers of both teams making the scoreline a well contested feat. After the game the Portree Head Coach Domnhal O’Mahoney had this to say:
“We’re very proud of our performance today. The team did well and we put out a good showing. I think we still have the potential to challenge at the top. With this victory we’re only 5 points behind top spot, and I have all the faith in the world that we can meet it.”
The Magpies decided against commenting, as is Head Coach Michael Strawbridge’s usual tact with the press, however fan representatives have stated how happy they and the club’s fanbase are at the victory, stating that ‘the quality of the team has been shown proper by the display’.
Finally, the Kenmare Kestrels went away to Puddlemere United, where the league likely saw the most boring game of the year. From the 29th to the 2nd the two teams clashed, with neither one being able to energetically push each other to defeat until eventually Callum McClarken of Puddlemere managed to limply take hold of the Snitch, securing a victory and keeping themselves 4 points above the Cannons to sit 12th in the league, just above the Kestrels themselves, whose only points have come from an early victory over the Cannons.
With the Quidditch week rounded up, it’s time to find ourselves back at the discussion of transfers, and the transfer of one new player on the block ‘Adam Fletcher’. Fresh out of Hogwarts after being scouted by his relative at Falmouth, the Falcons have reported since our last article that Adam Fletcher has officially been sold to the Agencourt Axes for an undisclosed fee, though it has been estimated to be around 2010000 Galleons after Agencourt released Adam Fletcher’s contract information, revealing the player to be earning a tidy 30000 Galleons a month – an expected contract rate considering the cash rich French League.
After the announcement, we at Witch Weekly worked as hard as possible in order to arrange an interview with Adam Fletcher and Head Coach Garvey Ducassis before Adam made his official move to Agincourt to join its surprisingly large Wixen population – one of the only places in France where they outnumber the Muggle presence in the area. And so, with an exclusive interview arranged, we were given a few moments to ask Adam Fletcher some of our burning questions, detailed here via transcript.
Interviewer: Hi Adam, Garvey. Great to see you both looking so well, seems the Quidditch season’s been taking good care of you. Just want to direct this question to you Adam. Seeing as Jasper Baxter and Peter Riches have formed a bit of a deadlock on the Beater position at Falmouth, is this a main part of your reason for moving from the British League to the French one?
Adam: Gotta go where I’m needed, innit? The Axes have a team of nobodies, they need somebody to pick ’em up.
(Our Interviewer noted that Coach Ducassis did not seem overly impressed with this comment, with many a raised eyebrow abound! Perhaps there are to be some early dramatics with Mr Fletcher and his new team.)
Interviewer: An honest response – Coach Ducassis, do you have anything to add?
Ducassis: I am sure zat Adam will enjoy ze set up we ‘ave at Azincourt, along with making many new friends among ‘is talented teammates.
Question 2: Many of Adam’s potential suitors have pointed to the money available under the French League’s marquee player rules in that they are able to spend as much money as they wish on one or two players of non-French descent, with Bert Brawn of the Chudley Cannons – one of Adam’s primary suitors for a new position in the British and Irish League – in particular lauding the move as ‘laughable’ and an ‘offence to the sport’. Where do you stand on this in regards to this transfer?
Fletcher: Bert’s probably just sour ’cause he ain’t been offered a way out of the dreadful cannons. Brain’s in his robe pocket anyway, he don’t know what he’s talking about. It’s a good opportunity for me, that’s where I stand.
Interviewer: Anything to add Coach?
Ducassis: I agree with Adam. I zink zat my team ‘as something to offer Adam zat our competition did not. As I said, I zink Adam is going to find ‘imself enjoying the set up at Azincourt. My advice to the competition would be to focus on your own seasons razzer zan what we’re doing over here.
Interviewer: Adam, this question’s just for you now. You must be able to see that some of the criticism of the financial details of this transfer is warranted. What do you have to say to those who worry that the game might be watered down by big money transfers, and do you think this has any risk for future league strength across the entire sport?
Fletcher: Look. You can’t expect to have the best team without putting a little money into it. Sure you can nurture talent, but that takes years even to find a player with potential. Money brings the players that are at their peak straight in, but it also brings renown dunnit? It brings reputation. It’s a cycle I ‘spose, I dunno. I’m not a manager, I’m just a player.
Interviewer: So you don’t think it’s a problem for the sport that only teams with a good enough bank balance have a chance at competing?
Fletcher: The teams with the bank balance have earned it. Money don’t grow on trees, they’ve got that money from working over the decades, ain’t they?
Interviewer: In some cases definitely, I would agree Mr Fletcher! However there are some teams, such as the Parisian Hellhounds, who are currently favourites to win in the French League who have had multiple investments from outside sources. Their chairman himself has shares in Firebolt. Does that change your perception at all?
Fletcher: They wouldn’t get investments if they weren’t good, if they hadn’t built a reputation. Spend money to make money, innit? Quidditch is a business like any other.
Interviewer: A very professional way to look at it! For my fourth question I was wondering…Do you have any expectations with the Agincourt Axes this year the pair of you? What are you plans for the season to go, especially with such stiff competition from League giants in the Parisian Hellhounds, the Quiberon Quafflepunchers, the Bordeaux Bludgers and the Provence Princes?
Fletcher: They don’t worry me. I just want a change of setting and a change of pace.
Ducassis: I zink that we have a top quality team and wiz ze inclusion of Adam from the Valmouth Valcons we’re only going to zee our quality improve. I zink all of our fans at Azincourt are going to be looking forward to a brilliant half of the zeason.
Interviewer: Do you have any words for the fans to close out the interview Mr Fletcher?
Fletcher: Words for the fans? Not really, no. They know what they want for their team, I’m just hoping to play some good Quidditch. Hopefully they’ll like it. If not, they can ‘casse toi’ [unintelligible gibberish].
Very confident words from the London bred Slytherin as he journeys to France to continue his career. With luck he shall blossom there, as many of his fans – those who followed him from School level to Falmouth, hoping he might manage to move Peter Riches or Jasper Baxter from their spot – pointed to the fact that the French League is statistically a far weaker League than our own British and Irish League. One fan, Roger Huckleberry wrote in stating his opinion as such:
‘Fletcher’s a blinding talent and it’s a shame to see Falmouth let him go, but ultimately he’s going to have a breeze in the French League. There’s only four proper teams and the rest couldn’t even beat a load of Quodpot players having a lark. Just a shame that another quality English player is lured away by European Galleon-rich clubs.”
This concludes this weeks roundup of the Quidditch news from the New Year! Next week, be sure to get your issue to get the latest news on the next Chudley Cannons loss, and to keep watch as the Bangers play the Arrows in a game that is vital to both teams, with Caerphilly travelling to Ballycastle and the Harpies to Tutshill, with both teams looking for victories to take them above Falmouth, who travel to stiff competition in Portree.