The Bangor Broken Broomsticks were crowned the Northern champions of the United Kingdom, beating Nottingham Nightmares in the final.
After two days of tough games, community spirit and amazing gameplay, the Bangor Broken Broomsticks defeated the Nottingham Nightmares to take the Northern Squirrel Cup.
Quidditch is rapidly growing within the United Kingdom, with more and more teams becoming increasingly active. The first tournament in the United Kingdom was the Highlander Cup which took place last year in Edinburgh and was won by the Oxford Chimeras. Since then, the quidditch community has expanded rapidly and now almost every weekend something quidditch-related is happening around the United Kingdom, whether it be a mercian tournament, matches or a tournament like this. This is an amazing achievement considering it was only two years ago that the first ever United Kingdom quidditch match took place between Avada Keeledavra and Leicester Lovegoods at Keele University.
It was back to this hallowed turf this weekend for the Northern Squirrel Cup. Keele University is home to Avada Keeledavra, which placed second at the British Quidditch Cup and is one of the longest established teams in the north of the United Kingdom. As the name of the tournament suggests, this was a cup specifically for teams in the North United Kingdom (including Wales) and was meant as a response to the sadly postponed Southern Cup. An invitation was sent to any team that filled these criteria, whether it were just starting out, or at the top of the game.
In all, eight teams competed in the tournament, and the first day consisted of group stages (Group 1: Nottingham Nightmares, Derby Union, Chester Chasers and Leeds Griffins; Group 2: Bangor Broken Broomsticks, Avada Keeledavra, Loughborough Longshots and Hogyork Horntails). Both groups were filled with tough fought games, but the two dominant teams were Avada Keeledavra and Nottingham Nightmares.
With both Nottingham and Leeds having made it through to the quarter finals of British Quidditch Cup (BQC), it was expected that these teams would dominate Group 1. This Nottingham confirmed, winning all of its matches (70*-20 against Leeds, 110*-50 against Chester and 160*-20 against Derby). Chester looked strong throughout the weekend and its skill, in combination with Leeds and Derby both having less than ten players, meant it came second in the group (90-40* against Derby and against Leeds, a Leeds snitch grab led to 50*-50 and overtime was 20-30 to Chester). Leeds then went on to beat Derby, 70*-30.
In Group 2, there was arguably a larger mix of teams. The group contained both Bangor and Keele, placing third and second at BQC respectively and so these teams were expected to be the big players against the relatively unknown Loughborough and York, for which this was to be their first ever competitive matches. Keele won all its matches on day one, although it was a close call against both Bangor and Loughborough (50*-30 against Bangor and 50*-10 against Loughborough), with all teams showing real determination and skill. York lost all of its matches by considerable margins (280*-0 against Bangor, 140*-0 against Keele and 130-40* York). However, from the pattern of scores as can be seen above, York put up a stirling effort, never gave up and each game it slowly improved.
The big surprise team of the weekend for me, and many others, was the Loughborough Longshots. Loughborough is still new in the world of QuidditchUK and has only previously played a match against Leicester Lovegoods, which they won. Loughborough is renowned in the UK for its sporting achievement, and it looks as if its quidditch team will be following in those footsteps. After only just losing to Keele, it produced the biggest surprise result of the weekend in the group stages, beating Bangor (50*-30) with a snitch grab, placing it second in the group. This is definitely a team to watch, and I’m sure will become one of the biggest names in United Kingdom quidditch.
The second day began with a ranked system, meaning that the winner of Group 1 played the fourth-placed team in Group 2 and so on to see which would make it to the semifinals. Keele beat Derby (130*-10), Bangor knocked out Chester (80-60*), Nottingham beat York (90-10*)and Loughborough beat Leeds (80*-50), leaving the four strongest teams of the day. In an intensely close match, Loughborough lost to Nottingham, with the match coming down to a vital snitch catch (100*-70). On the other pitch, it was once again the clash of the titans with a semi-final match between Keele and Bangor. This is arguably one of the largest rivalries in the United Kingdom due to their very similar levels of ability although each has its own style. At BQC in November, Bangor won the group stages, but Keele won the semifinal. However, this time, the opposite was the case. After losing on day one, Bangor emerged victorious on snitch grab, and made it through to the final (80*-30).
Loughborough then played Keele for the third place playoff, which resulted in another incredibly close match and Loughborough catching the snitch to make it a 40*-40 draw. In overtime, with a final snitch grab from Ollie Hymers, Keele landed itself the bronze medal with a score of 50*-20. The final itself was well fought, but, in the end with a number of minor injuries, Nottingham used a suicide snitch to end the game, resulting in 80-60* final score and Bangor being crowned the champions of the North.
Ben Morton, Chairman of QuidditchUK stated that: “The Northern Squirrel Cup was a fantastic weekend-and not only as a competition. It was great to see so many new players bonding with the more experienced, as if they already knew them. A true testament to the power that quidditch has when bringing people together.”
Overall, the weekend was a spectacular one filled with great games and a wonderful community feel. Congratulations to Bangor Broken Broomsticks, Nottingham Nightmares and Avada Keeledavra and the rest of the teams for always showing good sportsmanship and having fun. It has also provided many talking points as to the position of teams in the United Kingdon, with teams like Loughborough already being a serious force to reckon with. QuidditchUK has a definite new power team and will make the British Quidditch Cup next season even more interesting.