he necessity for keeping the game of Quidditch secret from Muggles means that the Department of Magical Games and Sports has had to limit the number of games played each year. While amateur games are permitted as long as the appropriate guidelines are followed, professional Quidditch teams have been limited in number since 1674 when the League was established. At that time, the thirteen best Quidditch teams in Britain and Ireland were selected to join the League and all others were asked to disband. The thirteen teams continue to compete each year for the League Cup.
This northern English team was founded in 1612. Its robes are pale blue, emblazoned with a silver arrow. Arrows fans will agree that their team's most glorious hour was their 1932 defeat of the team who were then the European champions, the Vratsa Vultures, in a match that lasted sixteen days in conditions of dense fog and rain. The club supporters' old practice of shooting arrows into the air from their wands every time their Chasers scored was banned by the Department of Magical Games and Sports in 1894, when one of these weapons pierced the referee Nugent Potts through the nose. There is traditionally fierce rivalry between the Arrows and the Wimbourne Wasps (see below).
Northern Ireland's most celebrated Quidditch team has won the Quidditch League a total of twenty?seven times to date, making it the second most successful in the League's history. The Bats wear black robes with a scarlet bat across the chest. Their famous mascot Barny the Fru itbat is also well known as the bat featured in Butterbeer advertisements ( Barny says: I'm just batty about Butterbeer! ).
Welsh Catapults, formed in 1402, wear vertically striped robes of light green and scarlet. Their distinguished club history includes eighteen League wins and a famous triumph in the European Cup final of 1956, when they defeated the Norwegian Karasjok Kites. The tragic demise of their most famous player, 'Dangerous Dai' Llewellyn, who was eaten by a Chimaera while on holiday in Mykonos, Greece, resulted in a day of national mourning for all Welsh witches and wizards. The Dangerous Dai Commemorative Medal is now awarded at the end of each season to the League player who has taken the most exciting and foolhardy risks during a game.
The Chudley Cannons' glory days may be considered by many to be over, but their devoted fans live in hope of a renaissance. The Cannons have won the League twenty–one times, but the last time they did so was in 1892 and their performance over the last century has been lacklustre. The Chudley Cannons wear robes of bright orange emblazoned with a speeding cannon ball and a double 'C' in black. The club motto was changed in 1972 from 'We shall conquer' to 'Let's all just keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best'.
The Falcons wear dark–grey and white robes with a falcon–head emblem across the chest. The Falcons an known for hard play, a reputation consolidated by their world–famous Beaters, Kevin and Karl Broadmoor, who played for the club from 1958 to 1969 and whose antics resulted in no fewer than fourteen suspensions from the Department of Magical Games and Sports. Club motto: 'Let us win, but if we cannot win, let us break a few heads.'
The Holyhead Harpies is a very old Welsh club (founded 1203) unique among Quidditch teams around the world because it has only ever hired witches. Harpy robes are dark green with a golden talon upon the chest. Th Harpies' defeat of the Heidelberg Harriers in 1953 is widely agreed to have been one of the finest Quidditch games ever seen. Fought over a seven–day period, the game was brought to an end by a spectacular Snitch capture by the Harpy Seeker Glynnis Griffiths. The Harriers' Captain Rudolf Brand famously dismounted from his broom at the end of the match and proposed marriage to his opposite number, Gwendolyn Morgan, who concussed him with her Cleansweep Five.
This Irish side was founded in 1291 and is popular worldwide for the spirited displays of their leprechaun mascots and the accomplished harp playing of their supporters. The Kestrels wear emerald–green robes with two yellow 'K's back to back on the chest. Darren O'Hare, Kestrel Keeper 1947–60, captained the Irish National Team three times and is credited with the invention of the Chaser Hawkshead Attacking Formation (see Chapter Ten).
The Magpies are the most successful team in the history of the British and Irish League, which they have won thirty–two times. Twice European Champions, the Magpies have fans across the globe. Their many outstanding players include the Seeker Eunice Murray (died 1942), who once petitioned for a 'faster Snitch because this is just too easy', and Hamish MacFarlan (Captain 1957–68), who followed his successful Quidditch career with an equally illustrious period as Head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports. The Magpies wear black and white robes with one magpie on the chest and another on the back.
Pride of Portree
This team comes from the Isle of Skye, where it was founded in 1292. The 'Prides', as they are known to their fans, wear deep–purple robes with a gold star on the chest. Their most famous Chaser, Catriona McCormack, captained the team to two League wins in the 1960s and played for Scotland thirty–six times. Her daughter Meaghan currently plays Keeper for the team. (Her son Kirley is lead guitarist with the popular wizarding band The Weird Sisters.)
Founded in 1163, Puddlemere United is the oldest team in the League. Puddlemere has twenty–two League wins and two European Cup triumphs to its credit. Its team anthem 'Beat Back Those Bludgers, Boys, and Chuck That Quaffle Here' was recently recorded by the singing sorceress Celestina Warbeck to raise funds for St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. Puddlemere players wear navy–blue robes bearing the club emblem of two crossed golden bulrushes.
The Tornados wear sky–blue robes with a double 'T' in dark blue on the chest and back. Founded in 1520, the Tornados enjoyed their greatest period of success in the early twentieth century when, captained by Seeker Roderick Plumpton, they won the League Cup five times in a row, a British and Irish record. Roderick Plumpton played Seeker for England twenty–two times and holds the British record for fastest capture of a Snitch during a game (three and a half seconds, against Caerphilly Catapults, 1921).
This Borders club was founded in 1422 by the seven offspring of a wizarding butcher named Walter Parkin. The four brothers and three sisters were by all accounts a formidable team who rarely lost a match, partly, it is said, because of the intimidation felt by opposing teams at the sight of Walter standing on the sidelines with a wand in one hand and a meat cleaver in the other. A Parkin descendant has often been found on the Wigtown team over the centuries and in tribute to their origins, the players wear blood–red robes with a silver meat cleaver upon the chest.
The Wimbourne Wasps wear horizontally striped robes of yellow and black with a wasp upon their chests. Founded in 1312, the Wasps have been eighteen times League winners and twice semi–finalists in the European Cup. They are alleged to have taken their name from a nasty incident which occurred during a match against the Appleby Arrows in the mid–seventeenth century, when a Beater flying past a tree on the edge of the pitch noticed wasps' nest among the branches and batted it towards the Arrows' Seeker, who was so badly stung that he had to retire from the game. Wimbourne won and thereafter adopted the wasp as their lucky emblem. Wasp fans (also known as 'Stingers') traditionally buzz loudly to distract opposing Chasers when they are taking penalties.
Quidditch was well established in Ireland by the fourteenth century, as proved by Zacharias Mumps's account of a match in 1385: 'A team of Warlocks front Cork flew over for a game in Lancashire and did offend the locals by beating their heroes soundly. The Irishmen knew tricks with the Quaffle that had not been seen in Lancashire before and had to flee the village for fear of their lives when the crowd drew out their wands and gave chase.'
Diverse sources show that the game had spread into other parts of Europe by the early fifteenth century. We know that Norway was an early convert to the game (could Goodwin Kneen's cousin Olaf have introduced the game there?) because of the verse written by the poet Ingolfr the Iambic in the early 1400s:
Oh, the thrill of the chase as I soar through the air
Around the same time, the French wizard Malecrit wrote e following lines in his play Helas, Je me suis Transfigure Les Pieds ('Alas, I've Transfigured My Feet'):
Grenouille: I cannot go with you to the market today,
The year 1473 saw the first ever Quidditch World Cup, though the nations represented were all European. The nonappearance of teams from more distant nations may be put down to the collapse of owls bearing letters of invitation, the reluctance of those invited to make such a long and perilous journey, or perhaps a simple preference for staying at home.
The final between Transylvania and Flanders has gone down in history as the most violent of all time and many of the fouls then recorded had never been seen before — for instance, the Transfiguration of a Chaser into a polecat, the attempted decapitation of a Keeper with a broadsword and the release, from under the robes of the Transylvanian Captain, of a hundred blood–sucking vampire bats.
The World Cup has since been held every four years, though it was not until the seventeenth century that non–European teams turned up to compete. In 1652 the European Cup was established, and it has been played every three years since.
Of the many superb European teams, perhaps the Bulgarian Vratsa Vultures is most renowned. Seven times European Cup winners, the Vratsa Vultures are undoubtedly one of the most thrilling teams in the world to watch, pioneers of the long goal (shooting from well outside the scoring area) and always willing to give new players a chance to make a name for themselves. In France the frequent League winners the Quiberon Quafflepunchers are famed for their flamboyant play as much as for their shocking–pink robes. In Germany we find the Heidelberg Harriers , the team that the Irish Captain Darren O'Hare once famously said was 'fiercer than a dragon and twice as clever'. Luxembourg, always a strong Quidditch nation, has given us the Bigonville Bombers , celebrated for their offensive strategies and always among the top goal–scorers. The Portuguese team Braga Broomfleet have recently broken through into the top levels of the sport with their groundbreaking Beater–marking system; and the Polish Grodzisk Goblins gave us arguably the world's most innovative Seeker, Josef Wronski.
Australia and New Zealand
Quidditch was introduced to New Zealand some time in the seventeenth century, allegedly by a team of European herbologists who had gone on an expedition there to research magical plants and fungi. We are told that after a long day's toil collecting samples, these witches and wizards let off steam by playing Quidditch under the bemused gaze of the local magical community. The New Zealand Ministry of Magic has certainly spent much time and money preventing Muggles getting hold of Maori art of that period which clearly depicts white wizards playing Quidditch (these carvings and paintings are now on display at the Ministry of Magic in Wellington).
The spread of Quidditch to Australia is believed to have occurred some time in the eighteenth century. Australia may be said to be an ideal Quidditch–playing territory, given the great expanses of uninhabited outback where Quidditch pitches may be established.
Antipodean teams have always thrilled European crowds with their speed and showmanship. Among the best are the Moutohora Macaws ( New Zealand), with their famous red, yellow and blue robes and their phoenix mascot Sparky. The Thundelarra Thunderers and the Woollongong Warriors have dominated the Australian League for the best part of a century. Their enmity is legendary among the Australian magical community, so much so that a popular response to an unlikely claim or boast is 'Yeah, and I think I'll volunteer to ref the next Thunderer—Warrior game'.
The broomstick was probably introduced to the African continent by European wizards and witches travelling there in search of information on alchemy and astronomy, subjects in which African wizards have always been particularly skilled. Though not yet as widely played as in Europe, Quidditch is becoming increasingly popular throughout the African continent.
Uganda in particular is emerging as a keen Quidditch– playing nation. Their most notable club, the Patonga Proudsticks, held the Montrose Magpies to a draw in 1986 to the astonishment of most of the Quidditch – playing world. Six Proudstick players recently represented Uganda in the Quidditch World Cup, the highest number of fliers from a single team ever united on a national side. Other African teams of note include the Tchamba Charmers ( Togo), masters of the reverse pass; the Gimbi Giant –Slayers ( Ethiopia), twice winners of the All –Africa Cup; and the Sumbawanga Sunrays ( Tanzania), a highly popular team whose formation looping has delighted crowds across the world.
Quidditch reached the North American continent in the early seventeenth century, although it was slow to take hold there owing to the great intensity of anti –wizarding feeling unfortunately exported from Europe at the same time. The great caution exercised by wizard settlers, many of whom had hoped to find less prejudice in the New World, tended to restrict the growth of the game in its early days.
In later times, however, Canada has given us three of the most accomplished Quidditch teams in the world: the Moose Jaw Meteorites , the Haileybury Hammers and the Stonewall Stormers . The Meteorites were threatened with disbandment in the 1970s owing to their persistent practice of performing post –match victory flights over neighbouring towns and villages while trailing fiery sparks from their broom tails. The team now confines this tradition to the pitch at the end of each match and Meteorite games consequently remain a great wizarding tourist attraction.
The United States has not produced as many world –class Quidditch teams as other nations because the game has had to compete with the American broom game Quodpot. A variant of Quidditch, Quodpot was invented by the eighteenth –century wizard Abraham Peasegood, who had brought a Quaffle with him from the old country and intended to recruit a Quidditch team. The story goes that Peasegood's Quaffle had inadvertently come into contact with the tip of his wand in his trunk, so that when he finally took it out and began to throw it around in a casual manner, it exploded in his face. Peasegood , whose sense of humour appears to have been robust, promptly set out to recreate the effect on a series of leather balls and soon all thought of Quidditch was forgotten as he and his friends developed a game which centred on the explosive properties of the newly renamed 'Quod'.
There are eleven players a side in the game of Quodpot. They throw the Quod, or modified Quaffle, from team member to member, attempting to get it into the 'pot' at the end of the pitch before it explodes. Any player in possession of the Quod when it explodes must leave the pitch. Once the Quod is safely in the 'pot' (a small cauldron containing a solution which will prevent the Quod exploding), the scorer's team is awarded a point and a new Quod is brought on to the pitch. Quodpot has had some success as a minority sport in Europe, though the vast majority of wizards remain faithful to Quidditch.
The rival charms of Quodpot notwithstanding, Quidditch is gaining popularity in the United States. Two teams have recently broken through at international level: the Sweetwater All –Stars from Texas, who gained a well –deserved win over the Quiberon Quafflepunchers in 1993 after a thrilling five –day match; and the Fitchburg Finches from Massachusetts, who have now won the US League seven times and whose Seeker, Maximus Brankovitch III, has captained America at the last two World Cups.
Quidditch is played throughout South America, though the game must compete with the popular Quodpot here as in the North. Argentina and Brazil both reached the quarter –finals of the World Cup in the last century. Undoubtedly the most skilled Quidditch nation in South America is Peru, which is tipped to become the first Latin World Cup winner within ten years. Peruvian warlocks are believed to have had their first exposure to Quidditch from European wizards sent by the International Confederation to monitor the numbers of Vipertooths ( Peru's native dragon). Quidditch has become a veritable obsession of the wizard community there since that time, and their most famous team, the Tarapoto Tree –Skimmers , recently toured Europe to great acclaim.
Quidditch has never achieved great popularity in the East, as the flying broomstick is a rarity in countries where the carpet is still the preferred mode of travel. The Ministries of Magic in countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Mongolia, all of whom maintain a flourishing trade in flying carpets, regard Quidditch with some suspicion, though the sport does have some fans among witches and wizards on the street.
The exception to this general rule is Japan, where Quidditch has been gaining steadily in popularity over the last century. The most successful Japanese team, the Toyohashi Tengu , narrowly missed a win over Lithuania's Gorodok Gargoyles in 1994. The Japanese practice of ceremonially setting fire to their brooms in case of defeat is, however, frowned upon by the International Confederation of Wizards' Quidditch Committee, as being a waste of good wood.
ntil the early nineteenth century, Quidditch was played on day brooms of varying quality. These brooms represented a massive advance over their medieval forerunners; the invention of the Cushioning Charm by Elliot Smethwyck in 1820 went a long way towards making broomsticks more comfortable than ever before (see Fig. F). Nevertheless, nineteenth –century broomsticks were generally incapable of achieving high speeds and were often difficult to control at high altitudes. Brooms tended to be hand –produced by individual broom –makers and while they are admirable from the point of view of styling and craftsmanship, their performance rarely matched up to their handsome appearance.
A case in point is the Oakshaft 79 (so named because the first example was created in 1879). Grafted by the broom–maker Elias Grimstone of Portsmouth, the Oakshaft is a handsome broom with a very thick oaken handle, designed for endurance flying and to withstand high winds. The Oakshaft is now a highly prized vintage broom, but attempts to use it for Quidditch were never successful. Too cumbersome to turn at high speed, the Oakshaft never gained much popularity with those who prized agility over safety, though it will always be remembered as the broom used in the first ever Atlantic broom crossing, by Jocunda Sykes in 1935. (Before that time, wizards preferred to take ships rather than trust broomsticks over such distances. Apparition becomes increasingly unreliable over very long distances, and only highly skilled wizards are wise to attempt it across continents.)
The Moontrimmer , which was first created by Gladys Boothby in 1901, represented a leap forward in broom construction, and for a while these slender, ash –handled brooms were in great demand as Quidditch brooms. The Moontrimmer's principal advantage over other brooms was its ability to achieve greater heights than ever before (and remain controllable at such altitudes). Gladys Boothby was unable to produce Moontrimmers in the quantities Quidditch players clamoured for. The production of a new broom, the Silver Arrow , was welcomed; this was the true forerunner of the racing broom, achieving much higher speeds than the Moontrirnmer or Oakshaft (up to seventy miles an hour with a tailwind), but like these it was the work of a single wizard (Leonard Jewkes) and demand far outstripped supply.
The breakthrough occurred in 1926, when the brothers Bob, Bill and Barnaby Ollerton started the Cleansweep Broom Company. Their first model, the Cleansweep One , was produced in numbers never seen before and marketed as a racing broom specifically designed for sporting use. The Cleansweep was an instant, runaway success, cornering as ho broom before it, and within a year, every Quidditch team in the country was mounted on Cleansweeps.
The Ollerton brothers were not left in sole possession of the racing –broom market for long. In 1929 a second racing –broom company was established by Randolph Keitch and Basil Horton, both players for the Falmouth Falcons. The Comet Trading Company's first broom was the Comet 140 , this being the number of models that Keitch and Horton had tested prior to its release. The patented Horton—Keitch braking charm meant that Quidditch players were much less likely to overshoot goals or fly offside, and the Comet now became the broom of preference for many British and Irish teams in consequence.
While the Cleansweep—Comet competition became more intense, marked by the release of the improved Cleansweeps Two and Three in 1934 and 1937 respectively, and the Comet 180 in 1938, other broomstick manufacturers were springing up all over Europe.
The Tinderblast was launched on the market in 1940. Produced by the Black Forest company Ellerby and Spudmore, the Tinderblast is a highly resilient broom, though it has never achieved the top speeds of the Comets and Cleansweeps. In 1952 Ellerby and Spudmore brought out a new model, the Swiftstick . Faster than the Tinderblast, the Swiftstick nevertheless has a tendency to lose power in ascent and has never been used by professional Quidditch teams.
In 1955 Universal Brooms Ltd introduced the Shooting Star , the cheapest racing broom to date. Unfortunately, after its initial burst of popularity, the Shooting Star was found to lose speed and height as it aged, and Universal Brooms went out of business in 1978.
In 1967 the broom world was galvanised by the formation of the Nimbus Racing Broom Company. Nothing like the Nimbus 1000 had ever been seen before. Reaching speeds of up to a hundred miles per hour, capable of turning 360 degrees at a fixed point in mid –air, the Nimbus combined the reliability of the old Oakshaft 79 with the easy handling of the best Cleansweeps. The Nimbus immediately became the broom preferred by professional Quidditch teams across Europe, and the subsequent models (1001, 1500 and 1700) have kept the Nimbus Racing Broom Company at the top of the field.
The Twigger 90 , first produced in 1990, was, intended by its manufacturers Flyte and Barker to replace the Nimbus as market leader. However, though highly finished and including a number of new gimmicks such as an inbuilt Warning Whistle and Self –Straightening Brush, the Twigger has been found to warp under high speeds and has gamed the unlucky reputation of being flown by wizards with more Galleons than sense.
The game of Quidditch continues to thrill and obsess its many fans around the world. Nowadays every purchaser of a Quidditch match ticket is guaranteed to witness a sophisticated contest between highly skilled fliers (unless of course the Snitch is caught in the first five minutes of the match, in which case we all feel slightly short –changed). Nothing demonstrates this more than the difficult moves that have been invented over its long history by witches and wizards eager to push themselves and the game as far as they can go. Some of these are listed below.
A move by which the Beater strikes the Bludger with a backhanded club swing, sending it behind him or her rather than in front. Difficult to bring off with precision but excellent for confusing opponents.
Both Beaters hit a Bludger at the same time for extra power, resulting in a Bludger attack of greater severity.
Double Eight Loop
A Keeper defence, usually employed against penalty takers, whereby the Keeper swerves around all three goal hoops at high speed to block the Quaffle.
Hawkshead Attacking Formation
Chasers form an arrowhead pattern and fly together towards the goalposts. Highly intimidating to opposing teams and effective in forcing other players aside.
So named for the original members of the Wigtown Wanderers, who are reputed to have invented this move. Two Chasers close in on an opposing Chaser on either side, while the third flies headlong towards him or her.
Seeker move: a seemingly careless swerve that scoops the Snitch up one's sleeve. Named after Roderick Plumpton, Tutshill Tornado Seeker, who employed the move in his famous record –breaking Snitch catch of 1921. Although some critics have alleged that this was an accident, Plumpton maintained until his death that he had meant to do it.
The Chaser carrying the Quaffle flies upwards, leading opposing Chasers to believe he or she is trying to escape them to score, but then throws the Quaffle downwards to a fellow Chaser waiting to catch it. Pinpoint timing is of the essence. Named after the Russian Chaser Petrova Porskoff.
A Chaser throws the Quaffle over one shoulder to a team member. Accuracy is difficult.
Sloth Grip Roll
Hanging upside down off the broom, gripping tightly with hands and feet to avoid a Bludger.
Starfish and Stick
Keeper defence; the Keeper holds the broom horizontally with one hand and one foot curled around the handle, while keeping all limbs outstretched (see Fig G) The Starfish without stick should never be attempted.
First seen at the World Cup of 1473, this is a fake punch aimed at the nose. As long as contact is not made, the move is not illegal, though it is difficult to pull off when both parties are on speeding broomsticks.
Perfected by the Australian Woollongong Warriors, this is a high –speed zig –zagging movement intended to throw off opposing Chasers.
The Seeker hurtles towards the ground pretending to have seen the Snitch far below, but pulls out of the dive just before hitting the pitch. Intended to make the opposing Seeker copy him and crash. Named after the Polish Seeker Josef Wronski.
here can be no doubt that Quidditch has changed beyond all recognition since Gertie Keddle first watched 'those numbskulls' on Queerditch Marsh. Perhaps, had she lived today, she too would have thrilled to the poetry and power of Quidditch. Long may the game continue to evolve and long may future generations of witches and wizards enjoy this most glorious of sports!
f you have ever asked yourself where the Golden Snitch came from, how the Bludgers came into existence or why the Wigtown Wanderers have pictures of meat cleavers on their robes you need Qidditch Through the Ages . This limited edition is a copy of the volume in Hoawarts School Library where it is consulted by young Quidditch fans on an almost daily basis.
Proceed from the sale of this book will go to Comic Relief , who will use your money to continue improving and saving lives — work that is even more important and astonishing than the three and a half second capture of the Golden Snitch by Roderick Plumpton in 1921.
Comic Relief will give the money it gets from the sale of this book to projects helping some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the poorest countries of the world.
1. The right to carry a wand at all times was established by the International Confederation of Wizards in 1692, when Muggle persecution was at its height and the wizards were planning their retreat into hiding.
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