by Hannah Dignum and Ashara Peiris
After months of build up, the very first fixture of the Quidditch Premier League (QPL) is in the books. But how did teams perform, and did it live up to the hype?
South Fixture 1 Results and Standings
Southeast Knights 120* – 40 London Monarchs
Southwest Broadside 130* – 40 Eastern Mermaids
London Monarchs 220* – 40 Eastern Mermaids
Southeast Knights 220*-20 Southwest Broadside
London Monarchs 130 – 50* Southwest Broadside
Southeast Knights 160* – 30 Eastern Mermaids
Standings after Fixture 1:
1st – Southeast Knights – 3 W
2nd – London Monarchs – 2 W
3rd – Southwest Broadside – 1 W
4th – Eastern Mermaids – 0 W
South East Knights
Going into this fixture, it was feared that the lack of training time for the Knights would be detrimental to their overall performance. However, they showed that even with limited group training they were still a very strong team, eventually beating all three opponents out of range.
The Knights could not have asked for a better start to their day, scoring the first goal in QPL history and eventually defeating the London Monarchs in what was the tightest game of the day. It was expected that the bigger names in the quaffle lineup, such as Jemma Thripp and Andrew Hull, would give strong performances, and they did not disappoint, with both players being central to the success of the Knights; Hull went on to become the joint top scorer along with Claudio Svaluto and Hannah Watts. However, Ed Brett and Caleb Pakeman both proved why they have been key players for Swansea Seven Swans and HogYork Horntails, respectively, this regular season, bringing an intensely physical game, particularly against the Monarchs, and driving the team to success.
Frustratingly for the Knights, Alex Carpenter was injured in the first game; although she later made a comeback using her left hand, this was still quite a blow for the Knights. However, Imy Gregg was able to step up and drive the beaters to success, giving an outstanding performance throughout the entire day. She was supported by fellow Southampton Quidditch Club player Anjit Aulakh, who never fails to disappoint with any beater partner. The Knights are lucky to have a strong group of beaters, most of whom are used to working with one another, making for a solid team synergy from the offset.
Overall, this was a very strong start for the Knights, who started their campaign to the Championship unbeaten.
Whilst the London Monarchs were unable to defeat the Knights, they put in a sterling performance and comfortably defeated the other two teams.
In their game against the South East Knights, the Monarchs’ training was more than apparent, with a disciplined defence and a good quaffle attack. It was clear that London’s beaters had the edge over the Knights with strong appearances from Jan Mikolajczak, Luke Twist, and Alice Walker; this was to be expected, given that the three train together quite regularly. Additionally, Monique Davis shone through to prove that she deserved a spot on the roster just as much as the next person. Davis coped brilliantly against top–tier beaters and outdid herself, particularly in the game against the Knights.
The weakness for London manifested itself in, at times, an untidy quaffle game, particularly around the hoops where they failed to convert numerous times due to a lack of clinical play. Over the course of the day this became less of a problem, particularly with plenty of strong drives from Alex Macartney, Jay Holmes, and Callum Humphreys, suggesting that keepers will be key to London’s success. Honourable mentions must be given to Mouskeba Konta, who donned the yellow headband and fought hard to catch for London, but also to Lydia Calder and Hannah Ridley, who often found themselves in perfect position around the hoops but were rarely utilised.
Whilst the loss to the Knights will be disappointing, the Monarchs are in an excellent position to improve in the future. The team should not be shaken by their match against the South East as it is clear that they are capable of putting up a fight and must simply look to the next game rather than dwell on this weekend.
South West Broadside
South West Broadside may have come away from this weekend with a single win, but that should not take away from the strong performances had by individuals on this team who fought valiantly against higher–tier players.
Lucy Edlund appeared to naturally take the lead with the Broadside beaters, supported by Connor Simpson and Jodie Mee, who slotted comfortably into the beater rotations and challenged more experienced players in their games against the South East Knights and the London Monarchs. Sam Senior made an appearance in the black headband, but was also a strong force in the Broadside quaffle play when the game demanded a change in pace.
Both Callum Humphreys and Chazz McLeod – joint top goal scorers of the day – outdid themselves in the green headband and over the tournament proved they are strong drivers within the quaffle play and provided a valuable physical element to their matches. Matteo Barraclough stood out over the course of the day, confidently stepping up for Broadside and became another of the team’s top goal scorers.
South West Broadside proved they have a great deal of talent within their seeker rotation. Fran Moreland’s defensive seeking against South East’s Andrew Hull must be commended, as she put in a sterling performance against such a formidable opponent. Jessica Lee displayed a great deal of grit and determination against other attacking seekers, as did Thomas Newton and Connor Simpson, who caught the snitch to win against the Eastern Mermaids.
This team has a great deal of potential, and now that they are familiar with one another’s playing style, they will surely adapt and band together to form a team that will ultimately prove a worthy challenger come Championship weekend in August.
The Eastern Mermaids should not be disappointed with this weekend, as each individual proved that they deserved a spot on this squad, despite the team not coming away with a win.
Whilst the Mermaids’ roster boasted a number of big names such as Dominic Ayre and Natasha Ferenczy, the fixture revealed a wealth of talent in lesser–known players such as Marcus Toh Shen Li, who completely stunned onlookers with the spectacular manner in which he stopped his opponents and successfully assisted goals to Vincent Poon, the Mermaids’ top scorer. Tom Hutton put on a fearless display in the quaffle game as a key driver for the team, but also donned the yellow headband to fend off attacking seekers as the Mermaids attempted to make their comeback.
Sally Higginson had a phenomenal day all around, successfully challenging beaters and often coming out the victor, but also made an appearance in the white headband and contributed to the Mermaids’ valiant effort in the later stages of gameplay. Katherine Jeffery must receive commendation in her role as keeper, stepping up and taking control of the quaffle game, acting as a calming presence on pitch to ensure that her team did not lose their heads when the opposition pulled away.
In summary, the Eastern Mermaids should use this fixture as a learning experience, identifying their weaknesses and preparing to improve on their imperfections for their next weekend of play. Team manager Sally Higginson will undoubtedly be eager to learn from this weekend and use this experience to better her team for the future; it will be exciting to watch them develop and go from strength to strength before their final appearance at the Championship weekend.