By Layla Marsden
UClan quidditch club’s Preston Poltergeists – the hosts of Chips and Gravy – this year will organize a new tournament, ambitiously named ‘Baby BQC’, on Saturday, Oct. 21.
Four of the teams who attended QUK’s first ever Development Cup (Dev Cup) last season will participate, (Preston Poltergeists, Glasgow Grim Reapers, Sheffield Steelfins, and winners Liverpuddly Cannons), as well as the Flying Chaucers, who were unable to make Dev Cup due to numbers, and Sheffield’s new third team, the Sealions.
As indicated by the name, the aim of this tournament is to provide a set of friendly games to see how the teams may fare up against each other if they were to meet at this year’s BQC. However, with the number of freshers in the mix, it seems much more likely that that the tournament will be an introduction to quidditch and an introduction to competitive play to give new players some experience prior to regionals.
Just like at Dev Cup, there will be coaches in the form of Sheffield’s Susie Harrison and Leeds’ Josh Armitage, who will each be responsible for a pitch to support and will advise the teams during play. However, as a twist, each team will also have two players who attended BQC on the squad to provide additional support and experience.
The teams’ main focus will of course be to train their freshers to play under the pressure of a tournament. However, given the pre-existing rivalries between four of the six teams, there is sure to also be an underlying competition to prove who has improved the most since they last met.
After coming first place at the Development Cup, Liverpool enters as the team to beat. Their quick and powerful lineup led them to an undefeated run at Development Cup; however, their squad for Baby BQC is missing some of the big names from their gameday roster, such as Sam Mottram, and only sees six of the 15 Dev Cup players returning to the squad of 20.
Preston have had astounding success during fresher recruitment this season and boast the biggest roster of the tournament with 21 players. The captain, Connor Miller, will be of a mind to prove the power of Preston after their performance at Dev Cup, where they came sixth place and here they return many of the same players in addition to new recruits. With three QPL players supporting the team’s development, Preston should be able to to at least match their performance at Dev Cup, even if Izaac Cole will be the only QPL player on the gameday roster.
Glasgow Grim Reapers
After suffering many injuries to a small squad at Dev Cup, the Grim Reapers were left dependant on mercenaries in order to achieve their seventh place. The team, captained by Alice Ravier, will therefore be using this competition to show what Glasgow are really made of, a glimpse of which we were able to see last weekend at Highlander Cup V. They faced Holyrood Hippogriffs seconds once more, turning their loss of 130*-10 loss from Dev Cup into a 60*-40 win. Their rematch with the St Andrews Snidgets saw them increase their win margin from 40*-10 at Dev Cup to a 70*-0 proving that Glasgow have certainly been working on their game perhaps with some help from their newest recruit former Barcelona Eagle, Chema Hidalgo, who unfortunately will not be attending. The roster for Glasgow again features many new names: significant players such as Ross Wiseman and Marco Lombardi are still prominent although with Ravier out of action due to injury and Aakash Gupta unable to attend, they may suffer from a lack of players able to lead and distribute.
Since finishing last at Dev Cup the Steelfins, captained by Rebecca Livesey, have been training hard alongside the rest of the Squids club to improve their play which was evident at Highlander where the Steelfins in the mix of players performed beyond expectations. This became evident at Sheffield’s White Rose tournament, where the losers of Dev Cup went against a BQC team and were able to beat Derby 140*-40. The Steelfins squad is made of many new faces, there is definite power and potential in the new recruits as well as in the seven strong players retained from the original team including the formidable beater pair of Sam Birkitt and Oliver Bower.
The Sealions are Sheffield’s new third team. Captained by Layla Marsden who gained experience playing for the QPL’s Yorkshire Roses over the summer, the Sealions consists of a number of Dev Cup Steelfin players and a large number of freshers. So far untested in tournaments and with the majority of players new to the sport, they will have to work hard to develop the team cohesion that is likely to be evident in the other competitors. With so many unknown players, this will be an interesting team to watch and see who has potential, and who we should be watching out for in the months and years to come.
The Flying Chaucers are a small team from Kent who were unable to play at BQC after losing in an epic match with the Quidlings in last season’s Southern Cup, instead being invited to Dev Cup. Unfortunately, they had to turn down the invitation for numbers reasons. This trend does not seem to have improved after the beginning of the new academic year as the team brings a squad of only eight players to the tournament. This, however, is where the Chaucers have had themselves some luck. With such a thin roster, they were given the green light for recruiting more BQC mercs and now boast seven additional players, all of whom are significant players in their own teams, and all of whom make this team a dangerous team to play against. Sheffield quaffle players Eddie Bruce, Mike Lewis, Dan Moses and Anke De Leeuw join beaters James Gratton (Sheffield) and Tev Wallace (St Andrews) to create a squad that could see Chaucers win the title of Baby BQC champions.