When it comes to stereotypes, I’d say the one we get most is that we’re all nerds who are obsessed with Harry Potter. We play on a big bit of grass called The Down, which always has a lot of people walking past. That’s part of the reason we play there – the exposure. Some of them are huge Potter nerds – we call them ‘capes’ – but you do get heckled occasionally. We get a lot of drunken lads running onto the pitch and trying to jump through the hoops. It normally goes terribly and is pretty embarrassing to watch. But I don’t play because I love Harry Potter. I mean, I’ve read the books and seen the films, but I play because I enjoy the game.
You can recognise a lot of elements of the game from the world of Harry Potter. Of course, we’ve had to make it realistic and practical because, you know, we can’t fly about. We do have a bit of equipment that we call a broom but it’s not wood and it hasn’t got bristles. It’s a one-metre long piece of PVC tubing that acts like a handicap. Like with rugby, you can’t pass the ball forwards and with basketball how you can’t double-dribble; it makes the game harder. Quidditch is full contact, mixed-gender, and you almost have three games going on at the same time. You’ve got your quaffle ball – a semi-deflated volleyball – that you have to get through the three hoops that are at either end of the pitch. Each team has two beaters as well as three chasers and a keeper who have to handle the quaffle, pass it about and try and get it through the hoop, which gets you ten points.
Then you’ve got your bludger balls, which we use dodgeballs for. It makes sense, because you’re basically playing a game of dodgeball with them, as they’re used to break up play and stop the opposition from scoring. If you get beat by a bludger you have to dismount, run back to your own hoops and tap back in, which takes about twenty seconds.
That’s it for the first eighteen minutes, which is when the snitchers and the seekers come on. This is what we get asked about the most: our snitch is a person dressed in yellow that has a special pair of shorts with a patch of Velcro on the tailbone. Attached to that is a sock with a ball at the bottom, and that’s the snitch. Each team has a seeker who basically wrestles with the snitch runner to try and catch the ball, who has to try and stop them. This is the one bit that does differ from the books: you only get thirty points for catching the snitch, rather than 150.
I became captain for the 2019/20 season. I’ve never really seen myself as a leader. It’s not that I don’t want to be, but I’ve just never gone out of my way to be one. But we had a big turnover of players during the last year, meaning I was one of the most senior members of the team. It felt like the natural responsibility to step up. It also meant that I moved from being a chaser – which I’d been for my first three years with the team – to a keeper. The new role requires a bit more experience, knowledge of tactics and a lot more pressure.
I don’t play because I love Harry Potter. I mean, I’ve read the books and seen the films, but I play because I enjoy the game.
Some of the team have been together for four years now, and there’s normally around twenty members of the team. It’s a small enough group to get to know each other really well. As a team you go through a lot together both inside and outside of quidditch, so when it comes to playing in a tournament you’re really fighting for each other.
It’s a very inclusive sport – you get a lot of women who initially come across as quite timid, but when it comes to game time they’re taking down these huge guys. It’s really nice to see that sort of stuff. While it isn’t recognised by Sport England yet, that’s what the national governing body, Quidditch UK, are working towards. When people first started playing it was very much a bunch of nerds and fans, but it’s evolved. Quidditch is definitely on its way to becoming something big in its own right.