Geek Speak

Real Life Quidditch

Scott Brown, 21, is a second year mechanical engineer student at the University of Portsmouth. If asked to guess the sport Scott plays, you might guess rugby due to his build and apparent upper body strength. However he doesn’t play rugby, or any other traditional sport. Scott plays quidditch. In fact he has recently been selected as a player for the Southeast Knights, one of the quidditch teams in the newly founded Quidditch Premier League. In his first interview, Scott explains why he loves the sport so much and what it’s like to be a premier league quidditch player.

Why did you decide to try quidditch?

I wanted to do some form of physical activity when I joined university, so I went to a dodgeball taster session, but it wasn’t really for me. Some of my friends played quidditch so I tagged along to a session and just never left.

What was it like the first time you played?

The first time I played was interesting because the club didn’t really know what we were doing. A lot of us didn’t realise that quidditch existed in a wider community, that there was an actual rule book, and an actual organisational structures within the county and the world. Chaos would be the best way to describe it. When I first joined I asked how do I play and they just went “you’ll pick it up as you go along” which is kind of how you play it because it is chaotic. It’s chaotic when you first look at it, because there is so much going on at once. It’s difficult to pick it out, especially when you’re completely new to the idea. At the time we were just a bunch of mates messing about in a park.

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What was the first tournament you took part in?

The first tournament I took part in was Southern Cup 2015. It was cold and wet. The UK was hit by a hurricane the couple days before and we were in the tail end of that hurricane. We camped out as it was a two day tournament over a Saturday and Sunday. We camped in a field somewhere in Oxfordshire. I was sharing a tent pod with my friend Luna and if I hadn’t have been in that pod with her the tent would have lifted away. The number of times I got woken up in the night from the tent lifting up and her rolling into me. It was great fun though. No one knew who we were then and we kind of stormed on to the scene, a team of players with some players who probably shouldn’t have been playing due to health reasons, but we had to play them anyway because we needed the players. People were injured, people got cold. We had three people hypothermic. It was a cold, wet miserable tournament, but it was so much fun.

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It was interesting to see for the first time all the other teams from the south and how they interacted with each other. Everyone knows each other, everyone knows the other teams, and it’s a great community to be involved with. It was awe-inspiring to rock off the bus and just see the field with six or seven quidditch pitches set up and all the teams there nattering amongst themselves. It was just amazing. It was like nothing else, you’re just hit by a wall of awe at the whole experience.

What is your favourite memory from playing quidditch?

I think my favourite memory would have to be from Southern Cup this year. We beat the Bristol Brizzlebees, Bristol’s second team, for the second time. Our first ever win as a team was against the Brizzlebees at White Knights last year and that was a fantastic moment, but I think this tops it, because we beat them for a second time and that game was what determined us to make the upper bracket for Southern Cup. It’s what made us place eighth in the south and qualified for the second season of the national championships. Going from the previous season of us not winning a single game, losing heavily, and having injuries, being tired, just having games being drawn out in the cold and the rain to going and winning two out of our three group stage games making the upper bracket ultimately placing eighth, is what makes it my favourite memory.

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I almost cried I was so happy. Seeing the progression from the tiny little society it was when I first joined not really knowing what we were doing, basically a bunch of wheezing nerds in a field, to the athletes that we are now winning, it’s just amazing.

You are going to be a part of the newly established Quidditch Premier League. What made you decide to try out for it?

For two reasons mainly. The Premier League has been set up as an in between season competition because the current quidditch seasons are based around the academic term times, because the sport has sprung out of universities and so still heavily revolves around university timetables. But that means there is a big gap over summer where no quidditch happens. There’s a couple little tournaments here and there but there are no big national fixtures.

Last summer I got incredibly bored and unfit because I didn’t play any quidditch for the whole summer. So that’s the first reason, but the second reason is because this is something new, something that has never been seen before. It’s developing the sport further and it’s becoming better known. It’s a fantastic thing to be a part of and it’s incredibly humbling to be part of such a fantastic organisation.

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What were the Premier League try-outs like?

They were interesting. For Southeast Knights they held two try-out sessions, one up in Oxford and one in Southampton. Southampton is the closest to Portsmouth, so that’s the one I went to. The try-outs had a lot of players from the Southampton team, which is to be expected, but we get along quite well with them as we are so close together. We play a lot of varsity matches together, we’ve even got a Portsmouth player now dating a Southampton player. So we knew quite a lot of the other people playing relatively well.

It was interesting though because no one was there as a team. Everyone was there on their own trying out to be part of this wider community and squad. Everyone is there to do their best and everyone was showing off, but not trying to show off too much. It was an interesting dynamic.

The first half of the try-outs everyone was eyeing everyone else. Everyone was there to do the best they could to make the squad, however it’s a team based sport so you wouldn’t make the squad if you couldn’t work well with others. By the time we got chatting more we realised that everyone was as nervous as each other, so we settled into it more and it became a lot more fun. It also helped when Southampton stopped showing off!

How do you feel about the prospect of playing in the Quidditch premier League?

It’s a bit daunting if I’m honest. Everyone is going to be watching and it’s going to be a very high level of play and it’s a new team with a new dynamic. It’s not my Portsmouth team, it’s not my friends.

It’s going to be different and it will take time to settle in as a new team and then find the dynamic and how that works, the chemistry of that. But it’s going to be fun. It’s daunting and exciting at the same time. I can’t wait to get my exams out of the way and start playing.

What is your ultimate future goal playing quidditch?

My ultimate goal would be making Team UK and playing in the Quidditch World Cup. That is my dream. I mean who wouldn’t want to say that they have represented their country in a worldwide sport tournament?

Playing for Team UK is the highest achievement you can currently do in quidditch, and it would not only be an amazing achievement but a great honour to reach that level.

For the full interview buy our latest print edition of Geek Week.

Fandom That Almost Wasn’t

Though Star Trek is now one of the most popular shows on television, with sequel TV programmes such as The Next Generation, film franchises and a gigantic following, back when it was being first broadcast it wasn’t so much of a hit.

Created by Gene Roddenberry in 1964, it was considered to be a niche show on NBC, and was almost cancelled three times, but was saved by all the backlash producers got when fans heard their beloved show would be taken off the air.

When the news leaked the first time round, in January 1968, that the show would be leaving our screens, the network was overcome with more than a million letters pleading for the show to keep broadcasting.

There was NO way that the producers could have ignored that kind of dedication, because they listened to the fans and announced how they would be continuing the Enterprise’s 5 year journey.

The December of that year NBC announced plans to cancel the show, which was met with a great amount of uproar. 500 fans from a Caltech arranged a march outside of Burbank studios in protest, but that did nothing to stop the network’s decision.

Executives decided to end the series after the season three finale “Turnabout Intruder” in 1969.

Unfortunately for the original crew members of the Starship Enterprise, they never got to finish their five-year mission, leaving fans disappointed and demanding more content.

That wasn’t the end of Star Trek altogether but it easily could have been if it hadn’t been for the thousands of fans who wanted it to keep broadcasting. Due to having a bad time slot on television which affected the viewing figures, and not enough support on a daily basis from the network, the show had little argument to continue being funded.

But thankfully the original series was not the only chance we had to follow Captain Kirk and his crew through space, as viewers had several films to sink their teeth into, as well as the getting to know the new crew members in the sequel series Star Trek: The Next

Generation, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.