A wave of Pottermania has struck Oxford, with the first intercollegiate Quidditch match being played, and the relaunching of the university-wide Harry Potter society.
Worcester hosted the ‘Muggle Quidditch match’ against Teddy Hall last week. This version of Quidditch, played without the use of magic, consists of two teams, each with eight players, running with broomsticks between their legs and trying to score points by throwing balls through vertical hoops positioned at each end of the pitch.
As in the magical version, the match is ended when the seeker from either team catches the snitch. The snitch, which in JK Rowling’s books is a small flying golden ball with pop-out wings, was represented by a player dressed in gold with a tennis ball inside a sock tucked into their waistband.
The organiser of the match, Worcester student Angus Barry, commented, “I formed the Worcester Quidditch team a couple of weeks ago and it was much easier to persuade people to join than I expected!” When explaining the lack of ‘real’ broomsticks, Barry commented, “We choose not to fly, not because we can’t, but because Muggles come to watch the matches and you can’t use magic in front of Muggles.”
He added, “The atmosphere of the game was surprisingly competitive, but I don’t think anyone was too concerned with which team won in the end. The audience grew as people in Worcester saw the first couple of matches out of their window and came down to watch.“
The cheering was always loudest when there was a broomstick pile-up (Quidditch is a contact sport and it can be difficult to keep your balance when you’re running with the broomstick).”
Georgia Rought-Whitta, one of Worcester’s star chasers, commented, “I thought the match was excellent: despite narrowly losing to Teddy Hall our team spirit was amazing and now we know which areas to work on in training for the next match.”
She added, “Running with a broom between your legs was surprisingly easy, though I think adding more bristles to the broom will improve our balance on sharp turns. The game is quite physical and possibly a bit violent when team spirits are high – but it’s great fun!”
Ysabel Bisnath, who played for Worcester as a snitch, seeker and beater, also noted, “we’re not a Harry Potter fan club and this isn’t meant to be a borderline-obsessive tribute to the series: we decided that it would be a fun game in its own right.”
Meanwhile, the university-wide Harry Potter society has been resurrected this week. The first meeting was held at Queen’s on Wednesday. Suggestions for events that were raised in the meeting included a Yule Ball, trips to locations from the films, cooking sessions using recipes mentioned in the books, and a sorting ceremony.
Hanna Sundahl, the Queen’s fresher who set up the society, said, “As long as we have a collection of people who are passionate about the ‘story of our generation’ then it’ll be really fun no matter how many people turn up.”