On the 21st and 22nd of April, Portsmouth competed alongside 10 other teams at the sixth instalment of Reading Quidditch’s much anticipated annual tournament.
Whiteknights Campus in Reading played host to 11 teams spread across 3 groups on day 1 (originally 12 teams before a last minute withdrawal from Keele). Portsmouth found itself well placed in a competitive group also containing the Bristol Beas, Swansea Swans and Bournemouth Banshees. Teams were allowed to bring a maximum of 3 mercenary players to compliment their squads, accordingly these teams were smattered with players from Oxford, Southampton, London and elsewhere. Alongside the normal Portsmouth contingent were Oxford Chimeras’ Lestra Atlas, Mikey Ansell and Dan Winters. This tournament was also the debut performance for 16 year old Callum Brown. Callum playing for the first time alongside his brother, and captain on the day, Scott Brown.
Portsmouth’s first game was against the Bristol Bees, their side bolstered by members of the Bristol first team the Bristol Bears. A disappointing 90*-30 loss saw bees take their first win after 5 consecutive losses to Portsmouth in previous fixtures. In the team talks that followed the loss was blamed largely on lacking synergy between players and a post-BQC rustiness in general play.
Game number 2 with the Swansea Swans was a highly anticipated match. Following BQC and the season’s Southwest league games Swansea boasted 2 wins to Portsmouth’s 1 across the 3 matches. The final score was a tight and impressive 120*-70 to Portsmouth taking the tally to 2-2 between the 2 teams. Where Portsmouth had struggled to compete with Swansea’s very strong chaser line up before, Winters and Ansell made up the deficit nicely with their physical play style. This combined well with a dominant beating display from Lestra and the Portsmouth regulars to secure the victory.
Unfortunately, fortunes reversed for the final game of the day with Bournemouth. A heart-wrenching 120*-110 loss nearly ended Portsmouth’s upper bracket ambitions. Thankfully, the tournament structure allowed 2 third place teams to move up and Portsmouth made the cut on points difference. Based on early and midgame performance, Portsmouth should have found itself comfortably ahead in this game. However, mistakes and confusion at snitch on pitch gave Bournemouth the edge they needed for players like Southampton beater Kerry Aziz and London Unspeakables’ Gio Forino to pull them back into range. Once there, they eventually caught to win from behind.
Moving into day 2, Portsmouth were matched up with the Southampton seconds. Portsmouth began the game cautiously but soon upped the pace as it became clear they had found whatever had been missing on day 1. The final score was a resounding 150*-10 victory for Portsmouth, Southampton’s only goal coming off of the back of some fast reactions from chaser Kevin Luu to a Portsmouth dropped ball. Portsmouth were dominant in every aspect of this game with no weak links in sight among their line up. This compliment extends genuinely to first time player Callum Brown who not only came a hairs width away from scoring but also caught the snitch to end the game in spectacular fashion.
Portsmouth now moved into the quarter finals against the Exeter Eagles. This should have been their most difficult match up by far with Exeter and Falmouth tipped as the tournament’s dominant teams. A phenomenal performance saw Portsmouth ahead on quaffle by 60 points to Exeter’s 40 when Mikey Ansell caught the snitch. Unfortunately, the catch was disallowed due to a fowl elsewhere on the pitch. This led to a game that could easily have been Portsmouth’s going 70*-60 to Exeter after their following catch was called good. Portsmouth moved into the 3rd place play off with the Bristol Bees.
Portsmouth ended the tournament with a 90*-50 loss to the Bees in an incredibly tight game. Fatigue from the hot day and no game slot to rest in before the play off may have helped the Bees secure 3rd place.
Despite missing out on the podium, this tournament represented one of Portsmouth’s best and most promising performances to date with plenty of new talent coming through. The tournament was well run, enjoyable and there was a great atmosphere between teams. We can’t wait for the next tournament!