Quidditch Through the Ages Read online

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  5. In the case of injury, no substitution of players will take place. The team will play on without the injured player.

  6. Wands may be taken on to the pitch2 but must under no circumstances whatsoever be used against opposing team members, any opposing team member’s broom, the referee, any of the balls or any member of the crowd.

  7. A game of Quidditch ends only when the Golden Snitch has been caught, or by mutual consent of the two team Captains.


  Rules are of course ‘made to be broken’. Seven hundred Quidditch fouls are listed in the Department of Magical Games and Sports records, and all of them are known to have occurred during the final of the first ever World Cup in 1473. The full list of these fouls, however, has never been made available to the wizarding public. It is the Department’s view that witches and wizards who see the list ‘might get ideas’.

  I was fortunate enough to gain access to the documents relating to these fouls while researching this book and can confirm that no public good can come of their publication. Ninety per cent of the fouls listed are, in any case, impossible as long as the ban on using wands against the opposing team is upheld (this ban was imposed in 1538). Of the remaining ten per cent, it is safe to say that most would not occur to even the dirtiest player; for example, ‘setting fire to an opponent’s broom tail’, ‘attacking an opponent’s broom with a club’, ‘attacking an opponent with an axe’. This is not to say that modern Quidditch players never break rules. Ten common fouls are listed below. The correct Quidditch term for each foul is given in the first column.


  Applies to



  All players

  Seizing opponent’s broom tail to slow or hinder


  All players

  Flying with intent to collide


  All players

  Locking broom handles with a view to steering opponent off course


  Beaters only

  Hitting Bludger towards crowd, necessitating a halt of the game as officials rush to protect bystanders. Sometimes used by unscrupulous players to prevent an opposing Chaser scoring


  All players

  Excessive use of elbows towards opponents


  Keeper only

  Sticking any portion of anatomy through goal hoop to punch Quaffle out. The Keeper is supposed to block the goal hoop from the front rather than the rear


  Chasers only

  Hand still on Quaffle as it goes through goal hoop (Quaffle must be thrown)

  Quaffle pocking

  Chasers only

  Tampering with Quaffle, e.g., puncturing it so that it falls more quickly or zig-zags


  All players but Seeker

  Any player other than Seeker touching or catching the Golden Snitch


  Chasers only

  More than one Chaser entering the scoring area


  Refereeing a Quidditch match was once a task for only the bravest witches and wizards. Zacharias Mumps tells us that a Norfolk referee called Cyprian Youdle died during a friendly match between local wizards in 1357. The originator of the curse was never caught hut is believed to have been a member of the crowd. While there have been no proven referee slayings since, there have been several incidences of broom-tampering over the centuries, the most dangerous being the transformation of the referee’s broom into a Portkey, so that he or she is whisked away from the match halfway through and turns up months later in the Sahara Desert. The Department of Magical Games and Sports has issued strict guidelines on the security measures relating to players’ brooms and these incidents are now, thankfully, extremely rare.

  The effective Quidditch referee needs to be more than an expert flier. He or she has to watch the antics of fourteen players at once and the most common referee’s injury is consequently neck strain. At professional matches the referee is assisted by officials who stand around the boundaries of the pitch and ensure that neither players nor balls stray over the outer perimeter.

  In Britain, Quidditch referees are selected by the Department of Magical Games and Sports. They have to take rigorous flying tests and an exacting written examination on the rules of Quidditch and prove, through a series of intensive trials, that they will not jinx or curse offensive players even under severe pressure.

  Chapter Seven

  Quidditch Teams of Britain and Ireland

  The necessity for keeping the game of Quidditch secret from Muggles means that the Department of Magical Games and Sports has had to limit the number of games played each year. While amateur games are permitted as long as the appropriate guidelines are followed, professional Quidditch teams have been limited in number since 1674 when the League was established. At that time, the thirteen best Quidditch teams in Britain and Ireland were selected to join the League and all others were asked to disband. The thirteen teams continue to compete each year for the League Cup.

  Appleby Arrows

  This northern English team was founded in 1612. Its robes are pale blue, emblazoned with a silver arrow. Arrows fans will agree that their team’s most glorious hour was their 1932 defeat of the team who were then the European champions, the Vratsa Vultures, in a match that lasted sixteen days in conditions of dense fog and rain. The club supporters’ old practice of shooting arrows into the air from their wands every time their Chasers scored was banned by the Department of Magical Games and Sports in 1894, when one of these weapons pierced the referee Nugent Potts through the nose. There is traditionally fierce rivalry between the Arrows and the Wimbourne Wasps (see below).

  Ballycastle Bats

  Northern Ireland’s most celebrated Quidditch team has won the Quidditch League a total of twenty-seven times to date, making it the second most successful in the League’s history. The Bats wear black robes with a scarlet bat across the chest. Their famous mascot Barny the Fruitbat is also well known as the bat featured in Butterbeer advertisements (Barny says: I’m just batty about Butterbeer!).

  Caerphilly Catapults

  The Welsh Catapults, formed in 1402, wear vertically striped robes of light green and scarlet. Their distinguished club history includes eighteen League wins and a famous triumph in the European Cup final of 1956, when they defeated the Norwegian Karasjok Kites. The tragic demise of their most famous player, ‘Dangerous Dai’ Llewellyn, who was eaten by a Chimaera while on holiday in Mykonos, Greece, resulted in a day of national mourning for all Welsh witches and wizards. The Dangerous Dai Commemorative Medal is now awarded at the end of each season to the League player who has taken the most exciting and foolhardy risks during a game.

  Chudley Cannons

  The Chudley Cannons’ glory days may be considered by many to be over, but their devoted fans live in hope of a renaissance. The Cannons have won the League twenty-one times, but the last time they did so was in 1892 and their performance over the last century has been lacklustre. The Chudley Cannons wear robes of bright orange emblazoned with a speeding cannon ball and a double ‘C’ in black. The club motto was changed in 1972 from ‘We shall conquer’ to ‘Let’s all just keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best’.

  Falmouth Falcons

  The Falcons wear dark-grey and white robes with a falcon-head emblem across the chest. The Falcons are known for hard play, a reputation consolidated by their world-famous Beaters, Kevin and Karl Broadmoor, who played for the club from 1958 to 1969 and whose antics resulted in no fewer than fourteen suspensions from the Department of Magical Games and Sports. Club motto: ‘Let us win, but if we cannot win, let us break a few heads.’

  Holyhead Harpies

  The Holyhead Harpies is a very old Welsh club (founded 1203) unique among Quidditch teams around the world because it has only ever hired witches. Harpy robes are dark green with a gold