2012 in Review
2012 Year In Review – Part 1
2012 will always be a famously vintage year for Australian quidditch. We’ve come further than can really be fathomed or put into words. A year is a long time and quidditch development has moved at a frenetic pace, so it can be easy to forget that almost the entire breadth of Australian quidditch history exists within this calendar cycle.
For all those who were at Canberra’s quidditch camp, think how long ago it feels and how foreign and antiquated it seems. For those who weren’t there, think of what a ‘proto-quidditch’ event it feels like for many of you, as something which happened before you were involved.
Yet it occurred in February of the year 2012, the same year we are still living now for a few more short hours yet.
2011, on a national level, consisted wholly and solely of the inaugural QUAFL tournament, which saw 68 players represent five teams from around NSW and ACT. At the time, this was rightly considered a momentous event.
Yet as 2012 closes, Australian quidditch has now seen more than 270 players participate in official matches! These legends have represented fifteen different clubs from as far away as Cairns and Perth (not to mention the yet more unofficial teams and burgeoning communities popping up in every single state).
But the raw numbers of 2012 are for later in the week. What is more of note is just what a ubiquitous presence quidditch, both on and off the field, has become in the lives of so many of us.
Part 2 of this year in review will lay out some of the important, amazing and curious statistics that have come out of 2012, showing numerically just how far we really have come and what an immense amount of quidditch really has been played.
For now, here is a very incomplete reminder of some of the fantastic events we saw this year:
The weekend of February 12-13 saw Canberra host the first ever Quidditch Camp. Quidkids from all over New South Wales descended on the nation’s capital for an event of great creative enterprise and with an entirely social focus. After an exhibition showcase between the Nargles and Newcastle on Saturday morning, which saw the locals emphatically gain revenge on Newcastle’s dramatic QUAFL 2011 victory, the weekend was all about getting to know both each other and the game better.
Saturday was devoted to a variety of workshops in which groups came together to collectively learn all manner of skills, from playing all positions, to refereeing, snitching and administrating the game. On Sunday four mixed and matched teams socially integrated and played each other in a fun but spirited competition, putting many of the newly developed skills into practice.
But the legacy of quidditch camp was clearly its social impact, fostered by both the very format of the weekend, including a successful Saturday night dinner and dance, and the three night sleepover most visitors enjoyed at houses of their Canberran hosts.
After the overwhelming newness of QUAFL 2011 in every capacity, it was in Canberra that friendships, bonds and lord knows what else developed which could become the basis of the now fast expanding and tight-knit quidditch community.
February 2013 will see Quidditch Camp Mark II, bigger and better than before.
As ambitious plans were set in motion for the rest of the season, the University year began and so the established quidditch organisations in New South Wales and the ACT resumed their internal playing of quidditch and building of community strength.
Meanwhile, the rest of the country began to show their hand as well, with the strength of local organisations in Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns and Perth becoming quickly apparent. As NSW slowly sorted itself, delayed by the sheer speed of growth and breadth of interest, their distant cousins took up the slack.
By May, series’ of local derbies had been played between Brisbane and Melbourne’s respective pairs of teams.
In May, Sydney’s Triwizard Tournament was inaugurated, initially involving the established QUAFL 2011 teams from UNSW and UWS, as well as new units from the Macquarie University setup, and from a Waterfall-based community in the southern suburbs.
The tournament was conceived as an avenue for regular competition between the local Sydney teams, taking place every month. The first two in May and June were held at UNSW. The hosts and national champions showed themselves to still be the undisputed dominant on-field force in Australian quidditch, consistently bringing far greater player numbers and easily casting aside their rivals in both official and unofficial matches.
As the Malaclaws and Snidgets slowly mastered the basics and learned the tools of the trade, and as UWS fought desperately to find much-needed depth in numbers beneath their dedicated core, UNSW comfortably had their measure, taking honours in both the May and June tournaments.
In the middle of July, deep in the recesses of many players’ mid-year University recesses, Newcastle hosted the ostentatious and impressive elite tournament-meets-social quidditch extravaganza-meets wild slumber party that was the Midwinter Cup weekend.
Combining the epic drama of QUAFL’s on field histrionics with the tightly organised social weekend nature of Quidditch Camp, the venture was an unparalleled success.
Saturday’s Midwinter Cup tournament itself saw a thrilling three-way tussle for glory between the dominant but depleted hosts, the athletic prowess of a deeply impressive Perth Phoenixes outfit, and an assorted unofficial band of merry mercenary Sydneysiders banding together for this one-off occasion.
The day’s highlight was the Newcastle Fireballs’ astonishing victory over Perth in a game which could not mathematically have been more tightly fought, swayed to and fro any further, or contained as much dramatic controversy.
But despite this, it was the Phoenixes who would take the trophy out west, achieving the amazing feat of flying out to their first national tournament and duly winning it.
Already in six short months, the quality of quidditch had shot upwards to an astounding level, as had the quality of snitching, from the pettiness of mere roof climbing to an opus of flying Weet Bix and Hungry Jack’s.
Midyear was all about consolidation and growth. With the Australian Quidditch Association now incorporated, teams and players popping up everywhere, and interest burgeoning spectacularly; it was an amazing time for Australian quidditch.
We showed the world just how strong Australian quidditch and its quidkids are with a courageous bronze medal performance in London at the IQA Summer Games spectacular.
Meanwhile, Triwizard continued and grew anew, with the August tournament moving out to Campbelltown to be hosted by UWS, and involving an official intercity contingent for the first time as a full Nargles team made their way up from Canberra to participate.
The only thing soaring quicker than the overall quidditch quality was the competitiveness. As the top teams slowly built on their foundations, the newer teams climbed tenfold, meeting them at a juicy and intense bottleneck.
The Macquarie Malaclaws were the most dramatic improvers, dominating the August Triwizard and going home as the clear theoretical champion.
In what was to unknowingly become a QUAFL dress-rehearsal, September saw Triwizard reach the peak of its unforeseen gigantitude.
The Triwizard tournament itself functions as an apt personification of Australian quidditch as a whole in the sheer speed and intensity of its exponential growth. Whatever may become of the event in 2013 and whatever opinions may be on the wisdom of Sydney’s local suburban tournament suddenly including Newcastle, Wollongong and Canberra, few could argue that a day like that of September Triwizard was not outstandingly memorable.
It is a sign of how far we’ve come that an event with more teams than QUAFL 2011 could pass with such little fuss in many ways, as if almost routine.
Six teams played three games each at Macquarie University that special Saturday which saw many new quidditch careers started and many quidcestuous and quidulterous vows reaffirmed.
The Newcastle Fireballs were the dominant force, topping the table as the only undefeated team. But they fell at the final hurdle, as the Nargles took glory in the year’s biggest and best Triwizard.
With the focus of both teams and administrators alike distinctly fixed on QUAFL, October was a quieter on-field month in many respects. But quiet is a relative term. No other month saw a bicycling intruder spoked to kingdom come, and the Triwizard that did take place was amazing.
October Triwizard, back at its spiritual home of UNSW, featured possibly the six greatest quidditch matches yet played, consecutively and uninterrupted.
Newcastle were champions on the day, by barely a goal over Macquarie, but the quality and closeness of every single match was amazing to behold.
Meanwhile, as teams from all around the country tried their utmost to get themselves to QUAFL 2012, Melbourne showed their willingness to travel by making their way up north for October’s signature tournament, the Cairns Classic.
The Cairns Classic marked the first major quidditch weekend event outside NSW and therefore an important step in the continued growth of the game nation-wide. On field, the Melbourne Manticores sent off a perhaps dangerously under-heard warning to the rest of the nation, peerlessly sweeping all before them to win the inaugural Cairns Classic tournament.
And so we came to QUAFL once again. Ten teams, 150 players, twenty six games. 2012’s national championships took place at Macquarie University, one year and one week after 2011’s with twice as many teams, players and games and a general sense of unrecognizability from its distant quaint cousin from the past.
But sometimes things come full circle. 2011 was the year of the Snape. 2012 in many respects, on and off the field, had been defined and led by Newcastle. After a winding narrative which saw Melbourne, Macquarie, UWS and the rookies of Sydney University at different times look likely to take the title; it was the two old girls who ended up fighting for glory.
UNSW won the tense struggle, successfully defending their title. Glory remains where it once was. So it can be asked, even though everything has changed, has anything really changed? The answer is yes and no.
Quidditch today is a different beast to what it was twelve months ago. Off the field everything is more difficult and serious, as is the nature of a growing organisation. To be the genuine sport we all know we are involves genuine administration. But it is consequently more rewarding for the successes are more spectacular.
The essence of quidditch has not changed. It remains an ever-so-slightly absurd pastime of amazing people with brooms between their legs destroying each other intensely on the field then kissing and making up off the pitch afterwards. All that is really different is that more of us do those same things together.
Written by James Hosford