In 2014, the VQA decided that there was too much of a break between the end of the Victoria Cup league and Quafl, the Australian Regional Championships. The community needed something to scratch the quidditch itch in the meantime, and from there the Easton Shield was born.
The Easton Shield ran in 2014 and was a friendly competition between the 6 VQA teams at the time; it involved no finals and results were based only on pool play. The competition was to honour Nic, the cousin of Blackburn Basilisks’ captain, Taya. Nic fought a hard battle against leukaemia, which he sadly did not win. It was a cause that was close to the hearts of many, so we partnered with the Leukaemia Foundation to raise both money and awareness for this cause.
In 2014, the Blackburn Basilisks were the premiers for the Easton Shield.
This year we decided to do things a little differently. With only two months between the grand final of the Victoria Cup and QUAFL (being hosted in Victoria this year), we decided on two full day tournaments in October and November. We chose a charity close to our hearts; this year it was the Stroke Foundation. All proceeds from the Charity Cup will go towards this cause and we are raising stroke awareness, particularly in young people.
Day 1 started with miserable weather. It bucketed rain as the players huddled under some trees for a small amount of relief from what they thought would be relentless downpour. The grounds were wet, and there were many puddles to avoid. Unfortunately players were not able to wear cleats, so there was a lot of slipping and sliding around.
As players set up in the downpour, the captains had a meeting to decide whether they wanted to rank the games that day. The outcome was that no one wanted to rank the games with the AQA. This meant that players could play for friends’ teams and it also took the pressure off so everyone could have fun.
By the end of their first game, players were wet, cold, and covered in mud. Nobody minded, after all, quidditch never stops. The day wore on, and the weather improved with the sun making an appearance. Games continued with players swapping teams, helping out the small mercenary team, and generally having a great time. We managed to get through the very wet day with no injuries.
The Manticores finished the day on top of the ladder with the Wrackspurts a close second. We moved into Day 2.
Conditions on Day 2 could not have been more different. The sun was shining as we set up at La Trobe University in Bundoora. Everyone was geared up and set for a day of quidditch in the sun. Some players from the host team brought down some zooper doopers and some cold cans of coke to sell and raise a little more money for the Stroke Foundation.
The day was off to a great start with the Muggles Vs the Unicorns. The game was full of friendly banter and great quidditch. It set the tone for the rest of the day. Teams played their hardest, lending players to the smaller teams as they needed them. Wrackspurts parted with a few of their players to the Manticores, during the Wrackspurts Vs Manticores game. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen better sportsmanship.
The day finished with 4 rounds of finals. 1st Vs 4th in the ladder, Manticores Vs Centaurs. Manticores won the game leaving Centaurs with a comfortable 4th place for the tournament. Next was Wrackspurts Vs Muggles for a spot in the grand final. This was the most intense game of the day, and despite the heat the teams did extremely well. Muggles came through with a win to take them through to the grand final. Wrackspurts finished in third place.
Before the grand final Unicorns and La Trolls fought it out for the wooden spoon. The game was close and within snitch range with the Unicorns coming through with a win in the end, leaving La Trolls in 6th place.
Muggles and Manticores went head to head. Players were hot and tired, and more than a few of them were sunburned. Both teams played as well as possible, and Manticores played especially hard with their small squad. Muggles just played a sharper and better game, winning the grand final and becoming the premiers for the Charity Cup in 2015.
It was a fun and fantastic tournament. The friendships between teams shined through all day and everyone left hot, tired, sweaty and smiling. A great wind up for Quafl on the 5th and 6th of December at Monash University where 19 teams will play their hardest to be the Australian quidditch champions. Will the Manticores hold on to the title? Only time will tell.