Game One: Burnt Wood Grockles
It is a new day. A new season. A new team.
Bumford emerges from his dressing room, bedecked in a luxuriously enormous fur coat. Ostentatiously furred, almost as if Bumford was trying to make a point. He picks his teeth from his lunch. Ale boiled frog’s legs, something tantalising he’d found last night. Why was he craving frog’s legs, again?
The air is crisp, but a little swampy for Bumford’s alcohol-infused morning brain. Bumford trundles over to the door of the newest bunch of rejects he’s responsible for, and boots it open. It flings back on its hinges, slapping something wet and squishy on the way.
“Right then! Line up, maggots.” He announces, picking his teeth again with a bone, before flinging it on the floor. A huge green hand plucks it up between padded fingers as big as chair legs, before an enormous wide face scowls at it. The scowl moves to face the dwarf.
“Oh yeah! Stupid frog people! I remember now. Line up then, come on!”
“Coach Bumford, what is this? *croak*”
“I don’t think you lot ‘erd me, LINE UP!”
Bumford walks to the nearest frogman and backhands him towards the middle of the room with such fury that the Slann’s head sticks to the floor. He has to be peeled off the flagstones by his mates.
The other frogs, perhaps more out of shock than anything, shuffle into a line.
The huge frog with the bone in his hand hasn’t moved.
“Bumforrrd. We are an elderrr race, and as sssuch we expect-”
If one were to be standing outside the changing room at that point, one might have heard an unusual sequence of noises. A war cry, a snap, a grunt, two sounds not unlike sticking a pole in a pool of custard, three yelps, an insane cackle, a wet splotch, a burp, then a murmur, followed by silence.
Eyes already much larger than human are stretched wider still.
Bumford wipes himself clean.
“Now that that’s out of the way, what’s on the ol’ agenda for this evening for you disgusting bog-fwompers? Ah, gobbos. Easy. Lots of green. You know the strategy, just, I don’t know, bounce around or something.”
No one moves.
They retreat instantly, one of them slipping over the mess.
The door swings shut, revealing a smaller frog that had been trapped there since Bumford’s entrance. Bumford unsticks him from the wall with a sharp tug.
“Do me a favour, frog-boy. Grab a mop.”
The Burnt Wood Grockles are a goblin team that’s surprisingly long in the tooth. They’ve been hanging around the lower divisions of the Wight Isle league for ages, perfectly content to focus on maiming newer and less successful teams instead of facing off against the heavy hitters.
Dozens of goblins, a couple of trolls, and all the trimmings jog onto the pitch. Some of the goblins are cartwheeling and throwing a ball to each other with frankly upsetting skill. Bumford squints in disapproval.
“Not even a bomber, what’s the point…”
He looks at his pathetic team walk nervously to the pitch. He looks at the roll call of names he was given.
“Says here we’re meant to have a big feller, where is he?” He demands of an aide.
“He, er, we-well, you, uhm-”
“Oh, him! Totally deserved it. Never mind. Why do we have so many blitzers, by the way?”
“Uuhm, again, er, coach, *croak*, you insisted we, we, er, start with as many as we c-could find.”
“Hmm. Must have had some great plan in mind. Let’s see how the lads do!”
Two figures move over to Bumford. Another Slann, in ornate armour, and a skink wearing a skull.
The Slann, in a deep voice, says:
“Bumford, was it? We couldn’t help noticing the, hmm, discrepancy between the two teams playing today. Perhaps you’d like us to join in? We’re always up for a bit of a scrap.”
Bumford snorts. “You mean no bugger ever lets you play because you’re useless and expensive, so you want to beg me for some money in exchange for what can laughably called your expertise?”
The frog sniffs.
The first half sees the goblins tear the Slann team apart. Sticky green fluids coat chainsaws, trolls, even goblin boots. Hemlock the skink gets punched about quite considerably, but Lottabottl seems to stay intact. A few Slann get hurt, but Bumford doesn’t care particularly. By turn 8 the Slann are down, 1-0…
The changing rooms, several minutes later.
Bumford is angry.
Bumford suggests that perhaps the ‘dirty toilet mouldy limpet sucking toad lickers’ didn’t quite get the message earlier.
Bumford puts it in no uncertain terms that he would hate to have to demonstrate his position again.
The team listen very closely.
The second half sees new life breathed into the Slann. They’re speedy, they’re agile, they’re strong. They give hits and take hits. They steam up the pitch for an early score, then pile on the pressure for the second half.
Hemlock dives into a crowd of troll for an attempt at the ball carrier, but gets squashed. Hey ho, thinks Bumford.
A sneaky gobbo is unceremoniously thrown by a Troll, landing miles from anyone, and darts for the Touchdown line. A glance from Bumford incites yelps of fear from the frogs, who catch him just in the nick of time.
A surprisingly smooth passing play sees the Slann score again, bringing them the victory!
“Not bad, not bad,” struts Bumford later on, swaggering back and forth. “Medium amounts of carnage, acceptable injuries… Not bad. Still worth less than the hair on the boil of my arse, but still.”
The door opens. It is the fabulously wealthy Troll that blackmailed Bumford into coaching this team.
“Well played, team, and congratulations, Coach Bumford. Our little debt is settled, you may go.”
The frogs sigh with relief. One of them laughs. The nightmare is over!
“Oh, no, that won’t be necessary Trolly. Truth it, I’ve grown quite attached to the little buggers. I’ll be staying put for the time being.” He smiles enormously.
“Well, I won’t say no! But let it never be said I was not a Troll of my word. Good day, Bumford.”
The troll turns to leave. His feet are stuck to the floor in a puddle of ooze.
“I, uhm, tried to clean it u-up, coach, but it *croak* was ever-so-sticky.”
The dwarf pats the smaller frog on the head, nearly knocking him out.
“Know what? I like it like that. That swampy odour… smells like home.”
He turns to face the team. They avert their eyes.