Under the Bowl - Hubert Hornblower
Greetings again, it's GLN's roving reporter Herald O. Riviera for the second time, in GLN's continuing series of interviews with the real people behind Blood Bowl - the officials. Through the first of these chats, with bootstudder Halfmoon Proudfoot, you got a taste for the colourful scenes in the changerooms before a big match. But what about the other side of the game - the black and white side?
Our interviewee this issue is Hubert Hornblower, one of the main referees for the FUMBBL organisation. He has overseen many top games, including FUMBBL Cup finals and many clashes between famous teams. He is extremely old for a human - he does not reveal his true age, but it is estimated to be between 67 and 259 by various scribes. He is known to the fans as "One-Eye", for a variety of reasons - mostly because each and every fan believes he's biased against their team, but also for persistent rumors that he actually has only one working eye. We asked him to set the record straight.
GLN: Mr Hornblower, welcome to GLN, it's lovely to see you in the flesh.
HH: I wish I could say the same.
GLN: I'm sorry, have we offended you in some way?
HH: No no no, I mean I can't see you. Get closer boy, the light is bad in here.
GLN: Oh, I see.
HH: Do you? Better than me sonny. Now then, ask me some questions.
GLN: Erm... alright then. How long have you been a referee?
HH: As far back as I can remember, which is a long way. Waaaay back. I mean waaaaay back boy, do you know what I'm gettin' at? A long, long time ago. I remember back to when Grot Teef were just a li'l varmint in the mud pit, and I was there when the Grotty Little Wankers were just starting out. I could never tell them apart... every one of them seems to be called Smelly Git or Worthless Git or something. Whenever one of them did something bad I'd just give the nearest Git my red card up the jacksie.
GLN: Can you remember the first player you ever sent off?
HH: Sure, just as if it was yesterday. Oh no, I'm thinking of the one I sent off yesterday, that's not it. I think it was some skeleton beating up on an elf from the Deepwood Warpstars, something like that... You never can trust them undead fellers.
GLN: Why do they call you One-Eye?
HH: Well, that's a story, that is. I've always had what ye might call a wand'rin eye, if you know what I mean... no, don't get that look on yer face boy, I don't mean an eye for the ladies. Although I've never struggled on that front either... now look boy, don't be rollin' yer eyes at me you young whippersnapper, I've forgotten more than you'll ever know about the art of seduction. The players aren't the only ones who score off the pitch too, you know.
GLN: I'm sure, sir. About your eye?
HH: Yes yes, I was gettin' to that. Well, one day I got sick of my lazy eye, and decided to go to one of them apothecaries to get it looked into, so to speak. Unfortunately, I chose to go to the apothecary who works for the Terrifying Anarchists of Naggaroth. She told me he'd fix me up good and proper if I just breathed into this bag, so I did, and several days later I woke up with my one good eye replaced by some sort of magic eye!
GLN: Magic? Oh no!
* * * Did you know...
The fans of some teams are so convinced that the referees are against their beloved players that they consult practitioners of voodoo arts before important games to put hexes and curses on particular officials. This custom came to a head during a recent game when a referee spotted a foul being committed by a member of the Deathgerbils Revenge
. When he opened his mouth to blow his whistle, he found that all he could do was sing the club's theme song in a high-pitched voice - much to the delight of the Revenge fans, who promptly formed a two-part harmony. The referee quit in disgrace and is now part of a barbershop quartet which tours the wastelands as a support act to popular beastman musical group The Rolling Bouldaz.
HH: I don't know how that darn witch elf doctor did it, but she uttered some horrid incantation over the eye of some poor dead sod, and implanted it where my own eye used to be!
GLN: How is it magic?
HH: I only found out later that the eye had some peculiar properties. Its previous owner didn't see so good, so sometimes it can't see a darn thing no matter how many fouls are committed on the pitch, but other times the magic comes good and I see everything down to the hidden daggers and bombs those pesky gobbos keep trying to sneak on. Sometimes I even see dead people!
HH: Well, that's usually when an undead team is playing.
GLN: I see. Are there any other effects?
HH: I found out a very special property of my magic eye one day. You know how the commentators often say that after a coach tells his players to foul, the referee has "got his eye on you" for the rest of the half? I found out that I could actually take my magic eye out of my head and stick it on the shoulder of particularly nasty coaches so I can see what they're doing... so I really do I have my eye on them!
GLN: Amazing. So are there particular coaches that you keep a close watch on?
HH: I try to treat everyone equally, but there are some coaches who are repeat offenders. Wuhan is one coach who "offends mine eye" a lot, and we've had many run-ins over the years. There is a new coach who's beginning to get a reputation for himself, though.
GLN: Oh? Who's that?
HH: This young kid calls himself Neal. He's fast becoming the all time fouling champion, although he's not very good at it. Plus he draws attention to himself by the constant stream of abuse he shouts from the sidelines at the opposing coach. My arm gets tired during his games from flipping red cards.
GLN: Has he ever criticised you personally?
HH: Neil criticises everyone, especially when he's arguing the call as he has to do every game. He told me my grandmother couldn't kick a goblin with army boots on. He said I was the illegitimate offspring of a witch elf and a nurgling. So I sent him off as well, but for the rest of the game I heard his abuse from the stands, some of it still directed at me - he told me to stick my magic eye some place from which only detailed surgical procedures could extract it. You've got to give the kid some credit, he does have stamina.
GLN: Some fans accuse you of being too hard on teams who bend the rules a bit. What do you say to your critics?
HH: FUMBBL is all about fair play and having fun. Plus, aren't those red cards pretty to look at?
GLN: Some have also accused you in the past of taking bribes in key games to look the other way when some fouls are committed. What do you say to that?
HH: I may not have the highest wages in FUMBBL compared to most of the players, but I can say with my hand on my heart that my collection of ancient Nuffle memorabilia was gained through entirely honourable means.
GLN: So there's no truth to the rumour that coaches can buy you out with the promise of acquiring a rare heirloom item of historical significance?
HH: None whatsoever. However, if any kind souls do have some keepsakes they would be willing to part with, I can be reached through my agent, M. P. Nobbler.
GLN: Do you have anything to say to the impressionable young fans of FUMBBL?
HH: Winners don't use daggers.
GLN: Be with us next issue when we interview another quiet achiever of Blood Bowl. Herald O. Riviera reporting for GLN.