This is it. The final match of the Reddit Redux league.
Bumford paces up and down. He turns to look at the elfs, murder in his face, then stops and continues pacing. He doesn't know what to do.
"Inscrutable. No mutations, no freaks, no nothing. Just a well rounded, skilled team. Nothing obvious. How do they play!?" Bumford mutters. He's been examining the roster of the Kurgan Blood Tide.
There isn't anything particularly fantastic about it. No hugely strong or agile players. No veteran monsters. Bumford crumples the paper, along with the clipboard, into a ball and tosses it at Hard to Larboard!
"I can't believe our stupid weakling blitzer is out for the match! What a leaf-eared wuss!" he spits.
"Well coach, one could say you might be partially responsible for-"
"I didn't ask for your opinion! You want some of this, eh?" Bumford starts violently shaking a fist back and forth right under the nose of Broadside!
"Look lads, let's just get out there and crack some 'eads. It's what we've always done, and it's how we've been doing so well, right?"
The faces of the team show that this was perhaps not a view shared by Nautical Imperatives
. Nonetheless, they nod halfheartedly.
"Well, go on then. And don't mess it up!"
The team begin to file out.
"Oh hang on, nearly forgot this."
Bumford reaches into a box and retrieves the same enormous codpiece worn by Belay! against their first encounters with the Rotters. He throws it at Weigh Anchor!. It hasn't been cleaned, and slaps wetly at the Elf. The Elf doesn't have time to be disgusted before he's shooed out by the dwarf.
Bumford waits until he's alone.
"So, you still want to make this bet?" murmurs a voice from the shadows.
"O' course. Two handfuls of the good stuff on Kurgan
"Some might say that's slightly unethical, Bumford."
Bumford grins at the troll, bedeckered in jewels and furs.
"Yet here we are, Trollington"
are a hard team to read. Their teamwork is impeccable. No one player stands out from the bunch, yet their record is almost unmatched.
They line up on the pitch, their armour shining menacingly.
The elfs line up opposite. Many of them are scared. Some of them are terrified.
The ball sails into the air, and the final begins.
The first half is brutal. Elfs are being beaten back and forth. Yet something is different. Countless games of being beaten, bruised, maimed and even killed has given the elf team a tenacity that they had previously not known. No matter the amount of times they are forced back, they keep hurling themselves at the Blood Tide
game is impeccable. The ball is knocked loose metres from the elf line, but incredible athletics by a beastman named Untusk
, moves to rival any elf, sees the elfs 1-0 as the whistle blows.
Bumford is nowhere to be seen in the changing rooms. The elfs are unsettled. Even an insult ridden spit fest from Bumford is better than nothing.
It's not long before the whistle blows again. As they're leaving, To The Brig
! spies several packs of butter melted on the floor. He doesn't think much of it.
It takes an unnatural amount of time for the elfs to pick up the ball, and each precious second they waste gives their opponents more time to bear down on them. Every time someone tries to pick it up to move it downfield, it slips tantalisingly from their hands.
The Chaos are just as indefatigable on defense as on offense, yet somehow Steady!
slips through to score an equaliser for Nautical Imperatives
. The Chaos line up to receive again, and the crunchfest begins anew.
The ball flies back and forth, being picked up and knocked down again and again. More and more it's barely being touched as it pops from the hands of any who get close.
The clock runs down, and the referee blows his whistle for extra time.
The referee, at the urging of Bumford (who has surfaced from somewhere) decides to eschew a break before the next round, and immediately kicks off the final drive. The elfs receive the ball, no longer slimey but sticky, and dart up the pitch. The Chaos, having dealt with this tactic against the Mad Experiment Skaven team, envelop the elf team and beat them into submission. The ball is close to the sidelines, as is Bumford, and it's there that To The Brig!
spies their team coach with more packets of butter in his pocket. Bumford catches his eye. As the elf opens his mouth to shout, an enormous mailed fist cracks him in the skull and kills him instantly.
Bumford cheers, infecting those around him with his enthusiasm.
"Free butter for all!" he yells.
As the minutes go on, it's clear what is happening. Elfs are leaving the pitch, overwhelmed by the Blood Tide
, the beastman, pummels Board!
, knocking the ball clean from his hands. The ball flies across and sticks to Ghusk
's fur, who points, laughs, and begins a gentle jog to the elf lines. No one can stop him.
The whistle blows. The final is over.
2-1 to Kurgan Blood Tide!
The atmosphere is strange in the changing rooms. Instead of sadness, the air is full of motivation. Of determination.
"We can do better." says All Hands On Deck!
. "I know next season we can win!"
Cheers from the elfs.
"We've had some hard games. Some tough opponents. But we can do it together! With Bumford leading us, we will triumph!" shouts Row, Damn Your Eyes!
The elfs cheer and start patting Bumford on the shoulder. Their glory days will return again!
Bumford slaps away the hands.
"Yeah, about that. I've decided I don't want to coach you all any more. Frankly, the sight of you all makes me sick."
"Yep, I've decided to have a change of pace. See you around, you wet cress-headed celery sticks."
An elf squeaks up.
"Well, what about our prize money? All our wages?"
"Sorry laddo, it was, uh, nicked. Oh, which reminds me!"
Bumford scrapes back a bench, sending the elf on it flying, and picks up a healthy sized chest. It jingles tantalisingly, and Bumford struggles under the weight.
Bumford opens the door. Elfs watch in horror as all they've worked for is taken from them. He smiles broadly.
"You'll be fine lads! Well, some of you. Well, one of you. Maybe."
And with that he's gone.
Bumford staggers under the weight of the money.
Trollington meets him in an alleyway.
"That was dirty, Bumford."
"pff" is the response.
"I've decided I want you to do something for me as a favour."
"I don't owe you nuffin'."
"Oh, shall I just go and tell the referee union about this little bet then?"
Bumford stops. Sighs.
"Ok, what do you want, you big green snotbucket?"
Sir Trollington the Third smiles disgustingly.
Bumford checks the slip of paper. The address is correct. He sighs, and knocks at the door.
It opens with a creak.
"Coach Bumford? ribbit"
...and so ends the tale of Bumford, enthusiastic coach of the Nautical Imperatives. Some say he may emerge again to wreak havoc on some poor unsuspecting team, like some figure of arthurian legend. The truth? We'll never know for sure...