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FATHOMS LEAP DIVIDENDS AT MIDDENBOWL
R’lyeh has long been a city divided on sporting lines, with the Meepers and the Fathoms jostling for supremacy over countless millennia. Its disappearance 534 years ago heralded a decline in both teams’ fortunes, with long lists of unfulfilled fixtures making success a rarity for long-suffering fans. A packed Middenbowl last night witnessed the solid return of R’lyeh’s finest, now relocated to Innsmouth and bursting with potential.
The Sewerboys have been unstoppable this season, with convincing wins against the Redskins, Stiffs, and Beings tucked under their belts. But this was an unfamiliar Sewerboys side that took the pitch, reeling from the loss of Pancreas, Pathogen, and Botfly, all serious casualties of the carnage meted out by the Beings, and replaced in the side by youngsters Anthrax “Ant” Robideux, Jonny Rotgrub, and Virus McCain. Eelgroan was still missing, recovering from the fractured arm which he collected at the Miregloom Crypt Arena, but this has allowed an opportunity for rookie Ralph Hernia, which he does not intend to miss. Sadly Marv Trenchrot is still on the Sewerboys’ critical list, confounding the shamans with the progress of Stiffdust’s tomb rot through his abdomen, and his absence allowed Rat Sciatica a chance to impress coach Fink Adenoid in his second run out for the Ciston side.
There were however welcome returns for both the mutant Squid Mucus, and Roach Tumour, who will resume kicking duties from Hernia.
The Fathoms started the game, kicking off to the waiting claws of Catgut. Both sides were quickly into each other with Nesbitt and Sciatica breaking quickly through the right side of midfield. Rabies left the pitch early, stunned by a crunching block from Scurgle, before tragedy befell Poke Nesbitt, the CFL’s highest scorer this season. Typically searching for that little bit extra, crowd favourite Nesbitt’s surge for the endzone saw him slip on a carelessly discarded lung and crash head first into the astrogranite, breaking his neck in the process. The Sewerboys will sorely miss his intelligent offensive play. A stunned Sciatica instinctively caught Catgut’s short pass and the game moved on.
With the Fathoms running at Sciatica, offensive protection duties fell to the experience of Mucus and Codpiece, who brought down Strassi and Skatsi, leaving Sciatica free to throw to Botfly, who had made his way into the Fathoms’ endzone. But Sciatica’s poor throw was intercepted by a leaping Scroto, and with the Sewerboys committed a short pass found Splosh in space.
Splosh’s inexperience showed though, and a moment’s hesitation allowed in a filthy block from Septico, knocking the unfortunate Splosh out cold, and scattering the ball. Sewerboys troll blocker Flea finally caught up with proceedings at this point, standing on the head of the prone Scurgle and sending him to the stunned box, allowing Epididymus to regain possession and advance, protected by the vigilant Catgut. Splot ran in on Epididymus, but was surprised by Mucus, who came out of nowhere to smash him straight into intensive care with a gouged eye. Epididymus handed off to Septico, whose wayward pass to Hernia was again intercepted by the lively Scroto.
Squash saw his chance and charged down the flank towards the endzone, his path cleared by Stokka’s concussive block on Catgut, and a textbook pass from Scroto put Squash within 5 paces of the Sewerboys endzone, but very much in the danger zone with Septico, Epididymus, and Pancreas all bearing down on him. A lively sprint took him past all three and into the endzone for the first Fathoms touchdown in over half a millennium.
Tumour restarted the game, with a wildly inaccurate kick collected by Schwit. Squash was squashed by Polio and Spleen and Scurgle stunned by Flea as the Fathoms’ offensive line shattered. Schwit charged past the carnage in midfield, down the right flank, but was stopped abruptly by Epididymus, and after much bouncing off of prone batrachians the ball ended up in Epididymus’s spiteful clutches. Hernia had used the confusion to slip unnoticed into the Fathoms’ endzone, and an inch-perfect pass from Epididymus left him celebrating a face-saving touchdown.
With only a few minutes left on the clock the buzzer quickly sounded after the restart, leaving the Sewerboys licking their festering wounds, and the Fathoms wondering what might have been.
The eldritch Fathoms were not available for post-match comment, but the charismatic Vince Catgut, crowd favourite and all-round ladies’ rat, standing in as team captain for the rotting Trenchrot, was pleased with his team’s performance. “Yesss sisss time ssssey scoressss early doorsssss and we wussss on the back foot, but blood bowl’sssss a game of two halvessss and anysssssing can happen. All credit to the ladsssss for coming back late on.”. Fink Adenoid was not so happy, condemning his side’s apparent weakness against the Fathoms’ leaping game.
The loss of Nesbitt is a cruel blow to the Sewerboys’ hopes. Over the course of the last 5 seasons he has been a mainstay of the Skaven passing game and was on course for a big return this time around. He is likely to find alternative employment, with both the Legends and the Stiffs looking to strengthen their offensive game, but surely he will be unable to recapture the form that has made him the Sewerboys’ most valuable player three seasons on the bounce.
Finally, a word for the fans. The cramped conditions led to skirmishing and brutality in the stands of the worst kind, and both sets of fans must take credit for that. Home advantage for the Sewerboys makes the crowd their “17th rat”, but the Fathoms brought admirable support, including two Chaos Humans, whose interference in the game led to much speculation as to the reasons for their presence.
R’lyeh may be gone, but the Fathoms are back, and in style.
Ciston Sewerboys 1 (Hernia)
Innsmouth Fathoms 1 (Squash)
Friday 1 June
Venue: Middenbowl, Ciston
Player Fatalities: Nesbitt (Sewerboys) - Nesbitt
Serious injuries: Splot (Fathoms) (gouged eye) – back next game