As each member of the Saints watched the final game of the season, there was a tinge of sadness as they knew they had missed out on the Pro playoffs by the smallest of margins. A few weeks earlier it would have seemed an impossibility, but now that they had gotten so close, it hurt. But that sadness passed quickly, to be replaced with jubilation as they realised that they in fact would not get eaten by a werewolf in the playoffs.
2 months earlier
“Whaaaat?” mumbled a bleary eyed Dave, the remnants of last night’s whisky sitting next to him.
“We’re in!” reiterated Scott, “We’ve made it into the Challenge League”
Training for the league begun as it always did, with a few pints in the Skaven’s Heads. That was also how it ended, not a block thrown nor a touchdown scored. This was going to be a disaster.
Then, in the midst of the ‘preparations’ something unexpected happened. NURGLE-19, the successor to NURGLE-18 (more commonly known as Nurgle’s Rot), struck the earth. A global pandemic, which most upsettingly for the Saints, meant the closure of the Skaven’s Heads due to social distancing rules.
“What am I supposed to do now?” asked Dave to no-one in particular. “I wake up, go for a beer, have lunch, have another few, that’s usually followed by a nap, then I’m set up nicely for 5-10 more in the evening. Seems pointless doing that in my house”
“I mean, you could train?” suggested Scott. “What, for this league? That sounds like a lot of effort. I’ll just sit here and wait it out, I mean how long can it go on for”
He last 16 minutes. “Ok, I’m bored, let’s try this training lark”. And so it begun. Given special dispensation by the local council, the Saints were allowed to train together. It was slow progress, but improvements were coming. Pat Butcher was hitting harder than ever, Scott was catching and dodging like never before, and Jonny had found the ability to leap over other players’ heads.
The first match came, and by a sheer miracle pass, a team of skinky lizards were seen off 2-1. Opponents kept coming, and the Saints kept sending them packing. Spirits were high. Then just like that the team was torn apart. Ed had been doing what he loved, sticking his boot into downed Chaos Dwarves in a particularly violent match. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to him, one particularly unpleasant vertically challenged opposition had NURGLE-19. Ed woke up a few days after the match coughing and with a fever. 3 days later he was dead.
The weeks passed and things started to return to normal, albeit with an Ed shaped hole whenever they trained. Then unexpectedly one day Coach Doughnut called a team meeting, “Guy’s, we’ve been invited to the pros. A team has dropped out mid-season, and we’re first in line. This is it, what we’ve all been waiting for. Time to make Ed proud”
Training over the next few weeks was even harder than ever but it was working. Three more teams faced the Saints, and three more teams lost.
Coach Doughnut was proud, as much as he would have loved to take his beloved Saints to the playoffs, they had performed beyond his wildest dreams in their first season. Looking to the next he was confident. The pandemic was dissipating, he had a healthy team, a bulging sack of gold, and he’d spotted a particularly agile looking Witch Elf in the next village over that he was sure he could tempt to play…