Remember when Professor McGonagall marched Harry away from his first flying lesson, apparently for flying unsupervised in pursuit of Neville’s Remembrall, but then she threw a curve ball of her own by introducing him to Oliver Wood as Gryffindor’s new Seeker? That legendary moment sparked a flurry of excitement among the Gryffindor team. Even Fred and George were thrilled to hear Harry was joining them:
Imagine generating such a buzz before you'd even set foot on the pitch. Talk about a confidence boost.
If Fred and George were to be believed, Oliver Wood – Harry's first Quidditch captain – delivered the same speech fairly regularly, but it was a pretty rousing one. Short, to-the-point, and full of confidence, we certainly can’t fault Oliver’s optimism as he attempted to motivate his team ahead of their first game with Harry in tow:
When the Gryffindor Quidditch team took on Slytherin in Chamber of Secrets, Harry was feeling the pressure. Facing off against Malfoy and the highly advanced racing brooms his father had equipped the Slytherin team with was bad enough, but on top of that, he had Wood’s latest desperate pre-match speech ringing in his ears – ‘Get to that Snitch before Malfoy or die trying, Harry, because we’ve got to win today, we’ve got to.’ Oh, and then there was the rogue Bludger.
Bewitched by Dobby – apparently with the aim of injuring Harry so he’d be sent home – the rogue Bludger zeroed in with such force that it broke Harry’s arm. With one arm out of action, the Gryffindor Seeker ended up tumbling from his broom as he reached out and grabbed the Snitch. But before the broken limb came an excellent example of teamwork. Fred and George took it upon themselves to protect Harry from the Bludger’s viciousness, even though it meant sacrificing valuable points. Ah, we do like to see teammates putting each other’s safety and wellbeing above the outcome of a match (it was still a win for Gryffindor – but a rather painful one).
Yes, Fred and George liked to mock poor Oliver and his pep talks. But this one showed why relentless positivity despite everything that's come before can be so important, especially for a leader. The pre-match speech he gave at the beginning of what was to be his final year at Hogwarts has to be our favourite:
We do admire Oliver. Seven years of disappointing results, and he never gave up. Manic glint in the eye or not, we’d still call him inspirational.
After the Bludger incident in Chamber of Secrets, poor Harry fell from his broom a second time in Prisoner of Azkaban. Then, there was no Dobby to blame – that one was down to the Dementors who’d surrounded the pitch during Gryffindor's rain-soaked match against Hufflepuff.
And that fall really hurt. Not only did it land Harry back in the hospital wing, it also lost Gryffindor the match and led to his faithful broomstick being destroyed by the Whomping Willow. But he could at least content himself with the fact that the entire Gryffindor team (well, minus Oliver, who was away drowning himself in the showers) stayed by his hospital bed until he woke up and did their best to reassure him. As Fred said:
Again: boosting each other's morale after a tough result is top-notch teamwork, if you ask us.
When Gryffindor did win, their post-match celebrations (and the parties) were a joy to behold. We particularly love this moment, just after Gryffindor had beaten Ravenclaw, thanks to some speedy flying from Harry and the impressive Patronus he'd sent charging towards three ‘Dementors' who turned out to be Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle and Slytherin Captain Marcus Flint.
And that wasn't even the final.
When Ron became Gryffindor's Keeper, Angelina Johnson – then Captain – admitted he wasn’t fabulous. Others outflew him in tryouts but they lacked commitment, and so Angelina picked Ron. And she stuck with him. Even though his lack of confidence, extreme nervousness when playing in front of an audience (helpful), and tendency to lose focus when he made a mistake meant Ron’s Quidditch playing never seemed as effortless as Harry’s, or his brothers, the Gryffindor team – led by Angelina – did not give up on him. Angelina refused to let him quit, even when her team descended further into chaos after Umbridge banned Harry, Fred and George from playing. As Ginny told Harry: ‘She says she knows he’s got it in him.’
When Harry became Captain a year later and Ron's performance took another dip, he too refused to give up on his friend. As you may recall, he even went so far as to pretend to slip Ron some Felix Felicis, so he'd find a bit of inner confidence and up his game. Yeah, they were pretty good, those Gryffindor Quidditch Captains. Not that we really condone such manipulation, of course, but having faith in your team even when they don't have it in themselves shows some solid leadership.
Thanks to Hagrid’s not-so-little brother Grawp, Harry and Hermione missed Ron’s winning moment in Order of the Phoenix, but the sight of Ron being borne aloft on the shoulders of his teammates after helping them (finally) win the Quidditch Cup was something very special. After months of miserable practises, it was just incredibly refreshing to hear the Gryffindors sing their version of Weasley is our King, proving that with a bit of self-belief, it is possible to turn your fortunes around.