If there’s one thing we’re a massive fan of it’s a good, old-fashioned inspirational speech. Perfect for boosting morale in dark times, cheering folk up and, if the moment calls for it, a great distraction, they can be excellent. And Harry certainly had to experience and give a few speeches himself.
The absolute master of an inspirational speech, however – or a speech, anyway – was Oliver Wood, an enthusiastic Quidditch team captain and an even more enthusiastic orator. And by ‘enthusiastic’ we mean ‘very chatty’. Over time Oliver definitely sent a few people to sleep with his well-intentioned but pretty boring speeches, but we’ll forgive him because he was just so passionate about giving them.
‘We know Oliver’s speech by heart,’ Fred told Harry. ‘We were in the team last year.’ ‘Shut up, you two,’ said Wood. ‘This is the best team Gryffindor’s had in years. We’re going to win. I know it.’
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Oliver was also willing to do anything for his team to win, regularly getting up at the crack of dawn to galvanise his players into action or, in this case, hold a disgustingly early Quidditch practice. Harry wasn’t known for regularly sleeping in late, which came with the territory when he’d spend such a long time sleeping under the stairs, but even he was disturbed by Oliver’s spirited early awakenings.
‘Oliver,’ Harry croaked, ‘it’s the crack of dawn.’ ‘Exactly,’ said Wood. He was a tall and burly sixth-year and, at the moment, his eyes were gleaming with a mad enthusiasm. ‘It’s part of our new training programme. Come on, grab your broom and let’s go,’ said Wood heartily. ‘None of the other teams have started training yet, we’re going to be first off the mark this year ...’
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
You’d expect the Quidditch team captain to be an exceptional player themselves and Oliver was certainly all that and then some. Post-Hogwarts he went on to become a member of the Puddlemere United reserve team, and we assume he brought the same level of intense ambition to his position there.
His time as a Quidditch team captain was certainly felt by the students who succeeded him. Angelina Johnson, who replaced him as captain, was regarded as embodying Oliver’s ridiculously competitive spirit in her role. Oliver was a great captain, so it’s no surprise that Angelina would try and replicate that same enthusiasm.
‘Well, you can just go straight to her and ask her to let you off on Friday,’ said Angelina fiercely, ‘and I don’t care how you do it. Tell her You-Know-Who’s a figment of your imagination if you like, just make sure you’re there!’ She stormed away. ‘You know what?’ Harry said to Ron and Hermione as they entered the Great Hall. ‘I think we’d better check with Puddlemere United whether Oliver Wood’s been killed during a training session, because Angelina seems to be channelling his spirit.’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Oliver pretty much peaked when Professor McGonagall announced that in spite of the attacks on students during Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Hogwarts would remain open. When McGonagall gave the news many students finished her sentence, asking if Dumbledore was back or if they’d caught the heir of Slytherin.
Of course, only Oliver Wood would start shouting excitably about how he hoped Quidditch matches were back on.
Oliver’s loyalty was pretty obvious to judge through his sheer commitment to his team doing well. His rude awakenings and endless speeches were clear signs of his dedication, but it was his love of Hogwarts that shone through. Oliver was all the Hogwarts school spirit you can imagine crammed into one person. It’s no wonder Professor McGonagall had a soft spot for him.
Oliver even showed his loyalty to Hogwarts after he left when he showed up in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to defend his alma mater. Not everyone did, but given how much of a team player (in every sense) Oliver was, it was absolutely no surprise that he returned to protect his school under siege.
As well as being a thoroughly dedicated guy, Oliver was also a firm upholder of the rules. He never allowed any form of cheating or foul play while he was captain – unlike a certain team. (We won’t name any names but their name starts with ‘S’ and their colour is green.)
‘Diggory got the Snitch,’ said George. ‘Just after you fell. He didn’t realise what had happened. When he looked back and saw you on the ground, he tried to call it off. Wanted a re-match. But they won fair and square ... even Wood admits it.’
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
When Harry saw a group of Dementors and was tossed from his broom, Cedric Diggory caught the Snitch but then gallantly offered a re-match. Oliver, knowing Cedric won legitimately, declined. It was a rather noble move from a really upstanding guy.