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A Tavern-full of Fun: An Interview with Dasher Soley


by rookina

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Dasher Soley reflects on the past Altador Cup, his career, the Krawk Island fans, and what his future might hold.

I set out to interview Dasher Soley with every intention of writing a fairly serious profile and interview of one of Yooyuball's legendary players. However, once I met the Krawk, it became clear that this was going to be anything but a serious interview!

"... An' there I was, bright pink, wearin' a poxy flowery hat, sat in the middle o' the PetPet Puddle, surrounded by dozens o' the little critters, with a crowd of Haunted Woods fans comin' down th' road towards me!"

"What did you do, Dash?"

"What d'ye think I did? I hunkered down wi' th' PetPets, pulled the brim o' the hat over me face, and pretended I was a Krawk PetPet!"

The tavern resounds with the sound of laughter as the barmaid brings Dasher Soley, Krawk Island's most popular Yooyuball player, another drink. As she does so, Soley looks up and catches my eye.

"Got t' go, guys," he winks at the fans sitting around the table. "Journalist's here - got t' go an' embellish some more stories fer th' lass t' print in th' Neopian Times!"

Soley leaves the table and comes over to me, offers to buy me a drink - he won't take no for an answer - and guides me over to another table in a quiet corner. I mention that unlike some players, the Krawk seems to relish the chances he gets to spend with fans.

"Aye, they're great, ain't they?" he grins. "They've been so supportive over the years an' I owe 'em so much, th' least I can do is buy 'em a few pitchers o' punch an' tell 'em some stories."

Speaking of stories, just what did I walk into the middle of?

"First week o' the Altador Cup the team went out t' celebrate gettin' through th' first round, an' things got a bit wild, if ye know what I means!" He winks at me and starts laughing. "Woke up in th' PetPet Puddle painted pink an' dressed up like a poxy flower faerie! Thinks maybe Nitri [Cassale, the team's Left Defender] had somethin' to do wi' that!"

I try not to smile, but it's impossible, and he laughs with me. "Ye know, it's part of the game - ye go out with yer team mates, ye have a few laughs, an' occasionally they pulls a joke on ye."

As the waitress comes over with a round of drinks - Coconut Cocktail for me and a tankard of Piratey Fruit Juice for Dasher - he winks at her and flips her a five-dubloon tip. He must have noticed my expression, because he quickly explains, "She be a fine young lass, that. Workin' hard, puttin' up with all the seadogs comin' in and singin' their sea shanties - some o' them bein' unsuitable for a lassy's ears, y'know - and always has a smile for an old Yooyuballer. An' it's not like I'm short - Yooyuball pays real well."

"You're not that old though..."

He grins at me. "Aye, but I'm old enough t' want t' protect the young 'uns - don't matter if that's me team mates, me family, me fans or jus' a pretty girl in a tavern."

I'm interested by the order he puts that - team first, then family. "Aye, well they're just like family t' me. I guess I'm the older brother an' they're the kids, just findin' their feet an' learnin' how t' be a team."

They seemed to learn very well at the Altador Cup. After an average season, the team - billed as 'a team of loveable losers who've never quite managed to put it all together and win their regional tournament' - not only managed to beat Altador, one of the stronger teams in the draw, by a huge margin in the first round, but then went on to put out tournament favourites Mystery Island in the second round with apparent ease.

"Hah, that were FUN!" Dasher exclaims, sloshing his drink all over the table in his excitement. "Those lubbers thought they'd got us, wi' that huge lump of a forward who does nothin' but stand in front o' the goal an' rocket in th' shots. But if he don't get the Yooyu, he don't score nothin', so we played to stop th' Yooyu gettin' near 'im an' it worked. An' we've got good ol' Garven [Hale] in goal, so even when those flower-heads got th' Yooyu to him, Volgoth couldn't do anythin' with it."

Noticing my glass is empty, the Krawk waves over the waitress and orders another tankard for himself, a tall glass of fruit punch for me and some nachos.

While we're waiting for the drinks, Dash spots a couple of fans lurking nearby. He waves them over and they come, very shyly, to the table. I'm really impressed by the way he treats them - he gives them plenty of time, talks to them both, signs autographs, poses for photos, gives them a couple of tickets to a friendly game Krawk Island are playing against 'The Buccaneers' (one of the teams in the local league), and promises that if they can find him after the game he'll give them some souvenirs.

The nachos and drinks arrive at that point and we settle back into the booth to eat them. I've noticed that teams are often characterised by their Right Forwards - the position Dasher has played for years.

"Maybe ye're right," he shrugs. "I s'pose Darigan's image is like [Tandrak] Shaye's - big, tough, a bit dangerous, great to watch in action. An' Mystery Island always seems t' be a huge obstacle, difficult t' get past an' with mighty powerful offence, jus' like that bilge-sucking Mynci o' theirs."

He pauses for a moment and picks up a nacho. "So that makes Krawk Island charmin', good lookin', entertainin' an' very, very popular, right?!"

I laugh and take another drink. By now, any thoughts of conducting a serious interview with the Krawk have gone out of the window, and I'm just enjoying an evening out with someone I feel like I've known for years.

"What's next then, Dash?" I ask, helping myself to some more nachos. He raises an eyebrow. "I mean for your career," I explain. "Before the Cup there were loads of rumours flying 'round that you might retire after the event, but now you're still playing in this friendly game and you're not showing any signs of slowing down."

"Aye," he nods. "Ye're right. When ye get a big event like th' Cup and ye play well, it rejuvenates ye. Ye start feelin' stronger an' like ye can go on ferever."

"So will you?"

"Aye, why not! Want another drink?" I nod - the fruit punch was delicious, and after all, it gives me an excuse to keep chatting to the compelling Krawk. As the drinks are being put on the table I remember I was going to ask Dash about the team's future. Before the Cup, there had been talk of Nitri leaving the team when her contract ended, of Hoke Lemtry [Right Defender] sitting out the season while he learned to play a more strategic game, and of Dasher's retirement and Ealyn Hawkshanks' promotion to Captain.

Dash is quick to reply, but refuses to be drawn. "I still be here right now, but Ealyn's gonna get th' chance t' lead th' team real soon," he promises. "Now whether that's 'cuz I retire or just 'cuz I want t' sit back 'n' relax fer a bit I'm not goin' t' say yet." He grins. "An' contracts? Don't get involved there. I waits and sees who shows up fer practice first day o' next season."

That seems to be a very laid back approach to the whole situation, but then Dasher can be incredibly laid back at times. It's rumoured that before the team's first round match against Altador, five minutes before the start Garven was running around the stadium trying to find the Krawk. A minute before they were due on the field, he found him lying on a pile of bags, fast asleep and snoring his head off!

"Aye, that's true!" he admits. "But it didn't do me game any harm, did it?"

We talk for a few minutes more about inconsequential things - the weather, whether the food at the Golden Dubloon is worth the price tag, and whether Deckswabber is a waste of space or an entertaining distraction.

As I finish my drink, Dash gets up and I assume the interview is over.

"Sink me! Ye kiddin'?" Dash looks surprised. "C'mon, lassie, I want t' introduce ye to the rest o' the team. We're goin' out t' celebrate a great tournament tonight - ye're welcome t' join us!"

Who could refuse an invitation like that? Certainly not me, and with Dash as my tour guide I was introduced to the rest of the Krawk Island team and we toured every single tavern on the Island, meeting the fans who seemed to follow the team wherever they go, and partying until the early hours.

The following morning, my memory of the latter part of the night is a bit fuzzy - a combination of lack of sleep, exhaustion and the sugar-high I was on from all the fruit punch I drank the night before! Despite that, I'm still left with the impression that Dasher is one of the most interesting and fun-to-hang-out-with people I've ever met... but after that I'm all a bit of a blur.

Can someone please remind me how I ended up dressed as a mermaid, wearing a pirate hat, and tied to a cannon...?!

-----------------------

Once she detaches herself from the cannon and finds her normal clothes, rookina would love to hear any comments ye have on this interview!

Big kudos and a tankard of Piratey Fruit Juice to sarissravon and moopyloopy902 who proofread, and an extra Coconut Cocktail for sarissravon for helping me understand Dasher's pirate-talk!

 
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