Our club squad achieved its best ever result in the annual Euro Cup for Clubs when it beat Sandown and Shanklin PC (Isle of Wight) by 3 games to 2 on January 8 to reach the fourth round of the last 16 clubs.
Forget the FA Cup third round, forget the Test matches, forget the Australian Open, the club achieved its best ever result in the Euro Cup for Clubs by winning its third round match against Sandown and Shanklin PC on Sunday January 8.
Early on a mild, dry and, later, sunny winter’s day, David A, Gareth, Pat and Stephan drove down to the Isle of Wight to join Ray and Tony who were already there. (On the ferry there and back, David held an impromptu cryptic crossword tutorial.)
As usual, the match was the best of five games: two triples and three doubles, at least one of each being between mixed teams.
In the triples round, while our open team of David, Stephan and Gareth teeth-gnashingly surrendered a healthy lead to lose 11-13, our mixed team of Ray, Pat and Tony won convincingly 13-3*.
With the match score now 1-1, we had to win two games in the second round of three doubles games to take the match. Our two ‘open’ teams were David and Stephan, and Ray and Tony. Our mixed team was Gareth and Pat.
Ray and Tony apparently had a rather torrid time, losing 5-13. On any other day, they could just as easily have won. Meanwhile, father and son duo David and Stephan started off well to lead 11-4 (missing a good opportunity to wrap up the game), were then caught up to 11-10 before finally doing the business to win 13-10.
So the match score was now 2-2. Everyone gathered round – the weather still holding up beautifully – to watch the last few ends of the game that would decide the match.
We come in at the point where Gareth and Pat leading 10-4 then lost one point and then five more to make the score 10-10. Further very tight ends took the score to 12-12.
Under not inconsiderable pressure, Pat and Gareth were to play a memorable final end. It hots up when Gareth shoots the opposition’s then winning point by a dramatic, rolling semi-carreau that itself remains the winning point until the opposition play their last boule which just beats it on the other side of the bouchon (jack), about 8-9 inches away. This is game on the ground for the opposition. It cannot stand.
Fortunately, Gareth has one boule in hand and Pat two. They need to shoot the boule or outpoint it. They confer. The rest of the squad debates the complex tactical permutations, and calls in fresh reserves of fingernails from the mainland. The birds stop flying.
Here we go. They’ve decided. Gareth shoots. He misses. What now? The tension, already at fever pitch, rises even more. Just two boules left. What’s this? Pat assumes a shooting stance. She shoots. It’s about eight metres. Then: not only does the shot hit the (right) boule, but, just to make sure of the result, it also moves the bouchon towards Gareth’s boule.
That’s it. Yes, yes, yes. They win the point! They win the game! We win the match! The squad rushes onto the terrain to embrace Gareth and Pat with much emotion, many “well done’s”, much smiling.
What a rollercoaster! One of the most exciting games any of us have seen, to go down in the club annals. It was the second great game Pat has been involved in since winning the EPA Over-50s Plate competition with Ian last October.
The opposition took their narrow defeat graciously and both squads retired to the nearby clubhouse, ours enjoying a celebration round followed by home-made soup that tasted of nectar.
Our memorable win means the club progresses to Round 4 of this prestigious competition on March 4 where the last 16 clubs battle it out to secure a place in the final round of 4.
Good luck, squad!