Tony Mann writes:
“This prestigious event attracts the best players and teams around the country all eager to win the top prize, which is the chance the represent their Association at the European Men’s Championships in 2015. [It] consists of two qualifying competitions to find the top eight teams who then compete on a further day to find the overall winner.
The format is the Swiss System where, after a random draw, winners play winners and the losers play losers over five rounds.
The first qualifier was held in June at the Rayne Swan in Essex. Our first round match could not have been any tougher playing against the current Men’s No.1 team of Dean Seville, Ross Jones, Sofiane Lachani and Sam Blakey. I was team captain and put in Gareth [el Jarvis], Stephan [di Alfredo] and Jeff [Mitchell, Crowborough] for the opening game. Our boys played exceptionally well in the longest match of the round losing 9-13 and giving the No. 1 team a real scare.
Unfortunately, though we changed the format of our team a few times, we were unable, despite some good play, to secure a win in any further round with the exception of winning the “bye” game very convincingly 13-7. Of the 13 teams that entered we finished up disappointingly in 12th position but learnt a lot from the day.
The second qualifier was held on 7th July at a new venue, Lion PC who operate out of Arlesey Football Club (mid-Bedfordshire). The terrain was akin to Brighton beach pebbles spread over a rock-hard surface with large boulders and rocks embedded and protruding from the surface. Shooting had to be boule to boule and pointing was a combination of skill, luck and a lottery. This time there were 14 teams playing so we didn’t even have the luxury of a bye win to look forward to!
The first round this time was seeded following the order of the first qualifier and we played against the No. 3 seeds from Eastern Region. Gareth, Stephan and Jeff played this game and won convincingly 13-6. With the boys having a good momentum we kept the same format for the second game against a very strong Kent team and though we played well we lost this match.
For the third round I came in for Stephan and we played another strong team (5th seeds) made up of Chiltern and Southern players and won convincingly. In the fourth round yet another strong team from Kent (by now you’ll realise there were no easy teams to play!) and in a nip and tuck match narrowly lost 11-13. For our final match we played another Kent team and won very convincingly.
For the second qualifier we finished a deserved sixth place which was a huge improvement from the first day, and received many compliments from some of the other teams and players. Overall we finished 11th and, though disappointed, we all feel we learnt a significant amount, could see the improvements we had made and know that the margins between losing and winning are getting narrower. We all look forward to playing again next year.”
Well done, boys, you’ve again done the club and Sussex proud.