All the maximum of 24 teams – including ones from Wales, the Isle of Wight and London – turned out yesterday, in the worst weather seen at any competition held by the club in living memory. Driving rain and strong wind lasting from morn till mid-afternoon tested players’ skills, good humour and endurance to the limit. Teeth were gnashed, and cloths to ‘dry’ and remove sticky grit from boules were continually wrung. None of this, however, disturbed continuous play, proving once and for all that the English are quite mad.
The top 16 teams from six morning leagues went into the Main competition with the remaining 8 into the Plate, each having a separate Consolage competition for the losers in the first round. Of the ten contestants coming from the club – Pat Connolly and Janice Doherty, Jill Gebbett and David Miller, Alan Issler and Joe Simmonds-Issler, Ian Maynard and David Alfred, Tony Mann (and Jeff Mitchell, Crowborough), Gareth Jarvis (and Rachid Hannache, London) – all but Jill and David got into the Main. The latter wisely chose to forgo the opportunity to get even more soaked playing in the Plate.
Only Alan, Joe, Tony and Gareth survived the Main round of 16. By way of consolation, Ian and David went on to win the three rounds of the Main Consolage to win that competition (thus coming 9th overall): quite respectable. Meanwhile, father and son duo, Alan and Joe won their quarter-final to reach the semi-final, their final destination (thus 3rd/4th overall): a very creditable achievement.
All eyes were now on Tony and Jeff who got all the way to the final where they met the strong Southern Counties team of Graham Elcome and Stephen Daykin, and won 13-3.
This was the second major success for Tony and Jeff in two weeks after their winning the inaugural Sussex Pétanque (SXP) Over-50s championship. It was also Tony’s second successive BHPC Open Doubles title which he won with Gareth last year. Some record! So hearty congratulations to Tony and Jeff.
Credit and thanks go firstly to Gareth and Tony who between them, once again, organised and promoted the event. As they were both also playing, it was the unsung volunteers in the clubhouse who deserve both recognition and thanks for responding to our appeals for help. As I was on the terrain for the best part of seven hours I apologise in advance if I leave anyone out.
Stalwart of the day was Chris Vincent who was there when I arrived and didn’t leave until the packing up was complete. It was the emergence of Chris into the rain each hour, with his horn, that signaled the end of timed games. Also making an early start in setting up the terrain were Harvey Knowles and Bart, the latter on his best behaviour. Trish Taylor and Ann Wordsworth helped with result recording and Ann, assisted by Lisa Compton, ran the raffle to boost club funds. Alan Pinder was invaluable in the kitchen area ensuring there was a clean supply of crockery for our guests. Di Vincent was there to help in the clubhouse and in clearing away the equipment.”