Yo-yo? What yo-yo?, ‘S Wonderful, ‘S Marvelous. Having won promotion to Division 1 in the EPA Inter-Regional Championship for the first time last year, how can we find the words to sum up Sussex Pétanque’s amazing achievement in staying up last weekend? It’s a tall order.
We are proud to report that no fewer than eight BHPC members were involved in SXP’s memorable success: David Alfred, Stephan Alfred, Gareth Jarvis (Alvis, No 1 seed), Terry Gibbons, Alan Issler, Joe Simmonds-Issler, Ian Maynard (Agit-tated Seagullzzz, No 5), and Tony Mann (in Crowbright2, No 2, with Matt and Alan, in the photo).
Things were not looking too good after Day 1 when SXP were second from bottom with 19 wins (out of 56 games), after each seeded team had played their opposite number in the other seven regions. According to the championship format, this meant playing five games on Day 2 but excluding the top two regions, both far ahead, as they always are, of all the other regions. With steely determination SXP took full advantage of the opportunity this presented in battling against the remaining six regions, winning no fewer than 21 games (out of 40). But would the total of 40 wins be enough to stay up? Would we be back to Division 2 next year? Would we be the classic yo-yo region?
With rumours furiously flying around and fingernails at the ready, the whole squad waited anxiously as the final results for Division 1 were announced at the closing ceremony about 7.24pm on Sunday. Incredulity, pure delight and high emotion (even some tears of joy) greeted the results. Defying all known expectations and all the laws of probability theory, not only did Sussex Pétanque avoid relegation, but we stayed up and with room to spare, finishing not sixth but fifth – only four games below the two next best-performing regions (the 21 wins made us the third best-performing region on Day 2).
Considering that, first, Sussex Pétanque was formed less than ten years ago; second, its population base is one of the smallest of all the regional associations and the smallest by a long way in Division 1 regions (SXP is really only East Sussex); and third, some of its better players were missing this year, SXP’s feat is all the more impressive – bloody marvellous, in fact!
So, hearty congratulations to Sussex Pétanque and to our club members who contributed to the region’s finest hour.
And huge congratulations also to our junior team – Callum Slade, Morgan Pry and Kira Croft – who, winning 9 out of 10 games, were runners-up in the Junior Championship: a truly great achievement.
Long Live Sussex Pétanque!