Ashby beat Bowdon to win the GC Inter-Club 4-0
In their 11th GC Inter-Club final, Ashby beat first-time finalists Bowdon to win the Championship for the fifth time.
Bowdon were missing their star player, John-Paul Moberly (away on honeymoon!) but battled hard through the whole day. The bottom half of their team was inexperienced at this level, with Nigel Matthews having never previously played a ranking game and Simon Jenkins only having seven games on the system (from the USA in 2019). Even the top half of Angharrad Walters (351 ranking games) and Jack Good (206) were not able to bring the same degree of experience as Ashby (Tim King 2273, Rachel Gee 1116, Will Gee 819, David Bell 713).
Ashby used all this experience to underpin their performance. The only hiccup in the morning was David losing his second game to Simon Jenkins at hoop 13. This led to the slightly unusual situation of a singles match being left incomplete (i.e. one game all) until possibly becoming significant at the end of the day. More typically, the doubles match would be the one that takes longer and the deciding game is held back.
After an excellent lunch provided by Edgbaston, the four afternoon singles commenced. Jack had appeared slightly below his best in the morning but made relatively quick work of taking his first game against Will (7-4). On the same court, Angharrad was also making better progress, winning hoop 11 to go 6-5 up and then getting a ball almost all the way through hoop 12. In other circumstances, this could have been the start of a significant revival for Bowdon. But firstly, this led to what was undoubtedly shot of the day from Rachel, who played a bouncing bomb to take the game to hoop 13. This also gave Rachel an advantage on approaching that hoop and she duly took the first game. Meanwhile, the action on the other court was going in the direction of Ashby.
Both Bowdon players had their moments on that court with neither David nor Tim being at their absolute best. But both were producing enough long hoops and strong clearances to ensure they both won their first games relatively comfortably. This dominance continued and, as the top-half rubbers began to swing back to the losers of the first games, the emerging uncertainty became whether David or Tim would be the first to win, leaving the other to score the point to win the Championship. As Tim's ball sat in the jaws of his winning hoop (12), he watched as David ran hoop 11 to win his rubber and, for the first time in 11 appearances in the final, Tim was then able to step up and score the point to claim the Championship. The rubbers on the other court both reached a 1-1 score shortly afterwards and everyone decided that the prospect of tea and cakes was far more attractive than playing out the dead rubbers.
Lionel Tibble attended on behalf of the President of the CA and presented the winning team with the trophy. He and the winning non-playing captain of Ashby, Ray Mounfield, both thanked Edgbaston for being excellent hosts, providing a sumptuous spread for the buffet lunch and a small but enthusiastic crowd to sit alongside the travelling Ashby support.
The final also represented the end of an era for Ashby, with Ray Mounfield overseeing his last match as captain, a job he has held since the first year of the Championship. He did, however, play in the first round this year and will no doubt remain in contention to play in future years. In just three matches, the Ashby teams for 2021 also included Keith Pound, Arthur Rowe and Paul Durkin, all of whom joined the crowd at the final.
The very first final of the GC Inter-Club included three women but the 2021 final was the first to feature both sides having a woman as their top player (and probably this is the first time this has happened in any match in the GC Inter-Club).