National Veterans Tournament
The tournament started on Monday 20th June in glorious sunshine with a disappointing 7 pairs only for the doubles. Consequently 6 pairs played with the winners then joined by the 'bye'. Games were the full 3 hours and Jim Field and Roger Mills [Sidmouth] won by small margins to take home the unique Sussex Trugs [AKA The Longman Trophies]. The 'Y' stream was won by Deborah & David Marcus [Sussex County] who took the Gilbert Spoons. A managed Egyptian was available but, no pair took the offer of additional games - too much excitement / too hot / or dare one mention 'it was the veterans after all'?
The tournament manager got home to find he had 2 withdrawals from the following day's Handicap Event and what was to have been a 'nice' 16 player 'X' and 'Y' knock-out became a straight knock-out with Egyptian games for those duly dispatched. Games were, again the full 3 hours and a surprising number went to full time with, of course, the inevitable hit-in as time is called followed by a long break! However, the good weather again deterred 3rd games save for David Houston [Edinburgh] and Charlie Martin [Ramsgate]. David Wise [Norwood Club / Adelaide], made impertinent comment about the 'cool' weather but, noticeably did not play a 3rd game either.
The tournament manager went home on Tuesday night to be called by an entrant pulling-out on the Doctor's strong advice. The Class event schedules were rearranged for the second time but nothing was printed-off!
Wednesday saw the final 4 play-off: Roger Mills [Sidmouth], Jim Field, Peter Siddall [Roehampton] and John Wells [Downham]. Lunch was taken as leisurely as the day before with much banter and, eventually, the second scheduled games started. A withdrawal due to physical inability to play on forced a quick rescheduling but, play continued. Good weather prevailed and again few took the option of a 3rd game.
The tournament manager went home on Wednesday night with some trepidation - more withdrawals? Yes! A player's car had a clutch failure and the final handicap game, thankfully only an Egyptian, could not be played. Both latter withdrawals were not due to play in the Class games and the overall result of the Handicap Event was not affected.
The Class play schedules etc were printed off. Thursday morning saw Jim Field beat Peter Siddall +10 in the Handicap final if not in his usual 'Billy the Whizz' style. So, Jim Field won his second event and took home the Meredith Cup and Peter Siddall was consoled with a bottle of wine.
Thursday 1pm the Class events started. A Block with 8 players [-1 to 1.5] playing untimed games. Several triple peels were attempted but only one was successfully completed by Duncan Hector [Great Dunham] against Alan Cottle [Sussex County]. The final game, on Saturday afternoon, as you would expect, over ran but the end result was a clean sweep of 6 wins by Jim Field with David Wise losing just the one game with 5 wins in second place. The handsome Rothwell Cup completed the full tournament set for Jim Field - the first time he has won all events in a multi-event tournament.
With the last-minute withdrawals, the B and C Blocks were reduced from 8 & 7 to 6 but all seemed quite happy with just 2 scheduled games a day - time limit 2hrs 45mins. The B Block games went smoothly and ended-up with a 3-way, circular tie between Philip Harris, Peter Nelson and Nigel Amos. A point [hoop] count resulted in 102 for Harris and 95 & 93 respectively for Nelson and Amos. Thus, the Felixstowe Trophy was taken by Philip Harris.
The C Block started Thursday afternoon but on Friday morning another withdrawal during the first game was forced by ill health. This was very disappointing to the other players in the block and it also forced a withdrawal in the A Block from two final games on the Saturday. Fortunately recourse to Incomplete Block procedure was not needed. The games played on, with the majority, as all Block games, going to time. To the tournament manager's slight embarrassment but greater pleasure, he won the block and took home the Queen's 70th Jubilee Cup he was presenting for 2022!
The D Block played their 6 games, 2hrs 45mins, and the winner, John Coutts, Rother Valley, only dropped one game against John Reddish: -1! To him the Strickland Cup.
The National Veterans also offers the Pidcock Trophy for the player over 75 who is best placed in the Class Event. There were several contenders this year and after careful review it was awarded to Jane Babbage [Sidmouth].
Struggling to stop his handicap going even lower John Wells determination allied with precise play, mostly, allowed him to take the Egyptian prize - the usual glass-based item sealed with a cork, actually a screw cap. Jim Field also won the 'Fastest Game' prize amidst some controversy with entrants who hadn't bothered to read the manager's detailed 'welcome and how it's going to be run notice' - 'how unusual'. The best Jim Field could manage was a pathetic 53 minutes but, the unimpressed tournament manager was true to his word and presented a glass-based prize - a jar of Tesco marmalade.
Prize giving was completed shortly after 4.30pm with John O'Gorman, Budleigh Salterton's Club Chairman, chief hoop setter, Meeter & Greeter, barman, lunch order taker, trophy organiser, CA liaison, and 'Lord High Everything Else' commented that he was noting a Budleigh first. He had had moans that the hoops were too tight and too well set in firm position [in other words set correctly] and that the lawns were too fast [in other words - ideal]. The ongoing superb lawn maintenance by Richard Quelch, a greensman rather than a groundsman, was universally acclaimed as well as the ever friendly reception from the host club itself.
The tournament was enjoyed by all in a friendly, leisurely but still competitive manner and all hope that a fuller entry will come back in 2023 - see you then?????????