The second Kent tournament of the year was held at the all new location of Hop Farm. At first inspection, which admittedly took place at 9.30pm in the dark, it seemed to consist of a great deal of dirt tracks and a huge number of Hillman Imps! However, the next morning as the darkness and the mist lifted it became clear that there was actually grass around and two polocrosse pitches all ready for play. They did still bear some scars from the recent war that had been fought on them and the tanks had compressed the ground to a fairly solid state but they were level and seemed to bounce pretty well all weekend.
The weekend started with the great tail plaiting scandal, with Jason Webb threatening everyone who failed to plait their tails with various threats, ranging from stopping them playing to awarding a goal against their team. He did explain that he simply wanted everything to be smart as there were going to be lots of people around Hop Farm that weekend for the Kent sports weekend and also TV crews, and he did also personally plait up a couple of people’s tails when they were unable to do it themselves. More worrying than any amount of tail plaiting was the umpire’s exam that took place on the Saturday night, with people needing to pass before Nationals. A number of people failed and now their Nationals entry hangs in the balance.
The weather was good, except for a few showers during the A and C grade finals and the Saturday night entertainment consisted of two very contrasting activities. Firstly, there was a large party, with all the other people who were on the Hop Farm that weekend (including the Hillman Imp Owners Club), where Oli Harwood apparently did some very suspect dancing. Secondly, there was a very relaxed bonfire, built due to the hard work of Tom Beney and Todd Weston, where people sat, drunk and chatted till the early hours.
Best Coach: Kerry Bean, for her brilliant work with solent this season
Pony of the Tournament: Katie Newbrook’s Peppy, both pony and rider did a brilliant job playing against far larger opposition all weekend.
New Player Award: George Harding & Harry Gibson, for a very well played first tournament
For the first time this season Kent were defeated, as the Welsh Dragons overcame them by two goals in the final, and on home ground it must have hurt Kent even more. Admittedly, the A grade was only played in sections, not teams, and this might have helped the Dragons, as Kent were not fielding their strongest sections. Nothing can be taken away from the Dragons though, who played brilliantly and deservedly picked up all three best number spots. Lizzie Wright-Roberts beat Jason Webb out the back on many occasions, Simon Shearing always looked cool and confident in front of goal and Debbie Harris (recently acquired from Pendle by the Welsh) did her job well in midfield, hunting ball and picking up the pieces when plays broke up. Kent fought hard but it ran away from them in the last chukka, which started at six all.
1st) Welsh Dragons
2nd) Kent Target
Best Numbers (all Welsh):
1) Simon Shearing
2) Debbie Harris
3) Lizzie Wright-Roberts
Champion Player & Horse: Lizzie Wright-Roberts & L’Oreal
C Grade (that is not a mistake, there was no B grade)
The C grade was won by a Western Phoenix section (well, it was called Mix and Match but as it consisted of 67% Phoenix players and played in Phoenix shirts it is fairly safe to call it Western Phoenix). They defeated another Kent side in the final and looked comfortable from the first line up. They also managed the triple of best number spots and again they were highly deserved. Nick Foley continues to hone his skills at number one, and the same can be said of Alice Humphrey playing in the number two spot behind him. Alex Edwards, borrowed from Pendle for the weekend, put in a great performance and Western Phoenix are now left with the problem of how they fill that spot for Nationals as Pendle are very unlikely to release their player then.
1st) Western Phoenix
2nd) Kent Target
Best Numbers (all W.P):
1) Nick Foley
2) Alice Humphrey
3) Alex Edwards
Best Horse: Pinchinta (Alex Edwards)
The D grade afforded a victory for the home team (at last). Kent beat a hard working Solent team in the final. Both teams had played well all weekend but when it came to the final Kent proved themselves to be the greater force. The two Ben’s of Kent, Marsh and Jefferies, had a good weekend, as did Tania Turner, who picked up best number three. For Solent, Jess Fagot deservedly picked up best number one.
1st) Kent Target
1) Jess Fagot (Solent)
2) Ben Marsh (Kent)
3) Tania Turner (Kent)
Best Horse: Lola (Jess Fagot)