Arden served up yet another big tournament and another big Saturday night party, though judging by the couple of errors that were made during the prizegiving the organisers might have indulged a little too heavily. The weather was also kind to the polocrosse community, with sunshine for most of the two days, though heavy winds built up late on on Sunday.
The wind blew in Highlanders favour though in the last match of the weekend as they just managed to overcome a Cotswold side who kept it very close right to the end. However, Highlanders just pulled ahead in the last chukka to win the game and clinch the A grade. Highlanders probably owe most of their victory to their captain Guy Robertson who battled like a man possessed in the final game to get the Highlanders the victory they needed and in doing so won himself Best Male Player for the weekend. Cotswold didn’t actually end up second, Kent Target took that honour, but Lizzie Shearing of Cotswold did pick up Best Lady Player which will come as some consolation.
In the B grade, however, it was not to be Highlanders day. They lead the final early on but then back came Celyn with a great display and overturned the deficit and built themselves a small lead to run out winners. Simon Amor looked on great form as he took Best Number 1 and his horse, Santi, took Best Horse for the division. It was good to see the Celyn youngsters do so well, especially after the tragic loss of Celyn stalwart Mark Simkin the week before. Mark was a leading member of Celyn and the UKPA for years. He put countless hours into working with their young players and would have been delighted to see their victory. His memory was honoured before the start of the final A grade match with a minute’s silence, in the same way that it was at the Northern Tournament the week before.
The C and D grades were so big that they were sub divided into upper and lower C and D. It is a sign of the level of growth in UK polocrosse this year that tournament organisers are constantly having to split their grades
In the Upper C grade it was the week of Solent to feel hard done by. They beat Ashfields in the final only to have the result overturned as they had substituted in a player of too high a grade. They lost Kathy Hopkins to a broken hand in the previous match and replaced her by doubling up Kim Stevens. However the difference in playing grades of 11 to 6 meant that technically they had broken the rules, even though it only put their grade slightly above Ashfields’ own. What made it worse was that the organisers hadn’t told Solent about the decisions before the prize giving which made for a slightly awkward scene, especially as it then turned out that the E grade had also been awarded to Arden rather than Solent by mistake. However, Arden club Chairman Simon Paynter did immediately apologise to Solent and then later sent an official heartfelt apology around all the UK club chairman which hopefully will have mended any damage. Apart from these slight mistakes the whole tournament ran incredibly smoothly and nothing should be taken away from the organising committee who did a magnificent job, as they always do.
In the lower C grade it was the Canterbury Colts who claimed victory with Pennine in second place. Both the New South Wales Junior squad and the UK squad were playing in this grade as they get ready to play each other in the test matches at the end of July, however they were playing non competitively so despite NSW being undefeated they couldn’t actually claim the prize. They could, however, win best numbers and proceeded to take Best Number 1 via Jack Davidge and Best Number 3 via Tyler Mortimer.
The Upper D grade went to Vale Impi, who perhaps had a quiet tournament by their recent standards, as they defeated Cotswold into second place, while in the lower D grade it was the turn of Canterbury Colts again as they defeated all comers to take the grade. Ashfields took second place.
In the E grade in was a win for Solent, with Canterbury Colts again getting amongst the prizes in second place. Kian O’Hara of Solent won Best Number 1 for his endeavours over the weekend and then very sportingly gave it away as he felt he didn’t deserve it.
In the Juniors it was another win for Arden, with particularly good play by Natalie Cameron, who won Best Number 3 and Best Horse. She was riding Charlotte Pykett’s Bumble for the weekend. Vale Impi picked up the second spot.
C Grade Plate
D Grade Plate
|Chispa – Joel Sics (Arden)
|Santi – Simon Amor (Celyn)
|Dan Kelly’s Horse
|Sahara – Oli Halcrow (Kent Target)
|Jack – Julie Bloxham (Arden)
|Bumble – owed by Charlotte Pykett, ridden by Natalie Cameron (Arden)
|Best Lady Player
|Lizzie Shearing (Cotswold)
|Best Male Player
|Guy Robertson (Highlanders)
|Alex Richardson (Kent Target, loaned from Highlanders)
|Simon Amor (Celyn)
|Kim Stevens (Solent)
|Jack Davidge (NSW)
|Hetta Carthew (Welsh Dragons)
|Oli Halcrow (Kent Target)
|Kian O’Hara (Solent)
|Harry Twinberrow (Arden)
|Charlotte Pykett (Highlanders)
|Annie Mitchell (Celyn)
|Pete Wherret (Kent Target)
|Kate Henning (Canterbury Colts)
|Sophie Harding (Arden)
|Jasper Gale (Canterbury Colts)
|Liza Gafton (Arden)
|Ellie Green (Arden)
|Chris Dunlop (Kent Target)
|Dan Rohan (Kent)
|Zoe Irons (Solent)
|Tyler Mortimer (NSW)
|James Bicknell (Cotswold)
|Lizzie Felce (Canterbury Colts)
|Julie Popsom (Celyn)
|Natalie Cameron (Arden)