The 12 goal Autumn Cup, the final tournament in Cowdray Park’s series of six HPA tournaments, open to all-comers, came to its conclusion on 23rd September.
Seven teams entered the 2018 Cup with Shane Finemore’s Gardenvale side keen to retain the trophy he first won in 2017. Facing up to Christian Staubach’s Bamboleo/Madams Farm side, Gardenvale’s line-up saw Finemore (-1) at number 1, Will Harper (1 goal) at 2, Matt Perry (5 goals) at 3 and England captain James Beim (7 goals) at back. With Christian Staubach (0 goals) at 1, the Bamboleo/Madams Farm side also included 2 goaler Nick Johnson at number 2, Glenn Sherriff at 3 and Matias Amaya at back.
The match got off to a lively start with James Beim making the opening goal for Gardenvale, two goals from Sherriff taking Bamboleo ahead befefore Beim equalized on 2-2 to end the first chukka. Chukka 2 opened with a spot penalty and it wasn’t long before a nifty shot from Sherriff saw him take the lead for Bamboleo/Madams Farm once more. Gardenvale won the ball from the throw-in and Perry made a shot at goal which went wide. An attempt at goal by Beim was blocked by Staubach but a whistle signaled a foul and Beim was able to score from a penalty and equalize on 3-3. Sherriff raced away from the throw-in, and despite Beim’s defensive efforts, gave the ball to Amaya who scored for Bamboleo/Madams Farm. Another excellent piece of team play from Bamboleo/Madams Farm saw Johnson and Amaya combining to give Amaya the chance to score at speed and give Staubach’s side a 5-3 lead to go into half time.
There was no let-up in pace as the second half got underway, but calm and controlled action by Beim enabled the Gardenvale side to re-position and Harper to make a super goal. An infringement in front of the goal saw Gardenvale awarded a safety shot which gave Perry the opportunity to level the scores on 5-5. Bamboleo/Madams Farm won the throw-in but a bold move from Harper saw him back the ball to Perry who went on the attack. The crowd roared as first one then two goal posts tumbled down, but a cool Harper seized the chance to get the ball across the line and take Gardenvale ahead for the first time in the match. However, in short order they gave away the advantage with a foul and Sherriff was able to whack through a 60 yard penalty and level the score at 6-6.
The final chukka was just as exciting with an on-fire Perry stealing the ball away from Amaya and chasing off towards the Bamboleo goal only to have his shot go out. But once again Beim showed his class, swooping on the ball from the hit-in and, with a neat angled shot, take Gardenvale into a 7-6 lead. Try as they might Bamboleo/Madams Farm simply couldn’t gain enough possession and a lovely combination of effort from Harper and Beim saw another ball from young Harper’s stick for his third goal of the match giving Gardenvale victory at 8-6 and retention of the Autumn Cup for a second year.
Shane Finemore was delighted to receive the prestigious Autumn Cup from Lila Pearson who also presented prizes to all players. The award for Best Playing Pony, sponsored by Polo Times, went to Bleach, owned and ridden by James Beim. The prize for Most Valuable Player of the match, awarded by The Polo Magazine, also went to James Beim.
In the subsidiary Final of the Autumn Cup, the Ephson family’s Poulton team beat Simon Arber’s Four Quarters Orange 7-4.
The appropriately named Farewell Cup, played for over fifty years at Cowdray Park at 6 goal level, saw a second Bamboleo/Madams Farm side reach the Final, but with Maya Staubach this time taking the number 1 position. She was joined by both Nick Johnson and Glenn Sherriff playing their second final of the afternoon and young Alfie Hyde playing in the number 2 position. Also through to the Final was Louisa Watt’s Brown Rudnick side with the -2 patron joined by Charles Cooney (1 goal) at 2, Edward Banner-Eve (3 goals) at 3 and Miguel Delia (4 goals) at back. Bamboleo/Madams Farm led for the first three chukkas but Brown Rudnick finally took the lead at 5-4 in the fourth chukka, only for Glenn Sherriff to level the scores on 5-5 taking the match into a sudden death extra chukka. Within less than 30 seconds, team captain Sherriff saw the ball between the posts to secure a 6-5 victory in the Farewell Cup for Bamboleo/Madams Farm.
Mr George Robinson presented his family’s Cup to Maya Staubach and prizes to all the players. The Best Playing Pony Award was presented by Lila Pearson to Susie, owned by Alan Kent of Madams Farm and played by Nick Johnson.
Earlier in the day, in the subsidiary Final of the Farewell Cup, Ice Craft beat Los Schatzies 5-4.
In the final presentations of the season, James and Will Harper won the Large Cup for Pony Welfare, Boyd Allen won the Millenium Plate for Umpiring and Alfie Hyde deservedly won the Pimms Cup for Most Improved Young Player. Over 450 matches had been played during the season, the glorious weather having contributed to an exceptional year for the club, the undoubted highlight of which had been the all British win by El Remanso in the King Power Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship.
See you next year!