All the maximum of 24 teams – including ones from Wales, the Isle of Wight and London – turned out yesterday, in the worst weather seen at any competition held by the club in living memory. Driving rain and strong wind lasting from morn till mid-afternoon tested players’ skills, good humour and endurance to the limit. Teeth were gnashed, and cloths to ‘dry’ and remove sticky grit from boules were continually wrung. None of this, however, disturbed continuous play, proving once and for all that the English are quite mad.
The top 16 teams from six morning leagues went into the Main competition with the remaining 8 into the Plate, each having a separate Consolage competition for the losers in the first round. Of the ten contestants coming from the club – Pat Connolly and Janice Doherty, Jill Gebbett and David Miller, Alan Issler and Joe Simmonds-Issler, Ian Maynard and David Alfred, Tony Mann (and Jeff Mitchell, Crowborough), Gareth Jarvis (and Rachid Hannache, London) – all but Jill and David got into the Main. The latter wisely chose to forgo the opportunity to get even more soaked playing in the Plate.
Only Alan, Joe, Tony and Gareth survived the Main round of 16. By way of consolation, Ian and David went on to win the three rounds of the Main Consolage to win that competition (thus coming 9th overall): quite respectable. Meanwhile, father and son duo, Alan and Joe won their quarter-final to reach the semi-final, their final destination (thus 3rd/4th overall): a very creditable achievement.
All eyes were now on Tony and Jeff who got all the way to the final where they met the strong Southern Counties team of Graham Elcome and Stephen Daykin, and won 13-3.
This was the second major success for Tony and Jeff in two weeks after their winning the inaugural Sussex Pétanque (SXP) Over-50s championship. It was also Tony’s second successive BHPC Open Doubles title which he won with Gareth last year. Some record! So hearty congratulations to Tony and Jeff.