With this year's Captains and Subalterns falling on a HAC regimental training weekend our Active Unit players found themselves changing between their MTP and their polo whites to cover off two military commitments. The Saturday saw the players firing their Annual Combat Marksmanship Test at Warminster ranges, politely letting the visiting VIP Maj Gen Simon Brookes-Ward, Deputy Commander Field Army know that "the post was getting through and the boots fitted" before dashing off to Tidworth.
This year the HAC was competing in division three of the tournament - there being five in total with 20 teams - and faced worthy opponents in the guise of the RAF, Lancers and AGC. Our team comprised:
1. Sgt Alasdair Grant (-2)
2. Lt Nicolas Clark-Majerus (-2)
3. Tpr Merlin Stewart (-2)
4. Lt G O'Connor (-1)
The first chukka against the RAF, an equally handicapped team, saw TJB HAC take the lead from the off with a swift goal from Lt Clark-Majerus. Although a hard fought match, almost like clockwork, each side scored alternately with a further goal scored by Lt Clark-Majerus and subsequently Lt O'Connor from a quick break and picking up a stray ball and drilling it through the posts with inches to spare. The HAC held their advantage. In the final of four chukkas the teams sat neck and neck at three-all. In the third chukka Tpr Stewart managed an impressive save of a penalty catching the ball mid flight. The match was proving so tightly matched that the Umpire Miles Underwood confirmed with the tournament officials as to protocol for a tie. No team wanted to go to penalties! However, a last gallop towards the goal by Lt O'Connor, followed up Lt Clark-Majerus, saw a foul forced inches from the line in favour of the HAC and the match clinched in the midst of somewhat inclement weather.
Into the second day of the tournament, and indeed the final, the HAC squared up to the AGC. The team had summarily dispatched the Lancers the day prior with a rock solid 8:1.5 score so TJB HAC had little doubt about the stiff opposition. Playing against a higher handicapped team the HAC started with 0.5 of a goal in their favour. The match raged on over the four chukkas, much like the previous day, with the HAC - Lt O'Connor - first to score but the AGC - quick to counter scored and kept themselves within half a goal. The final of the third chukka saw an infringement by the HAC on the AGC near the goal and a 30 yard penalty granted. Unbelievably and to much relief the ball fell short and the chukka time sounded. Alas a bit of 'inattention' saw a HAC player strike the ball from it had stopped before the umpire had confirmed it and a re-hit of the penalty was granted at the start of the fourth chukka. The AGC were not going to let this infraction go unpunished and sealed the penalty and clinching the lead by half a goal. With many near misses on both sides the ultimate score was 2.5 for TJB HAC to the AGC's 3 goals. Again TJB HAC goals were scored by Lt's O'Connor and Clark-Majerus.
Whilst the team had to lick its wounds and learn from a match-clinching goal given away to the AGC due to, what is best described as, 'a moment of inattention' they were able to find consolation in their second place and a decent HAC picnic spread.