The weekend of the 30th April/1st May saw the first polo match in the 2011 HAC Polo Calander, when Tpr Gearóid O'Connor and LCpl Ben de Rivaz were selected to play for the Hackett Army Development Team at the 'RAF Cranwell Polo Weekend' in Lincolnshire.
Day 1: The Martyn Bebbington Memorial Trophy
The tournament consisted of six teams from the Army, the RAF, and civilian polo clubs in Lincolnshire and Rutland, and the first day's play saw the Army pitted against the Rutland side. On paper the Army were the stronger team and started the match full of confidence with half a goal on the board. Little were we to know that Paul Girdon the Rutland patron, frustrated by a number of previous years at Cranwell without success, had hand-picked the strongest team his club could muster. Playing at 1 was Young England player Ed Banner-Eve off a -2 handicap, and at 3 Nick Winterton, brother of professional player Ed Winterton. They immediately put the Army under pressure following a quick succesion of goals in the first chukka, and despite valiant defensive efforts Rutland kept up the intensity throughout the game and the scoreboard reflected their work.
Day Two: Army vs. RAF Spitfires
Sunday saw the Army and the RAF Spitfires competing for third and fourth place in a much more balanced affair than the previous day. Despite the tremendous restraint shown by the team at dinner the previous evening and at the drinks that followed the RAF quickly gained the upper hand. Wg Cdr Martin Adcock, well backed by Flt Lt Dave Black playing at the number 4 position, hit some big shots to leave the Army playing catch up at the end of the first chukka at 3 goals to 1. The second chukka saw much better team work and communication with Tpr O'Connor linking up some decisive passing plays, and LCpl de Rivaz converting two 60 yard penalties to bring the scoring level at half time. The final two chukkas were a taut affair with each side exchanging goal for goal and unable to establish a decisive lead. The RAF went ahead in the last chukka with only a minute to go, and despite an opportunity to level the score in the dying seconds they held their lead to finish ahead by a single goal. The Army team ended the tournament in 4th place and LCpl de Rivaz was presented with the 'Most Valuable Player of the Tournament' award.
Thank you to the Reeve family for having the HAC members to stay at Leadenham Hall and for providing the pony power. The team was incredibly well supported by Col. Godbold and Col. Sheddon, who cheered on the players from the side lines and were on hand with cold towels and an endless supply of liquid refreshment. It was a fantastic weekend's polo organised by Flt Lt Dave Black and very generously hosted by the RAF, and the HAC looks forward to further competition against them in the future.
Report by LCpl Ben de Rivas
RAF Spitfires (-4) 1 OC James/ George Lockwood -2 2 Flt Lt Rich Williams -2 3 Wg Cdr Martin Adcock 0 4 Flt Lt Dave Black 0
RAF Hurricanes (-4) 1 SAC R Barriball/Flt Lt R Thomson -2 2 Flt Lt Ellie Hoogewerf -1 3 Gp Capt Affi Ashraf 0 4 Wg Cdr Mark Smith -1
Army Dev (-4) 1 LCpl Emma Steed -1 2 Tpr Gearóid O'Connor -2 3 LCpl Ben de Rivaz 0 4 Maj Tom Peterson -1
Ranksborough (-4) 1 Paul East/Laura Winstanley -2 2 Dave Gardner -1 3 Abi Watts -1 4 Jorge Uviedo 0
Leadenham (-4) 1 Will de Gale/Rob Hoe -2 2 Will Spicer -1 3 Lesley MG/Niamh Tye -1 4 Paul MG/Raol Dowding 0
Rutland (-5) 1 Edward Banner-Eve -2 2 Natasha Crouch -2 3 Nick Winterton -1 4 Paul Girdham -1