Saturday 2nd of September was blessed with glorious sunshine with only a smattering of cloud in the sky over Ham Polo Club as the military, ponies and public assembled for the seventh annual TJB HAC 105 Polo Invitational. The day is designed to give military polo a public outlet and to give members of the public an opportunity to see some low goal yet high spirited matches – as such four matches with various military connections and flavours were on the cards.
With many enthusiastic members arriving early to pitch their slot – Col Bob Shedden was seen wrestling with his Gazebo at 09:30 with a gates open timing of 11:00 –
TJB 105 Cup
The first of the matches was the title match of the Day – The TJB 105 Polo Cup. The Welsh Guards returned with the 105 suitably polished after their victory last year with every intent of returning it to their Regimental Headquarters after the day. Against them was the TJB HAC Regimental Team.
1. CSgt Phil Derren (-2)
2. Lt.Col. Llewelyn-Usher (-2)
3. Capt. Alex Major (-2)
4. Capt. James Marsden (-2)
TJB HAC – Regiment
1. LSgt Michael Greville (-2)
2. Sgt Alasdair Grant (-2)
3. Lt. Nic Clark-Majerus (-2)
4. Lt. GP O’Connor (-1)
With the HAC at a slight handicap advantage the guardsmen started the game with a half a goal on the board. The game started at a pace and it was clear both sides were determined to gain an early advantage. Let Clark lost his head in the early moments of the first chukka but we are glad to report it was the one on his mallet no this shoulders! The HAC were fortunate to win a Penalty 3 (40 yard) and Lt O’Connor duly converted to put the HAC into the lead.
The second chukka saw the HAC widen its advantage with LSgt Grant carry an attack to goal which Lt O’Connor sealed with a neck shot from 40 yards. But not to be outdone the guardsman quickly counter attacked from a period of open play and Capt Marsden closed the gap back to half a goal. And still they kept coming with the guardsmen taking the lead with a break from a melee 60 yards from the HAC’s goal.
The third chukka became fast and open and was like a different match. LSgt Greville made a break from half way line and with just 2 clean hits send the ball neatly through the goals clinching the lead back from the guardsman. Arguably the goal of the match with compliments showering on him from both teams. And to prove the point you can never relax the guardsmen made a break from another throw in and despite efforts of Lt O’Connor to clear a swift hook from Capt Major and a deft tap put the Welsh went back in the lead. The Welsh threatened again with Lt.Col Llewelyn –Usher unleashing a flying shot towards goal but could not press home the break as his kneepad got caught in LSgt Grants reigns and he was promptly dismounted. It seemed for a moment like dismounting was starting to become a fashion as CSgt Derren also had a fortuitous dismount as Lt Clark broke free and headed for the goal. After some quick medical treatment – apparently children’s paracetamol – he was right as rain and back on his pony. The HAC despite the pressure were able to move the ball down the Welsh end of the pitch and melee induced pop towards goal was tapped home by Lt O’Connor. The HAC nudged ahead.
A threatening attack by the Welsh was turned by the combined work of Lt Clark and Lt O’Connor, a pass to Sgt Grant saw it carried to the half way line where a pass to Lt O’Connor saw it whizz towards goal. With Lt Col Llewelyn-Usher in hot pursuit exclaiming “hooking” as the HAC approached goal Lt O’Connor sealed the shot from 60 yards and with great relief saw the ball sail through the goal. Such was the elation from play that both teams were surprised by the final whistle, eager as they were to play on. It was with telling relief that the HAC shook hands with the Welsh Guards players but smiles were awash the exhausted faces on both sides. The 105 Cup was on its way back to the HAC for the first time since 2011.
The Merchant’s Heart Cup
With the champagne Reception finished and the guests sat down for lunch the second of the days matches got under way. The TJB HAC Saddle Club team played the Royal Artillery. And while the handicap differential may have implied a walk over by the HAC Saddle Club the Royal Artillery were determined to bring all the firepower they could muster to bear.
The TJB HAC Saddle Club fielded a -2 team against the Royal Artillery’s -6 meaning 3 1/2 goals on the scoreboard to the RA before the game had started to even out the SC handicap advantage.
TJB HAC SADDLE CLUB
1. Sophie Morrison (-1)
2. Alex Powell (-1)
3. Louise Brown (0)
4. Jason McCreight (0)
1. 2Lt. Matt Ryder (-2)
2. Capt. Luke Wadman (-2)
3. Capt. Scarlett Geering
4. Col. Dickie Winchester (-1)
The 1st chukka for TJB HAC SC was all about gaining back the goal advantage, and the 1st goal was scored fairly quickly by their no 4, Jason McCreight. However the RA weren’t rattled and fought back hard… although not scoring any goals in the 1st chukka they managed to keep the pressure on so as to prevent HACSC from scoring more goals within the first seven and a half minutes.
Determined to close the advantage, TJB HAC SC came back strong in the 2nd chukka with two more goals - one off a penalty - to almost even the scoreboard. As the final minutes of the second chukka ticked away RA took advantage of a small mistake from TJB HAC SC to score a lovely goal giving them back their clear advantage.
The Second half of the match and the third chukka started with a goal to the TJB HAC SC right out of the line up by no 3 Alex Powell, taking them back to within half a goal. The RA starting to feel the pressure made an error of judgement and crossed TJB HAC SC’s No 3. - Louise Brown’s - line as she headed towards goal, team mate Jason McCreight successfully converted the penalty to a goal, for the first time HACSC were winning on the scoreboard. Regaining their cool the RA came back to score another goal once again putting them ahead with 5: 51/2 on the board. Wanting to regain their advantage TJB HAC SC fought back, the pressure showing slightly as they had 3-4 attempts at goal going wide. Regaining composure though they finally got the ball through the goal posts taking them back up 6 : 5 ½ and back into the lead.
As the final chukka commenced, it was still anyone’s game. Fully focussed TJB HAC SC worked closely as a team backing each other up, making the RA work hard to gain possession. As Jason McCreight seemed to make another escape for goal, the RA upped their defensive skills and rode him off. However team mate and TJB HAC SC no1 was close behind picking up the ball and taking it to goal giving the Saddle Club a clear advance on the scoreboard for the 1st time, soon after a final goal was scored by Louise Brown to help consolidate the win to TJB HAC SC and a 8 : 5 1/2 finish.
The Hendricks - Sadler – Cup
As afternoon approached on a scorching summers day in the beautiful grounds of Ham Polo Club, the sound of popping champagne corks and cheers from the clubhouse were joyfully heard alongside the noise of thundering hooves as the TJB HAC Veterans and Hackett Army teams locked horns in the third match of this year’s TJB HAC 105 tournament. Like the other games on the day…. it went to the wire!
TJB HAC Veterans:
1. Capt (Rtd) Ben Loxton-Edwards (-1)
2. Capt (Rtd) Cy Lloyd Jones (-2)
3. CSgt (Rtd) Tim Johnson (0)
4. LCpl (Rtd) Julian Bickerton (0)
1. Major John Morgan (-1)
2. Capt Dan Von Barloewen (-1)
3. Maj Janet Johnston (-1)
4. Lt Rishi Ahluwalia (0)
On paper this was always going to be close. All players were known to play slightly above their handicap and had faced each other before at some stage, but never as these teams and so it was going to be an interesting battle. Before the first ball was thrown in, the bright red Hackett Army team gave ½ goal to the maroons of the TJB HAC Vets on handicap difference.
The first chukka set the tone for the match…. fast, close marking and surprisingly disciplined. Both teams were testing each other out and making runs and despite the team’s general discipline, two uncharacteristic errors saw both teams giving away 30 yard penalties each. Both penalties were confidently seen away by their team captains, Lt Rishi Ahluwalia the first and Tim Johnson the second, making it 1 goal apiece, resulting in the scoreboard showing 1 ½ : 1 in favour of the HAC Vets.
The second chukka saw both teams marking closely, Maj Johnston making good work of pinning down Johnson and frustrating his play. Despite many breaks, the opposing teams were quick to close things down in defence. It ended a goal less chukka and both teams giving pep talks on how to break down the other as the crowd trod in and enjoyed the sunshine.
Again the third chukka saw both teams have many good runs in an extremely open game but this time with more accuracy, closer to the goals which resulted in a number of close calls. The Hackett Army had a few near misses just wide of the posts and were unlucky not to have scored. The TJB HAC Vets had their own fair share of runs, none being quite as close to the goal posts. Lloyd Jones and Loxton-Edwards were ferociously marking Maj Johnston and Lt Ahluwalia in defence and Johnson and Bickerton were trying to exploit it accordingly, but the Hackett Army themselves were not relenting in defence either. Lloyd Jones managed to take on a run smartly hit up from Bickerton and was heading toward the goal when Maj Johnston bravely intercepted late, but too late and fully collided, giving away another 30 yard penalty. Johnson and Bickerton debated who’d take it and Bickerton kindly offered the glory to Johnson who struck the ball softly but effectively… enough to see it go over the line. There was relief by the team and the captain… they all count! The TJB HAC Vets finished the chukka 2 ½ to the Army’s 1.
So all the TJB HAC Vets had to do was maintain discipline and mark closely in defence in the fourth chukka. Loxton-Edwards and Lloyd-Jones struggled at the start of the chukka with their ponies in defending against runs by Lt Ahluwalia. Bickerton took grip of the situation and singlehandedly rode Lt Ahluwalia into the boards, preventing a likely goal. Lloyd Jones and Loxton-Edwards then managed to stay glued to Maj Johnston and Lt Ahluwalia, but both Maj Morgan and Capt Von Barloewen (both good strikers of the ball) were given space and between them had a great run that resulted in an easy goal nicely struck by Maj Morgan. The Army were now just ½ point adrift. With just a minute on the clock the Hackett Army team had a great run and despite close marking by the HAC Vets, it resulted in a beautifully drilled shot by Lt Ahluwalia which ricocheted off Loxton-Edwards… The TJB HAC Vets were hoping this deflection would push the ball wide but it sailed through the centre of the goal posts. This gave the Army team the lead. A late charge by both Bickerton and Johnson saw a last chance at clawing the chukka back for the TJB HAC Vets, but the damage was done and time had run out. The final score was 2 ½ : 3 in favour of the Hackett Army.
The Hackett Army team were ultimately better disciplined, more consistent and better structured as a team and probably deserved the narrow win. The TJB HAC Vets had moments of flare but didn’t keep a consistent structure in defence and a weak 4th chukka which cost them the match. Loxton-Edwards had a few good runs but overall an uncharacteristically quiet game, perhaps lacking a bit of pony power. Johnson led from the front, scoring on penalties and directing the team and at one stage in what can only be described as showboating, tapped the ball 3 times in the air mid play! Bickerton showed moments of brilliance both in attack and defence but sadly couldn’t convert it into goals. Maj Morgan and Capt von Barloewen were both consistently hitting and riding off and gave great depth to the Hackett Army team, meaning no player could be left alone. Maj Johnston was brilliant at harassing Johnson but player of the match had to go to Lt Ahluwalia who had an all-round great game and scored a blinder in the decisive winning goal.
With the military matches over final match saw The Royal Horse Guards play Kowloon in a Hong Kong Society related match.
Prizes were awarded thanks to the generous support of Hendricks Gin and the after party brisquely got under way.