The hottest day of the year so far and what a day it would turn out to be!
Warwickshire Boys arrive at Stonebridge Golf Club to take on Derbyshire in a Midland League match, or, at least, most of them do! The day had started earlier as, by sheer chance, I switched on my email at 7.00 a.m. to find a notification that one of my lads was ill and would not be coming tee off at 9.30, so plenty of notice then! I tried to contact Dean Guy to deputise whilst I found and delivered our replacement. No response! (I later discovered he was in the air returning from Turkey on a plane which should have landed at 8.00 p.m. Saturday and under new regs. All means of contact had been confined to the hold!) So I managed to get Bob Wallace, whose son Rhys was playing, and Graham Hayes to hold the fort, which they did admirably whilst I finally managed to get Will Spencer, brother of Alex (already playing) and drove him to Stonebridge just in time for the last tee time, only to find that there had been another ‘no-show’! One match down!
Now to the golf. Planned pairings now totally disrupted, so, not surprisingly, things got off to a less-than-promising start! Soon our top pair, Tom Cleaton and Josh Davenport, were soon in deep trouble and were beaten 6&5 – 2 points down! Cameron Bridger, find of the season, and 14 year old Alex Spencer stormed away and, despite a spirited fight back by Derbyshire, they were next in with a 4&2 victory. At last, some light at the end of the dark tunnel! Could we squeeze another half point? Both pairs were struggling but things began to turn. First, the brand new pairing of Dan Pearce and James Bowen, who had been well down, appeared on the 18th green to deliver that half point we were after, then wonder of wonders, the bonus, the ever reliable Lewis Watson and Handsworth Clubmate, Rhys Wallace suddenly went from 2 down during the back nine to a 1 hole victory. Morning score 2 ½ to 2 ½! As Bob Wallace so aptly put it, a damn good come-back from 8 o’clock this morning!
We were on a tight schedule to fit in with Club arrangements and the last two matches had been delayed by a couple of fourballs, so, after the top two had got off on time, we agreed that the rest would go off when ready, making the match a little harder to follow. Tom Cleaton raced away in the top match, scoring six or seven birdies on his way to a 6&5 win (that should get it done as the Pro remarked), but I first encountered Josh Davenport on the 9th tee at 4 down. Going back through the matches, it seemed that there was absolutely nothing in it. Perhaps the surprise was that Will Spencer (the sub) was only one down in the 3rd match, but the other sub we had imported, Mitch Hopwood, was 3 down after 6, Pearce and Wallace were all square or thereabouts, Bridger was well up, Bowen well down, the other Spencer well down, Watson racing away. We heard that Josh had had 3 birdies in a row, so let’s go there. This was now a ding-dong battle, all square and back again, now all square with one to play. Yet another birdie from Josh and 4 down was 1 up and shaking hands! Lewis by then had a 7&5 in the bag, so 3 points to nil! But where had Will gone? Eventually, I came across his opponent – Will had won 2&1! What a result from a 9 handicap and extremely nervous debutant. Well done is just simply inadequate! 4 -0. Meanwhile, Cameron was resisting a fight-back and had closed out his match. Now to Mitch, bottom on paper but playing 4th. He was 3 down, remember! Well, no longer! One down now, with 4 to play. Typical Warwickshire guts now came to the fore, and 2 wins put him 1 up with two to play, but a narrowly missed put on 17 failed to win the match, but it was enough , for we had our 5 1/2 points. His opponent’s match-halving birdie at the last did not matter. 5 1/2 points from the first 6 matches – easy then! Well, not exactly! Derbyshire boys can fight too, as they showed by taking all the last 4 points - 8-7! Could have been better, but to quote Bob again, ‘a damn good come-back from 8.00 this morning.
I must give special thanks to Bob Wallace and Graham Hayes, without whom chaos would have been disaster, but who turned it into triumph! I must also congratulate each and every one of the boys from both sides, who endured severely hot weather on an oppressive and windless day without complaint. Who says British kids are going soft? Not this lot anyway!
Finally a vote of thanks to all at Stonebridge for excellent organisation, a very well presented course and especially to their incredibly friendly and helpful staff, who could not do enough for us to help us over our problems. Thank you all.
And Dean made it back in the end, so all ended well!!