Sussex v Buckinghamshire at Ham Manor 2019

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

As the teams arrived at Ham Manor for Sussex’s last inter-county match, the weather was threatening to put a damper on proceedings and so it proved with frequent showers in evidence.

There was, however, a warm welcome from home Captain Steve Dillamore who contrasted the conditions with those of the previous week when Sussex Captains had held there Autumn Mixed competition there. The heavy rain of the past few days had left the course a little soggy in places and preferred lies were now in operation.

Lunch was a 2-course affair - sandwiches followed by chips! Bucks Captain Peter Short arrived late as calling round to collect Trevor Murphy, he found he was out walking the dog. He had thought the match was on Thursday!

The announcement of the pairings followed with an unusual twist in that both teams included a David Balfour, though sadly they were not in direct competition.

(Ed note No longer can we sing “There’s only one David Balfour…”)

And so, it began…

Leading the way as ever was Sussex Captain Phil Williamson and the aforementioned Steve Dillamore, who was off 20. Facing this challenge were Bucks Captain Peter assisted by Roger Warren, no rabbit off 12. It proved to be a close contest with the lead changing hands several times until the home team edged ahead on the 16th. With another success on the 17th, they secured victory by 2&1. In his speech later, Peter referred to Steve’s handicap as “being of concern to them” before they teed off!

The following match saw the return of Mark “All Gold” Terry and the ever-steady Pete Rodger. (Ed note: Why does the idea of a Russian doll come to mind when you see them next to each other?) I digress. After a dodgy start, our heroes fought back to go 2 up, only to be pegged back by Buck’s excellent putting. The end result was a well merited half for both teams.

Third up was President Ian “Frog” Wood and Terry Vanhinsbergh versus Buck’s David Balfour and partner Graeme Finch. The visitors were assailed by a barrage from Woody and Tel, finding themselves 4 down after 10 holes. Undeterred, they chipped in for a birdie at the 11th only to watch Woody do likewise! (I bet that made them laugh – not!) The Sussex duo continued to press home their advantage, to achieve a notable 5&3 outcome. This match had an interesting finale as the guys played the 18th. Graeme hit a wayward drive to the left. Having located the ball, he was about to play his second shot, when an irate chap appeared. Graeme was on his lawn, having activated the burglar alarm with his trolley. Oops!

Match 4 pitched Sussex Vice-Captain Keith Talbot with John Forster, who was making his first appearance this year, against Match Manager John French and partner Steve James for Bucks. The game was an even contest over the early holes then with Bucks John playing well, they built a 2-hole lead after 7. Keith’s tee shot on the 8th looked to have pulled one back, but John again chipped close to wipe the smile off his face. Not to be denied, Sussex John won the 9th to halve the deficit before Keith produced six pars to allow the Sussex boys to triumph 4&2.

In the fifth game, Sussex were represented by old hands Reg Auchterlonie and Andy “Tiny” Plowright, who was claiming an arm injury. It was a tight contest with neither side giving any quarter so unsurprisingly it finished all square Just as well Reg didn’t have to carry Andy who had manfully lasted the distance.

Next was a game that proved as close in the playing as the handicaps suggested. Nigel Powell and Tom Hutchinson wore the Sussex colours against Brian and Paul in the Bucks livery. Tom’s notes indicated that once the objective of staying dry wasn’t achieved, they focussed on the golf and powered to a 3&2 victory.

Sussex’s “the real” David Balfour featured in the 7th match with team-mate Simon “Smiler” Watts in a West of Sussex partnership. Countering this threat were Bucks Vice-Captain David Liston and colleague Jeremy Hilton. Our David believed he would be receiving two shots (a novelty according to him) but was disappointed to learn that he was in fact giving two! Nevertheless, he responded well and played steadily throughout the front nine. In contrast, Simon had “nobbed” his tee shot off the first 40yds – probably just to his favourite distance. That may have given Bucks a false impression, as he blitzed the back nine. Despite a brief comeback from the visitors, the Sussex chaps recorded a classy 5&3 success.

In the anchor role, were Des Malcolm and Neil Smith against Bucks Stan and Ollie (really Brian), both teams holding identical handicaps. After 5 holes, Sussex held a narrow lead but then, and here I quote Des, Neil “got off his knees”. (Ed note: Readers can draw their own conclusions) Anyway, Neil now found some form which led to the Sussex combo running out 4&3 winners.

This was not just a win – it was an M&S win!!


The post-match dinner was of an excellent standard, the conviviality around the tables evidence of a hugely enjoyable day. Captain Phil gave the usual thanks, in particular giving credit to Ham Manor’s team for the presentation of the course despite the terrible weather and service in the Clubhouse.

Bucks Captain Peter echoed Phil’s comments and took the opportunity to: -

Point out his defeat was the least they had suffered

Correct Sussex V/C’s persistent error of confusing next year’s venue – it is at Buckingham Golf Club NOT The Buckinghamshire. Sorry

After the mutual toasts, Bucks left on their long journey home, hopefully able to find their way off the Ham estate.

Keith Talbot