Bedfordshire v Sussex at Dunstable Downs


On a bright sunny morning, we arrived at Dunstable Downs with its spectacular views over the surrounding countryside. As with most courses, it was suffering from the long period of dry weather; the fairways hard and biscuit coloured. Greens and tees appeared like oasis in a desert landscape.

When assembled, Sussex had contrived to have 21 players so Mark graciously withdrew to allow Keith Talbot to be included. Bedfordshire had arranged an early start, so bacon roll and tea/coffee was the order of the day. (Note; Mark did have a bacon roll though!)

Introductions made, we departed to a two-tee start and quite literally the heat of battle.


And so, it began…


Our intrepid Captain Peter “Tarzipan” Ward and his Vice Phil Williamson faced a tough challenge against his opposite number from Bedfordshire, Barry and the home Club Captain Mark. Our heroes “ham and egged” (Phil’s quote) well, finishing with a better ball score of 2 over par gross, including 4 birdies. However, the shots given were well used by the Bedfordshire duo, so the result was a well merited half.

Hot on their heels in Match 2 were Richard Jays and Andy Plowright, a solid Sussex pairing. Despite gifting the first to their opponents, a birdie 2 at the second restored their spirits. This exchange of holes proved a constant theme throughout, until our boys finally edged home with a 1up win.

Our old timers, President Neil Smith and Dave “Santa” Wilkins held the third berth. According to Dave, the President had an eyesight issue (alcohol?) so the onus fell on our St Nicholas to keep Sussex in the match. He himself however, had a problem on the 2nd with noise from a balcony overlooking the course, which is at least an original excuse. Things were looking grim but nevertheless our Grandees fought back to record a narrow 2&1 win.

On to the fourth game, which saw Derek May partnered by Keith (extra man) Talbot take on Bedfordshire’s Vice-Captain Chris and his long-time friend Dave. The Sussex combo took an early 2-hole lead but were then met by a birdie blitz from Chris, which resulted in a 3-down deficit at the turn. Derek steadied the ship and gradually reduced the arrears, then Keith joined in with a birdie at 16 and par at 17 to nudge Sussex ahead. Chris then won the last to halve the match; a fair reflection of a tight contest.

In Match 5, Kevin Heanan and Frank Edmonds were heavily defeated by 6&4. They declined to comment after the game.   

The 7th Sussex pairing of Peter Snook and Terry Vanhinsbergh looked a tough proposition for the home County. A sterling performance saw them finish 4 over par gross (apparently including 6 blobs between them) however this was not enough to secure victory as Brian and Mick ensured Bedfordshire gained a half.

In Match 8 Sussex had Mark Dunn and John Maynard so the prospects looked good. However, as with England in the World Cup, they lost to a late score as their opponents won the 18th to register a win. It had been an even game throughout, played in good spirit with just the wrong result.

The penultimate game involving John Kinnear and the now-visible Tony Bauckham, saw them overpower their local opposition. This was no mean feat, given that one of them had been a paratrooper who had a reputation for despatching the enemy! Steady play with 2 birdies thrown in meant our Sussex “Home Guard” were 3 up at the turn which despite losing the 10th (Beds.’s first winning hole) they turned into a magnificent 5&4 triumph.

So, to the anchor match featuring Joe Angella and Ken Penfold. This again proved to be another closely fought affair with Joe in outstanding form. The Bedfordshire lads did complain that he kept chanting “Take an extra club, Ken” but it seems only they could hear him. The home side ran out 2&1 victors; one of whom was later heard to say to Ken “after the way you played, I wouldn’t prepare a victory speech” A little harsh perhaps?


The result of all this was a narrow overall win for Bedfordshire by 5½ to 4½, and the reflection of might have been. Bedfordshire were magnanimous hosts, providing a first-class dinner and plentiful libation. After Barry delivered a few words, Peter spoke well, told a joke and awarded Bedfordshire the trophy, followed by a toast to them. This prompted Barry to remember to toast his visitors!

Then followed the long journey back to Sussex without the trophy ... ah well, perhaps next year…. or the year after!!  


Keith Talbot

     © Sussex Golf Captains 2019