Essex v Sussex at Rochford Hundred

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After the lengthy journey around the M25 (good job it wasn't on the 22/9 - motorway closed at junction 5), Sussex Captains gathered at Rochford Hundred Golf Club on the northerly runway of Southend airport for the 2017 match against Essex Captains. After customary welcomes from the home team and the announcement of the pairings, the hungry players descended on the large ploughman's lunch to soak up the Doom Bar. Lord Gherkin of Hove (Norman Milburn as he used to be called) found a plentiful supply of his favourite food on offer from everyone's plate which softened his outrage at the price of his favourite pint - £4.10???

Rochford Hundred was so named apparently from Saxon tradition of grouping a number of parishes together and dividing the land into hundreds - I'm no wiser either!

The Golf Club had allowed a two tee start which was welcomed by the later matches but the walk to the 10th tee proved to be a bit hazardous for one Essex member who failed to turn up on time for his tee time - not apparently an unusual occurrence. At precisely 1pm the matches got underway.

In the first match, Captain Brian Street and Ian Wood - lefties united - had a close tussle with a game littered with birdies but knowing Woody's habit of exaggerating (inevitable if you support Sheffield Wednesday) there were probably only a couple. The match ended with Essex winning the 18th to squeeze out a half. In the match up of Presidents, Norman and Eddie Noyce came second best with hidden ditches and the price of Doom Bar causing several lapses in concentration not helped by having no clue which way the course went and opponents who chose not to give them even the slightest hint. Sadly, a 4 and 3 loss.

Next up were Mark Terry and Terry Vanhinsbergh who clearly confused their opponents who spent the first 9 holes working out who had the Terry christian name and who had the Terry surname. The home pair were no match for the Terrys who ran out 5 & 4 winners, starting and finishing with a birdie. In match 4, Reg Aucterlonie and Tommy Pether took their game to the 18th after being 2 up with 4 to play but the match of the seniors went the way of Essex with a 1 up win on the last hole. In the final match off the 1st tee, Peter Snook and Dave Schwartz twice came back from 3 down to edge their match 2 up. Although everybody else saw no rain on the course, Peter was unhappy about the showers apparently. After the results for the matches from the 1st tee had been analysed, the overall score stood at 2.5 to each team.

In the 1st match off the 10th tee, Richard Jays (suitably impressed by Jags Google sat nav on the journey) and David Noble secured a massive 6 & 5 win with both playing their part in the win. 24 handicap David - Essex thought it should have been 2.4 - made full use of his shots and Gorilla Jays drove two of the short par 4 holes but I've made most of this up as Richard's writing was totally undecipherable. In the second match, Eric Hardwick (yes they are my legs you can see) and Tim Ingram lost 2 & 1 to a pair who were just too good "on the day". It didn't help when their opponent holed his 2nd shot on the par 4 first hole.

In the 3rd match power hitter Andy Plowright and Jags teamed up against two veterans from Essex including the one who missed the first hole of the match. They spent the whole match wondering what the same veteran would do next but soon went 3 up after 7 holes. After a wobble around the turn (page 45 of Kama Sutra) the pair eventually ran out 2 & 1 winners helped by Andy's pars on stroke indexes 1 and 3. In the next match John Kinnear and Derek May were always in control of their match and at 4 up with 4 to play, relaxed a little early to lose the next 2 holes. John came good on his last shot hole and they finished the match on the 17th 3 & 1. In the final match, Neil Smith and Mark Dunn had another close struggle going 3 down on two occasions but each time pulling Essex back although Neil had to spend much of his time explaining water hazard rules to one of his opponents. Despite the fighting effort Essex held firm and won the match 1 up.

When all the results were tallied, Captain Brian was obviously delighted to record another win by a 5½ to 4½ margin to level the score in 13 inter county matches and all to play for in the 14th v Bucks at Royal Eastbourne.

After a very good dinner and the usual fine hospitality from our Essex friends, the two Captains made admirably short speeches and the Essex Captain, Bob Morris, in his last fixture graciously handed over the only trophy available - the right one was with last year's Captain on holiday. The author was reminded of a similar issue earlier in the season as if he could forget.

The Sussex Captains left for their journey back around the M25 but 5 of the players decided that the smell of kerosene, the noise of jets and the beauty of the area meant a stay in the local Skylark Hotel was preferable to going home. The opportunity for chat around the bar and asking Eddie where his chain of office was, had been a pleasurable one.

Grateful thanks to Rochford Hundred Golf Club and Essex Golf Captains for their hospitality


Match Result Sussex 5½ - Essex 4½

Ian Jaggard

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