Sussex v Essex at Mannings Heath

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On a beautiful late summer's day, 40 Captains gathered at Manning's Heath Golf Club and Wine Estate for the annual match between Sussex and good friends from Essex. Some of the Captains from across the Thames had gathered as early as 9 and 10 o'clock because they were concerned about meeting hordes of marauding Boxgrove Men (check out the history) waiting at the foot of the Surrey Hills. They didn't and much to their surprise, they had no problems on the M25 either.

Before the afternoon got underway, filled with reckless buggy driving and out of control trolleys, a joint welcome was provided by President Ian Jaggard and Club Captain Roger Bridge. Jags drew attention to the missing Mark Terry whose attendance at the funeral of a long standing Sussex Captain Bruce Carlile led to Mark's rare absence from SGC events. A short moment or two of respect was shown to Bruce who was well remembered by a number of Captains.

A copious supply of sandwiches and chips - enough to satisfy even Brian Street - followed and the first tee then resembled a queue for a Saga mystery coach tour ready for first tee off at 1pm.

Plenty of buggies were on hand for the sick and infirm in preparation for the challenges of the Manning's hills and the match got underway.

Captain Peter Ward, still recovering from his Goodwood exertions, and home Captain Roger Bridge had a tough match against the single handicap pairing of Essex Captain Phil Smith and his partner Malcolm Waite. The match went down to the last two holes when the Essex duo produced two birdies to win the match 2 up.

Match 2 resulted in a comfortable win for Ian (Harry) Potter and David (Donald) Sinden by a score of 5 & 4 but the highlight was Essex Secretary's attempt to scale the 18th hole slopes in his buggy but thanks to the technology, the buggy stopped its tearaway run before ending up in the stream. Peter Freeman was reminded that the 18th hole was not the M25!

In match 3 Neil Smith and the ever reliable Terry Vanhinsburgh went down to a narrow 2 & 1 defeat largely because Terry had left his ever reliable game at home (he said). Unusual but it apparently does happen. In Match 4, David Schwartz and Pocket Rocket Harold Knight ran out easy winners 5 & 4 but the highlight was David's trolley having a mind of its own and careering off down the 18th towards the trees. Harold displaying the sprinting prowess which even he didn't know he had gave up the chase when he realised the trolley was winning and just let it take its natural course into the trees. David was oblivious to all this in his own focused zone.

In the fifth match, returning from a long absence, Jags demonstrated that not only once you've got it you never lose it but also that when you've never had it you don't get it back. After his injury lay-off he managed another 18 holes and with Chris Wise witnessed a 16 handicap golfer playing like a demon - hitting rockets off the tee as a testament to his training as an Exocet tester for Argentina. Result, despite valiant efforts a 4 & 3 loss. In match 6, Brian Street and Dave Kemp suffered a similar setback and Dave manfully accepted full responsibility - Brian had the usual excuses like the opposition playing better!

In Match 7, veterans Reg Auchterlonie and Norman Milburn fought back from 3 down to halve their contest but David Noble and Derek May were no match for their Essex opponents going down by a healthy (?) 5 and 4 score.

In Match 9, Vice Captain Phil Williamson, helped by super sub Manning's man John Gleaves saw off their Essex counterparts by a 4 & 3 margin. Phil was heard to say that playing with John was like having our own super sub David Fairclough which prompted Harry Potter to ask what somebody from Coronation Street was doing playing for SGC. By way of explanation, David Fairclough was a footballer renowned for his performances as a substitute - Len of the same family was known for other stuff.

In the final match, which has only just finished (well it was a bit behind the rest) the result was decided on the last two holes which Essex won to record a two up victory. Kevin Heanen and Des Malcolm had fought hard but to no avail which will teach Kevin not to try to purloin the Match Manager's glasses.

So the result was a good win for Essex 6.5 to 3.5 and an excellent meal with fine Manning's wine was followed by the Captains' short congratulatory and commiserative speeches.

Manning's Heath were excellent in all respects but I would say that. Course, food and staff were all highly praised which was much appreciated

Ian Jaggard

     © Sussex Golf Captains 2019