2014 Team Handicap Competitions
The Bury Free Press Shield holders, Rougham Rangers, had a tough draw when they found themselves up against Stowmarket Leopards in their first match this year. Pete Bernard and Ian Bridgeman played steadily for Leopards, winning all of their singles to ensure a 10-5 match victory. The Leopards went on to play another Division 2 side in the next round and completed a similar 10-5 victory over British Sugar Blades. This earned them a semi-final meeting with British Sugar who had fielded Mark James and Dominic Melero in a 9-6 victory over fellow Division 1 side Lawshall. In the semi-final Will Hall replaced Melero but could not emulate James’ feat of taking both singles against Leopards 2-1. British Sugar went into the doubles 5-7 down and needing to win every leg to take the match. However, the opposite happened and Leopards went into the final by another 10-5 scoreline.
In the other half of the draw the Stowmarket Pumas pairing of David Gough and Ray Perry also achieved symmetry in their scorelines. Facing fellow Division 2 sides in every round they led 7-5 going into the doubles against firstly Riddlesworth Hall, then Thurston Victors and finally the Bury Commandoes pairing of Sam Taylor and Lewis Howell who had previously taken advantage of their handicaps to beat Bury Vikings 10-5 and British Sugar Defenders 8-7 in the closest match of the entire tournament. In all three matches the Pumas took the doubles 2-1 to record 9-6 match victories.
So the two Stowmarket teams contested the final and something had to give in terms of scoreline. The evenly matched handicaps produced some tight matches but Ian Bridgeman won the first singles 3-0 to put the Leopards in control. They never relinquished their lead and also stopped the Pumas doubles’ winning record to take the Bury Free Press Shield with, amazingly, another 10-5 victory.
Rougham Rangers joined the other BFPS early round losers in the consolation Saffrons Shield competition. Their pairing of Adam Coombes and Adam Reeve had comfortable 10-5 victories over both Bury Normans and Bury Vikings to reach the final. The Thurston Spitfires team of Colin Baxter and Mark Cracknell had to play one match less and easily disposed of their clubmates Thurston Vulcans in the semi-final 10-2. They found the final a bit tougher but won each of the singles 2-1 to take an unassailable 8-4 match lead and the Saffrons Shield trophy.