The Handicap Cup competition is open to all teams in the league and was originally played as a straight Knockout Cup - this favoured the stronger teams and so from the 1977-78 season it was changed to a handicapped event and has since seen teams from all divisions enjoy success. Towcester A achieved a rare double by securing the Handicap Cup and League Team Champions title in the 2009-10 season; only two teams had previously achieved this feat under handicap conditions - Pattishall A in 1984-85 followed by Farthingstone A in 1997-78.
A new Handicap Cup trophy was presented to the league by Mrs Pat Grant in 2012 in memory of her husband Kevin - an officer, supporter and friend of the league for many years.
HANDICAP FINAL 1st April 2019 - REPORT BY ROD BARR
Divisional champions Yardley Gobion Eagles faced the young Bugbrooke E team who finished bottom of Division Three and were awarded a total net handicap of +133, equating to an average just under 5 points per singles game. The Yardley trio of Steven Israel, Mark Bailey and Lennox Reid started well and after the first round of singles had a 9 point lead. Jack Colby then chipped away at this versus Lennox, achieving a 4 point swing but at the halfway stage of the match Steven got Yardley's cumulative lead back to 7 points with an 11-8, 11-0, 11-2 win against Oliver Davison. Bugbrooke's highest ranked player Ryan Webb then exceeded his league performances versus Mark, with a 9-11, 9-11, 11-10 and an 11 point swing versus handicap to put his side in front for the first time by 4 points. Steven played his final singles and fought to regain control for Yardley by beating Jack 11-4, 11-5, 11-3 though this only clawed back a single point. This however was followed in the penultimate singles match by a real game-changer as Ryan completely reversed his two league results versus Lennox, with a stunning win 11-10, 11-5, 11-2 to gain a 22 point swing and an overall 25 point lead for Bugbrooke. This deficit was too much for Yardley to overcome and they dropped a further 6 points in the final singles between Mark and Oliver to give Bugbrooke an unassailable lead of 31points before the doubles. This was played out in good spirits, Bugbrooke celebrating by winning the first game 11-8, then losing the last two 5-11, 3-11 but with a cumulative winning margin of 34 points. Yardley's captain Steven finished with a +3 total versus handicap, Bugbrooke's Oliver achieved par, Jack just -2, but Ryan starred with +33.
REPORTS BY MIKE PERRY
Semi Finals played w/c 25th March 2019
Daventry Cees (284) v Yardley Gobion Eagles (304) - a close match until the last three games with Yardley Gobion leading by only 7 points after the first seven games, but finally winning by 20 points. The stars for Yardley were Steven Israel (+14) and Mark Bailey (+16) and for Daventry was Rod Rouse (+2).
Roade (297) v Bugbrooke E (309) - another close match with Bugbrooke only 7 points ahead after the first 8 games, only for Dave Hyde, playing only his second match of the season, to increase this to 12 points in the last singles game putting Bugbrooke out of reach of Roade (the doubles not being played as the handicaps made it mathematically impossible for Roade to win). Ryan Webb (+22) top-scored for Bugbrooke and Tony Woodward (+3) for Roade.
Third Round matches played w/c 25th February 2019
Daventry Cees (313) beat Towcester D (307) - Towcester D led throughout the nine singles matches, but were still only 6 points ahead prior to the doubles match which Daventry won by 12 points. The star for Daventry was John Edwards (+10) and for Towcester was Jaya Jayasundara (+6).
Rothersthorpe (277) lost to Yardley Gobion Eagles (323) - Yardley steadily built their lead throughout the match to an unassailable lead of 38 points prior to the doubles match - the star for Yardley was Eugene Butan (+40) and for Rothersthorpe was Frances Dickson (+0)
Gayton C (315) lost to Roade (330) - a close match with Roade only 3 points ahead after the first 6 singles matches and 14 points ahead after the 9 singles matches - the star for Gayton was Jonathan Taylor (+9) and for Roade was John Crawford (+9).
Bugbrooke E (399) beat Bugbrooke D (296) and the handicapper wished to resign at this point but was assured that it was not his fault!! It was down to excellent play by the young lads who threw their bats at everything with most shots landing on the table and the experienced D team found it just too difficult having to battle against the handicap in every game. The star for the E team was Jack Colby (+29) supported by Oliver Davison (+5).
Second Round matches played w/c 21st January 2019
The match between Bugbrooke A (293) and Bugbrooke D (307) was very
close - after the first six singles matches the scores were equal - then the
D team pulled away to lead by 14 after the nine singles matches. The
A team conceded the doubles match as the handicap against them was
20, thus it was impossible for them to win. The stars for each team were
Robert George (+8) for the A team and Liz Davison (+12) for the D team.
The result of the match between Bugbrooke B (330) and Bugbrooke E (338)
was in doubt until the very end - after the nine singles matches the E
team had a five point lead which they increased by three points in the
doubles. The stars were Mike Hobson (+7) for the B team and Ryan
Webb (+6) and Oliver Davison (+2) for the E team.
The match between Gayton C (319) and Towcester C (305) was another very
close affair - after the first eight singles matches Towcester C were two
points in front, then Jonathan Taylor for Gayton C produced a storming
performance to give Gayton a lead of twelve points going into the final
doubles match which they won by two points. The stars were Jonathan
Taylor (+14) and Andy Phillips (+16) for Gayton C and Towcester C
The next match was an all Division 1 contest between Roade (294) and
Towcester B (289). This could have gone either way - after the nine singles
matches Towcester B were leading by six points, only for Roade to win the
final doubles match by eleven points and thus win overall by five
points. The star player for Roade was Tony Woodward (+16) and for
Towcester B was Michael Howard (+5).
This match was a handicappers nightmare, Daventry Aces (330) against
Yardley Gobion Eagles (397). Despite winning every leg of every match
Daventry were behind on handicap from the first match and it got
progressively worse. All three players for Daventry had negative scores
whilst all three Yardley Gobion players had positive scores - Steven
Israel (+26), Len Reid (+22) and Eugene Butan (+13). What can I
say except beware handicaps in the next round!
Another handicapping nightmare was Rothersthorpe (370) versus Bugbrooke
C (310) - all Bugbrooke C players had negative scores whilst two
Rothersthorpe players had significant positive scores - Kris Blaszcyk (+35)
and Phillip Kibble (+13). Once again, beware handicaps in the next round!
A close match between Towcester D (327) and Gayton B (310) - after the first
eight singles Towcester were only eight points in the lead and after all
singles matches were played were only eleven points in the lead, but then
won the doubles by six points. The stars for Towcester D were Mike
Perry (+15) and Phil Stewart (+7) and for Gayton B were Jim Brogan (+6) and
Peter Kent (+4).
The final match was between Daventry Cees (224) and Daventry Dees (203).
This was a 'two-players per team' match as the Dees could only field two
players and the Cees decided to "rest" their third player rather than ask
for a concession - well done John Osborne - very sporting. Another close
encounter with the Cees leading by one point after the first four
singles matches only for them to pull away in the last three matches to
finish with a lead of twenty one points. The star for the Cees was John
First Round matches played w/c 3rd December 2018
The first match between Daventry Bees (299) and Gayton C (301) was a very interesting one in that Daventry led throughout the match, but were only 2 points ahead at the end of the 9 singles matches-only for Gayton to win the doubles by 4 points and thus clinch the match by 2 points. The star player for Gayton was Jonathan Taylor with +21 points and for Daventry was Josh Adams with +3 points.
The second match between Gayton A (299) and Bugbrooke C (316) was also a very close affair with both teams on 252 points at the end of the first 8 singles matches only for Albert Pang to beat Suraj Ajit by 11 points in the final singles match and Bugbrooke to win the doubles by 6 points. The star performer for Bugbrooke was Albert Pang (+14 points) and for Gayton was Jim Brogan (+3 points).
The third match was an all Towcester affair,Towcester C(350) and Towcester A(326). This would feature a father versus son match - Frank Whiteley v Cadoc Whiteley - youth prevailed on this occasion, the score to remain a mystery! Again a reasonably close match with Towcester C ahead throughout the match and 29 points ahead after the first 7 singles matches until the Whiteley family came to blows after which they emerged only 14 points ahead - oops have I given the score away! The star players for Towcester C were Andrew Phillips with +26 points and Ken Sawyer with +11 points. For Towcester A Iain Lindsay was the star player with +0.
The final match was between Towcester D (298) and Yardley Gobion Dogs (293). Another very close match with Towcester ahead throughout until the final singles match that left Yardley Gobion ahead by 8 points only for Towcester to win the doubles by 13 points and thus win the match by 5 points. The star player for Towcester was Jaya Jayasundara with +15 points and for Yardley Gobion was Paul Wragg with +17 points.
2017-18 COMPETITION Organised by Mike Perry
Cup Final 23 April 2018
Three league matches between the Bugbrooke B & C teams were forensically examined to determine the closest possible handicap and in the event the Semi Final rankings were adjudged spot on. This gave the C team a net total of 88 points across all singles matches and they started in the most positive manner as Neil Osborne achieved an 11 point lead by beating Sue Armstrong 11-2, 11-4, 11-5. The B team were not discouraged however and themselves beat the handicap in five matches with a further two being exactly level on points. Such was the closeness of the final that after the penultimate singles the cumulative match scores were tied on 246 points each and it fell to the two team captains Neil and Mike Hobson to battle for a lead going into the final doubles. In a highly competitive match, Neil excelled by narrowly winning all three games and he promptly dropped himself from the doubles to secure the optimum handicap advantage for Gary Frost and David Knight versus Leon Rodgers and Sue. The C team needed 15 points over the three games to win the match and trophy by a single point but the B team won the first two games 11-5, 11-4. A nail-biting finale saw Gary and David grab 7 points for success and to consign the B team to a second successive Final defeat.
Pat Grant was on hand to congratulate all six players for a wonderful match and to present the Kevin Grant Trophy to the very happy winners.
Semi Finals 26 March 2018
For only the fifth time ever, two teams from the same club will contest the Handicap Cup Final. Towcester Club achieved this in 1996, 2000, 2008 and 2010 and now Bugbrooke have joined this list.
Last season's runners up Bugbrooke B (319) made the most of their home draw with a win versus Yardley Gobion Dogs (297) but whereas Leon Rodgers (+4) and Mike Hobson (+5) just managed to marginally beat the handicap, Sue Armstrong (+24) excelled. Sue started with a ten point swing versus Paul Wragg though this was almost wiped out immediately as Ray Wood won the first game versus Mike and ended seven points in credit. Crucially, the remaining singles all went Bugbrooke's way with an average swing of just four points against handicap which was enough to see them into their second Final.
Division Two bottom team Bugbrooke C (309) hosted Division Three mid table Daventry Dees (295), both having won their previous matches by an average of under one point per game. Bugbrooke's Neil Osborne and David Knight called up reserve player Nigel Corbett whilst Daventry were unchanged with Jack King, Frances Dickson and Charlie Black. Despite the headline difference of just 14 points at the end of this match and four of the nine singles being decided by an average of just two points, one player achieved remarkable results. David may only have won 2 from 42 of his league games this season, but in the handicap he was unstoppable, taking a net 11 points from Jack, 12 from Charlie and 16 from Frances. The only other players ending in credit were Nigel (+8) and Jack (+1).
Round three matches w/c 26 February 2018
The experienced Towcester C trio of Frank Whiteley, Terry Brennan and Ken Sawyer travelled to Yardley Gobion Dogs who fielded Mark Bailey and Paul Wragg but appeared without their captain Ray Woods (reluctantly attending a Committee meeting instead!) New player Eugene Butans filled the breach and was treated to a competitive encounter where seven of the nine singles matches were settled by an average of two points. After three matches Towcester had a narrow two points overall lead and another net five points were added by Frank's clinical 11-1, 11-0, 11-4 result against Paul. However things were then turned on their head by just two matches involving Terry v Mark (+12) and Ken v Paul (+10) and Yardley had fashioned a virtually unassailable lead before the doubles. They sealed this with a remarkable 11-5 first end win and finished with an overall 24 point victory. Mark (+12) top scored for Yardley and Frank (+4) for Towcester.
Daventry Dees (365) accounted for Towcester D (320) but despite the final margin of victory, eight of the ten matches were decided by an average of less than three points. The undoing of Towcester's trio of Cadoc Whiteley, Matt Woollard and Fred Wakefield was the handicap-busting exploits of Jack King (+28) who took three ends from Matt and Fred for a net +31 points and it was only Cadoc's admirable 11-2, 11-4, 11-3 victory that earned a modest 3 points in reply. Charlie Black (+8) and Frances Dickson (+7) supported their top player well.
Playing their first match in this year's competition, a Gayton A trio (314) of Chris Gibbs, Suraj Ajit and Jim Brogan started well against Bugbrooke C (345) and after the first batch of singles had an overall five point lead versus Neil Osborne, Gary Frost and David Knight. Gayton in fact beat the handicap in four of the nine singles but Bugbrooke seized the advantage with average swings of eight points to forge an unassailable lead of 28 points before the doubles. Neil (+22) and Jim (+2) top scored for their teams.
Bugbrooke B (325) and Yardley Gobion Eagles (289) had both squeaked through their second round matches but after a shaky first match when Steven Israel took a net ten points from Bugbrooke's Sue Armstrong, the home side completed by Leon Rodgers and Mike Hobson went on a run of results that was only temporarily halted by Dave Lyden taking a commendable net three points versus Leon. Mike (+30) had a storming run of results for Bugbrooke whilst only Steven (+2) ended in credit for Yardley.
Round Two matches w/c 22nd January 2018
A postponed fixture between Yardley Gobion Eagles (309) and Gayton C (306) delivered a highly competitive encounter, both teams beating the handicap in four singles matches and sharing the points in the other. Dan and Dave Lyden had to call up Les Freeland to complete their team and face Gayton's Clive Hudson, Jonathon Taylor and Keith Snell. After seven matches Gayton had never been behind and had fashioned a five point lead. Dave then achieved parity versus Gayton's talisman Clive and Dan followed this with an impressive 11-3, 11-1, 11-3 result versus Jonathon for an overall three point lead. Eagles then played their two lowest ranked players in the doubles and lost the first two ends but won the third, doing just enough to secure a semi final spot. Dave (+7) and Clive (+21) were the top scorers.
Towcester B (330) hosted Daventry Dees (355) and marginally beat the handicap or achieved parity in five of the ten matches but the Dees trio of Jack King, Frances Dickson and Charlie Black secured the biggest swings against handicap and always kept their noses in front. Jack (+14) for Dees and Richard Pringuer (+1) for Towcester were the most successful for their teams.
Clubmates Bugbrooke C (320) and Bugbrooke D (292) played their match early. Both teams currently prop up Divisions Two and Three respectively and it was the C team who perhaps played with a little more freedom overall against the lower ranked ladies. Nevertheless, at the halfway stage just ten points separated the teams. Gary Frost and David Knight both received a positive handicap versus D team captain Liz Davison but the net scores evened out exactly. Liz then received eight points versus C team captain Neil Osborne and to Liz' credit she won two of the three games for a six point swing against handicap. This success was nullified however as Gary and David both racked up points versus Bev Hyde and Sue Gibbons (including an ungallant 11-0 result Gary v Sue in the final singles.) The doubles provided one final flourish for the ladies who received a six points per game positive handicap and achieved a nine point overall swing but it is the guys who go through to play Gayton A in the Semi Finals in March.
Bugbrooke A (322) and Bugbrooke B (328) were drawn against each other for the third successive year and with both previous contests being decided by just two points, another close tussle soon ensued. Leon Rodgers and Mike Hobson were joined by recent recruit Katy Armstrong for the B team and despite their team losing ground in six of the nine singles, the cumulative match scores were equal on two occasions. Katy gave her team a major boost by taking a net 16 points from Rick Bastin but two matches later this was nullified and the scores level again as Greg Norden and Rob George beat the handicap versus Mike and Katy respectively. With two matches to play the A team had fashioned a three point advantage but the B team were not to be denied and repeated last season's win by six points. Greg (+13) top scored for the A team whilst Mike and Katy both ended on +8.
Bugbrooke E (319) hosted Towcester C (322) and between them they achieved the closest result of the round, both teams beating the handicap in five matches each. Unsurprisingly, Towcester's higher ranked players Frank Whiteley, Terry Brennan and Ken Sawyer had won every single game by the time seven matches had been completed and had also amassed a twenty point lead. However the next two matches really changed the scoresheet as first Mike Chambers and then Ryan Webb took games off Frank and Ken respectively for a combined 24 point swing versus handicap and an overall four point lead going into the final doubles. With the handicap applied this meant Towcester had to take each game 11-4 to win by 1 point and Terry and Ken duly obliged 11-4, 11-2, 11-4 against Mike and Ryan. Top scorers for their teams were Terry (+2) and Ryan (+7).
Gayton B (295) had a net handicap of +26 which may have seemed a little light versus Towcester D (325), although the first match saw Peter Kent achieve parity against Matt Woollard. Hartley Hancock then won three straight versus Fred Wakefield but with the handicap applied lost a net eight points and even though Ami Bhandal and Peter had modest gains versus handicap against Cadoc Whiteley and Fred, it was never enough to seriously threaten the second-placed team in the division who started the doubles with a 30 point lead, exactly the final winning margin. Matt (+34) smashed the handicap for Towcester.
Roade (327) faced a tough handicap averaging just over 7 points per game versus Yardley Gobion Dogs (352) and only Roade's top-ranked player Tony Woodward (+3) ended up by beating the handicap. John Crawford achieved two highly creditable 11-0 scores over Ray Wood and Paul Wragg but it was Mark Bailey (+16) who did most damage for the Dogs, taking a game from both John and Paul Nichols.
Round One matches w/c 4th December
Last season's finalists Leon Rodgers and Mike Hobson of Bugbrooke B (329) had to call up Dave Hyde to complete their team versus Towcester E (294) for whom Julia Mumford and Ruth Gapp were the newbies alongside the experience of Jay Jayasundara. Jay managed to beat the handicap in two of his three matches but Bugbrooke's pedigree came to the fore as individually they beat the handicap by an average of five points in the other seven matches. Mike (+16) and Jay (+5) top scored for their teams.
Runaway leaders of Division Two Daventry Bees (300) travelled to mid table Towcester C (354) and it was the overall experience of Towcester which proved the telling difference as they exceeded their league performances and beat the handicap in six of the nine singles matches. Ken Sawyer (+23) and Terry Brennan (+21) top scored for Towcester whilst Josh Adams (+5) did likewise for Daventry.
Daventry Aces (187) hosted Roade (333), with the former missing a third player and therefore giving their opponents an unassailable one hundred points start. Oleg Plugaru and Glen Davison then found themselves adrift of the handicap requirement against each of Tony Woodward, Paul Nichols and the improving John Crawford.
Daventry Cees (296) and Towcester D (320) in many respects mimicked their league meeting which ended 6-4 in Towcester's favour. Eight of the ten matches were won by an average of less than three points, both teams winning four each but crucially a sixteen point swing over games between Kal Singh and Matt Woollard, John Osborne and Cadoc Whiteley went Towcester's way. Matt (+12) for Towcester and Bob Read (-4) for Daventry did best against handicap.
Bottom team Rothersthorpe (273) gave a good account of themselves versus Daventry Dees (303) and beat the handicap in three of their matches but ultimately this was not enough and the result mirrored their league contest which went Daventry's way 7-3. Jack King, Frances Dickson and Charlie Black amassed a healthy half time lead before Phillip Kibble hit back with a combined ten point swing versus Charlie and Frances whilst Martin Sismey completed his final singles with a five point swing also against Charlie. Jack King (+19) starred for Daventry and Phillip (+5) for Rothersthorpe.
2016-17 COMPETITION Organised by Mike Perry
FINAL - Bugbrooke B (298) Daventry Fledglings (301)
With a wide variance of rankings across the two teams, the final was expected to challenge the players and handicaps. In the event, six of the singles matches finished with an average difference less than 3 points and where sizeable swings versus handicap were achieved, both teams took a share of the success. Both teams were also able to field the same players who had played in each of their previous fixtures although their route to the final had been starkly different - Fledglings having coasted through the quarter and semi finals winning by 77 and 59 points respectively, whilst Bugbrooke had a margin of just 2 points in both their previous matches.
This statistic was also borne out in the final as Bugbrooke's Leon Rodgers, Mike Hobson and Jack Colby could never quite overtake Benjy Gatward, Josh Adams and Bob Read for whom the first six matches saw a sequence of points +4, +2, -6, +1, +4, +15 in their favour. Leon then pulled 14 points back with a mature 11-5, 11-2, 11-9 result versus Benjy and Mike achieved parity with Bob Read. Unfortunately for Bugbrooke, Daventry's talisman Josh, characterised by controlled play and never failing to beat the handicap by 20+ points in previous rounds, then racked up another 10 point swing versus Jack 11-1, 11-1, 11-3 which meant Bugbrooke had to win each game of the doubles 11-5 to draw. The first two games went 11-6, 11-9 leaving Daventry needing only a single point and they duly wrapped up the win and secured the Kevin Grant Cup with a 3-11 scoreline.
Josh (+27) and Leon (+11) top-scored for their teams.
Bugbrooke B (295) are beginning to follow in their A team's footsteps with results suggesting almost perfect handicapping. Their latest victory by just two points over Towcester D (293) saw them beat the handicap in just four of the ten matches, but once they had secured a two point lead after the second singles they refused to be overtaken. Both teams twice engineered individual swings of 10 or 11 points but after the final singles Bugbrooke still had a four point advantage and they held their nerve (just) in the decisive doubles. Top-ranked player Leon Rodgers led the way with a cumulative +12 points though this was mostly wiped out by Mike Hobson's -11 reverse. Jack Colby also contributed a creditable +3 points. For Towcester, in form Fred Wakefield top-scored with +15 and was backed up by Mike Perry's +7.
The Fledglings (363) yet again refused to have their wings clipped by Division One opponents. Towcester B (304) may be favourites to bag their first ever League Champions title, but only the top-ranked Nick Howard could make any headway against the handicaps and playing of Benjy, Josh and Bob. John McMahon and Dave Howard lost six games in total to the rampant Daventry team and although after the first round of singles Towcester were only nine points adrift, this got progressively worse. All three Daventry players ended with positive points totals versus handicap with Josh the leader on +29 courtesy of 18 and 15 point swings against Dave and John respectively. Nick (+15) led his team well and beat the handicap in each of his three singles but the Fledglings attacking play once again proved to be the decisive factor.
Round Three matches w/c 27th February
The biggest shock yet in the competition was served up by Daventry Fledglings (392) versus their senior Aces team (315). Benjy Gatward, Josh Adams and Bob Read immediately put the Division One team under pressure by taking a five point lead in each of the first three singles. Oleg Plugaru mitigated this somewhat with a +seven point swing as he beat Bob 11-2, 11-0, 11-3, but this was immediately undone as Benjy secured an 11-9, 11-9, 8-11 result and +18 points versus Aled Roberts. Even at this stage, some twentysix points behind, the Aces might have found something up their collective sleeves, but they only managed to beat the handicap in one more match and so slumped to a heavy defeat. Their best results ironically were in the two matches where they faced the biggest points handicap. Benjy +44 and Josh +24 were the big points winners for the Fledglings.
Another travelling Daventry team suffered comprehensively and despite being runaway leaders of Division Three, the Newcomers (256) lost out to Division Two's Towcester D (320). Daventry drafted in occasional player Carl Davidson in place of top-ranked John Osborne and Carl performed well for his team, achieving most points versus handicap, but Daventry's downfall was masterminded by Towcester's talisman Ken Sawyer who amassed an overall 39 points versus handicap. Daventry either beat the handicap or were within five points in five of the nine singles but the Sawyer effect did the damage and perhaps was clearest when he faced similarly ranked Rod Rouse (who had beaten him comfortably in league play) and stormed to an 11-8, 11-4, 11-6 victory. Ken's fellow Towcestrians Fred Wakefield (+8) and Mike Perry (+9) also weighed in with modest gains.
How to handicap the top of Division One versus the middle of Division Three? Towcester B (329) proved that they could not afford to give away a single easy point to the ladies of Bugbrooke E (328). In a topsy turvy match where the lead continually changed, Towcester won 38 of 39 games (five of them being ungallant but vital 11-0 scores against Sue Gibbons), and the exception was a laudable 11-10 win for Jane Hobson against Dave Allen. In the final analysis, Jane's cumulative +11 points mirrored that of the league's top player Nick Howard and in their head-to-head match their scores were also tied. Both teams secured four points wins, the remaining two matches being drawn. Liz Davison beat the handicap in two of her singles and finished on +4 which was almost matched by David Howard on +2. These fine margins culminated in a doubles where Bugbrooke achieved 7, 1 and 5 points to pull a single point back over the handicap but lost the overall match by the one point.
Round Two matches w/c 23rd January
As the higher division team, Towcester D were asked to give just shy of 100 handicap points to Yardley Gobion Dogs and the latters must have been delighted to keep their noses in front all the way up to the start of the seventh match. However that signalled a run of crucial swings against handicap for the Towcester trio of Fred Wakefield (+10), Mike Perry (+9) and Phil Stewart (+5) versus Les Freeland, Paul Wragg and Ray Wood respectively which effectively meant the Yardley team had to win each game of the doubles. Les and Paul pulled back ten points versus the handicap but it was not enough and Towcester secured the tie by thirteen points. Phil (+15) and Ray (+5) were their team's most successful players.
Riding high at the top of Division One, Towcester B (300) played without their top player Nick Howard versus Gayton B (274) and by beating the handicap in six out of the ten matches they kept themselves in front throughout. Gayton's Bhanu Chadalavada gave his side a chance with an 11-4, 11-5, 11-7 win and a thirteen point swing versus John McMahon, but this was immediately nullified by David Allen's seventeen point advantage over Alan Creed. In the final instance, big swings for Towcester's two Davids - Allen (+30) and Howard (+20) were too much for Gayton for whom Bhanu top scored with +5.
If Gayton C (312) had an easy ride in the previous round, this was surely forgotten versus Yardley Gobion Eagles (310) who, despite being without top player Dave Nicholls, very nearly overturned their handicap disadvantage, narrowly losing their three point lead before the doubles to end up just two points down. Gayton's Jonathon Taylor bagged ten points versus handicap in his first singles against Dave Lyden and then played to par. Teammate Tom Chaplin did even better, beating his handicap in all three singles for a combined +13. Eagles were always in touch in this see-saw match, Dan Lyden and Martin Sheaf both securing positive points totals versus handicap, but the final doubles which saw Gayton grab 11, 4 and 10 points proved to be their undoing.
No team can claim more dramatic results over the last couple of years than Bugbrooke A (317) and their usual trio took on their B team (319), featuring Leon Rodgers, Mike Hobson and reserve Jack Colby. Six of the nine singles sets were decided by zero, one or two points but it took just one stunning result by Leon against Rick Bastin 11-9, 11-5, 11-6 to put the B team in prime position. That said, a commendable effort by Rob George and Greg Norden in winning the doubles 11-3, 11-2, 11-1 failed only by a couple of points. Leon (+7) and Rob (+15) top scored for their teams.
Runaway Division Three leaders Daventry Newcomers (335) hosted Division One's Towcester A (326) who fielded two strong reserves. The first eight singles were each decided by three points or less and Towcester's Mayur Shah, Frank Whiteley and Rebecca Kimber won every single game and seemed to have done enough to secure the match especially when the final singles saw Rebecca gain a net seven points against John Osbourne for an overall seven point lead. However a final doubles twist was in store as Daventry's Adam Read and John Osbourne engineered a massive sixteen point swing versus Mayur and Rebecca to snatch victory. Adam (0) and Rebecca (+8) top scored.
A definite minnows versus sharks match ensued as Bugbrooke E (315) took on Daventry Aces (330) and although Oleg Plugaru, Aled Roberts and Kal Singh unsurprisingly won every one of the thirty games, the average swing per set was only 1.9 points. Unfortunately for Mike Chambers, Allen Dale and Ryan Webb the majority went in Daventry's favour. Ryan (+2) and Oleg (+5) top scored.
Round One matches w/c 5th December
In a round characterised mostly by the number of byes, the number of walkovers was also unusually high.
However, Daventry Fledglings (324) and Rothersthorpe (301) played out a competitive fixture, eventually won by Daventry by 23 points, in which both sides secured/suffered big swings versus the handicaps. Nevertheless the Daventry trio of Ben Gatward, Bob Read and Josh Adams seemed always to have their noses in front until the sixth match when a great effort from Dan Giugno versus Bob secured a 16 point swing and dragged Rothersthorpe into a slender 2 point lead. Unfortunately for them, Daventry then turned the screw and in the remaining matches hardly put a foot wrong in amassing a further 25 points against the handicap. Most successful players were Daventry's Josh Adams (+22) and Rothersthorpe's Dan Giugno (+10).
A strong Yardley Gobion Eagles side (327) comprising Dave Nicholls, Dan and Dave Lyden hosted Towcester E (310) and despite the latters restricting their much higher ranked hosts to swings of 3 points or less in seven of the ten matches, the final task proved just too difficult. A highlight for Towcester was a 16 point swing for Jay Jayasundara versus Dave Lyden. Dan (+11) and Jay (+15) top scored for their teams.
Bugbrooke C (254) agreed to a postponement with Gayton C (307) but missed their captain Neil Osborne and although six of the ten matches finished with a difference of four points or less, three big result swings in favour of Gayton meant they sauntered to an easy away win. Clive Hudson (+29), Jonathon Taylor (+18) and Veronica Downing (+3) all finished with positive points totals.
2015-16 COMPETITION Organised by Peter Kent
Towcester C (314) emerged victorious as Bugbrooke A (313) lost their second successive final by an agonising 1 point. Bugbrooke's regular trio of Greg Norden, Robert George and Rick Bastin had recently celebrated their first League Champions Division One title whilst Towcester C had comfortably secured the Division Two title. However Fred Wakefield's absence meant that Frank Whiteley and Mike Perry had to draft in Nathan Ogden - and what an impact that substitution created.
Rankings spread from 12 (Greg) to 52 (Mike) and Towcester had to score approximately 6 points per game. They started in the best possible fashion and the first four matches (which included Frank's shock 11-7, 11-9, 6-11 result versus Rick) saw them equal or beat the handicap for a cumulative 8 point lead. Robert clawed back 7 points against Mike, then Greg followed this up with a 10 point swing versus Frank and for the first time Bugbrooke had edged in front. However, just two matches later this was turned on its head by super-sub Nathan who bagged a net 16 points with a stunning 11-5, 4-11, 11-9 sequence against Greg. With one singles and the doubles to play, Bugbrooke were now 13 points adrift but the resolute Robert refused to buckle and he secured a telling 11-3, 11-4, 11-5 win against Frank for a cumulative 1 point lead for Bugbrooke.
In the doubles, Towcester repeated their successful semi final strategy of fielding the pair with the highest handicap which meant Nathan and Mike had to achieve 6 points per game versus Greg and Robert. This they failed to do in the first two games, the Bugbrooke pair winning 11-5, 11-5. However the tension ramped up as the final end was played and resulted in a jubilant Towcester grabbing 8 points and the Kevin Grant trophy by a single point.
Nathan (+18) and Robert (+20) top scored for their teams.