September 23rd, 2010 Add comment

The Billy Walsh Tournament, at Ham Polo Club

By Isamaya ffrench, UK Correspondent

The final tournament of the 2010 season was played over the weekend. The Billy Walsh is traditionally played in September and is the memorial tournament for one of the most important figures in post war polo in the UK. Billy Walsh not only revived Ham Polo Club but was a key part in the revival of the sport as England recovered in the 1940's. The tournament is always played in a friendly spirit and this year two sections were run; one at 0-3 goal level and one at -3 - 0.

League matches for the -3 - 0 section were played on Saturday 18th. The first game was between Oberoi Ladies and Cavaliers. After a fantastic performance by Marianela Castagnola the first unexpected result of the tournament was a win for Oberoi Ladies securing the team a place in the final.

The next game between Potential and Stagshead was very exciting; the lead changed four times before the final chukka. Eventually Stagshead failed to convert a 60-yard penalty in the last thirty seconds and Potential held on to the lead till the bell sounded.

Sunday was finals day. The first match at 1 p.m. was for the 0-3 goal final. Tchogan faced Ploy Bhinsaeng's King Power Polo Team. For two and a half chukkas King Power trailed by a goal or two and were kept at bay by Nico Talamoni. In the third chukka though charlie Wood poduced some stunning play and King Power entered the fourth chukka in the lead.

The fourth chukka was spectacular. Nico Talamoni had to work hard for Tchogan as Charlie Minns-Shearer kept pressure on him throughout. Wood battled hard for his team and it looked like King Power were going to win as Talamoni missed a 60 in the last minute. Unfortunately for King Power the umpires awarded another 60 to Tchogan in the last few seconds and this time Talamoni had no trouble putting the ball through the uprights. This gave Tchogan the lead and Heiko Volker was delighted to retain the Billy Walsh Trophy for 2010.

Next up was the -3 - 0 goal final between Oberoi Ladies and Potential due to the handicap difference between the two teams Oberoi Ladies started with 1.5 goals up on the board.

The handicapping must have been very accurate as the first, second and third chukkas ended with Oberoi holding onto their 1.5 goal start. In the fourth Potential fought back but Castagnola, riding fast horses, carved throught the Potential defence and kept the ladies in the game. As the bell rang Oberoi Ladies were half a goal up and became the first all female team to win a final at Ham Polo Club.

The subsidiary of division two was next and spectators were treated to a third fast and exciting match on the number one ground. Cavaliers and Stagshead battled it out in a close game only decided by half a goal. The winners, Cavaliers, were presented with the Gerald Critchley Trophy and Geoffrey Godbold presented Stagshead's Nicholas Colquhoun-Denvers (HPC Chairman) with the floating seat, an award given for this match since 1974.

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