Left to Right
Capt Nicola Hemsworth RLC -2
Capt Will Young RA -1
Maj Arthur Purbrick RL 0
O/Cdt Hugo Ross-Wilson NUOTC 0
Nine teams gathered at RAF Cranwell in the soft May sunshine to take part in the first tournament of the season, the RAF Cranwell Polo Tournament over the 14th and 15th May 2022. The tournament has historically acted as an excellent starter to the season and sees many local clubs and service teams gather from -4 to 0 handicaps. It is always excellent fun, and it was certainly no different this year.
The Army team included Capt Nicola Hemsworth (RLC, exchange officer at RAF Cranwell), Capt Will Young (Ops Officer, 53 Bty, 5RA), OCdt Hugo Ross-Wilson (future RDG) and was captained by Maj Arthur Purbrick (RL, currently XO to RY). As always, the disparate nature of operations and exercises meant that the team only assembled the morning of the tournament for a hasty tactics talk, meet and greet the ponies, and pep-talk by Chairman APOLOA, Col Simon Ledger. The ground was in excellent condition and the ponies in fine form. The team went in strong, and had to battle hard against Rutland polo club. The two chukka match went by in a blur and concluded with a narrow win by Team Army.
With barely a breath drawn, the Cranwell team, captained by the illustrious David Black, came at the Army team with swords drawn. The game flowed well, and the players were well matched. However, despite their best efforts the Army team were beaten by a narrow margin. Both teams agreed it was an excellent game and both walked off with honour intact and the Army team into the competition for the Runners Up Trophy, the Centennial Cup.
Sunday dawned, and the Army team opened the days play vs. Leadenham. The game concluded with a scrappy but secure win by Team Army and they were into the finals for the runner up trophy against RAF Spitfires team. This was an extraordinary game with exceptional well paired players. The score concluded dramatically with a nil-nil. A tense penalty shoot out took place, only to result once again in a even score of 3-3! The rules are unclear on what should take place, so with such pressure the players moved the second shoot out to the 40 yard line. Again, a highly tense shootout, with a lot of what the cricket community may call ‘sledging’ (all in good humour), took place and the final winning penalty was taken rashly by Maj Purbrick at an erratic canter. With honour intact amongst all, both the RAF and the Army retired to the clubhouse, with the Centennial Cup proudly in hand.
Report wrote by – Capt MCW Hamilton