The final of this year’s John Ford club tournament was held last night (23rd March) at Alsager Leisure Centre. This year’s finalists were Holmes Chapel Honeybees and Canute V1 Kings.  Holmes Chapel had an enforced change to their side from the victorious semi-finalists. Ian and Karen Brookhouse were unavailable, however, Holmes Chapel found very able replacements in the form of the perennial Sue Mills and Paul Frith. Canute fielded the same six as their semi-final and so the line-up was James Burham, John Hunter, Phil Wall, Mie Wall, Helen Woolacott and Jennifer Smith. Holmes Chapel sent out Mike Davey, Colin Turnock, Paul Frith, Sue Mills, Sally Barnett and Gail Armstrong.

With the semi-finals still fresh in the memory, the handicappers needed to adjust things to account for the slight change in personnel. We told Holmes Chapel that their handicap had suffered massively due to the introduction of Paul and Sue. We are not sure how seriously they took it. After much deliberation it was decided that Holmes Chapel would need the help, to the tune of 130 points.

The games panned out almost to expectation. The match would have resulted in a 17-1 win for Canute under normal league circumstances. As we all know by now, points make prizes in John Ford world. The tale of the game (with Holmes Chapel names first) was as follows remembering that the handicappers had a broad expectation of how each game would conclude:

Mike and Gail had been expected to have a tough assignment against James and Mie. So it turned out with the Canute pair winning to 13 and 8 – match pretty much in balance at this stage

Paul and Sue likewise were not expected to turn Phil and Helen over, they didn’t but they did score quite heavily 17 and 18– advantage Holmes Chapel

Colin and Sally with all their experience were expected to do well against John and his inexperienced partner Jennifer. They did 19 and 18 – still advantage Holmes Chapel

Gail and Sue knew that Mie and Helen would be a difficult one, it was, with Holmes Chapel getting 8 and 9 the pendulum swung back to Canute

Mike and Paul battled valiantly against the stronger James and Phil, at 8 and 8 pendulum still swinging over towards Canute

Gail and Sally then took on Mie and Jennifer, an competitive game expected and a competitive game delivered, 16 and 17 – status quo

Mike and Colin were expecting a pounding from the long established pairing of James and John, so it was with interest 10 and 4 – pendulum moving towards Canute again

On to the last two mixed where Sue and Paul were expected to have a close encounter with John and Jennifer who were expected to have the upper hand. All change. First game to 18, but the second one Paul and Sue stormed away winning to 11. Pendulum in reverse towards Holmes Chapel.

Colin and Sally were expected to give Phil and Helen a game, they did more than that losing marginally 17 and 20 – advantage Holmes Chapel again.

And so to the final reckoning. Canute had compiled 369 points by this time. In reply Holmes Chapel reached 249. An expectant set of players opened the envelope to find that Holmes Chapel edged it by 10 points – a modest 0.55 points a game. Sporting hugs and handshakes were followed by the presentation of the trophy by Chairman David Sumner and President Alan Horne. Well done to all players, this was a great match, brilliantly contested. Best of  all, it hung in the balance right until the end. Of course many congratulations to John Ford Winners 2016-17 HOLMES CHAPEL

A final word here about the handicappers. Our thanks go to Alan Horne, Tony Marks, David Sumner, John Hunter (whose opinion wasn’t required last night !!), Ruth Raiswell, Simon Dyson (Oh and Yours Truly Brian Horrocks) and all those others who may have been tapped on the shoulder for any specific matches. It is not an easy task but someone has to do it. It can be so onerous that only beer afterwards can assuage the trauma. And so it was in the Old Mill at Alsager last night. This year has been really successful and contributed to a most enjoyable tournament for a large number of players.

Attachments include photos and the score sheet. If you didn’t know, Sue Mills is the one in the centre of Holmes Chapel looking as if the trophy will never leave her hands. We do want it back next year Sue, unless of course you think you can win it again.