HONG KONG POLO TEAM RETURN FROM A HISTORIC TRIP TO ENGLAND TO PLAY FOR THE OLD CLAGUE CUP AT TAUNTON VALE POLO CLUB, SOMERSET
The Hong Kong Polo Team return home from a thrilling tournament in England, The Clague Cup supported by Stanley Gibbons. August 29th and 30th saw the 2014 formed HK Polo Team (HKPT) accompanied by Hong Kong Polo Association (HKPA), further add to their polo play as the first team for Hong Kong and succeed in becoming another step closer to their passionate and commitment of bringing polo back to Hong Kong.
Founder and CEO of Asia World Polo, Dave Savage said:
“It has been an honour to represent Hong Kong and reinstate the Clague Cup in England at such a fine and significant polo club which spans over 110 years of polo. To keep the polo flame of Hong Kong still burning in England in all its charm is truly unique. Taunton Vale Polo Club withstood two world wars keeping polo going and what could be more appropriate than for the HKPT to play at one of the oldest clubs in England after 30 years.”
Title sponsor Stanley Gibbons highlighted its support to the teams on English soil. “We are very proud to be title sponsor of the Hong Kong Polo team as well as this tournament here in Taunton Vale, in particular since this is the first time a team from Hong Kong participated in this tournament, playing against players who were based in Hong Kong prior to its handover to China. We aspire to return to support the team in the cup next year.” Marco Kaster, Investment Director at Stanley Gibbons.
The Team Play
On a British Summers day of patches of sunshine and light drizzle in the heart of Somerset, the HKPT descended on the small market town of Taunton. They were faced with a tough challenge from the very start.
Chukkas on Saturday avoiding the rain in near perfect polo conditions saw a great performance by the whole team as they were primed and ready to play. Proudly they battled their way through to the final on Sunday by pulling back from behind to an even scoreline 4-4 in the final chukka. This meant the HKPT forced the highly competent and determined English team ‘All that Jazz’ to play a ‘sudden death’ penalty shoot out to an excited polo audience teetering on the edge of their seats. Russell Tyre skillfully threaded the second goal between the posts and secured HKPT’s place in the final.
Heavy Sunday morning rainfall dampened the field but not the spirits and by the afternoon it had brightened up for the final. Captain Pato Furlong, led the charge with Paul Chow, Jono Gabler and Kwan Lo and punched a 70 yard shot towards the goal from 10ft off the ground. Two blocked penalties, a shot deflected off the post, gave the opposition Sloe Cottage a strong team with 5 straight Cup wins in a row this Season an advantage to return fire and the game turned and the clock ran down. There was just enough time for Pato to pop in a powerful goal lofted between the posts but not quite enough time remaining to take the lead.
Patrick Furlong spoke of the Team performance and result:
“The fixture saw our team feature against 5 teams of up to 2 goals handicap, all of which included seasoned players and professionals.
The club plays very competitive low goal polo, hosting teams from around the region, we knew it was going to be a tough test to the HK Polo Team.
Our game on Saturday was on a challenging ground, slightly uneven surface which meant we had to play a more open game, long shots to reach our players at the front, and generally stretching our lines. This game does suit our style, however, the opposition team were also very used to this game plan. It was a hard fought match in every line. Their back (no 4) was a huge hitter, consistently delivering shots of 120 yards and more, which stretched our defense line. Jonno and Russell had a tough game to ensure the opposition forwards (who were very well mounted) could not score. Very tight on the score line, with perhaps more opportunities to us, we came into the last chukka 1 goal up. A couple of unfortunate fouls against us on the last chukka which they duly converted, meant we were 1 goal down to us and 1 1/2 minutes to play. It was down to the last 40 seconds when we managed to put pressure on their defense and force a 30yard penalty, which we scored to finish the match 4-4.
On penalties (nail biting finale!) we kept our calm and executed 3 penalties from the 30yard line. On their third attempt their no 3 (who had had a cracking game) missed by a couple of yards. So we were on the final.
The final was against a very strong line up, “Sloe Cottage” who had in their lines a 2-goal professional and three 0-goal players, who (we were told earlier) had won all the cups they played this season and it showed! The home team was dominating the midfield and we struggled to get ahead on our marks. They were very familiar with each other’s game, on the turns they invariably held 2 players against 2, and we struggled to get into their game.
At half time we were trailing by 5 goals, and we had to tighten the lines if we were to come back. Some tactical changes tweaks our side, putting pressure in their hit-ins we had more control of the ball and were able to bring the game closer to their goal. We had 2 clear chances to come back in the score line, but it was not until the last chukka when we converted to bring the score to a 5 to 1 1/2, the final score. The score-line was not as reflective of the game, as we had a number of chances that should have gone in. It was, in any case, a fair result, and the best team won on the day.
I’m very happy with the performance of the HK team, as we were playing our first competition in England, against very tough opponents.
We played against world class low-goal teams, who regularly feature in important tournaments in England. Reaching the final, our third final this season was in itself a huge achievement for our team, and I’m immensely proud of this.
We now look forward to our next fixture in Beijing later in September!”
Winning team, Sloe Cottage took the cup coming in on a winning steak were a tough team to beat with an impressive four cups won throughout the Season. They held a strong and consistent lead and the final score was TVPT 5, HKPT, ½
Stanley Gibbons Marco Kaser passed the Baton to the winning team in a presentation at the clubhouse of the Clague Cup. “A great game to lose” commented Dave Savage, at the awards ceremony Team Manager and President of organisers Asia World Polo “and we are thrilled to return next year and play our part in keeping this iconic Clague Cup alive”.
What’s to come….
Target for the team is to reach two more finals this year, scheduled for Beijing in October and Thailand in November – hopefully secured with cup wins to wrap up the season before Hong Kong Polo After Dark on 27th November, where there will be announcements regarding next seasons plans.