Sladmore/Twelve Oaks snatch last gasp win in Archie David Cup
Ed Horswell and Charlie Wooldridge’s Sladmore/Twelve Oaks produced an incredible comeback in the final chukka to win the prestigious Archie David Cup – the UK’s leading 8-goal tournament. Chris Hyde, later named The Polo Magazine’s Most Valuable Player, was inspired in this chukka, levelling the score to 6-6 in the first three minutes. He was then in the right place to pick up a loose ball to fire through the winning goal.
It had all looked such a different story in the first three chukkas. Limitless/Silvertown, featuring Olivia Hutchinson, daughter of the Chairman of the Hurlingham Polo Association. had dominated this match. They were 4-1 up at half-time – with Matias Amaya on particularly good form on some particularly fast ponies. Meanwhile, Sladmore/Twelve Oaks struggled to get into the game, failing to score at all in the second chukka.
Of course just reaching the final of the Archie David is an achievement in itself – an incredible 30 teams entered this year – and so, not surprisingly, the tension started to show in the second half. There were more penalties and the wonderfully flowing polo was swapped for the stop-start game that is more reminiscent of the high-goal. Sladmore/Twelve Oak’s fortunes had not improved either. Not only was Hyde given a yellow card by the umpires, but he put a couple of penalties wide. Unfortunately, Limitless/Silvertown could not capitalise on this, struggling to convert runs down the field to goals, despite some deafening vocal support from the grandstands for both teams.
Fortunes changed dramatically in the fourth. This chukka started with a penalty for Sladmore/Twelve Oaks which Hyde shot through and he followed up with a 40-yarder a minute later. He then sent a big hit up to Horswell to level the scores 6-6. Hyde was then in the right place to pick up a loose ball to fire home another to give Sladmore/Twelve Oaks the lead for the first time in this game.
Meanwhile, it was the turn of Limitless/Silvertown’s Michael Henderson to be awarded a yellow card. And when Limitless/Silvertown were awarded a penalty with only two minutes remaining, the entire crowd assumed we were heading for extra time. Incredibly Amaya produced a miss hit – so awarding Sladmore/Twelve Oaks the ball. You could feel the tension now and it resulted in two further penalties for Limitless/Silvertown in the final minute.
Amaya’s 60-yard shot went wide and Hyde then stopped Amaya’s 40-yard shot, so winning the game for Sladmore/Twelve Oaks.
Not only did Hyde win the MVP, but he also received the Polo Times Best Playing Pony prize for Promise. Hyde had played this Australian-bred mare in the third chukka.
With so many teams entering the Archie David, the sub final is always keenly contested too. This year the honours went to Chester/Stobart. They defeated Alan Fall’s Mad Dogs – last year’s winners of the main Archie David Cup – 7-6 to win the Caterham Cup.
Guards Polo Club’s own teams who are knocked out of the early stages of the Archie David have a chance to continue playing – in the Claude Pert Cup. Alexie Calvert-Ansari’s White Crane (rec ½ goal on handicap) came out best in this match, defeating new Club patron Mindi Byrne’s Tex8n Polo 6½ -5.