The ‘Ship on the high pink seas’ was visible throughout the whole 3 days of the Southern Counties Petanque Association’s recent ‘Weekend of Petanque’ at Worthing.
The ‘pink shirts’ were in action against some terrific opposition over the weekend. Amongst others they battled England No1 and No2 ranked female players in the triples, and also England No1 male, EPA vice president and a top ranked Dutchman in the singles. (In fact a bit of you-tube action found him in a team taking 7 points off Henri Lacroix/Philip Suchaud/Dylan Rocher in the 2017 European Championship semi final.)
The weekend was split into 3 seperate events with Doubles-Saturday, Triples-Sunday, and Singles-Monday. With a high prize fund the event attracted not only most of Englands top players, but also a number of Europeans.
First up on Saturday were Dawn and Andy in the doubles. The piste for their group stage was a difficult sloping/stony made up ‘car park terrain’. Things started well with an 11-3 win. Then the wheels came off with a 13-4 loss and a ‘fanny’ by a French pairing. With a single win there were hopes of being in the bronze afternoon knockout, unfortunately it ended as wooden spoon due to the severity of the losing scores. The afternoon matches were all played on easier terrains. A win vs some Cranleigh ladies saw progression to the second round. Southsea then dished out a 13-0 fanny against a home Worthing team slightly making up for receiving one earlier. Then followed a pleasant but hard fought match in the semi, eventually going down 13-12 to another couple, Fareham’s Paul and Hassi Leveritt.
Sunday saw the largest Southsea turnout. Dawn, Rod, Peter and Andy took part as a four with someone sitting out each game, whilst Trevor was also in action with the team he will be entering the ‘Inter Regionals’ with. Southsea’s group stage was on one of the smooth terrains, but the opposition was anything but smooth, containing two high level teams out of three. First up was ‘The Bluebelles’ from Cranleigh. The smooth terrain proved to be a disadvantage here with the Cranleigh ladies adept at rolling in close. After a drawn out game Southsea managed to pull things together though and got the win. The next opponents T-shirts showed them to be ‘Sussex Champions’ (they ended as Gold Semi Finalists). Things started well and Sussex were chuntering among themselves after five ends with Southsea level at 4-4 after pulling out some decent play. Sadly the good times played out with no more points in either this game nor the next where Southsea were fannied 13-0 by an England Ladies World Championship Team(containing No1/No2 ranked ladies). Strangely enough, although getting fannied, that was quite possibly Southsea’s best played game but the amount of carreau the ladies got effectively gave them extra boule. The afternoon was in the ‘bronze’ and after a first win Southsea faced Trevor’s ‘inter-regional’ team in the semi-final. Things started badly for Southsea, and the first few ends saw them down 9-1. However, helped on by a nice ‘six’ they dug deep and were in with a chance in the final stages. The dark side of the force was in evidence though, after a spot carreau by Peter saw the coche trundle off with opposition boule. A couple of boule later Trevor then produced a shot which sealed the match, before going on to win in the bronze final.
Last day in the singles, Peter and Andy went into the fray. A look at the entries showed there were few ‘gimmes’ to be had and none appeared in either of the two’s groups. Peter’s group was played on a stony terrain and contained 3 good SCPA players: Justin Ellis (SCPA singles finalist last year), Frank Charlesworth, and Paula Fauvel. Andy’s group took place on the stony/sloping car park terrain and was even more difficult with Martin Hughes(EPA vice), Noel Kempeneers (Already WOP Doubles&Triples Winner from Sat/Sun) and Dean Seville (England No1 ranked male). All three of Peter’s matches went right to the wire. He was a point ahead in all three games going into the last end, and with a little bit of fortune could easily have made it into the gold competition. The millimetres here and there counted the other way though, and two of those leads turned around with Peter left with one win from three. Andy started with a tight win vs Martin, a huge lob nailed on the coche saving him from a tie and an extra sudden death end. Then he had chances against Noel being 11-9 up at one point. (With a good bit of luck it has to be said as every second shot Noel hits is a carreau).
Last match started well, 6-2 up against Dean, but after that not another point was scored. So, both Peter and Andy ended down into the silver comp but heads held high with a group win each. In the afternoon they both then managed to get through two rounds before being knocked out in close quarter finals. Andy went down 13-12 to Dutchman Piet (eventual silver runner up), Peter in a second game vs Paula who he had earlier played in his group and beaten.
All together a good experience for Southsea, getting to play some excellent World Championship standard players, getting to play on some difficult and varied terrains, and getting to watch an extremely high standard triples final close up.