Rushmere fired up
YEAR after year Rushmere have been among the favourites to lift the Hambro Cup.They were the first club to have their name inscribed on the trophy in 1931 and have won since then in 1979, 1983, 1987 and 2005.
YEAR after year Rushmere have been among the favourites to lift the Hambro Cup.
They were the first club to have their name inscribed on the trophy in 1931 and have won since then in 1979, 1983, 1987 and 2005.
They have been able to field such talented players at Max Turner, John Whitby and Frazer Knights in days gone by.
Turner, one of the most talented players to emerge from Suffolk, was county strokeplay champion in 1983 and 1989 and county matchplay champion in 1987. He also won the Golf Illustrated Gold Vase.
Many felt that he had the ability to reach the very top of the amateur game, but sadly he never really buckled down to the tough routine that was necessary.
Many Turner stories are legendary such as when the England selectors commended him for drinking Ribena to keep his strength up during an important round - it was port in the bottle.
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I understand Turner has not played golf for some years and no longer lives in the county which is a sad loss to the game.
Now Rushmere's leading players include Kevin Eagle, James Wright and Michael Buck. How their prospects would improve if Will Wright, the reigning Suffolk matchplay champion, also made himself available.
Rushmere have also looked towards youth for their success. In Joe Simpson and Shaun Masterson they have a
couple of keen contenders among those scrambling to claim a place in Peter Robinson's line-up.
Rushmere, beaten at the semi-final stage by Ipswich last year, start their campaign with a first round tie against Waldringfield on April 22. It looks like a home banker, but in a handicap event anything can happen.
Dave Sharp, beaten finalist in the Evening Star Sunshine Challenge last year, will be a key man for the visitors.
Fynn Valley have four members of the Suffolk county first team squad, but have yet to get their hands on the Hambro Cup.
How often Jamie Abbott will be available because of calls of national competitions remains to be seen, but Brad Wilkins, Chris Smith and Warren Goddard form a solid backbone. Their match against Gorleston promises to be the tie of the round.
Fynn Valley also look to youth with Paul and Hugo Dobson, Simon Lloyd and Aaron Bowen already battle-hardened.
It is a real clash of the heavyweights at Witnesham with Gorleston able to call on county champion Alex Holmes, former champions Steve Crosby and John Maddock, as well as former county player Geraint Amos.
Gorleston last won the Hambro Cup in 1995 but were beaten finalists in 2004.
Last year Gorleston went out at the quarter-final stage to Ipswich - the eventual winners - who have a first- round bye this time.
Ipswich, who knocked out Stoke by Nayland, will take all the beating with the likes of Ben Farthing, their England Schoolboy international and winner of the Silver Barrel, former Suffolk champion Paul Barnard and improving teenagers Jack Jowers and Chris Gooding.
Woodbridge, captained this year by Jon Marks, will be relieved to have a home draw against Stowmarket. They would not have fancied their chances so much at Finborough.
James Keely and Chris Bye, two former professionals, could be available for Woodbridge to boost a team that should see Sam Taylor and Ian Kitson providing much-needed youth and Jason Finch playing more regularly.
Stowmarket also have a blend of youth and experience. The likes of Paul Buckle, Nathan Overton and Martin Darling could have support from youngsters Ben and Sam Forgan and Patrick Spraggs.
There is a West Suffolk derby between Bury St Edmunds and nearby The Suffolk in which home advantage could tip the scales as happens so often.
Hintlesham, who lost to Thorpeness in the semi-finals last year, are always competitive and should be too strong for Flempton.
Hintlesham will be without Scott Vandervord, now a professional, but Kristian Day may be back from the professional ranks and youngsters Phil Westley, Matthew Ransome, Andrew Cunningham and Joe Cardy will have extra experience.
Beaten finalists Thorpeness will need to concentrate if they are to survive a trip to Brett Vale where it can be hard to give shots on a fairly short course. Brett Vale shocked Rushmere not so long ago and their hopes of causing an upset appear realistic.
Aldeburgh will be using their lengthened course in their home tie against Halesworth. As to whether Alex Stanley will be able to return from Durham University is open to question, but James Reiss is becoming hard to beat while Roger Taylor and Logan Mair could be key players. Halesworth will not be used to the Aldeburgh gorse and will hope that it is a calm day.
It will be a long trip for Rookery Park to visit Haverhill at Coupals Road. Rookery Park often flatter to deceive while Haverhill are a tidy outfit around their attractive home course.
First round (to be played on April 22): Woodbridge v Stowmarket, Fynn Valley v Gorleston, Bury St Edmunds v The Suffolk, Hintlesham v Flempton, Brett Vale v Thorpeness, Aldeburgh v Halesworth, Rushmere v Waldringfield, Haverhill v Rookery Park.
Byes: Ipswich, Southwold, Stoke by Nayland, Newton Green, Felixstowe Ferry, Diss, Seckford and Bungay and Waveney Valley.