WINCHESTER WIN THE 2018 HALFORD HEWITT
Winchester won the 2018 Halford Hewitt at Deal, beating Ampleforth by 4 games to 1 in the final. The Wykehamists last won in 1948 when the Gerald Micklem was in the side and the winning game was won by Willie Whitelaw, future Home Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister. Famously, Margaret Thatcher said that “everyone needs a Willie” however Winchester proved her wrong in a final that was without any real stress for them. The top game was a trifle one-sided as the Winchester pair of Cameron and Sanders won by 8/7. That game provided momentum for the rest of the Winchester team and when the second pair of Holt and Keating won by 3/2 it left Ampleforth needing to win all the remaining games. In the event, Winchester won the fourth game 3/2 as well making the other two matches meaningless and they were duly declared halved.
One has to feel sorry for Ampleforth who have now finished runners-up in two consecutive years having never previously reached the higher altitudes of the competition. They came through by far the harder section of the draw and there is no greater testimony to the quality of their team than the fact that they beat easily both Charterhouse and Epsom in the quarter-final and semi-final respectively by 4 games to 1. Indeed their win over Epsom, the holders, was quite remarkable, as they won the first three games by margins of 7/5, 6/4 and 4/3. Epsom having beaten them in the final last year, it would be understandable if the Amplefordians had felt that all the hard work was over. However Winchester have been getting quietly stronger for the last few years, ably assisted by incisive statistical analysis from David Wybar which supports their pairings and their order of play.
The Prince’s Plate competition, for those teams who have succumbed in the first round, was won by Malvern who beat Edinburgh Academy by 3 games to 0. Malvern, who were accustomed to reaching the latter stages of the Hewitt, are best describes as a team “in transition.” They were playing in their 5th consecutive Plate and their supporters will hope that the Plate acts as a springboard to better things, as it did for both Charterhouse (2002) and Tonbridge (2004) who won the Plate and went on to win the Hewitt the following year.