The admittedly abbreviated summer polo season came to a close at the annual Schools & Universities Polo Association (SUPA) Tournament for Senior Schools held at Longdole Polo Club, Birdlip, on Sunday 26 June.
Up to that point we had played matches against Cheltenham, Marlborough, Stowe and Eton as well as chukkas with Uppingham and Oakham . In the course of these school-to-school matches at Longdole PC, Kirtlington PC near Oxford and at Ranksboro PC in Rutland we got as near as causing our opposition a degree of anxiety, even surging ahead on the scoreboard for a few hopeful - but illusory - moments. Such losses as we recorded were never less than respectable even as we gained more experience and co-ordination.
This pattern prevailed at the SUPA Intermediates on the 19th of June at Longdole. Led by veteran Alexander Montgomery (O LVI), rising hopefuls Henry Kennedy and goal-scoring Max Hulse (both I IV) along with some help from our friends fought hard and with growing effectiveness against unfavourable odds. These losses sustained were also no disgrace.
At last, however, the horsy gods smiled in our direction at the SUPA Final. Under the able captaincy of Archie Smyth-Osbourne (Rt LVI), his minions William Hunter (Rt LVI), Cecily Higham (MSH LVI) and that rising star of the future, Sebastian Heywood (S III), the Shrewsbury team victoriously battled its way up the divisional roster against Dean Close and Wycliffe before facing Sherborne in an exciting two chukka final. Despite the fact that our opponents were stronger in terms of handicapping, Smyth-Osbourne dominated the first chukka no less than those played earlier in the day and scored and scored and scored again (sometimes with a little well co-ordinated help from his comrades). Such was his aristeia that his adversaries sensibly concentrated their fire on him in the second, denying us that tantalisingly near final victory over all. Even so a second place was gratifying enough as it recorded a new high water mark in the history of our participation in this event.
That Archie Smyth-Osbourne was honoured with the cup for the most promising player in the whole tournament came as little surprise. He had had an altogether pleasing day.