HAMPSHIRE’S County Sevens trophy has only headed across the English Channel back to Jersey five times in its 56-year history.

And predictably, those victories have been shared between Jersey’s giants when it comes to golf clubs – Royal Jersey with three wins to La Moye’s two.

The last of the former’s triumps came in 2013 on a rainy October day at Weybrook Park.

And they were unable to make it four wins when they lost to Rowlands Castle four years ago at Barton-on-Sea.

In recent years it has been Guernsey that have dominated the Channel Islands Final to determine who travels to the mainland for the late September final.

Les Ormes Sevens

Les Ormes’ Sevens team after their win over Guernsey’s St Pierre Park in the Channel Islands final. Picture courtesy of LES ORMES

La Grande Mere reached the last four three times in five years from 2012, while Royal Guernsey have claimed the last four spot in 2017 and 2019.

After COVID claimed the competition in 2020, last year it was St Clements, a nine-holer on Jersey, who did some giant-killing to reach the last four.

And in 2022, it has been Les Ormes – another nine-hole course – who have slain the might Royal Jersey to make it through to the inter-island final.

St Pierre Park – who had beaten both Royal Guernsey and L’Ancresse – who share the Bailwick’s famous links course on the north shore – had home advantage in the quarter-final.

But Les Ormes’ combined handicap of 45 travelled well and the two shots the hosts gave up decided the see-saw match when David Freeman won the 19th in the deciding encounter thanks to his extra shot.

Les Ormes were travelling over early enough to have at least one practice round at Royal Winchester, a downland course on the edge of the historic city.

The Sevens has seen many a so-called bigger club humbled in the competition, let alone the finals and underestimating Les Ormes could be costly.

They have got this far once before some 10 years ago and fancy a chance at finally claiming the famous trophy.

Certainly their semi-final opponents Petersfield are also hoping to make hay in the September sunshine, not having reached the Inter-Club Knockout finals in the 21st century.

Captain Steve Ford has been running the club’s Sevens team for the past five years, having joined the club some seven years ago.

Petersfield sevens captain Steve Ford

Petersfield Sevens captain Steve Ford says lady luck has shone on his team this season. Picture courtesy of Petersfield GC

The three-handicapper puts his team’s success down to a number of factors, having come through the preliminary round, beating Alton (6-1), and Alresford (4-3) both at home, before a tough trip to Weybrook Park where they managed to run out winners by 5-2.

Steve said: “Getting the three Hayward boys in the team has certainly helped.

“Richard, who plays off three was in the successful Hockley Sevens team in the past, and his sons Jack (off 10), and George, who is off six, has helped raise our game.

“The courses have been firm and fast because of the weather so you have to have players who can control their ball, which has helped us.

“The faster greens this summer have definitely helped and we have had a new head green-keeper join us from Hankley Common. He has transformed our greens over the last year and the course overall is in much better conditions.

“And after several seasons of trying, I have become better at playing the game of getting some higher handicappers in the team, and playing in the right match where they can influence the result.

“Albie Zard-Cousin, who is off 14, is a good a player who can shoot very close or under his handicap on his day, but equally can shoot a lot higher.

“So far this year, he has played well, but I can’t tell which Albie is going to turn up.

“The idea in the Sevens has always been to have a couple of high handicapper, a couple of mid and two lower.

“But sometimes you get drawn away and find yourself on an unfamiliar course giving up something like 30 shots, if you get the balance of the team wrong.”

But every team, no matter which sport, needs a bit of luck to land some silverware and Ford can identify the moment lady luck was smiling on his team.

Steve added: “In the last round against Tylney Park, we were 3-2 up with the last two games tied. It went 3-3 and Henry Holland, who was off three, was all-square coming off 18.

“He hit a two-iron and seven-iron on the par-five first to six feet and holed his eagle putt. He needed that eagle to win the hole to Tylney’s birdie, to give us the match 4-3 and reach the last four.

“Henry is unavailable for the final and Ross Lobacz, who has plenty of experience in county competitions, only played in the first game, and has not been free to be picked.”

The rest of Petersfield’s team is made up by club captain Chris Castle, who is off 10 and Kip Wellstead, a five-handicapper.

Ford said: “The club’s reputation has suffered a little bit down the years but we have a new general manager joining us from North Hants so there is a good feeling around the club.

“Winning the Sevens for the first time would be an incredible achievement and might help raise our profile and help attract some new members and visitors.

“We are very proud of our club and winning would be the icing on the cake for the team who have bonded well and performed for me.“

WATERLOOVILLE have claimed the County Sevens title twice since 1966 – the first time was in 1969, the last year before the current zonal knockout format was introduced.

They last tasted success in 1998 but have only appeared in the finals day twice since, the last more than 10 years ago.

Current Sevens captain James Pinhorn was a member of that team, and his hoping to make it a hat-trick of wins if they can see off Bramshott Hill in the other semi-final.

Bramshott Hill Golf Club play at Dibden Golf Centre, on the edge of the New Forest at Hythe.

The club is where European Tour winner Richard Bland first rose to fame as an amateur, winning six Hampshire Opens in a row – three as an amateur and then three after turning pro, in the 1990s.

Bramshott’s only win in the County Sevens came back in 1981.

To reach the last four they had to overcome South Winchester before a victory over Wickham Park saw them drawn against Bramshaw in the third round.

Victory set up a quarter-final clash at home against Wellow with Bramshott booking their place in the last four with a 5-2 victory.

Waterlooville’s non-playing captain Pinchon said: “I have used a total of 14 players so far to get to the finals day.

“I was in the team the last time Waterlooville reached the last four some 10 years ago – it would mean everything to be able to go one better in the semis and have a chance to win it.

“We have been lucky with the lottery bonus ball used to determine who is at home. We have not had a single match away,” laughed Pinchon, who will actually miss the semi-final game because of work commitments.

“I will get there for lunch, so hopefully it will be the final I will be watching rather than the third and fourth-place play-off.

“We survived a very dramatic quarter-final against Rowlands Castle, who are always very strong in the Sevens.

“Dave Fauset, who plays off eight, was down all the way until he won the 17th to go all-square. His opponent then hit it out-of-bounds on the last to gift him the win.

“That made it 3-3 and Seb Lowe then won the final match to get us in the last four.

“I must also praise Bill Parker, who has won all his games so far, while Kevin Clayton notched up some big wins for us.”

In the earlier rounds, Waterlooville knocked out 2010 champions Southsea, before beating Cowes, the 2003 winners, and then accounting for another Isle of Wight team in Freshwater Bay.

The unlucky Ali Murray misses out on the finals, having played in all the earlier rounds, because he is away this weekend. Dave O’Neil is the reserve.

Waterlooville team (handicap): Gary Kimber (4), Seb Lowe (4), Karl Udy (5), Dave Fauset (8), Bill Parker (10), Kevin Clayton (12) and Jay Jeram (12).


Cams Hall County Sevens winners

Last year’s County Sevens champions Cams Hall, who beat Stoneham 5-2. Picture by ANDREW GRIFFIN / AMG PICTURES

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