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Halford Hewitt Historic Victory
On Wednesday 9th April the following team gathered in Deal for a practice round in an attempt to emulate the Merchistonian victories of 1970, 1976 and 1987.

1. Martin A Stein (84-89) [63] and Jamie A McIntosh (02-09) [11]

2. Chris M L Cowan (79-85) [70] and Dougie J L Cowan (84-91) [36]

3. Harry J Thomson (72-78) [81] and Michael J Rolland (98-03) [17]

4. John H McKean (75-81) [55] and Robbie W Bremner (85-91) [2]

5. Chris D Smith (96-02) [10] and Ross M Crummey (06-09) [6]

[ ] denotes the number of matches played before this competition.

In attendance were J Colin Briggs (59-63), who was a finalist in 1970 and 1976 and A Morison Zuill (50-55), who played in all 3 winning finals along with Stuart L Briggs (60-65), who played in the 1987 final and whose contribution to the HH event over the years has been outstanding and a key factor.

The team was selected after trial matches and on current performance.

Following a lot of rain in Kent, many water filled bunkers were designated as GUR and the greens, after a slow start, speeded up as the week progressed. The weather was good with a slight breeze throughout the week and the draw looked tough knowing we could face both last year's finalists in Eton and Tonbridge to reach the finals.

Round One

Canford was a very tough start with Stein and McIntosh going out first, losing 2 and 1 to a couple who played 1 under par for the round (I would add that this pair continued to win all their matches thereafter). The first round was eventually won by 3½ to 1½ with 3 games going to the 17th and 18th.

Round Two

Wellington was another tough round with the back 2 pairs having lost; the score was 2 all with the Cowan brothers having to go down the 21st to eventually win. This was a pivotal moment as first Chris produced a brave chip before Dougie had to slot a 10' putt on the 20th to keep us in the game. Going home at this stage would have been demoralising and a huge disappointment to the team as they had not performed to their full potential.

Round Three

Eton faced a backlash from our disappointing performance in the previous round with Stein and McIntosh, Thomson and Rolland both winning by 6 & 5 and the Cowans having to make a birdie to win the match 3½ to 1½. This was a great moment and Morison was seen raising both arms to the sky.

Quarter Final

A tactical change of order versus Tonbridge, with McKean and Bremner leading to establish a vital win. Thomson and Rolland lost a tough match with the youngsters, Smith and Crummy coming in with a win as the fifth pair leaving Stein and McIntosh to decide the match. Stein then rolled in a 20 foot birdie putt on the 19th to put us into the semis with a 3 & 2 win.

Semi Final

Against Dulwich there was a sound team performance with only the Cowans going down after their fierce fights in the previous rounds. Both McKean and Bremner and Smith and Crummey produced strong wins to see us through to our 6th final.

Final

This was Bradfield's third final, having lost their previous two, but the team felt a victory was possible, if we played our best golf, having to compete against a side anxious to win. For the first 9 holes we were ahead in 4 matches. Stein and McIntosh won 4 & 3 and the Cowans having been 3 down with 8 to play won on the 17th after a superb 3 wood to the green by Chris. Thomson hit a wonderful 7 iron to the 17th green as well to enable us to win the first 3 matches making us the winners. At this stage both remaining pairs were ahead Smith and Crummey won and McKean and Bremner were 1 up denying Merchiston a clean sweep.

It was over! Quick showers were followed by the presentations and "Merchiston" was already up in gold lettering on the Honours Board - a proud moment. The Edinburgh Academy won the Plate, so a Scottish double was achieved. Celebrations began!

The Halford Hewitt Competition is fiercely fought over 4 days by 64 schools and the golf is of the highest standard. This victory puts Merchiston in 7th place in the winners' league behind Charterhouse, Harrow, Eton and Tonbridge who are in the top four places.

It was a victory; hard earned and well deserved and down to true Merchiston grit and team spirit. It was also a strong blend of players with all five pairs capable of wins who conducted themselves professionally both on and off the course.

I felt extremely proud and lucky to be part of it.

AE (Sandy) Corstorphine (59-64), Golf Captain

 

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