The Handicap Cup competition is open to all teams in the league and was originally played as a straight Knockout Cup - this favoured the stronger teams and so from the 1977-78 season it was changed to a handicapped event and has since seen teams from all divisions enjoy success. Towcester A achieved a rare double by securing the Handicap Cup and League Team Champions title in the 2009-10 season; only two teams had previously achieved this feat under handicap conditions - Pattishall A in 1984-85 followed by Farthingstone A in 1997-78.
A new Handicap Cup trophy was presented to the league by Mrs Pat Grant in 2012 in memory of her husband Kevin - an officer, supporter and friend of the league for many years.
2016-17 COMPETITION Organised by Mike Perry
Bugbrooke B (295) are beginning to follow in their A team's footsteps with results suggesting almost perfect handicapping. Their latest victory by just two points over Towcester D (293) saw them beat the handicap in just four of the ten matches, but once they had secured a two point lead after the second singles they refused to be overtaken. Both teams twice engineered individual swings of 10 or 11 points but after the final singles Bugbrooke still had a four point advantage and they held their nerve in the decisive doubles. Top-ranked player Leon Rodgers led the way with a cumulative +12 points though this was mostly wiped out by Mike Hobson's -11 reverse. Jack Colby also contributed a creditable +3 points. For Towcester, in form Fred Wakefield top-scored with +15 and was backed up by Mike Perry's +7.
The Fledglings (363) yet again refused to have their wings clipped by Division One opponents. Towcester B (304) may be favourites to bag their first ever League Champions title, but only the top-ranked Nick Howard could make any headway against the handicaps and playing of Benjy, Josh and Bob. John McMahon and Dave Howard lost six games in total to the rampant Daventry team and although after the first round of singles Towcester were only nine points adrift, this got progressively worse. All three Daventry players ended with positive points totals versus handicap with Josh the leader on +29 courtesy of 18 and 15 point swings against Dave and John respectively. Nick (+15) led his team well and beat the handicap in each of his three singles but the Fledglings attacking play once again proved to be the decisive factor.
Round Three matches w/c 27th February
The biggest shock yet in the competition was served up by Daventry Fledglings (392) versus their senior Aces team (315). Benjy Gatward, Josh Adams and Bob Read immediately put the Division One team under pressure by taking a five point lead in each of the first three singles. Oleg Plugaru mitigated this somewhat with a +seven point swing as he beat Bob 11-2, 11-0, 11-3, but this was immediately undone as Benjy secured an 11-9, 11-9, 8-11 result and +18 points versus Aled Roberts. Even at this stage, some twentysix points behind, the Aces might have found something up their collective sleeves, but they only managed to beat the handicap in one more match and so slumped to a heavy defeat. Their best results ironically were in the two matches where they faced the biggest points handicap. Benjy +44 and Josh +24 were the big points winners for the Fledglings.
Another travelling Daventry team suffered comprehensively and despite being runaway leaders of Division Three, the Newcomers (256) lost out to Division Two's Towcester D (320). Daventry drafted in occasional player Carl Davidson in place of top-ranked John Osborne and Carl performed well for his team, achieving most points versus handicap, but Daventry's downfall was masterminded by Towcester's talisman Ken Sawyer who amassed an overall 39 points versus handicap. Daventry either beat the handicap or were within five points in five of the nine singles but the Sawyer effect did the damage and perhaps was clearest when he faced similarly ranked Rod Rouse (who had beaten him comfortably in league play) and stormed to an 11-8, 11-4, 11-6 victory. Ken's fellow Towcestrians Fred Wakefield (+8) and Mike Perry (+9) also weighed in with modest gains.
How to handicap the top of Division One versus the middle of Division Three? Towcester B (329) proved that they could not afford to give away a single easy point to the ladies of Bugbrooke E (328). In a topsy turvy match where the lead continually changed, Towcester won 38 of 39 games (five of them being ungallant but vital 11-0 scores against Sue Gibbons), and the exception was a laudable 11-10 win for Jane Hobson against Dave Allen. In the final analysis, Jane's cumulative +11 points mirrored that of the league's top player Nick Howard and in their head-to-head match their scores were also tied. Both teams secured four points wins, the remaining two matches being drawn. Liz Davison beat the handicap in two of her singles and finished on +4 which was almost matched by David Howard on +2. These fine margins culminated in a doubles where Bugbrooke achieved 7, 1 and 5 points to pull a single point back over the handicap but lost the overall match by the one point.
Round Two matches w/c 23rd January
As the higher division team, Towcester D were asked to give just shy of 100 handicap points to Yardley Gobion Dogs and the latters must have been delighted to keep their noses in front all the way up to the start of the seventh match. However that signalled a run of crucial swings against handicap for the Towcester trio of Fred Wakefield (+10), Mike Perry (+9) and Phil Stewart (+5) versus Les Freeland, Paul Wragg and Ray Wood respectively which effectively meant the Yardley team had to win each game of the doubles. Les and Paul pulled back ten points versus the handicap but it was not enough and Towcester secured the tie by thirteen points. Phil (+15) and Ray (+5) were their team's most successful players.
Riding high at the top of Division One, Towcester B (300) played without their top player Nick Howard versus Gayton B (274) and by beating the handicap in six out of the ten matches they kept themselves in front throughout. Gayton's Bhanu Chadalavada gave his side a chance with an 11-4, 11-5, 11-7 win and a thirteen point swing versus John McMahon, but this was immediately nullified by David Allen's seventeen point advantage over Alan Creed. In the final instance, big swings for Towcester's two Davids - Allen (+30) and Howard (+20) were too much for Gayton for whom Bhanu top scored with +5.
If Gayton C (312) had an easy ride in the previous round, this was surely forgotten versus Yardley Gobion Eagles (310) who, despite being without top player Dave Nicholls, very nearly overturned their handicap disadvantage, narrowly losing their three point lead before the doubles to end up just two points down. Gayton's Jonathon Taylor bagged ten points versus handicap in his first singles against Dave Lyden and then played to par. Teammate Tom Chaplin did even better, beating his handicap in all three singles for a combined +13. Eagles were always in touch in this see-saw match, Dan Lyden and Martin Sheaf both securing positive points totals versus handicap, but the final doubles which saw Gayton grab 11, 4 and 10 points proved to be their undoing.
No team can claim more dramatic results over the last couple of years than Bugbrooke A (317) and their usual trio took on their B team (319), featuring Leon Rodgers, Mike Hobson and reserve Jack Colby. Six of the nine singles sets were decided by zero, one or two points but it took just one stunning result by Leon against Rick Bastin 11-9, 11-5, 11-6 to put the B team in prime position. That said, a commendable effort by Rob George and Greg Norden in winning the doubles 11-3, 11-2, 11-1 failed only by a couple of points. Leon (+7) and Rob (+15) top scored for their teams.
Runaway Division Three leaders Daventry Newcomers (335) hosted Division One's Towcester A (326) who fielded two strong reserves. The first eight singles were each decided by three points or less and Towcester's Mayur Shah, Frank Whiteley and Rebecca Kimber won every single game and seemed to have done enough to secure the match especially when the final singles saw Rebecca gain a net seven points against John Osbourne for an overall seven point lead. However a final doubles twist was in store as Daventry's Adam Read and John Osbourne engineered a massive sixteen point swing versus Mayur and Rebecca to snatch victory. Adam (0) and Rebecca (+8) top scored.
A definite minnows versus sharks match ensued as Bugbrooke E (315) took on Daventry Aces (330) and although Oleg Plugaru, Aled Roberts and Kal Singh unsurprisingly won every one of the thirty games, the average swing per set was only 1.9 points. Unfortunately for Mike Chambers, Allen Dale and Ryan Webb the majority went in Daventry's favour. Ryan (+2) and Oleg (+5) top scored.
Round One matches w/c 5th December
In a round characterised mostly by the number of byes, the number of walkovers was also unusually high.
However, Daventry Fledglings (324) and Rothersthorpe (301) played out a competitive fixture, eventually won by Daventry by 23 points, in which both sides secured/suffered big swings versus the handicaps. Nevertheless the Daventry trio of Ben Gatward, Bob Read and Josh Adams seemed always to have their noses in front until the sixth match when a great effort from Dan Giugno versus Bob secured a 16 point swing and dragged Rothersthorpe into a slender 2 point lead. Unfortunately for them, Daventry then turned the screw and in the remaining matches hardly put a foot wrong in amassing a further 25 points against the handicap. Most successful players were Daventry's Josh Adams (+22) and Rothersthorpe's Dan Giugno (+10).
A strong Yardley Gobion Eagles side (327) comprising Dave Nicholls, Dan and Dave Lyden hosted Towcester E (310) and despite the latters restricting their much higher ranked hosts to swings of 3 points or less in seven of the ten matches, the final task proved just too difficult. A highlight for Towcester was a 16 point swing for Jay Jayasundara versus Dave Lyden. Dan (+11) and Jay (+15) top scored for their teams.
Bugbrooke C (254) agreed to a postponement with Gayton C (307) but missed their captain Neil Osborne and although six of the ten matches finished with a difference of four points or less, three big result swings in favour of Gayton meant they sauntered to an easy away win. Clive Hudson (+29), Jonathon Taylor (+18) and Veronica Downing (+3) all finished with positive points totals.
2015-16 COMPETITION Organised by Peter Kent
Towcester C (314) emerged victorious as Bugbrooke A (313) lost their second successive final by an agonising 1 point. Bugbrooke's regular trio of Greg Norden, Robert George and Rick Bastin had recently celebrated their first League Champions Division One title whilst Towcester C had comfortably secured the Division Two title. However Fred Wakefield's absence meant that Frank Whiteley and Mike Perry had to draft in Nathan Ogden - and what an impact that substitution created.
Rankings spread from 12 (Greg) to 52 (Mike) and Towcester had to score approximately 6 points per game. They started in the best possible fashion and the first four matches (which included Frank's shock 11-7, 11-9, 6-11 result versus Rick) saw them equal or beat the handicap for a cumulative 8 point lead. Robert clawed back 7 points against Mike, then Greg followed this up with a 10 point swing versus Frank and for the first time Bugbrooke had edged in front. However, just two matches later this was turned on its head by super-sub Nathan who bagged a net 16 points with a stunning 11-5, 4-11, 11-9 sequence against Greg. With one singles and the doubles to play, Bugbrooke were now 13 points adrift but the resolute Robert refused to buckle and he secured a telling 11-3, 11-4, 11-5 win against Frank for a cumulative 1 point lead for Bugbrooke.
In the doubles, Towcester repeated their successful semi final strategy of fielding the pair with the highest handicap which meant Nathan and Mike had to achieve 6 points per game versus Greg and Robert. This they failed to do in the first two games, the Bugbrooke pair winning 11-5, 11-5. However the tension ramped up as the final end was played and resulted in a jubilant Towcester grabbing 8 points and the Kevin Grant trophy by a single point.
Nathan (+18) and Robert (+20) top scored for their teams.
Towcester B (302) lost to Towcester C (322) in a game of two halves. The very first singles between Richard Pringuer and Frank Whiteley was a scratch match and could hardly have been more closely contested, with Frank edging ahead with a 10-11, 11-10, 11-10 scoreline. However the next four singles all went the B team's way as Richard, Nick and David Howard amassed a cumulative 15 point lead. But then the tide turned - Fred Wakefield pinched a game from David for a 5 point swing and Mike Perry gained a further 2 points with a highly creditable effort versus Nick. A scratch match between Frank and David saw the former win all three games for a 9 point bonus and an overall 1 point lead for the C team and this was backed up by Fred's 5 point contribution versus Richard. This stunning turnaround and a strategic decision not to field their top player in the doubles meant the C team needed to score just 11 more points which they did in style with a 7-11, 11-6, 7-11 sequence. Nick (+12) top scored for the B team whilst each of the C team trio achieved parity or better.
Daventry Fledglings (301) lost to Bugbrooke A (330), the latter team finally winning a round by more than the smallest handful of points. However, this doesn't tell the full story because five of the ten matches were decided by a single point and approaching the halfway stage the cumulative points difference was just three in Bugbrooke's favour. The turning point came when first Daventry's Rod Rouse and then Frances Dickson both lost ground to the super steady Robert George, with a run of -2, -3, 0, -1, -2, 0 scores. Robert (+15) and Bob Read (+4) ended as top players for their respective teams.
This result means that Bugbrooke could possibly achieve the very rare double of league team champions and Handicap Cup winners.
Round Three matches w/c 29th February
Towcester B (330) beat Rothersthorpe (317) in a match where the Division One side duly won every game but which saw the teams' combined points totals reach parity on two occasions. Rothersthorpe held a slim 2 point lead after match eight when Gareth Clarke secured a noteworthy net +6 points against top player Nick Howard. However this was immediately wiped out by the biggest swing of the night when Richard Pringuer beat David Carrigan 11-0, 11-2, 11-2 for a net +9 points. Richard (+15) and Gareth (+8) ended up as their team's top players.
Wappenham (304) lost to Towcester C (329) although with only two matches to play Wappenham led the combined scores by 3 points. An under par Dave Nicholls then lost all three games and a net -17 points to Fred Wakefield which meant Wappenham could only concede 3 points in the doubles. This was an impossible task and Towcester bagged 28 points and a surprising victory. Mike Perry and Fred both secured a net +14 points, whilst Peter Trunk (+19) top scored for Wappenham.
Daventry Fledglings (323) beat Gayton B (311) despite Gayton leading the combined scores on five occasions and their top player Bhanu Chadalavada beating the handicap by a net +19 points. Daventry's biggest moves came courtesy of Rod Rouse who turned in a stunning performance against Mark North 11-8, 11-4, 5-11 and then Frances Dickson against the same player for a total 25 point swing.
Bugbrooke A (330) beat Gayton C (322) - Bugbrooke, who might just be harbouring aspirations of their first league Division One title since 1979, continued their Cup run of narrow victories. Gayton had an average +20 points handicap for each of the ten matches and started well enough in their first two singles by adding another 2 points to their cumulative lead. However the next two matches saw a swing to Bugbrooke of 11 points and this topsy turvy sequence continued for the whole match. Unfortunately for Gayton, Bugbrooke's mid-point lead of 4 points could not be shaken and was further bolstered by a crushing (and, in different circumstances, unusually ungallant) win for Greg Norden over Veronica Downing 11-1, 11-1, 11-0. By the end of the match, Gayton had beaten the net handicap 6 times and Bugbrooke 4 times. Clive Hudson (+8) starred for Gayton and Greg Norden (+11) for Bugbrooke.
Round Two matches w/c 25th January
Towcester B (320) beat Yardley Gobion Eagles (314) - Six of the nine singles matches were decided by either 1 or 2 points but the Towcester trio of Nick Howard, David Howard and Richard Pringuer managed to keep their noses in front for virtually the whole match despite the efforts of Dan, Dave and Dean Lyden. Eagles' best result came courtesy of Dan who grabbed a net 8 point swing against David in the penultimate singles for an overall 1 point lead but this result was then matched by Richard versus Dave. Allowing for the handicap, Eagles had to score 22 points over the three doubles games and this was just too big an ask. Dan (+8), Nick and Richard (both +7) top-scored for their teams.
Rothersthorpe (338) beat Towcester A (327) and after the first three singles the Division Three team of Clive Appleton, Dan Guigno and Gareth Clarke had jumped into a 16 point lead. The remaining six singles were then amazingly close and each resulted in a net swing of zero or one point only, but for the Towcester trio of Ian Brown, Mayur Shah and reserve Phil Stewart the damage had been done and even a 33-0 nil in the doubles would have meant an overall loss by a single point. In the event, they won 11-3, 11-2, 11-5 and lost by 11. Phil (+6) fared best for Towcester and Dan (+14) for Rothersthorpe.
Daventry Developers (304) lost to Wappenham (318) in a match where seven of the ten matches were decided by 5 points or less, but crucially the only one which went Daventry's way was the very first of the evening when George Iacovides secured a single point lead versus Peter Trunk. By match eight, Daventry had closed to within 4 points but could make no further inroads. The Wappenham trio of Peter (+5), Neil Colby (+4) and son Jack (+1) all managed to bag a positive points total, whilst Steve Martin (+8) was Daventry's top performer.
Bugbrooke D (303) lost to Towcester C (321) and although the Bugbrooke trio of Liz Davison, Jane Hobson and Sue Gibbons were all ranked lower than their opponents, they did win four single games and started well as Liz gained a net 6 points versus Fred Wakefield. However the strength of Frank Whiteley and Mike Perry proved difficult for the Bugbrooke ladies and it took a commendable effort from Jane to wrest a net 13 points from Fred to close within a cumulative 10 points at the start of match nine. Alas even this didn't quite suffice as Frank then secured an 11-1, 11-2, 11-3 result versus Sue which gave Towcester a net 2 point lead for the doubles which they duly won 11-7, 11-2, 11-8. Frank (+18) and Mike (+16) bagged most points for Towcester.
Daventry Fledglings v Roade - The latter team unable to field a side and so Fledglings fly though by default.
Gayton B (298) beat Gayton A (291) - Perhaps the absence of Gayton A's top player Andy Wood gave the B team a mental boost, but in any event they started well and after the first three singles Bhanu Chadalavada, Alan Creed and Mark North had forged a 14 point lead. Mick Henderson, Suraj Ajit and Jim Brogan chipped away at this lead and the penultimate singles saw Mick achieve a +12 result versus Alan to bring the cumulative match scores level. Jim then put in a remarkable effort against the B team's top player Bhanu and the A team took a slim 3 point lead into the doubles. However this reverse seemed only to spur the B team on and they won the tie with an 11-7, 11-8, 11-9 sequence. Interestingly, although Mick (+5) and Suraj (+3) managed to beat the cumulative handicap, only Mark (+1) did so for the winners.
Bugbrooke A (327) beat Bugbrooke B (325) in the closest result of the competition so far. The senior team's match handicap equated to a negative 168 points - just over 5 a game - and despite sneaking a net 3 point lead in the very first singles match (Rob George v Nigel Corbett) it wasn't until the start of match nine that they again had their noses in front - and that by just 1 point. Rob again just shaded the handicap versus Neil Osborne to give an improved 5 point lead (net -12) for the doubles and although Nigel and Mike Wincott clawed a net 3 points back, their effort fell just short. Greg Norden (+8) and Neil Osborne (+9) top-scored for their teams.
Gayton C (335) beat Everdon (283) - A very disappointing result for Everdon who had already beaten Gayton twice in the league, but on the night although half of the matches saw a net difference of less than 5 points, other big swings went Gayton's way and they strolled to an easy win. Clive Hudson (+35) and Tom Chaplin (+17) were the top players.
In the four matches completed in Round One, the winning margins ranged from just 5 to 16 points and the closest of these was a topsy turvy affair between Daventry Rookies and Rothersthorpe. Despite individual wins and losses, each team's cumulative total was perfectly matched twice throughout the match, including before the doubles which ended 32 - 27 in Rothersthorpe's favour. Jack King (+9) for Rookies and Rothersthorpe's Gareth Clarke (+36) were the top players.
Gayton B won every single game in their fixture versus Yardley Gobion Dogs, though nine of the ten matches resulted in a difference of 5 points or less. Gayton started the doubles just 6 points ahead and held this lead for a 330 - 324 win. Bhanu Chadalavada (+8) was the star player in this match.
Yardley Eagles dropped just one end versus Bugbrooke E - a remarkable 11-7 game for Ryan Webb versus Dave Lyden and five of the ten matches ended with a difference of a single point. From the third match on however Eagles managed to hold a slim lead and they duly ended up winners by 13 points, 326 - 313. Martin Sheaf and Dan Lyden for Eagles and Bugbrooke's Ryan Webb each secured a net +7 points for their team.Bugbrooke B won all the games against Towcester D but the difference in six of the ten matches was five points or less. At the start of match five Bugbrooke had secured a cumulative lead of four points and they built gradually on this to complete a 16 point victory, 330 - 314. Bugbrooke's Nigel Corbett (+13) was the stand-out player.
2014-15 COMPETITION Organised by Peter Kent
The Cup Final of a competition characterised by close results saw Division One runners-up Bugbrooke A face the daunting task of overcoming the young Division Three Daventry Fledglings comprising star player Rebecca Kimber, Catherine Woollard and Rachel Lewis. The Bugbrooke trio of Greg Norden, Rob George and Rick Bastin had a handicap penalty averaging at more than 8 points for each of the 30 games although by achieving a sprinkling of 0 and 1 scores throughout the evening, they managed to beat this in 13 games and beat the head-to-head handicap in 5 of the 10 matches.
Greg started the contest well and against Catherine put his team ahead by 4 points but little did Bugbrooke know it would be the only time they had their noses in front. Rebecca seemed not to have heard about the tricky defensive skills of Robert and with freedom of attacking play she promptly earned a net 9 points and then followed this up with another net 7 points versus Greg. Rick put the brakes on this onslaught with a 2, 5, 1 sequence for a net 3 points gain and he finally ended up as the most successful player (+5) for his team.
After 8 of the 10 matches, Bugbrooke had closed to within 3 points of Daventry, but no-one from either side could have guessed at what would happen next as Catherine (the sole representative of last year's Cup winning team) secured an amazing result -6, -6, -7 against Robert - equating to a net 11 points gain which put the tie at least 5 points beyond Bugbrooke before the doubles was played.
Bugbrooke completed the match to achieve their maximum 330 points, albeit some 16 points shy of the Fledglings, who had retained the Cup for Daventry juniors.
2013 -14 COMPETITION Organised by Peter Kent.
The Cup Final between Everdon B (Rod Rouse, Bob Read, Kal Singh) and Daventry Developers (Benji Gatward, Frances Dickson, Catherine Woollard) was played at Bugbrooke on Monday 31st March (Annual Tournament Finals night.)
Two of the Everdon team were members of last season's Cup winning team whilst Daventry comprised the youngsters in their first league season and with a handicap advantage averaging out at just under 5 points per game. All the Daventry players played their part in keeping the cumulative point score tantalisingly ahead of their opponents and Benji Gatward showed why he was Daventry's top player as he impressed with a 9-11, 10-11, 5-11 sequence versus Kal Singh and a 10-11, 11-6, 10-11 score against Bob Read.
Everdon battled hard to keep their crown and with three matches to go had closed the gap to just 8 points but then Benji produced another shock versus the reliably parsimonious Rod Rouse 4-11, 10-11, 11-7. The overall gap increased to 12 points and by the end of the final doubles Everdon found the handicap and their young opponents just too tough to crack. Daventry won the Kevin Grant trophy by 11 points and Mrs Pat Grant was on hand to congratulate both teams for an entertaining and competitive match.
2012-13 COMPETITION Organised by Andy Wood.
The Cup Final between Everdon C and Gayton D was played at Bugbrooke on Monday 22nd April. Both teams had ended the season as the top two in Division Three - Gayton D as champions and Everdon C as runners up. Gayton were undefeated throughout the season and the only matches Everdon had lost were two 6-4 losses to Gayton, so another close result was expected. Everdon had the slimmest of handicap benefit - just 19 points over the 30 games.
Gayton's top player Clive Hudson got his team off to a good start, winning 10-11, 11-6, 11-4 versus Bob Cattell, but Everdon's Rod Rouse restored parity with an 11-9, 7-11, 11-4 sequence against Paul Bennett. Gayton's players were all seeded marginally higher than their opponents and in singles they duly racked up 15 game wins versus 12 for Everdon, but the closeness of this match was borne out as no player achieved a 3-0 result until the final singles of the night and a third of the total games played ended 11-10 or 11-9.
With just the final doubles match to be played, Gayton held a 4 point lead but this was wiped out as Rod Rouse and Bob Read took the first end 11-6. Gayton's Clive Hudson and Paul Bennett responded with an 11-9 score to take a 1 point lead into the final game of the Final. Gayton had only lost one doubles all season and had beaten Everdon twice, but the Everdon pair held their nerve to secure an 11-8 final end victory and after a match of 556 points they captured the Cup by 2 points!
Pat Grant was on hand with the magnificent trophy to congratulate all the players on an amazing Cup Final.