JRR Scoones reports:
30/04/18: It began with the presenting of trophies. Three* were given to the Old Citizens, great sportsmen and players of the game. And twenty-three**, twenty-three were gifted to the Old Cholmeleians, who above all else desired victory. For within these trophies was bound the strength and the will to defeat every other team. But they were all of them deceived, for another trophy was made. Deep in the land of London, in the fires of Highgate, Phil Hucks presented the Hucks Cup, and into this cup he poured his competitiveness for victory, and his will to dominate. One Cup which meant it all.
One by one, for fourteen years, the Citz and Cholms both fell to the power of the other. After three years of defeat a last alliance of Citz marched against the Cholms and on the very courts of Highgate, they fought for the Cup. Victory was near, but the power of the cup could not be undone. It was in this moment, when all hope had faded, that Cholms took up their gloves.
The Old Citizens, enemy of the Cholms, were defeated. The Cup passed to Richard Smethers, who had this one chance to continue the fixture, but the hearts of men are easily corrupted***. And the Hucks Cup has a will of its own. It betrayed Smethers, to some hidden location in his garage/attic.
And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for forty years, the Cup passed out of all knowledge. Until, when chance came, it ensnared another bearer.
It came to Scoones, who took it deep into the realms of a Highgate house. And there it consumed her. For eight days it poisoned her mind, and in the gloom of Scoones’ room, it waited. Rumour grew of a shadow in the East, whispers of a Old Cholmeleian resurgence, and the Hucks Cup perceived its time had come.
And on the 26th of April 2018 the battle for the Hucks Cup began once more.
On the courts of Highgate, six pairs were destined for history, but the will of The Cup had spread far and wide, and fate had it that 12 Citz and 15 Cholms would answer the call. The sight of the Cup and chocolate prizes on arrival helped to fuel the competitive fire in the bellies of both sides.
Proceedings were kicked off by a babbling compère, with each pair being introduced to a blaring playlist of “Eye of the Tiger” and Mulan’s “I’ll make a man out of you”.
**** At one end of the fixture Saajan Shah and Nick Choustikov took on brothers Ali and CJ Coleman. Tight games, especially in the third, highlighted the season’s improvements but the Cholms were able to maintain their consistency winning 3-0. David Cooper, the only player to have played in the original fixtures forty years ago, graced the courts partnering Abi Jones. They played a switching team of Joe Marks, Chris Griggs and Emily Scoones. Having gone two sets down the Citz pair glimpsed a comeback after winning the third but the Cholms held strong for a 3-1 victory. The third court saw John Reynolds take up his gloves again alongside fellow Citz of Stephen Kelly and Mark Jacobs in a completely mixed up series of games with Cholms Jonny Ho, Tom Halstead and Emily Scoones.
At the business end of the cup, the last Div 2 fixture of the season waged. At third Ashley Lumbard and Ralph Morgan took on Duncan Bloor-Young and Dan Lioubimov-Antonov. A match filled with legendary rallies and great play from both sides, however, it was the Cholms who managed to convert their rallies into points winning 3-1. At second, Nick Gill and Jacob Greenhouse fought valiantly against Abs Bhattacharya and Charles Duah, to produce a tightly scored match. However the Cholms just edged out the Citizens in each set to win 3-0. The match of the evening was Pair one where the Old Cholm pairing of Oli Hallam and Ivan Apukhtin took an early two set lead against Old Citz Chris Ballingall and Mylo Scurr. However it was the Citizen pair who rallied in the third and fourth to level the score. The stage was set and a large crowd gathered to watch, raucously cheering and applauding at the high quality of fives that was unfolding before them. In the end, it was the worthy winners of Mylo and Chris who placed the final blow, winning the Citizens first game of the evening.
Chocolate prizes were awarded to the winners of each match, followed by John Reynolds presenting the Hucks Cup to the Old Cholmeleians who had secured a 5-1 win. A quick scurry then ensued as both teams rushed up to the Bull to put in their food orders before 10pm, and to drink together (including from the forty year old, uncleaned cup.)
As much as this report implies a rivalry, the reality is quite the opposite. The joint Thursday night practices and league teams which contain members from both squads have been crucial to the resurgence and improvement of these two sides. In essence - an alliance once existed between Citizens and Cholmeleians...we are proud to play alongside each other once more.
Until next year…
Thanks go to Richard Smethers for unearthing the cup, John Reynolds for bringing the Hucks Cup to our knowledge, Nick Gill for organising the Citz team, and to both squads who have been such great teams to be a part of for the whole season.
*Hawken-Garrett, Adams Cup and Wood Plate
**Alan Barber Cup victories (time has been distorted)
***Statement exaggerated for dramatic affect and to fit the text– not actually anyone’s fault
****Unless stated otherwise the Old Citizen pairing is always named first