Vintage 1999 Cup Winners enjoy a wonderful Reunion.

On Friday 24th November at Giamcomos restaurant, Martin Day rounded up a wonderful bunch of men who are, they believe, the first Sevenoaks team to win a national competition, winning the EHA Vintage Cup Final on 9th May 1999. They beat Bury St Edmunds at the then newly opened and short lived National Hockey Stadium in Milton Keynes.The match ended in a 2-2 draw. Oaks were leading 2-1 with goals by Steve Stowell and Chunky Goulstone when in the last couple of minutes Bury equalised with a penalty stroke. There was no extra time, the match going straight to a penalty stroke competition, which was not without incident with Peter Evans the listed first taker having his face split open by Steve Stowell in the stroke warm up but Oaks came through 5-4 with Ian Haffenden saving Bury’s attempt to equalise at 5-4. Also Chris Sykes played with a broken wrist encased in plaster which was hidden from the officials by playing in a long sleeved button down shirt!

All this was captured on VHS tape by Joyce Sykes and a copy was found in someone’s attic which Simon Stafforth, our renowned TV director edited and converted to DVD. (Hopefully this can be put on the website at some point – watch this space)

The event was notable in that our match (Over 50’s) being the least important of Finals Day, started at 0830 and the coach/manager combination of Ian and Sue Pinks had the team out doing a half hour team stretch walk round the streets and roundabouts of Milton Keynes at 0630! The great thing for us was the bang on 0830 a big posse of club members turned up and gave tremendous vocal encouragement and learned later that this was the best supported match of the day.

So it was decided that it would be nice to have a reunion now whilst everybody is still around.!

Team members coming down from Cumbria and Rutland, as well as ones living more locally. One member who had not been seen since the infamous semi final trip to Guernsey two years later took some tracing but was eventually tracked down with the help of Sarah Jane Marshall who overheard  MD talking about not being able to find him but she had kept in touch with his daughter and messaged her on facebook which led to contact being made, only the week before and this event had been in planning since December last year!

The squad for the final was Ian Haffenden (GK) Chris Sykes, Nigel Gaymer, Richard Arkle, Brian Rawlins, David Perry, Richard Memmott (Captain) Owen Smith, Peter Evans, Chunky Goulstone, Martin Day, Stephen Stowell, Peter Smith. Manager/Coach Sue and Ian Pinks.

All the team, apart from Chris Sykes who was at his son’s wedding in Edinburgh and some of the wives who travelled with the team to Milton Keynes turned up at Giacomos Restaurant in Weald for a brilliant celebratory dinner followed by a viewing of the edited highlights DVD.

Where are they all now? -: Firstly they are all now retired. Captain Richard Memmott, to the surprise of all his friends has recently decamped to Oakham in Rutland. He also spends quite a lot of time in South Africa. The wanderlust has got to him as he and his wife Nina have undertaken several long distance hikes into deepest Africa and even Burma but he still finds time to play a good game of golf and he promises to keep in touch with his many friends in Sevenoaks. Some are still involved in hockey, Stephen Stowell apart from playing regularly for the Over 50/60’s Old Oaks sides, became an England O60s star playing and captaining them to a winning World Cup and followed on by playing for the O65s and has now joined the England O70s.! Martin Day, the scourge of umpires has become poacher turned gamekeeper and umpires the Old Oaks teams. Brian Rawlins has retired from being for many years a brilliant club umpire organiser but still continues to umpire club sides. Owen Smith demonstrated his entrepreneurial skills in project managing the building of the new Hollybush pitch. Pete Smith only stopped playing last season, but has found a new coming as a steeplechasing horse owner and ironically his horse Pete the Feet won last seasons big race for veteran horses at Sandown Park.

Of the others, Peter Evans, former Headmaster of Solefield School, retired to his native Cumbria but he and his wife Fran like to immerse themselves in third world countries which Peter says have not yet become too developed. Prolonged visits usually on a small motor bike with all their possessions in a small bag strapped to the petrol tank, have taken them into the jungles of Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma and also wilder parts of Central American. Chris Sykes being an intrepid oil man continued working until quite recently. Work took him to Holland, Milan and then to Kazakhstan, Dubai and even Iraq. No wonder the Knowle Park Golf Club has now become his No.1 destination. David ‘Super Long Distance Runner’ Perry overcame a major illness and is now fighting fit again and walks four miles everyday. Nigel Gaymer now lives in deep Sussex and has become Financial Director of St Michaels Hospice in St Leonards. He has taken his love of animals somewhat seriously and their home is surrounded by ponies, sheepdogs, pigs, the odd sheep or two and ducks,hens,geese and guinea fowl and even a tame turkey! Fortunately the ferrets have now gone. Chunky Goulstone has new knees and plays even more golf then he did before. Richard Ankle vanished from Sevenoaks but was discovered two weeks before the reunion hiding in Bexhill happily retired and playing a lot of golf and finally goalkeeper Ian ‘Left-foot’ Haffenden was until quite recently teaching games at Sevenoaks School but still looks after the school greenhouses whilst continuing to prepare cricket pitches in the summer.

What a handsome bunch and how fantastic to have a lovely reunion. Well done to all involved.