In the last high goal match of Cowdray Park’s 2019 season, the Final of the historic Challenge Cup, first presented in 1911, was played between Jonathan Rothermere’s Ferne Park and Alessandro Bazzoni’s Monterosso sides, writes Liz Higgins.
Playing for Jonathan Rothermere were Richard Le Poer (5 goals) at number 2, Joaquin Pittaluga (7 goals) at 3 and Rodrigo Rueda (6 goals) at Back, making up the 18 goal team. Alessandro Bazzoni playing off 1 goal was joined by young guns Jose Ramon Araya (3 goals) at 2, Bartolomé Castagnola (6 goals) at 3 and the experienced 8 goaler Ignacio Toccalino at Back.
Five frantic minutes of non-stop action opened the match until a super pass from Toccalino to Araya resulted in the first goal for Monterosso. In chukka 2, Toccalino started the drive for the next goal, Castagnola picking up the ball and sending it to Bassoni who finished the play with goal number 2.
Once again Toccalino went on the attack passing a super ball to Bassoni but the patron’s shot went wide. Le Poer saved the next Monterosso attempt at goal and superfast end to end play saw Le Poer’s own attempt at goal thwarted by Toccalino. Rueda swooped in to try and re-gain possession but fouled Castagnola in the process. A free hit sent the ball to Bazzoni via Castagnola and another great goal from the patron put 3-0 on the scoreboard.
On the way to Monterosso’s goal mouth Rueda left the ball for Le Poer who backed through a neat shot to give Ferne Park their first goal, but from the throw-in Toccalino and Castagnola had full possession of the ball taking it all the way to 4-1 to end the chukka.
Shortly into chukka 3 Araya stole the ball from Le Poer, Castagnola picked it up and it was 5-1 to Monterosso. His next attempt went wide giving Le Poer the chance to race off and pass to Pittaluga in the hope of making it to the Monterosso goal, but the ever-present Castagnola snatched it away and was soon running through the posts again to make it 6-1 in Monterosso’s favour. The throw-in was won by Ferne Park and as Rothermere looked to pick up a useful pass from Pittaluga he was fouled. A 30 yard penalty was awarded which Le Poer put through and the first half ended at 6-2 to Monterosso.
A hit from the boards started the second half. Le Poer stole the ball from under Castagnola’s stick and raced away to score. Hard and fast play continued with once again Toccalino playing to all of his 8 goals and Castagnola the expert back-up. Together they ran the ball again to Fern Park’s goal mouth with Araya waiting to flick it through for 7-3. Ferne Park won the next throw-in, but in the ensuring tussle two consecutive whistles finally gave the side a penalty which Pittaluga accurately sent through from 40 yards. Castagnola raced off from the next throw-in, lost the ball but Toccalino was on hand to see it between the posts and Monterosso ended the fourth chukka 8-4 ahead.
The final chukka saw Rueda on the move from the off, fighting all the way to the goal mouth to pull one back for Ferne Park. Le Poer tried desperately for another goal but his attempt went wide. Toccalino brought the ball back in, Bassoni was set to carry it forward but was fouled in the process. Toccalino scored from the 40 yard penalty awarded and it was all over for Ferne Park, Monterosso victorious at 9-5.
Mrs Emma McRae presented the prestigious trophy to a delighted Alessando Bazzoni and prizes to all players. The Most Valuable Player prize sponsored by Le Chameau went to Ignacio Toccalino and the Schweppes Best Playing Pony rug went to Merengada played by Jose Araya.