On Friday 10th June, 12 teams congregated at Old Rutlishians Sports Ground for the annual Wombeldon Rounders event sponsored by Hartley Fowler LLP. All teams boasted a mixture of ages; both male and female in what proved to be a fun and relaxing event which allowed businesses in Wimbledon the chance to compete against each other at the rather challenging (and tiring) sport of rounders.
It was GEM & Co’s first appearance at this event and after turning up and seeing the quality of some of the other sides in their respective warm-ups (some players who we were convinced looked professional) we weren’t expecting to win many matches, let alone go home with the silverware! Our warm up consisted of every member of our team making sure they could throw, catch and hit a tennis ball and a surprisingly organised stretch. Before our first match, our captain, Mat, took on the task of rousing his troops similar to that of many great military personnel in the past. Unfortunately in this instance, despite knowing the importance of winning the first match, we lost in a very close game to Merton Chamber of Commerce by only 3 points, due in part to Gareth Rees accidently throwing his bat and it hitting one of the opposition players! We knew all was not lost as long as we were able to win our next two group games in order to stand an outside chance of sneaking into the semi-final. In our second group game we stuck with the same setup that almost worked a charm in the first game and backed by a strong pitching effort by Elliott Swatton, we were able to comfortably win against IPS Group as we were scored over 100 points which dramatically increased our chances of progressing to the next stage. Buoyed by the confidence and experience gained in our second match, we were able to secure another comfortable win in our final match against Hartley Fowler which left us an agonising wait to see if we had made the final four.
Due to results going our way in the other matches we were put out of our misery by being told that we had indeed gone through to the semi-finals based on our head to head results. Unfortunately, we went through as runners-up of our group which meant we faced a tough match against the winners of the other group which was to be played on their “home” pitch which as we found out later, made the challenge a bit harder for us. We batted first in our semi-final debut and put up a respectable score but knew that we would have to work very hard in the field to win. In order to boost our chances, we made some personnel changes in the field as we had ascertained the three most important positions in the field was the pitcher, catcher and first base. However, our task was complicated as we soon realised that despite playing the same sport on both pitches, the rules slightly differed which took us a bit longer to get used to. Despite these challenges, we managed to edge out a very close game which saw us get a very important out on the last play of the game to book our first ever appearance in the Wombledon Rounders final.
If we thought our route to the final was hard, the team we were about to face would prove to be our most challenging game, not just due to the nature of the match but because it was against the reigning champions who had comfortably won every game and looked unlikely to stop against us. Unlike the semi-final, we fielded first in this game and were able to get Venture Marketing Group all out for just 50 odd runs in part due to a Matthew Rees fielding masterclass as he pretty much singlehandedly caught out their entire team. Chasing one of the lowest scores of the day, we were confident that if we continued to do the same as we had done in previous games then we would be able to get to the total. Naturally due to the pressure of being in a final, the pressure got to a few of our star players, who got out cheaply without contributing as much as they would have wanted to. But as was the nature of our team, we proved that the sum of the team was greater than the individual parts and managed to comfortably get over the total posted by our opposition.
Gem and Co had won the 2016 Wombledon Rounders championships in their first ever appearance!
Winning the trophy was only the icing on the cake in what proved to be a different way to spend an early summer evening. Massive thanks goes to Hartley Fowler LLP for organising and sponsoring this event, as I think I speak for everyone here when I say that this was a thoroughly enjoyable event to be a part of.
We look forward to 2017 where we will be going in with the pressure of being the team to beat which we are looking forward to! Who said we weren’t competitive!
Thank you to Luca Picciano for writing this interesting report for us! Luca who is studying American History at Leicester University is working with us for a few weeks over the summer until he flies off to San Diego to study for a year in the US. Everyone at GEM wishes Luca all the best in his year abroad and we hope to have you back in our team again at next year’s Wombledon Rounders!