On Thursday 13th November Saxon, temporarily exiled from their Twyford home, sent two Epee teams to the Wellesbourne club in High Wycombe. 299 hits later, Saxon emerged victorious. This is how it happened…. The Huscsarles consisted of Captain Fred Thomas, Grant Smith and Gordon Collett. The Fyrd were lead by Kin-Ming Looi with Catherine De Graca and Chris Thackery as his loyal acolytes. Wellesbourne, weakened by the absence of of a couple of their stalwarts, fielded slightly below strength teams. Wellesbourne A was made up of Malcolm a tall bearded fencer who fences at the top level of British veterans, Nigel another veteren and a compact pricise fencer and Ian a foilist drafted in for the night. Wellesbourne B was a far more youthful team, made up of three young tyros gaining competition experience; Chase,Matt and Kaylee.
Fred kicked of the Huscarles match with Wellesbourne A off with a comfortable 5-2 win over Nigel. Gordon then came up against Malcolm who turned out to be the bedrock of the Wellesbourne team. Although not the most mobile epeeist, he is a superb swordsman with some immaculate bladework. Gordon charged in repeatedly but his point never seemed to find its target and the three point lead became a three point deficit as he handed over to Grant 10-7 down. Grant girded his loins and with a determined set to his jaw, set about Wellesbournes 3rd fencer Ian. Keeping his oponent at a distance and attacking his vulnerable foilists’s arm Grant scored 8 points without reply to put Saxon back in the lead. Cap’n Fred was confident that if the Huscarles could contain Malcolm, they could outscore the other fencers sufficiently to take the match. Godon then exchanged hits with Nigel, surrendering just one point of Saxon’s lead. Fred reopened the gap with a clinical 5-0 disection of Ian. Grant then faced Malcolm and following Fred’s advice he took doubles where they were offered, yielded 4 points of Saxon’s lead, but they still had plenty to spare. Wellesbourne’s Ian was substituted for another, far taller Ian who looked for more comfortable with an epee in his hand. Gordon’s radar started to recalibrate and he beat him 5-4, followed by a precise, patient, 5-1 victory by Grant over Nigel. This set up the climax to the match between the two Captains. Fred, however, was carrying a 10 point lead into the final leg and well though Malcolm fenced he was never going to make this up against the beau of Saxon Fencing. He pulled back a couple of points but the Huscarles came through 45-38 winners.
Across the hall, the Fyrd were taking on Wellesbourne B in a rollercoaster match. Skipper Ming started well with a 5-1 win over Kaylee. The tall, slim enthusiastic Chase then made his first appearance against Catherine, turning over the Fyrd’s early lead to go 10-8 ahead. Chris then showed the the fine form he was in that night by once again reversing the scoreline, beating Matt 7-1 to give saxon a 4 point lead. From then on Saxon ploughed on inexorably. They only conceeded 3 more hits in the next 5 bouts, with Catherine whitewashing her next two oponents, Ming dispatching Matt 5-2 and Chris having none of the problems his team mates had with Chase, beating him 5-1. The match still had one last twist however. Going into the final leg, between Ming and Chase, the Saxons had a 26 point advantage. This started vanishing rapidly as Chase hit Ming again and again. By the time Ming, to his relief, had secured the 5 points needed for victory, Chase had scored 13 points agaist him, giving the Wellesbourne scoreline some respectibility. It was still thumping Saxon win, however, 45-27. The Wellesbourne B vs. Saxon Huscarles bout was somewhat of a mismatch, the technique and experience of the Saxons being too much for the young Wellesbourne fencers. Chase was the pick of the Wellesbourne team, being tall, athletic and fast. He managed to best Gordon 7-5 in their leg, Gordons tip control still being slightly wayward, but was easily picked off by the more patient Grant and Fred. When his temprement and technique catch up with his vigour, he may well be an excellent fencer in the future. Kaylee moved very well on the piste with great balance and poise, but struggled to make touches count and Matt fenced with great spirit, but was exposed by some basic technical flaws and the three Saxons handled them confidently . The Huscarles finished comfortable 45-19 victors.
To square the circle, the Fyrd fenced Wellesbourne A. Chris started the Saxons off well, beating Nigel 5-3. Ming then kept Saxon in touch, yielding only 3 points to the strong Malcolm to take the score to 10-9 to Wellesbourne. Catherine just about held her own, going down 5-3 but keeping Saxon in touch at 15-12 down. Chris in one of his remarkable bouts that night scored 12 to Ian’s 5 and Saxon found themselves with a one point lead at the half way point. Unfortunately this precipitated a middle order collapse which England cricket team would be proud of. Katherine and Ming conceding the next 11 points without reply against Malcolm and Ian. Nigel’s 5-3 victory over Catherine stretched the gap further, handing over to Chris 40-28 down. Again akin to an England cricket team, Chris saved his best for what was basically a dead rubber. He scored repeatedly against the previously undefeated Malcolm, outscoring him 8-5, but deficit was always too big and at the end of a dramatic match, Wellesbourne A came out 45-36 winners.
So how did the Saxons fence? Fred was his normally classy, if left handed, self. Grant had one of his better tournaments, being patient, focused and ruthless were neccessary. Both Gordon and Ming have have had more glorious night in their fencing careers than this one, both not quite being on top form and each having two or three bouts which they will rather forget. Catherine fenced some excellent legs, including her two 5-0s and held her own against some of the stronger fencers. Chris, though, was the Saxon fencer of the night. He was the only fencer on either side to win all six of his legs, the only fencer to beat Malcolm and had the best indicators in the competition by a good margin. Saxon selectors take note!