Black Bears’ Guy Schwarzenbach lifted the mighty Indian Empire Shield on Saturday on the Castle Ground but only after a thrilling, seven-chukka, widened goals drama against Emlor Black. Guy himself fired through the winner and received the trophy from Coworth Park Hotel Manager Rowan McFeat. Meanwhile James McCarthy’s squad were distraught as they thought they had won on two earlier occasions, only for both goals to be disallowed.
These incredible teams delivered some superb matchplay in this thrilling, 18-goal final, producing probably the best game of the season, if not the decade. Black Bears and Emlor Black were firing on all cylinders from the first whistle and although the Bears took an early 2-0 lead, it was not long before Emlor Black got themselves back on terms. Richard Tyrone converted a penalty and team-mate Juan Ambroggio scored to bring the scores level as the bell rang for the break.
Black Bears dominated the second with Paco O’Dwyer successfully converting a penalty and then following up with a field goal. The roles were reversed in the third with Emlor Black scoring almost back-to-back goals from Jose Araya and Ambroggio to put McCarthy’s team ahead for the first time. Although James Fewster, who had a stand-out game for Black Bears and was later named the Most Valuable Player, saved the Bears’ blushes on the half-time bell by firing through a beauty to level the scores (5-5) at the break.
The tension increased in the latter stages of the game with both teams desperate to put some air in the scores. O’Dwyer uncharacteristically sent a penalty wide in the fourth before converting another, ensuring Black Bears had the narrowest of leads going into the fifth.
Three minutes into this chukka McCarthy levelled the score and some great defensive play from Tyrone stopped Black Bears from finding the flags. The tension was palpable . So when Ambroggio left the ball almost in the goalmouth everyone watching this game held their breath; although nobody was able to connect with the stranded ball and score. Then with only nine seconds left of this match Araya picked up the ball from a melee and fired it through the goal. Unfortunately a whistle had already gone and the goal was disallowed.
Now into extra time, there was plenty of fast play, including a terrific ride-off between Tyrone and Fewster which thrilled the spectators but failed to reveal a winner. So the goals were widened and a seventh chukka began. Emlor Black were the first team to put a goal through, again from the stick of Araya and the team started to congratulate each other but heartbreakingly for Emlor Black the goal was disallowed. So when Guy Schwarzenbach found himself unmarked just a minute or two later he made the most of this opportunity and fired through the winner to win this contest.
A small consolation for Jose Araya was that he received the Polo Times Best Playing Pony prize. This went to Pire Blanca Nieves, a 14-year-old whom Jose had played in the third, fifth and seventh chukkas.
Twelve teams had entered this 18-goal contest in a bid to win this huge shield, which was first played for in the 1920s. The sub final trophy, which is an equally impressive piece of silverware, was won by Romilla Arber’s Four Quarters Black. They beat Adriano Agosti’s Altamira K 10-6 in five chukkas at Coworth Park.
Black Bears: Guy Schwarzenbach (2); James Fewster (4); Oliver Cudmore (6); Patrick O’Dwyer (6). Emlor Black: James McCarthy (2); Jose Araya (4); Richard Tyrone (6); Juan Ambroggio (6).
Four Quarters Black: Romilla Arber (0); Gonzalo Ferrari (6); Benjamin Urquiza (6); Felipe Dabas (6). Altamira K: Adriano Agosti (0); Rufino Bensadon (7); Manuel Elizalde (6); Gaston Laulhe (5).