Twenty-four men went into Keystone Hall with broad smiles on their faces at 10am on Sunday the 10th of July. No, it's not leading to a humurous punchline, but an interesting revelation. About 6.30pm they all left again, still with broad smiles on their faces. The question is, what held them in suspended contentment ( in this day and age ) for eight hours? It was no Masonic ritual, but a table sport laced with enough reward uncertainty and anticipation, to ensure dopamine on drip for an entire shift. It was the inaugural Andover WASPA tournament and a strong signal of intent. Carlsberg don't do table football tournaments, but if they did they'd use the Andover Subbuteo Club's example as their model. Coffee and tea, bacon rolls in the morning, a spectacular spread for lunch, great company. It was so good that, when the attendance certificates were presented in sealed envelopes, half of me started to think there might be a cheque inside for showing up! There are sports played by participants who get lost in outcome, and struggle to find their way back, forgetting about the sheer joy of process. This isn't one of them. It's not a game about results, first and foremost. Results are simply a by-product of mastery. And mastery is the goal. The distinction to make, is the focus is almost entirely on things you have control over. That is to say, how you choose to play the game. Results may be recorded but, all things considered, you have to concede that something other than winning is the draw. Besides the cocktail of happy hormones running riot in the body, after two years of isolation, a human need to connect had been offered by Chris Burford, and enthusiastically accepted by all. Connection, you may argue, is the real reason for playing sport. We all seek, in our inimitable ways, to move others emotionally - whether it be by winning by a handsome margin, scoring a great goal, or doing something spectacular with a polished base and Top Spin ball. Something 'remarkable'. Something dramatic, perhaps! If you doubt that, ask yourself how it feels when you do great things on your velvety green at home, and nobody is there to doff their cap.
Groups, fuelled by passion, brought art to the gallery. Chris Burford, the curator for the day, provided blank green canvases for creative minds and crafty fingers. The two danced in a field of possibility. Alan Lee, Rudi Peterschinigg, Steve George, Malcolm Jamieson, Colin Fletcher and Neil Doherty topped their respective groups. In the knock out phases, both Alan Lee and Rudi Peterschinigg brought method and mastery, along with the abstract when called for - hitting ten goals each! When the last game came, as we knew it must - predictably, these two favourites for success lined up. It was Rudi that scored first. But Alan patiently adhered to process for all of twenty-nine minutes before levelling very late on. But it was Rudi that had the 'final' say, though, rifling a fierce shot past an exposed keeper at the death, just when extra time seemed likely. Colin Fletcher edged Rob Paterson for third place. In the supplementary tournament, Tony Banks beat Chris Burford in the final. Gary Gladwell defeated Sam Virgoe for third place.