IT will be a battle between the Hambro Cup heavyweights when Fynn Valley entertain Gorleston in a first round tie on April 22.Although Fynn Valley have yet to win this trophy, their successful youth policy suggests that they have the players available to go all the way this year - even if Jamie Abbott sometimes has national commitments.
IT will be a battle between the Hambro Cup heavyweights when Fynn Valley entertain Gorleston in a first round tie on April 22.
Although Fynn Valley have yet to win this trophy, their successful youth policy suggests that they have the players available to go all the way this year - even if Jamie Abbott sometimes has national commitments.
Brad Wilkins and Chris Smith are two established Suffolk county players, while Paul and Hugo Dobson should mature into a formidable pairing. Simon Lloyd has played in the county second team
Gorleston also look strong on paper, with county champion Alex Holmes and former Anglian League players like Steve Crosby, John Maddock and Geraint Amos.
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Gorleston last won the Hambro Cup in 1995 but were beaten finalists in 2004. Last year they lost at home in the quarter-final to eventual winners Ipswich, who start with a bye.
Woodbridge, captained this year by Jon Marks, will be relieved to have a home draw against Stowmarket.
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Club champion Chris Bye and James Keely, two former professionals, could be available for Woodbridge to boost a team that should see Sam Taylor and Ian Kitson providing much-needed youth and Jason Finch playing more regularly.
Stowmarket also have a blend of youth and experience. The likes of Paul Buckle, Nathan Overton and Martin Darling could have support from youngsters Ben and Sam Forgan and Patrick Spraggs.
There is a West Suffolk derby between Bury St Edmunds and nearby The Suffolk, in which home advantage could tip the scales, as happens so often. Bury will expect Tom Stephenson, beaten finalist in the President's Mashie last year, to be a key player.
Hintlesham, who lost to Thorpeness in the semi-finals last year, are always competitive. They should be too strong for Flempton.
Hintlesham will be without Scott Vandervord, now a professional, but Kristian Day may be back from the professional ranks and youngsters like Phil Wesley, Matthew Ransome, Andrew Cunningham and Joe Cardy will have extra maturity.
Thorpeness will need to concentrate if they are to survive a trip to Brett Vale, where it can be hard to give shots on a fairly short course. Brett Vale shocked Rushmere not so long ago and their hopes of causing an upset are always realistic when they are at home.
Aldeburgh will be using their lengthened course in their home tie against Halesworth. As to whether Alex Stanley will be able to return from Durham University is open to question. James Reiss is hard to beat on his home course while Roger Taylor and Logan Mair could be provide the backbone of the side. Halesworth will not be used to the Aldeburgh gorse. They will hope for a calm day.
Rushmere, beaten in the semi-finals by Ipswich last year, will base their hopes on Kevin Eagle, Peter Robinson, James Wright and Michael Buck with other squad members all scrambling to claim a place.
Rushmere entertain Waldringfield who are likely to include Dave Sharp who lost to Eagle in the final of last year's Sunshine Challenge.
It will be a long trip for Rookery Park to visit Haverhill at Coupals Road. Rookery Park often flatter to deceive, while Haverhill are a tidy outfit round their attractive home course.
First round (to be played on April 22): Woodbridge v Stowmarket, Fynn Valley v Gorleston, Bury St Edmunds v The Suffolk, Hintlesham v Flempton, Brett Vale v Thorpeness, Aldeburgh v Halesworth, Rushmere v Waldringfield, Haverhill v Rookery Park.
Byes: Ipswich, Southwold, Stoke by Nayland, Newton Green, Felixstowe Ferry, Diss, Seckford and Bungay and Waveney Valley.
THE first round of the Tolly Cobbold Cup will also be played on April 22 with only Seckford and Rookery Park having byes.
Home advantage always seems to play a big part in the outcome so holders Stoke by Nayland will be pleased with a home tie against Diss.
Beaten finalists Cretingham are also at home. They will fancy their chances against Haverhill, while there is a big battle in store between Felixstowe Ferry and Stowmarket.
St Audry's are a side to fear round their tricky nine-hole course with small greens. Southwold cannot afford to miss their practice round.
Tolly Cobbold Cup
First round (to be played on April 22): Brett Vale v Bungay and Waveney Valley, Bury St Edmunds v St Clements, Newton Green v Beccles, Halesworth v Ipswich, Flempton v Aldeburgh Artisans, The Suffolk v Fynn Valley, St Audry's v Southwold, Cretingham v Haverhill, Hintlesham v Aldeburgh, Felixstowe Ferry v Stowmarket, Rushmere v Gorleston, Waldringfield v Woodbridge, Ufford Park v Thorpeness, Stoke by Nayland v Diss. Byes: Seckford and Rookery Park.