Winning the Rosebowl

In the closing half-hour of the last D.F. qualifying event of the 1994 season, the coveted Bert Simmonds Memorial Silver Rosebowl slipped away from our grasp.

We had quite an enjoyable 1995 season, our best being a win at Stratford on Avon, and two third places at South Manchester and Ripon,and we ended the year with 24 points, coming fourth in the Rosebowl league.

The 1996 season started with avengeance. We travelled down to Devon on the Saturday afternoon, staying overnight in Brixham, so we were fresh to do the D.F. event on Sunday afternoon. We came second, earning ourselves six points for the Rosebowl, and qualifying for the National Final.

South Manchester was next, where again we came second, finding our second hidden station perched like an eagle on a ledge on a rocky escarpment. That put us in the lead at that stage with twelve points. Our next trip to Coventry was a bit of a disaster. As with the Torbay event in 1994, we found the aerial wire at about 3.30 p.m., and then spent nearly the next hour paddling up and down a stream between two hedges trying to find the hidden station. We finally found him with just 5 minutes of the contest to go, a few feet away from the ditch, tucked down beside a small brick wall, hidden from view by some tall stinging nettles.

Confidence was restored at Mid - Thames, where we won the event, ahead of twenty other teams. Lady Luck shone on us that day, as our bearings on the first station crossed near the River Thames, but with nothing obvious to go to. I said to Phil "let's go down this little road to see what's down there", and there was the transmitter in an inflatable boat a few feet out in the river!

Determined to maintain our lead we headed north in July to Ripon in Yorkshire. From the top of the tree at the previous event, we fell all the way to the bottom at Ripon, coming last, finding only one station, much to the delight of the others in the running for the Rosebowl. Salisbury was next, but instead of travelling from Essex, I travelled to Salisbury from Newquay in Cornwall, and Phil travelled from LymeRegis in Dorset - we were both on holiday. We both had unusual stuff to take on holiday:- swimming costume, suntan lotion, buckets &spades.....D.F. Set....! Fourth place gave us another 3 points that day, so the trips were worth it.

By this time, there were only two or three people who could win the Rosebowl, so the next two events were crucial to maintain our lead. A relatively new area of Echelford in Middlesex provided the venue for the penultimate event of the season. The map was the West of London, with Heathrow Airport right in the middle. Despite the built up area, two good sites were found for the transmitters, and we found them both before anyone else. We even had a dip in the river after finding the second station to cool down. Those 9 points had now clinched the Rosebowl for us, as we were now 11 points ahead of the rest of the field.

It felt good going to the last event of the season at Banbury. There were no pressures on us to qualify for the final, and we knew that whatever happened that day, no-one could take the Rosebowl away from us. We had a great afternoon, finding both stations on the side of canals, and we came fifth, another two points.

Our 1996 D.F. season was most enjoyable. We had been after the Silver Rosebowl in earnest for four years, and a couple of years prior to that we had done quite well without knowing it. Out of all eight events that we took part in, we had two firsts, two seconds, a fourth and a fifth, giving us 35 points in all, and finally THE ROSEBOWL WAS OURS.