Friday, August 22, 2014

24th American Subbuteo Association National Championships

These were played at Huntington Beach, southern California on Saturday 26th July 2014. This was the first time that the championship had been played on the West Coast of the States, and pre-tournament some of us were hoping that the shamanic vibrations, flower power history and emotional atmosphere of the West might destabilise some of the players coming in from further East.

The final: Daniel Cranston vs Zach Walker

Well, that turned out just to be another dream, as Zach Walker (Colorado, 5 times USA champion) and Daniel Cranston (Maryland, 2 times USA champion) mowed through the field of mostly Californian-based players including Conan Mullen from Santa Rosa in northern California, and Erik Haefke from Cedar Springs, who this year returned to the States having learnt a high-paced attacking game in France for the last couple of years.
ASA National Champion Zach Walker
National runner-up Daniel Cranston

Both Zach and Dan qualified from their groups without so much as conceding a point, and the final eight players were the top 5 from the Southern Californian club and Erik, as well as Zach and Dan.

The final of the Veterans: Wayne Smith vs Erik Haefke

In some high scoring games, Zach, Dan, Erik and Wayne Smith (who also won the ASA Veterans Cup on the same day in sudden death against Erik) made it through to the semi-finals, but – try as Erik and Wayne did – they were no match for the top two.
Wayne Smith (right), Veterans champion
Erik Haefke, Veterans runner-up

The final was a cracker, Zach took the lead but Dan was playing well too and equalised before half-time.  In the second half Zach then led until just thirty seconds to go, when Dan scored a terrific goal on the run to take the final to sudden death.  Two minutes into the next phase, Zach blasted the ball into the net following a free kick and so won the ASA Nationals for the sixth time.  He is now just one win in the Nationals behind the legendary Gregg Deinhart of Virginia who won seven times between the years of 1996-2004.

Congratulations to Zach who once again showed that right now he is a cut above all other players in the States, and we certainly hope at some point that he will be able to represent the USA at the FISTF World Cup, and captain an American team there too.

The Southern California club did a great job of organizing the competition, and the only low point to mention was that because of the geographical east-west divide in the States, only eleven players entered the Nationals due to distance and dollars. With the majority of the players still on the East side, we now hope for a bigger attendance in Chicago in August 2015.

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