THERE is only one trophy in Hampshire Golf that has eluded Stoneham Golf Club members in its long and illustrious history, writes Andrew Griffin.

For the third time in the 21st Century, Stoneham will have the chance to be crowned County Sevens champions, on Sunday.

It is 56 years since the Hampshire Inter-Club Knockout was first contested when Aldershot Command lifted the trophy.

And when Sevens captain Kevin McCann leads out his team to face St Clements, from Jersey, in Sunday’s semi-finals, the vast majority of Stoneham’s members will be gathering 14 miles away for a momentous day in the Southampton club’s history.

For Sunday sees the opening of a new £1million academy at the club set in an old deer park next to the M27 at Bassett.

After a complete refurbishment of the heathland course’s bunkers, new practice facilities – including a short game area and driving range – will be officially opened by European Tour winner Richard Bland, the club’s touring professional for many years.

McCann was part of the team that lost in the final back in 2014 at Lee-on-the-Solent when Old Thorns produced a Houdini-style comeback to win 4-3, and again when Stoneham lost in the morning semi-final against Guernsey’s La Grand Mare, who then lost to Old Thorns in the afternoon final.

McCann said: “Obviously, Sunday is a very big day in the club’s history with the events back at Stoneham, while we are trying to finally get our hands on the Sevens Trophy.

“I have been through the heartache of losing twice after getting through to the finals day in the last eight years.

“We have been waiting to have another chance to finally end that streak.

“I don’t need reminding we are the strongest club on paper in the county in terms of the lowest handicap players – but have never won the Sevens.

“It is a handicap competition – if we pick lots of players off five or less you are going to risk giving away up to 50 shots in each match.”

If Stoneham can knock out St Clements, they would face the winners of Fareham’s Cams Hall or Sandford Springs, from the north of the county, in the afternoon final.

The competition will take place at New Forest's Bramshaw.

Stoneham squad (handicap): Craig Simpkin (5), Kevin McCann (capt 6), Tony Hobbs (7), Anthony Robinson (7), Andy Barnes (9), Ollie O’Neil (9), Paul Whitlock (10), Darren Clay (12).