THE Bev Price Team Championships, run by Samurai Judo Club and held at the British Judo Association’s Centre of Excellence at Walsall Campus, is a flagship of the club’s year and remains one of Britain’s top team tournaments.

Now in its 21st year, the event commemorates Bev Price, one of the club’s most outstanding players, who sadly died in 1997 at the age of just 23.

This year the event had four categories: boys lightweights, boys heavyweights, men and men’s veterans. All four sections were fiercely contested.

The Samurai team in the boys lightweights was made up of Jordan Philips, Josh Walker and Luke Philips. It was a young and inexperienced team, but they fought well, eventually losing 2-1 to a London team in the semi-final and having to settle for bronze.

The Samurai are quite strong in the boys heavyweights at present and fielded three teams, including three current British Champions. The third team, made up of Luke Philips, Evan Turner and Harry Ashen, had a good go but could not get out of the pool.

However, the second team, made up of Mackenzie Dove, James Harrison and Loic Keasey, were doing rather better. They started off by beating a team from the Wirral 3-0, and then beat London’s Palavani club 2-1, but a surprise defeat 2-1 against a Middlesborough team left them second in the pool, although this still booked them a place in the semi-finals.

The A team, made up of Eryk Neumann, Jake Ashen and Jack Walker, were going like a steam train. Their first four matches all resulted in 3-0 wins, all by maximum points, which also booked them a place in the semi-final against the club’s B team. The semi-final did not last too long, with the A team flattening the B team 3-0. The B team went on to win the bronze, whilst the A team faced a rematch with Lancashire’s Bacup Judo Club. In the first round, the A team had won convincingly, but this time it didn’t quite go according to plan and they lost 2-1 and so had to settle for silver.

The men’s team was made up of Matt Hemer, Matt Dutton and Gary Knight. They started well with a comfortable win against Wolverhampton, but then narrowly lost two matches 2-1 against Nottingham University and Bacup, which eliminated them from the competition.

The masters section was in many ways the toughest event of the day, with Samurai fielding two teams in what is Britain’s premier judo masters team event. One of these was the team that took the gold medal last year, made up of Mike Chamberlain, Matt Dutton and Martin Brown, all of them 3rd level black belts with a wealth of experience and skill. The other team was also quite strong, with Rob Alloway, Mark Donnolly and Gary Knight. Mike’s team started as they evidently meant to go on, with two good wins against London teams and then an excellent 3-0 win against Erdington, generally the Midlands strongest veterans club, to book a place in the final. Meanwhile, Rob’s team were also steadily making progress, and after three good wins they too were in the final, so it was an all-Samurai affair. Mike and Matt both won, and although Gary became the only player of the day to beat Martin, the A team won 2-1 to take the gold and leave the B team with silver.

Lots of the club’s men scored points towards their next black belts, with Mike Chamberlain clocking up 30 points towards his 4th dan and Matt Dutton and Martin Brown also scoring points towards 4th dan. However, the most significant point scoring came from Gary Knight, who clocked up enough points to now be able to claim his 2nd dan as soon as he completes the theory section.

Samurai Head Coach Andrew Haffner said that he was “very pleased” with the performance of the club teams across the board, but particularly the masters and boys heavyweight teams, who had strong opposition.

For details about starting judo, telephone 0776 1122977 or visit the Samurai website on or their Facebook page.