The Challenge and Gilbey
For the first time for many years this annual tournament was held at Southwick, and attracted a large entry.
There were 34 players in the handicap event, competing for the Gilbey Goblet, which was played as a single-life knockout with a managed Egyptian consolation event. The final was between Robert Bateson (hcp 5) and Jim Field (Hcp 2). Robert seemed to have the game won as he approached rover with Jims clips on hoops one and two, but the rover peel went wrong, and he could only sit and watch as Jim completed a couple of all-round breaks to win by +3. The consolation event was won by Brian Shorney.
There were a total of 40 entrants for the four Challenge Cups. The Stevenson Cup (D Class) was won by Michael Hamilton, with Anne Stephens as runner up. Myra Gosney, with five wins in a five round Swiss, won the Reckitt Cup (C Class), with Chris Osmond as runner up. The Council Cup (B Class ) went to John Low, again with five wins in a five round Swiss; Jim Field was runner up.
There was a strong entry for the A Class, including a former world champion, John Walters, returning to croquet after a gap of ten years and not finding life easy. Block winners were Tom Weston and Dave Mundy, who saw off a strong challenge from Rutger Beijderwellen. The best-of-three final between the block winners was won by Dave Mundy +18TP -14 +26, enabling him to retain the Roehampton Cup for a second year running.
Beside the four Challenge Cups, a prize was offered for the fastest game of the tournament. The prize had to be duplicated when there was a tie on 52 minutes between Tom Weston in his defeat of Jack Davies and Janet Overell in her defeat of John Gosney. In her game Janet took her first ball to peg, conceding contact. John filed to get a break started, failing hoop one against Janet's back ball, which she promptly took round to win the game and her Silver Award.
The Southwick lawns were in excellent condition, apart from some dodgy boundaries, and the catering and beer were of the highest standard. Of particular note was the French dinner provided on Saturday evening, although the quality of the Club Chairman's spoken French pointed to a need for intensive coaching.
The first two days were played under overcast skies, but fortunately the rain stayed away. Saturday brought bright sunshine, ideal for a flying display from nearby Shoreham Airport, including a fly-past by five Spitfires which induced waves of nostalgia among some of the more elderly players. Sunday started with thunder and rain, but the lawns remained playable, and by mid-morning the skies had cleared. As the tournament drew to a close a heavy mist started to descend, but it was insufficient to damp the spirits of the participants, who departed well satisfied with an event which had been so ably managed by Julie Horsley