On Saturday May 8th Colchester beat Wrest Park 4-2 in the Mary Rose competition, at Wrest Park on well-prepared lawns in good condition. The doubles match, which had been started in the morning had been pegged down at lunchtime and was left unfinished. As a matter of fact the participants in the doubles game prefer me not to describe the game in great detail. Fair enough. I'll only mention it when strictly necessary. Just to convey the prevailing atmosphere on the day, you understand
The match started at 10:30 in fine weather and got off to a rather hesitant start. Jonathan Hills got in an early break to 4-back for Colchester whereas the other singles was somewhat scrappy for the first hour or so: Tim Brewer, a relative newcomer to the Advanced game, struggled a little to get his first ball round, but his opponent Colin Hemming contrived to use five separate turns to make his first five hoops. Not very good. But about on a par with the doubles, where after an hour and a half's play no clip had advanced beyond hoop 3. But the doubles games in these Mary Rose matches are often a little below par; the players aren't regular partners, a lot of discussion is needed and progress is usually slow. But not this slow. Words like "A disgrace to the game of Croquet" were heard rumbling round the courts.
Meanwhile Jonathan has made another break and taken his second ball to peg; his opponent Bryan Harral strikes back and plays a flawless break and pegs out Jonathan's ball; a bit of sparring and Jonathan manages to scramble his second ball home after Bryan was unable to get a break going. Colin had finally put a break together and left what he had thought a reasonably safe leave But Tim hit in and after a few do-nothing turns from each player Tim finished the game (after just about three hours). The doubles game, as previously agreed, was pegged down to be revived only if necessary after the afternoon's single matches. By this time all players in the doubles matches had had a break (of sorts); the Colchester pair had even tried to finish. Two or three times. They ended on Penultimate & Penultimate with their opponents trailing somewhat.
The home side had prepared an excellent lunch to which we all did full justice. The players in the singles matches were of course curious to know what had gone on in the doubles, but the players weren't very keen on owning up to what had been a lacklustre performance to say the least. They seemed keener to get an agreement that whoever wrote the match report wouldn't mention it too much. Quite right too.
We timed the start of the afternoon games to coincide pretty accurately with the start of the rain (which had been expected, and which continued throughout the afternoon). All four of the doubles players played rather more fluently than in the morning, but with the Colchester players coming out on top. It initially looked as though Jonathan was going to steamroller Tim +26 and then +25 but Jonathan blobbed Rover with his second ball and Tim was able to make a few hoops. The game between Colin and Bryan was an altogether more dour struggle: both players took the first ball to 4-back with solid breaks, and then Bryan got home with his second ball to score a consolation victory for Wrest Park despite the match being already decided.
All in all, a day of workaday B-level croquet rather than any sparkling matches. No triple peels, indeed not even any attempted triple peels. But Richard Smith let us all know afterwards that he considered trying a straight triple in the doubles towards the end of the morning. So that's all right, then
Colchester names first.
Richard Smith & Steve Woolnough vs. John Bevington & Terry Mahoney unfinished
Jonathan Hills beat Bryan Harral +11
Colin Hemming lost to Tim Brewer -11
Smith beat Bevington +17
Woolnough beat Mahoney +7
Hills beat Brewer +17
Hemming lost to Harral -8