Rounding off Tunbridge Wells' "Croquet in the Park" week, 16 players entered the Autumn Advanced tournament, their handicaps ranging from 2 (the minimum) to 9. The event was using all four lawns for an Association tournament for the first time, the three newly re-laid ones were flat but very heavy as the grass was unable to be cut short enough this season and the fourth being an old bowling green, so still pretty flat but much faster.
Saturday dawned misty with a poor forecast for the day - rain and wind. Well, it turned out like that, but not quite as much as forecast thank goodness. Jon Male from Caterham started off well and definitely looked the person to beat as he swept through the opposition on the first day scoring 5 straight wins, including Tunbridge Wells' own Jon Diamond and John Hobbs. So it was odds-on that he would be one of the finalists.
The other finalist eventually turned out to be John Daniels from Purley Bury and the final was a classic! John started really well and had got to Peg and 4-back whilst Jon was on 1 and 3. However, Jon gradually clawed himself back into the game and was catching up all the time, still needing to ensure that John never had an opportunity to hit in as if he did he would surely finish the game off.
Finally, with John on Peg and Rover Jon got to Peg and 2-back, and was then able to peg out one of John's balls to leave a three ball ending; clearly Jon thought he had the advantage then. However, he then made a slight slip in the leave and allowed John to hit in - surely the game would be over now as John just has to run Rover and peg out his solitary ball? But no, he ran Rover but was hampered and unable to hit the escape ball; so he had to hit away and hope to hit the peg from a long distance. This left Jon in control, but he still had several hoops to make and all the time he had to try and ensure John was wired from the peg! Slowly he made the final hoops and finished the game off - winning by a solitary point. Phew......
So Jon Male retained the Honeygrove Cup, which he won on the last occasion it was run in 2004 with John Daniels as runner-up this time. Mark Homan from Watford won the Egyptian block. Other TW participants were Chris Sturdy (good to see him back from the USA) and Richard Clark. This was another great tournament, ably managed by Mick Belcham, with the weather eventually clearing to leave the final and the presentation ceremony bathed in sun. Just a shame it was so late!