Ascot Cup 2006 - a Brand new winner!
Colchester somehow managed to conjure up some splendid weather for the weekend of the National Golf Croquet Championship. Between a truly awful Friday and the first spots of rain falling just as the last people were leaving the ground, the Championship produced some excellent play on lawns that were very true and gave the players confidence that shots would hold their line.
Sixteen players had qualified and it was played in two blocks with each player taking on the others twice in succession. Once again the results produced something of a merry-go-round proving that at this standard there is no room for slack play at any time during the day. In two very tight blocks, both of which required count-back, the winners were Paul Strover & Ivor Brand with John Spiers & Roy Ware as runners-up. Two long semi-finals then ensued and the eventual winners were Brand & Ware, both of whom just prevailed in a 'best-of-three game' match.
Being his third final Ivor was many people's favourite but it was Roy who won the first game 7-5. The second was a tight nervy game in which Ivor won 7-3, a score which didn't really reflect how close it was. All the hoops were closely fought over but Ivor, with his back to the wall held out well.
To his credit, the setback of loosing the second game did not undermine Roy's confidence and although it was fairly nip-and-tuck Roy definitely held the upper hand. The game reached 5 all and at hoop 11 Roy got into a position whereby he had a great chance of running the hoop and onto hoop 12 and Ivor was unable to clear him being wired by the hoop. To prevent Roy running down to the next hoop he placed his ball about 18 inches behind in direct line. Roy considered his options and decided to run the hoop gently to lie up behind Ivor stopping him getting down to 12. It was the 6-5 to Roy and the spectators thought his game. Ivor played to hoop twelve and was fully a yard and a half short. Roy played down some three yards short but with a clear shot at thirteen. It was then that Ivor completely turned the tables. With a shot of great accuracy he played off Roy's ball just behind him to lay up in front of hoop 13. Roy, seeing the danger shot at Ivor's ball in front of hoop twelve, missing. Ivor's next two shots required great nerve. He had gambled everything had he missed, but his next ball ran hoop twelve. Roy shot at the ball in front of hoop thirteen, missed, and again Ivor's nerve held as he ran the hoop, thus clinching the National Golf Croquet Championship, a title he had just missed in the past and clearly deserved. As last year, the final few shots were truly memorable, fully in keeping with a major championship.