Canterbury Croquet Club won the Secretary's Shield by beating High Wycombe 6-1, which is the Kent Club's first national trophy victory.
The scoreline suggests that Canterbury had an easy ride but the opposite was the case. Each of 3.5 hour time-limited games was hard fought and several of them could have gone either way. Said Canterbury's non-playing captain Frank Hughes: "This was a momentous victory."
Canterbury established a commanding lead by winning their three morning games but knew winning the one further game they needed for victory would be hard.
In the morning session Michael Poole was the first to finish by defeating Chris Donovan +11. Paul Hill raced away against the furniture men's David Bourne but then faltered. Fortunately for him each mistake he made was echoed by Bourne. After a painfully long time Hill finally issued the coup de grace to the tune of +9.
In the doubles Ted Salisbury and Jean Byers used their bisques against Reeve and Wycombe captain Geoff Youd to establish a lead but then saw it begin to evaporate. With his last turn Youd scored a difficult hoop to put his side needing one point to draw level but his long shot at the next hoop failed and Canterbury scraped home +1T.
After lunch Wycombe showed they were still full of fight when their leading player Duncan Reeve, handicap 1.5, looked likely to annihilate Canterbury's Michael Poole (6) in quick time. Poole had used one of his 4.5 bisques to reach the penultimate hoop with one ball. Reeve then hit in and peeled Poole's ball through penultimate on his way to rover, where he again peeled it, and then pegged it out.
This left Poole needing ten hoops with his other ball. Reeve's other ball had still to make the first hoop. Undaunted, Poole hit in from long distance and used Reeve's balls to reach penultimate with the aid of three bisques. Poole's hands shot up with disbelief when his simple shot at penultimate bounced back at him after hitting a wire.
Reeve's other ball was still on hoop one but a break was possible. Luckily for Poole he did not hit in. Poole had another straightforward shot at penultimate from two feet but again missed and this time Reeve's balls were only four yards apart.
Somehow Reeve missed that roquet and Poole made penultimate with enough power to put him within reasonable distance of roqueting one of Reeve's balls. He did so, made rover, and pegged out for a +14 victory to give Canterbury the match.
In the other afternoon games Youd never looked comfortable against Byers and went down -15 but a revitalised Bourne gave Wycombe their only victory, beating Salisbury +11. Hill fought a tough battle against the ebullient Donovan to come out on top +5.
High Wycombe had reached the final by beating last year's shield winners, Kington Langley, and fielded a strong team. Canterbury had been battle-hardened by beating first Kenilworth and then Nottingham.
This was Canterbury's second appearance in the Shield competition. Two years ago they were knocked out by Yorkshire side Beverley in the semi-finals.
The shield competition is open only to clubs that have won their area Unlimited Handicap leagues the previous year.
Canterbury names first,
Ted Salisbury (10) & Jean Byers (12) beat Duncan Reeve (1.5) & Geoff Youd (10) +1T
Michael Poole (6) beat Chris Donovan (4) +11
Paul Hill (6) beat David Bourne (4.5) +9
Poole beat Reeve +14
Hill beat Donovan +5
Byers beat Youd +15
Salisbury lost to Bourne -11