Club Final Weekend at Wrest Park
The detailed results of the Mary Rose, Longman Cup and Inter-Club results are listed separately in the news section of the CA Website. Here John Bevington gives a round-up of the weekend's events at a soggy Wrest Park.
CA Club Finals Weekend - Wrest Park 4/5 October 2008
"Hard Pounding This, Gentlemen; Let's See Who Will Pound Longest."
The Duke of Wellington at Waterloo.
It didn't seem fair. The previous Saturday had seen a glorious sunny day for the Golf croquet Inter Club final. One week later, and the far lawns were covered in leaves which swirled around all day in a cold wind. 24 hours later we were warmer but much, much wetter. Although the rain persisted for most of the day the lawns held out and no flood warnings were necessary. Welcome to Wrest Park in October.
Saturday saw a rerun of last year's Mary Rose final, with Surbiton looking for revenge against Pendle & Craven. They were 2-1 up at lunch thanks to Bob Stephens and David Mooney winning their singles games. David had completed two peels of a triple and then got into trouble at 3-back, but he survived to win +3. After lunch it got to 3-3 and Pendle must have been hopeful when Liz Wilson, on peg and with a rush to 4-back, saw Bob, for peg and rover, send his peg ball crashing into 3-back with partner just outside corner 4. Liz made 4-back and over-rolled the approach to penult. Bob ignored the lift and hit what he could see of the ball at 3-back, eventually pegging out Liz's ball and his own and going on to win the game +3 and with it the match.
Fylde got through to their second successive Longman Cup final by beating Purley Bury 4-3. In retrospect the decisive game was probably Alan Morton's win in the morning singles - +1, on time. In the other semi-final Parsons Green Rob Minshall did his bit with two solid singles victories, but it was left to Ann Robillard to save the day when, with the games level at 3-3, she held on to beat Shrewsbury's Jim Penny +5 on time.
And so to soggy Sunday. The heavy hitters in the Inter Club had arranged to start at 11 o'clock, and the opening turns of the doubles were enough to show that a little extra effort would be necessary. That said, it was most impressive to see how quickly top players adapt to the conditions, with Keith Aiton running up a triple against Sam Tudor in next to no time. Nottingham took the other singles but lost the doubles, James Death going to lunch as the only member of the team who hadn't scored a point. After lunch Keith completed another triple against Jack Wicks and Marcus Evans beat Robert Fulford. With the trophy decided, James made up for lost time with a straight triple against Ian Burridge, and Sam Tudor got a consolation win against Richard White with the fifth triple of the match.
Meanwhile the Longman Cup teams were battling hard. The 3rd/4th place playoff finally went to Purley Bury when Margaret Hampson beat Jim Penny +3 in the deciding game. The final was the last match to finish. Parsons Green had been 2-1 up at lunch, but Fylde hit back when Martin Bradshaw and Betty Bates both won comfortably. Rob Marshall then levelled it at 3-3 by beating Terry Vernazza +6 on time, and the match hinged on the game between Fylde's Alan Morton and Ann Robillard from Parsons Green, both playing off 20. It could have gone either way, but when time was called it was Alan who was ahead by - you guessed it - three points, and so Fylde retained the cup.
Andrew Hope, representing the Croquet Association and suitably clad in wellingtons, presented Nottingham and Fylde with their trophies. Our thanks to him and to all those who served up much-needed hot lunches on both days. The changing room doubled up as a second dining room, and the groundsman's hut, cleared of machinery, was used to serve coffee. Dripping umbrellas were everywhere and the bisque bucket was found to contain a pair of wet socks. Those who travel to Surbiton next year will find things rather different, and we can only hope they also have better weather.