Graham Gale won the Winchester Charity One-Ball Championship
This springtime event is now firmly established in the calendar. This year there were sixteen heats, in which a record 252 played (with 40 playing at Surbiton alone!). A total of £1067 was raised for Cancer Research UK.
The One-ball Championship is the highlight of the Winchester Club's season. This super club has only two courts but has excellent facilities shared with tennis and squash. It consistently turns out good playing conditions, with Rita and Ivor Nunn and the rest of the committee providing a wonderful welcome. This year, too, BBC South Today did a feature on the championship by sending its roving reporter to the club to try out croquet (see the three minute clip at news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/8017543.stm ).
The final provided a stiff test for all players, over a wide handicap range. Marcus Evans saw it as a suitable, if unorthodox, preparation for the world championship, while a couple of 20 handicappers, Jamie Angus and Stephen Harte, enjoyed their first taste of tournament play - both performing creditably.
The early stages were dominated by 2007 winner Tudor Jenkins and Surbiton bandit Howard Cheyne, with snapping at their heels Marcus along with Graham Gale, the Guildford qualifier who was once a -1 but has recently lost his way, rising to 2.5.
Another who lost his way - literally - was Reigate qualifier John Knight, who became hopelessly lost in the Winchester one-way system and arrived rather late. Understandably he took a time to get going and lost the first round, but when he did he powered through the field.
Local farmer Richard Dickson was presumably up early milking his hens or whatever farmers do at dawn. But he still fared better than other local players, notably Nigel Hind, Ivor Nunn and Tony Tizard, who had a battle royal for the wooden spoon.
After lunch Tudor relinquished his unbeaten status and then lost another, while Howard also lost a couple more games. By tea-time this left John Knight, Graham Gale and Richard Dickson all with just one loss and sharing the lead. Now it was easier for the manager to sort out a winner. Graham saw off John to claim the number one spot and the engraved decanter, with Richard taking second for minor glassware. A three-way tie for third place was resolved by the 'quality of opponents'
formula in favour of Tudor, for the other engraved glass.
The bar discussion was why anybody should ever want to play golf croquet when association one-ball is a much more interesting alternative.