Surbiton squeezed home 4-3 against Ashby at Wrest Park today to record their fourth victory in the Golf Croquet Inter-Club Championship since they began competing in 2005.
The courts were on the quick side and the combination of firm hoops and interesting slopes provided a good test, with the result that fortunes fluctuated throughout a mild early autumn day that began overcast and ended in brilliant sunshine. Surbiton permed four (Stephen Mulliner, Samir Patel, Howard Cheyne and Don Beck) from their squad of nine while Ashby fielded their regular four of Tim King, Ray Mounfield, Will Gee and Rachel Rowe, the latter two having represented England in this year's Under-21 GC Championship in Cairo.
Surbiton's top pair of Mulliner and Patel had a close first game against King and Mounfield, decided by Samir running 13 cleanly from the north boundary, and then took firm control of the second to win 7-2, largely as a result of Samir's excellent hooping. While this was happening, an in-form Will Gee equalised the match with a clear-cut 7-5, 7-4 victory over Howard Cheyne. The remaining morning single could have gone either way and should have gone to a third game. Don Beck took the first 7-6 against Rachel Rowe and needed a 7 yard jump through rover in game 2 to get to 6-6. From there, he managed to win the 13th and the match and give Surbiton a 2-1 lead at lunch.
Ashby then surged into the lead with two convincing wins, Ray Mounfield defeating Samir Patel 7-5, 7-5 and Will Gee beating Don Beck 7-2, 7-5. Ashby's prospect looked bright as, in addition, Tim King had taken the first 7-6 against Stephen Mulliner and Rachel Rowe had convincingly equalised her match against Howard Cheyne 3-7, 7-1.
However, Stephen now took the second 7-4 and, with the scores at 6-6 in the third, Rachel had to endure the disappointment of accidentally cutting Howard's Yellow into hoop 13 to give him the easiest, if most fortunate, of wins. The match now stood at 3-3 and all depended on the final game between Stephen and Tim. However, Tim missed a difficult hoop 1 and Stephen gratefully capitalised to build a 4-1 lead and run out the winner 7-3 to give Surbiton a narrow victory.
John Bevin presented the Shield to Don on behalf of Surbiton who thanked Wrest Park for hosting the final and Ashby for such a close contest.
Stephen Mulliner & Samir Patel beat Tim King & Ray Mounfield 7-6, 7-2
Howard Cheyne lost to Will Gee 5-7, 4-7
Don Beck beat Rachel Rowe 7-6, 7-6
Stephen Mulliner beat Tim King 6-7, 7-4, 7-3
Samir Patel lost to Ray Mounfield 5-7, 5-7
Howard Cheyne beat Rachel Rowe 7-3, 1-7, 7-6
Don Beck lost to Will Gee 2-7, 5-7