The dust is finally beginning to settle and thoughts turn to new challenges but, before moving on from the World Championship, one important story remains to be told. Unfortunately, in my role as Tournament Manager, I failed to create an opportunity in the closing ceremony to pay tribute to all those who contributed to the smooth running of the Championship. The effort was truly one of a close-knit and effective team, representing a highly successful collaboration between the CA, the WCF, the Hurlingham Club and the Surbiton Croquet Club; all with the unfailing support of the sponsors Bestinvest.
Firstly, I would never have had the opportunity to manage anything without the excellent foundations laid by the Championship Organising Committee, lead by John Spiers. The other Committee members were Don Beck, John Bowcott, Nigel Graves, Richard Hoskyns and Dick Stover. Throughout the Championship, John Spiers remained a constant source of encouragement and help, being the main provider of the overall drive and vision for the endeavour.
Stephen Mulliner (Surbiton) was our main conduit for liaison with the WCF. But he was also supported with advice and input from across the WCF Management Committee and the WCF Secretary Martin French. The WCF President Charles Jones was present throughout the Championship and he provided important support, including the management of the Championship Plate event.
By definition, almost any World Championship requires multiple venues and this poses the first challenge for the Tournament Manager. The second is to avoid being dragged into the minutiae of putting individual matches onto the courts. Thus, the core team consisted of the following (each of them working at least 12 hours a day during the week):
I spent my whole time at Hurlingham, knowing that I had left Surbiton in capable hands. I needed time and space to work through the overall planning for the Championship and, thus, I required help around me to deal with all the various issues that arose as we went along. The following individuals supported me in this role at various times throughout the week (again, each one putting in many hours a day):
The employee side of the CA made no less a contribution, with Liz Larsson (CA Manager) being on-site at Hurlingham for the whole Championship. She gave telling support in various tasks (not least serving as a resolute gateway to the manager's cubbyhole when he was at his most fraught!), as well as ensuring that the CA sold merchandise to players and spectators.
Both clubs had also to step up to the challenge and the usual suspects were there to perform admirably. In the case of Hurlingham, this included the employees, in particular Jenny Mitchell (Sports Executive) and Peter Craig (Grounds Manager). Peter's team did sterling work, lead by Tom and Neil, who strove to provide the best court surfaces and hoop settings despite the weather conditions. Meanwhile, at Surbiton, the equivalent service was provided by many stalwarts including the indefatigable George Noble, Chris Osmond and Sue Strong. Unsurprisingly, everyone came back from Surbiton praising the catering and atmosphere at the Club. I was delighted the Surbiton team arrived in one piece on the Sunday to relax and enjoy the final at Hurlingham.
Two other major areas of activity remain to be mentioned. Bill Arliss was the Tournament Referee and, thus, responsible for everything that took place once I had delivered him two players ready to play a match on a court. He organised a team of referees who delivered the necessary cover for the fifteen courts across the two venues. The second area was the scoring. In this case, John Bowcott (Hurlingham) at Hurlingham and John Edwards (Surbiton) and Peter Siddall (Roehampton) at Surbiton provided the co-ordination roles to ensure that we had someone to operate the scoreboards and enter results on scorecards for every single match. I am not sure of the details at Surbiton but the final list of scorers for Hurlingham was 45 individuals. Many of these people were not sure that they would be suitably qualified but they were soon delighted to discover how enjoyable was the experience of seeing top-class croquet at such close quarters. No player came to me with a complaint about the scorers and we would never have been able to run a smooth Championship without this vital role. Clubs such as Roehampton, Dulwich and Phyllis Court provided some really faithful volunteers in addition to those from the two host clubs; Frances Colman and Chris Roberts stood out from among the many for doing every day of the Championship.
Numerous others played their part and one of my most favourite of the week was the Championship Dinner because I had absolutely no involvement in the organisation of that particular event. I do not know all the individuals who contributed but Clare Benson and Nelson Morrow provided the core leadership in creating a truly fitting evening in which to celebrate the competition and community of the Championship.
The sad thing is that I will have failed to give all due credit to many unnamed individuals. But I hope they all had as much satisfaction as I did to be involved in such a grand undertaking because I am sure they will feel that was reward enough for their efforts. Many of the named individuals had to put up with me being somewhat manic under the pressure of juggling all the different aspects of managing the Championship. Fortunately, they were all friends of the highest calibre and gave me support in all circumstances. I thank them one and all and while we probably are not ready to do it all again next week, I would have no hesitation in saying "Yes!" the next time I get a chance to work with them.