Kington Langley became only the second South West team to win the CA Secretary's Shield outright, since it was first played for in 1979, when the village team beat the mighty Bowdon (6 times previous winners) in the final at Cheltenham on October 6 2001.
It was fitting that the result was a close 4:3 victory as this was the score in all but one of our competitive matches played with a team of 4 this year (and we won 7 of the 8 4:3s). All this from a pool of only 5 players willing and able to play in SW Federation and CA matches. Not only that, but Club Chairman Eric Bevan was forced to pull out of the pool after the first few matches of the season because of illness. It got worse: Jane Hull and Brian Shorney, together with Eric, were involved in a serious road accident on their way home from a weekend tournament at Nailsea so we were forced to play a team of 4 which included 2 walking wounded in our last 4 matches. And all our CA matches had to be away fixtures because we only have 11/2 lawns. So, we were quite pleased with our season which was our first season as an affiliated club.
We warranted 130 column inches in the local, North Wilts, newspaper.
This piece was supposed to be a piece on the final, so, here goes:
The teams: Bowdon: Brian Medley(2), Andy Keeble (3), Sheila Sandham (10) Lorna Frost (11)
Kington Langley: Tony Treglown (4 ½), Alex Shipp (5), Jane Hull (10) Brian Shorney (10)
Sheila Sandham allowed Alex a total of 8 shots as she used her bisques to despatch him 26:0 in double-quick time. Match score 0:1
Tony, frightened by the unknown Bowdon team players' standards as he saw Sheila trounce Alex on their double-banked lawn, started defensively against Andy Keeble. He had the luxury of bisques left as he pegged out 26:7. Match score 1:1.
Jane and Brian (mis-typed, or was it, as Brain in the local newspaper piece), undefeated in the doubles all season, struggled to time against the strong Bowdon pairing. Their score was level until the last turn when Jane secured the win +2. Lunch score 2:1.
Alex played Andy Keeble and looked likely to put his morning reversal behind him with a quick fire win by forging a big lead (one ball on peg, one on rover). However, Andy made a fighting comeback and almost brought the game back level before Alex eventually made the final hoop, after 4 attempts, and pegged out to give Kington Langley a 3:1 lead.
The other three singles saw Brian Shorney play Sheila Sandham. Sheila was still playing faultless croquet and gave Brian very few opportunities as she again pegged out to win in fairly quick time. 3:2 to the village team. Jane Hull was matched against Lorna Frost. Jane was unable to repeat her morning heroics and eventually went down 10T. 3:3
Tony Treglown met Bowdon's best player, Brian Medley, in a game which was to prove to be the match decider. After three and a half hours, when time was called, Tony was in play. He had clawed a lead of 4 points and knew that Brian had one more turn. Tony put one ball in each of the four corners of the lawn. Showing his class, Brian hit in across the full width of the lawn to the obvious delight of his watching team mates. He then managed to extract the other two balls from their corners and made a hoop following a perfect approach shot which was a take-off diagonally across the lawn from hoop 3 to 2 back. Brian then put the balls in position to go on and win the game and the match and went for 3 back. Nerves were tight, breath was held and he went for it. He missed. It was all over: Kington Langley had won 4:3 and were champions to the delight of their small band of supporters.
Cameras flashed as the shield was presented and the champagne was cracked.
The village team must be the smallest club ever to win the prestigious shield.
Footnote: We suffered only one 3:4 defeat in 2001. It was against East Dorset in the Longman. They also pipped us 3:2 (because they couldn't raise a team of 4!) in the SW Fed final. Maybe we might get our revenge in the Secretary's Shield in 2002? Watch out Parkstone!