Three Scottish players - Brian Murdoch, Alan Wilson and Fergus McInnes - made their way down the A1 and were joined in Middlesbrough by three from further south - Sam Murray, David Magee and Derek Knight - in an attempt to wrest back the Glasgow Quaich from the English.
The teams appeared quite evenly matched, with the SCA handicaps at -0.5, 0, 0, 1.5, 3 and 3, and the CA at -0.5, 0.5, 1, 2, 2.5 and 4 - suggesting a slight advantage for the SCA if anything. The opening doubles round was in line with this, going 2-1 to the SCA. But in the singles things began going the wrong way for the Scots, and the score after the first day was 9-6 to the home side.
The first round on the second day increased the CA's lead to 13-8. The SCA could still turn it around to 13-14 (a good scoreline for a Scottish victory!) but only by winning all six games in the final round. This they failed to do, achieving only an equal split in the head-to-head games; and so the final result was CA 16, SCA 11.
I took notes on some of the games, and here is a selection of highlights.
Round 1, Waterfield & Killick v Murray & McInnes: Charles declined the opportunity of trying a standard triple, but then daftly attempted the 4-back peel straight, and then posthumously, with the result that he broke down on penult and 4-back. This meant that Sam got in and eventually had a break, but failing 2-back proved fatal for him and Fergus.
Round 2: Killick v McInnes included a classic Killick break, in which Andrew took off from a few yards west of hoop 2 to position at hoop 3, ran it (taking some wire) to just west of the end of A baulk, hit the ball at hoop 4 and continued to rover, rarely having a pioneer within five yards of his hoop. [His feat of running 3 to A baulk was helped by the fact that the hoop was set some 15 degrees out of correct north-south alignment.] Watts v Knight: at one point Derek was for 2-back and 4-back and Derek was for 2-back and 4-back... "And who's in play?" "Derek." (Derek Knight eventually pegged out after time had been called.) Errington v Murdoch: after completing his rover peel with a half-jump, Phil mistakenly took croquet immediately instead of taking his rush towards the peg, and Brian caught up from 1 and 3, crazily pegged Phil's ball out, rushed partner into rover after running it and failed the seven-yard peg-out through the hoop, and finally finished, just after time, after Phil missed the peg.
Round 3, Keen v Knight: Barry did two peels and attempted third (my predictive text suggested "suicide" here!) but couldn't make roquet after 4-back.
Round 4, Waterfield v McInnes: Fergus twice stuck in hoop 1 off Charles's ball and was a long way behind when time was called; his attempt to equalise required an all-round break and four peels with only three balls on the lawn, and he only got the first two hoops despite getting behind the ball near corner 4 and rushing it within a few yards of hoop 2. Had he managed to make the score -3 on time instead of -15 on time, this round would have had a complete set of small winning margins from 1 to 6.
Round 5, Keen v McInnes: Fergus went to 4-back in turn 7 after a supershot opening, Barry went to 4-back with a TPO attempt (the 4-back peel bounced off and he wisely abandoned it) a few turns later, Fergus set up for a triple but stuck in hoop 5, Barry did the 4-back peel on his partner ball after hoop 3 but broke down, and then the game got scrappy; Barry wanted to concede rather than play out the remaining 10 minutes or so, saying that he couldn't win if Fergus Aunt-Emma-ed him, but was prevented from doing so and nearly won! (And he had the cheek to complain about the rabbit run in 4-back that ended his last break!)
The hospitality of the Middlesbrough players to their visitors was exemplary: we enjoyed a good meal and several pints of Hill Climbing ale in the Vane Arms in Long Newton (Roger and Hilary Staples' local) on Friday evening, and a Chinese buffet in Middlesbrough on Saturday, and as well as being accommodated and fed by Andrew and Karen Killick I came away with some free apples from the trees in their garden. I hope we can do as well in providing for the CA team when they come to Scotland in 2015. I also hope we can regain the Quaich, which has been in the CA's hands for several years now!
(CA names first)
Eugene Chang & Barry Keen lost to David Magee & Alan Wilson -24
Charles Waterfield & Andrew Killick beat Sam Murray & Fergus McInnes +19
Phil Errington & Derek Watts lost to Brian Murdoch & Derek Knight -13
Charles Waterfield lost to Sam Murray -13T (12-25)
Eugene Chang beat David Magee +26tp
Phil Errington lost to Brian Murdoch -1
Derek Watts lost to Derek Knight -5
Barry Keen beat Alan Wilson +20tp
Andrew Killick beat Fergus McInnes +18
Phil Errington lost to Sam Murray -22
Charles Waterfield beat David Magee +1T (22-21)
Eugene Chang beat Brian Murdoch +23
Barry Keen beat Derek Knight +6
Andrew Killick beat Alan Wilson +10
Derek Watts beat Fergus McInnes +25
Andrew Killick beat Sam Murray +1T (23-22)
Derek Watts beat David Magee +5T (25-20)
Barry Keen lost to Brian Murdoch -4
Eugene Chang beat Derek Knight +2
Phil Errington lost to Alan Wilson -6T (17-23)
Charles Waterfield beat Fergus McInnes +15T (22-7)
Eugene Chang lost to Sam Murray -8
Phil Errington beat David Magee +18
Charles Waterfield beat Brian Murdoch +26
Andrew Killick lost to Derek Knight -9
Derek Watts beat Alan Wilson +23
Barry Keen lost to Fergus McInnes -1T (19-20)
Match score: CA 16, SCA 11