During the weekend of 25th & 26th April, Sidmouth Croquet Club was the venue for the Haste Cup, a Croquet Association Open Golf Croquet Tournament. Sixteen players, including some of the top players in the country with handicaps as low as -1, came from as far afield as Dyffryn in Wales, Northampton and Sussex, many using it as an excuse for a weekend in Sidmouth! A player from Budleigh was the only one from the Sidmouth area and unfortunately no-one from the host club took part this year.
The players were divided into two American all-play-all Blocks, all of them playing a 13-point game against each of the other players in the block. This gives a total of 28 games per block. Most of the block games were played on Saturday, which started reasonably fine but deteriorated during the afternoon, when it became quite wet and cold. By the end of play on Saturday it was fairly obvious which players would go forward to the semi-finals.
On Sunday, the sun shone in the morning and play continued. There were clear winners of the two blocks but in Block B four players vied for runner-up position. After the usual who beat whom, the second place was established. The semi-finals followed between Richard Brooks (Sussex), winner of Block A against Tony Forbes (Cheltenham), runner-up in block B. Chris Roberts (Henley), winner of block B played against William Ormerod (Swanage), runner-up in Block A. (These matches are the best of three 13 point games).
Chris beat William in just two games, but Tony needed three games to beat Richard. The match between Chris Roberts & William Ormerod was particularly interesting to watch because of the different styles of the players. Chris lined up, hit hard and was very accurate, while William took his time lining up, appearing to swing in an odd direction, but hitting the opponent balls out of the way or running very diffucult hoops easily.
While the semi-finals were being played most of the other players played 'cross-over games' eventually giving positions 5 - 16.
After lunch the final was held between Chris Roberts (handicap 0) & Tony Forbes (handicap 1). This is also the best of three 13 point games. Chris, who had already won all of the games he played, continued his winning form. The accuracy of many of his long shots won the day and he beat Tony in two games. A very worthy winner.
As one player did not wish to play more games, there was no play off match for 3rd & 4th positions. Richard Brooks was declared 3rd and William Ormerod 4th,.
The Cup was then presented to the winner, Chris Roberts, by Amanda Haste, a 'country' member of Sidmouth Croquet Club, now living in France. Amanda donated the cup for the tournament when if was first held a few years ago. Tony Forbes, the runner-up received a bottle of wine.
The dates were announced for 2016, and hopefully all the players will return next year, for their weekend of croquet by the sea.