The Musk's Cup was held at Roehampton this year, and was contested by what was probably the tournaments strongest ever field. This year we had a change of format, which introduced two more competitors to the field, giving eight in total. Also, instead of an all play all block for the title, a knock-out was introduced.
As far as performances go, the Roehampton members were certainly treated to some top quality Golf Croquet. Harry Dodge played with his usual brilliance, while Stephen Mulliner demonstrated his strengths well. The field had a very interesting mix of power players and steady performers, and there was an abundance of distance hoops, long roquets and immaculate positional play being executed. As the weekend progressed, Harry Dodge emerged from the block having dropped only one game, and Stephen took a comfortable second. Lionel Tibble and Martin French finished third and fourth. The block placings were in contention up until the very last hoop was scored in the last round (which was strategically engineered by the manager, of course!) because Dodge v Mulliner and Tibble v French was the final round.
In the knock-out round, Harry put in a clinical performance against Martin to take the match in two, while Lionel made Stephen work exceptionally hard for the win, taking the third game to the thirteenth hoop, with a warranted Mulliner fist pump upon scoring. The final was a bit of a soggy ordeal, as we had faced pretty consistent rain throughout Monday morning, so Tim King (very kindly) set to work with a sponge roller (which works like a charm for standing water!) to dispatch the puddles that had emerged on the North Boundary. Nevertheless, our tireless finalists took to the lawns like ducks to water (sorry!), and gave the remaining spectators a final to behold. Stephen and Harry are both incredibly strong players, and when they're both on song, the clearances just keep on coming. Harry's hoop running was on point as ever, but Stephen played well to take the first game 7-5. Harry took a comfortable lead in the second game, but Stephen did well to come from 4-1 down to 4-3. Harry played very well to take control of hoop 8, which some may claim was a pivotal hoop in the game. Stephen played a great blocking shot to take control of 9, but Harry took 10 and 11 to win 7-4. The third game was a little less nail-biting, with Stephen taking a 5-1 lead. Some excellent play followed, but Stephen closed the match at 7-2 to take the tournament.
I'd like to thank the competitors for contributing to a wonderful weekend of croquet, and special thanks to John Bowcott for donning his CA hat and presenting the cup. Roehamtpon were terrific hosts, the lawns were tidy, the hoops were well set, the spectators were keen and the food was great, so again huge thanks to them.