The prize for winning Division Two in the Intercounties, apart from getting your name on a very nice trophy, is the chance to play against the CA Ladies team. This is a privilege and an honour. The Yorkshire team were delighted to play the Ladies and to be able to host the event in York, the capital of the greatest county on the planet, where the local club now boasts three excellent lawns plus a small sized practice lawn they are developing. Located 5 minutes walk from the city walls, the club is easy to find and extremely welcoming.
Several club members, under the leadership of John Harris had worked hard to prepare the lawns and the facilities for the weekend. They also found time to produce an endless supply of homemade cakes and cups of tea to keep us going.
Saturday arrived fairly warm and dry! All matches were played as a best-of-three and we started with the doubles. The Ladies went with strength at the top whereas Yorkshire tried a more even split. Tactically the Ladies got it right as they won at pair one (Ailsa and Sarah) 2-0 (both +2 on time) against Robert W and Robert E and pair 2 where Beatrice and Mary was even closer at 2-1 (-10, +3T and +13T) against Rod and Paul. This was the match that meant that dinner at the local Italian restaurant started at 8pm. Meanwhile Peter and John beat Avril and Francois 2-0 at pair 3.
After an excellent meal the players retired to various parts of Yorkshire to prepare for the singles. Chez Peter hosted 5 of the Yorkshire team (in Hull) for a bit of pre-Counties bonding!
Sunday morning dawned with gentle rain falling but this soon gave way to bright sunshine and increasingly warm temperatures, definitely not Counties weather! The singles pairings were based on rankings, not handicap. In the end Yorkshire won five of the six matches 2-0 and the sixth, between Sarah and Robert E, was shared 1-1. I know it is always nice to win, especially since Lancashire lost to the Ladies last year, but I think I can say that there were no losers during what was an extremely enjoyable weekend. The sun shone, the match was played in a wonderful spirit, the pre-match team talks on Sunday morning were unusual to say the least and the Yorkshire team had its first ever pre-Counties warm up.
Finally a very positive mention for the York club. As Yorkshire captain I am ashamed to say that this is the first time I have played there. However, it will not be the last. I am sure I have made new friends as, indeed, I think we all did. I encourage all croquet players to make the time to visit this wonderful city and combine croquet with some historical and gastronomical tourism. There is even an excellent B&B just across the road from the club. A big thank you from all the players.