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Nigel Polhill and John Davis shared the Treasurer's Tankard

[<<] [>>] by Martin Murray at Guildford and Godalming [^] -> bottom
20th September (AC)

John Davis and Nigel Polhill share title in the dark.

Treasurer's Tankard 2018

This tournament was memorable, but not for the best reasons. The problems started on the first morning, when one of the players arrived 45 minutes late, citing traffic problems on the motorway. The weather was fine and sunny, but this only added to the problems, as the lawns were very fast, and two of them were bumpy after suffering in the dry hot summer. By lunchtime it was clear that quick games would be a rarity; the slowest game was pegged down to let round 2 commence, but it was well after tea-time that round 2 finished. Although a start was made on round 3, none of the games was finished when darkness fell at 8 pm.

It was generally agreed that an earlier start, 9.30 am, was desirable on Friday morning, but round 3 was not completed by lunch-time, so again the slowest game was pegged down. This pattern continued, so that by darkness only five rounds had been completed, though by now four games were pegged down, all involving the same player. An early leader had emerged, John Davis, playing his first Eight for 31 years, being unbeaten with four wins and one game pegged-down.

By now there was obvious concern that the event might not finish, so two pegged down games were started (double banked on the same lawn) at 9 am on Saturday morning. These both duly finished reasonably quickly, so round 6, held over from Friday, started more or less at 10 am. In round 7 John met his first defeat, at the hands of Ian Vincent, who was now only two games behind.

Play on Sunday and Monday again started at 9 am with pegged down games, but with three rounds to play on Monday, and several games still pegged down, there were still fears that the event would not finish. A late game on Sunday saw Nigel Polhill, unbeaten in the second series, take second place from Ian, and it was clear that Nigel, on 7 wins, was the only player likely to catch John, now on 9 wins.

This position was maintained in round 12, where both Nigel and John won, and the priority now was to get their remaining two games started as soon as possible. Thus an exciting game between Ian and Graham Gale, which reduced to a two-ball ending when Ian, in pegging out Graham's forward ball, accidentally pegged out his own ball as well. With both balls on 3-back, and the potential of impasses, the game unfortunately had to be abandoned to allow Graham to play Nigel.

It felt inevitable that round 13 would result in a win for Nigel and a loss for John. Any other combination would make John a clear winner after 13 rounds, and we could all go home. John's earlier steadiness had wavered somewhat, and he fell well behind James Hawkins. A late rally failed to save the game, while Nigel, by now playing with fluency and confidence after six straight wins, beat Graham fairly easily.

Now the two important games in round 14 could be started, John versus Ian about 5.30 pm, and Nigel versus Martin Murray not until almost 6.30 pm. With darkness inevitable at 8 pm, it seemed the best (or only?) chance of a clear result was for John to win, but Ian started out by building a clear lead. Another rally by John was again insufficient, and Ian eventually pegged out as darkness fell. Nigel's game was still some way from finishing, but both he and Martin carried on. By about 8.20 pm, with the balls almost invisible, Martin had got to rover and peg, but Nigel hit a 17 yard lift shot. Arthur Lindley, a Godalming member, brought out a powerful hand-held lamp which helped Nigel to complete a break from 4-back and peg out just on 8.30 pm.

So Nigel's run of eight consecutive wins had been just enough to catch John on 10 wins, both being the only players to complete all 14 games. In all six games were left uncompleted, indeed two games in round 14 never even started.

The remaining two players in the event, not involved in the final action, had mixed fortunes. Chris Martin, playing his first Eight, showed obvious promise for the future, whereas David Harrison-Wood had a miserable time; frequently pegged down, and struggling for form, he lost confidence, and completed only 10 games.

Full results at:

croquetscores.com/2018/ac/treasurers-tankard/



 

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