National Veterans Tournament - Budleigh Salterton 2021
The tournament started on Monday 21st June, the summer equinox and longest day. A long day it certainly was for the competitors. The initial two pairs played to go forward to the main X & Y Knockout with the Tournament Director, Roger Mills and the Tournament Manager, losing by 6 points to 4!! However, as the rain greeted the players and continued throughout the day, it has to be said that not having to play again was an acceptable result. Eight pairs battled on playing 2 hour 22 point games and all ended-up very wet playing on imminently unplayable lawns. Jane Babbage, Budleigh and Richard Williamson, Bristol triumphed over Avril Rangoni-Machiavelli, Blewbury, and Alan Cottle in the X final and took the Sussex Trugs. David Buckman and John Millen, both Canterbury Club battled Erica Malaiperuman, Nailsea, and Jonathan Wolfe, Taunton Deane, for the Y final. Buckman and Millen prevailed and took the Gilbert Spoons.
The weather turned on Tuesday morning and for the rest of the week the conditions were almost ideal. Warm sun and a gentle breeze persisted into the evening. Budleigh's superb lawn, maintained by Richard Quelch, gave little excuse for balls going off-line. The Handicap Singles played in 2 blocks of six with a play-off on Thursday morning between David Buckman  and Andre Machell , Watford. Buckman won with a convincing 26 - 7 and took home the double-plinthed [?] Meredith Trophy.
Thursday afternoon saw the start of the Class play. Health problems and pre-event injuries bedevilled this event with 3 withdrawals. One pre-start, for which the manager was able to call in friend to cover and two during the course of play of the handicap block. The manager is, now, really au fait with Tournament Regulations for incomplete blocks. Thankfully the correct result was easily determined.
Prize giving was 15 minutes late at 4.15pm but tea and cake were gently consumed and even an 'Otter' or two. Glass based prizes were offered for the most triple peels, a player's first triple peel and the fastest game. Surprisingly there were no triple peels at all and the Tournament Manager presented himself with a bottle of Malbec for the fastest game at 1 hour 4 minutes.
The A Block of 8 players, -1.5 to 1.5 played to a suggested Order of Play with no time limit although 2 hours 30 minutes was the anticipated bogey time. All matches finished bar one delayed by the inevitable marathon and the unfinished match pair were happy to 'call it quits'. Paul Castell, Sussex County, won 6 out of 7 games and carried-off the Rothwell Challenge Cup. Winning the A block also made him the highest placed over 75 so he also took the Alan Pidcock Trophy.
Once again there was a large entry of B Level Handicaps but not enough time for two blocks to play off and the handicap block had to be taken into consideration to ensure it was tenable. Thus in a tight block, Handicap 2 to 3, the Tournament Manager, Chris Donovan, won 5 out of 6 games and took the Felixstowe Cup.
The C Block, handicaps 4 to 6, saw David Marcus, Sussex County, win 6 out of 7 games and take the bottle of wine and a 'memento', a black enamel coated croquet figure made from nuts and bolts. [Must approach the CA for another trophy.]
The D block was won convincingly, despite the withdrawals, by Kevin Wright, Auchincruive visiting Budleigh for the first time. Wright took, therefore, the Strickland Cup.
All prizes were presented by Peter Nelson, Sidmouth, who is a South West Federation elected Council Member. He emphasised the warm welcome received by all and the huge effort put in by John O'Gorman, the Club Chairman. John is a novice Tournament Secretary but had been setting hoops, putting out the balls and 'ball-wash buckets', taking food orders, and generally ensuring all went smoothly. Both Peter Nelson and Paul Castell noted the quality of the lawns and thanks were given to all the background workers without whom no tournament would function.