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[<<] [>>] by Andrew Killick at York
1st September 2021 (International)

What a competitive weekend! What ecstasies and agonies following each other in quick succession! York provided three wonderful lawns, generous hospitality and at least one day of continuous sunshine. Moreover it was all played in a most friendly spirit, so, whatever the final result, Croquet won…The account that follows is necessarily partial and partisan, but I hope it will give you a good bird's-eye view.

The teams lined up as follows:

The English Team The Scottish Team

Omied Hallam (-1) David Magee (0)

Callum Johnson (-1) Chris Martin (-0.5)

Andrew Killick (-0.5) Lorna Dewar (0)

Alex McIntyre (1.5) Rosemary Saunders-Robertson (3.5)

Sophie McGlen (3) Derek Knight (1)

Roger Staples (3) George Plant (1)

Saturday Round 1 - Doubles

It was disconcerting to hear the sound of a pegout after less than an hour and see that Callum and Sophie had lost 0-26 to David and George. I gather that the Scottish pair played brilliantly, and poor Callum only hit the ball once in the entire game! However Omied and Roger beat Chris and Rosemary in a close game (26-22). Alex and I (Andrew) were in the last game to finish, and it was also close: 26-18 against Lorna and Derek. So it was 2-1 to the CA at lunch. Encouraging!

Round 2 - Singles

And then things began to go wrong. The class acts were Omied beating Chris 26-10 with a triple peel, and Callum beating David by the same score. The rest of us struggled, though all the matches could easily have gone the other way. George beat Sophie 26-10, Rosemary beat Roger 26-18, Derek beat Alex 20-17 on time, and I…oh I wish I hadn't missed a fairly short roquet after time was called and the scores were level! It was golden hoop time, and Lorna made light work of scoring two more points to win 25-23 on time. That made it 5-4 to the SCA: disappointing, after such a promising morning.

Round 3 - Singles

If that was bad enough, worse was to come. The Scots won the Saturday late afternoon matches 5-1 and took a commanding lead overall. George did a triple peel against Alex and won 26-0. Rosemary's 26-3 victory over Sophie was also pretty convincing. Omied was our one bright spot, beating David 26-16. But Roger lost to Derek 5-26; Callum lost 21-26 to Lorna; and I had an oscillating struggle against Chris, but he was the one who controlled his nerves better and won 22-17 on time. That made it 10-5 to the SCA. Was there ANY hope of a magnificent comeback? Helping to drown our sorrows, we did go out to a very nice Italian restaurant near the club in the evening. The alcohol flowed; the conversation flowed; and the dark mutterings flowed too, as we wondered what it would take to reverse the deficit…

Sunday Round 4 - Doubles; and where has all that sunshine gone?!

I partnered Roger against Lorna and Rosemary; and although one should never apologise for mistakes and awful play, I did start out badly! First Rosemary got in and got to hoop 6 before she (rather surprisingly) broke down. We failed to capitalise - my fault. Then Lorna got in and went even further, till she too missed an easy hoop run at - guess where! - hoop 2 back. Roger took the six-yard lift shot from A baulk and went all the way round to 4 back - a model break. But hang on: what has happened to Sophie and our talisman Omied, who notched up three wins on Saturday? It seems they missed a couple of lift shots and lost 9-26, with George working his magic and performing yet another triple peel. This was NOT the way we needed things to go. Callum and Alex were also struggling against David and Derek: whenever I looked in their direction, they were hitting long shots very hard but just missing, and eventually they lost 11-26. Come on, boy, concentrate on your own game - and how about trying a 4-ball break for a change? (Earlier on Omied had been gently teasing and wondering whether I believed in 4-ball breaks, as they so seldom appeared in my games!) We survived, I went round, and we won our game 26-14. So that made it 12-6 to the SCA, and we would need to win ALL the afternoon games to tie the match.

Round 5 - Singles

And we so nearly did! I think there was a Churchillian "Never give up" attitude as we started the final afternoon session. Omied got back to winning ways with a 26-10 score against Lorna. Callum did the rather rarer TPO (triple peel of opponent) against Chris and won the 3-ball ending 26-14. Alas, Roger lost to the irrepressible George 12-26. But Sophie beat Derek 26-12, and Alex and I, playing on what turned out to be our "lucky lawn", both won on time: Alex beat Rosemary 25-17, while I had a cagey game against David and won 24-10 (not 26-12 as reported in Croquet Scores).

And that was it: 13-11 to the SCA, and while they all seemed to be playing brilliantly, George Plant was their star performer with five wins out of five and two triple peels! It was great to enjoy two days of such congenial company - but all croquet tournaments I have ever been to have been like that, so If you are wondering about entering a tournament for the first time sometime soon, take the plunge: I can heartily recommend it!

Andrew Killick (Middlesbrough Croquet Club)

All results published on Croquet Scores here


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