Barter Cup back to full capacity with an ever improving field!!!
The Barter Cup is often seen as a nice friendly early season GC event for the players to ease into the season and dust off their mallets. However, the exceptionally high standard meant that each of the four blocks of eight had 50% of minus players in it, making it extremely difficult for anyone else to qualify as one of the top four into the knock out rounds. In the past only the top two would have been going through, but this year it was decided to try and put four through which could have caused 'time issues' fortunately the decision was decided to play the first two rounds of the knock out as a single 19point game, leaving the semi final and final as best of three 13point games. (Which I believe worked well?) This format was replicated in the 'Consolation' knock out half.
Saturday saw a complete range of weather from freezing sunshine to a spat of sleet/hail which saw the 'lush' lawns shine with pride with their brand new hoops and balls. Unfortunately, the falling temperatures overnight left a severe frost which took out lawn 5 for Sunday morning. Fortunately, the Cheltenham team sprang into action and with the help Deborah Albertsen (secretary) and Christopher Roberts (Rot) we were able to set up lawn 3 to minimise the disruption, which was much appreciated by all especially the manager! My thanks also go to the team led by Pat Francis that provided the sandwiches and afternoon teas for the cold hungry players. Finally, to my three other block scorers, Richard Brand, Klim Seabright and Richard Bilton (my hero) who once again took charge of croquet scores for me.
Block A was won by Steve Leonard followed by Christopher Roberts, Timothy Brooker and a relieved Ian Burridge. Block B was another tight affair and was won by Mark Suter followed by Tim Russell, Euan Burridge and Colin Britt. Block C seeds all went through in order and was won by an undefeated James Death, followed by Nick Archer, Ivor Brand and Stuart Smith all of which had to be separated by net points. Block D was also won by an undefeated Aston Wade followed by David Bell, Pedro Lozano and Richard Bilton (who was also relieved that the manager had decided to put the top four through this year)
At this point it struck me how many games were reaching the 13th hoop resulting in players like me reflecting on ifs and buts' about how my block might have looked had the games gone the other way? Neil Fillery had the most time to consider this with 5 out his 7 block games going the distance.
Anyway on to the finals, where in the main event James Death was waiting despite Nick Archer's best efforts to take a game off him in the semi final. The other semi final was between Pedro Lozano (3rd in his block) and Richard Bilton (4th in his block) Pedro had previously beaten the undefeated Aston Wade 10-8, while Richard gained a narrow victory 10-9 over David Bell. Pedro (handicap1 from Spain) was playing beautifully and earned his place in the final winning in two straight games. On paper James was the favourite with a handicap of -4 compared to Pedro's handicap of 1. Both players set the standard early on with good clearing and confident hoop running and the first game went the distance to the 13th hoop. Pedro had positioned well and left two shots from the south boundary for James which were missed and so Pedro took the first game. James responded well by confidently taking the 2nd game 7-4. In the deciding game Pedro continued to strike the ball smoothly and built himself a lead as James's consistency deserted him allowing Pedro to win 7-4 to take home (well at least to the airport) the Barter cup. The consolation knock out plate was following the same format and had reached its climax with the previous unlucky (lost by 1) Neil Fillery earning his place in the final by beating Klim Seabright. While in the other semi final an excited Jane Humphreys had just squeezed past the ever improving Sam Cuthbert. In the end it was Neil who ended up being successful over Jane who had 'had a great weekend' according to her husband Neil.
Meanwhile other blocks were also being decided and congratulations to Aston Wade who won the 'shield' undefeated amongst impressive company. Euan narrowly came out on top over dad Ian Burridge to win the 'bowl' despite spending a considerable amount of time looking for wildlife in the bushes!!!