Bernie Phillips won the Grass Roots Final
Ryde's inaugural involvement with this event brought a chilly but dry and bright autumnal day. Sixteen players from eight different clubs (Cheltenham and Broadwas being unable to provide a finalist) were mostly making their first visit to Ryde. Many of the entrants had improved their handicap during the season such that the starting field range ran from 4 to 12.
After the morning's three games of block play two players remained undefeated - Bernie Phillips (Guildford 4) and Kevin Woodgate (Ryde 9) - with the other two blocks each led by a 9 handicapper, Jackie Hikal (Stony Stratford) and Dee McKibbin (Phyllis Court). Paul Rockall (Gainsborough) and Woodgate provided some excitement for the manager and referees in round two, necessitating a quick reference to Rule 15.3 before both players resolved the situation and a Penalty Area Continuation was avoided.
Several visiting players had brought their supporters with them and after a splendid lunch provided by Joan Grove and Debbie Hayns, the serious business of the Knockout began. Three of the block leaders won their quarter final games against second place opponents but McKibbin, returning again to Lawn 4, was involved in a long and dogged scrap with her Phyllis Court colleague Wendy Kingon, decided on time in favour of the latter.
The semi-finls brought the two remaining undefeated players together with the relatively experienced Phillips proving too strong for Woodgate playing his first ever tournament. In the other semi Hikal continued her fine form with a similarly strong win against Kingon.
The Final got underway shortly after five o'clock in front of an enthusiastic audience on the Lawn 2 patio, many rooting (get it!) for the underdog Hikal. Both players had earned their places and despite the large handicap difference provided an enthralling and unpredictable game showing a good grasp of both tactical and practical skills. Clearing accuracy and positive hoop running were equally matched but Phillips was able to gain the initiative at 5-5 and close out the match undefeated on the day, a worthy winner of the Grass Roots trophy.
Paul Cotterell (Eynsham) earned himself a bottle of wine by achieving his fourth win of the day defeating Frances Broadway (Enfield) in the Plate final.
My thanks go to Richard Bilton for all the 'behind the scenes' work making the Manager's life that much easier and similarly to my three willing assistant referees on the day.