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The Coles Championship

[<<] [>>] by David Fuller
7th May (AC - Championships)

The Coles Championship, held at Cheltenham Croquet Club every May Bank Holiday, is regarded as one of the most prestigious in the UK Croquet calendar, and the wonderful Silver Trophy awaiting the winner certainly reflected that claim.

The Main Event was a fully seeded draw, best of three knockout, Advanced rules, or Super Advanced on player agreement. A Consolation flexible Swiss ran in parallel for those unfortunate enough to be knocked out.

Arriving early on the first day, I was greeted by the view of the main eight lawns looking in great condition and with a host of club members and ground staff, led by Jim Blenkinsop, mowing, swishing and generally getting everything in tip top shape. I can confirm that the lawns played very well indeed.

A high-quality field was led by Reg Bamford, David Maugham, and last year's winner, David Goacher. The standard of play was excellent throughout and, personally, I was very pleased to see my first live sextuple! In fact I saw my first FIVE!... you wait for ages then five come along together.

The first round went to seeding, although Dave Kibble needed a TPO to get past Robert Dodds 2-1, and the Lorna Dewar / Louise Bradforth was a marathon decided on time after a nine-hour struggle. I had to feel for Reg who was waiting to play the winner for just over six and a half hours, after completing a TP and an SXP in not much more than two hours.

The second round was a tighter affair in the bottom half of the draw, with our reigning champion David 'The Goat' Goacher butting horns with our Tournament Manager, Mark Suter, eventually winning the third game. I was very pleased to take a game off David Maugham, and did have chances for the winner, but David's experience told in the end winning 2-1 - I have so much to learn!

Reg carried on serenely with another SXP then TP against Louise, who had the cheek to win the opening in the first game and go round! Sadly for Louise, Reg hit the lift and that was it. Don't poke the bear! Duncan Reeve beat Dave Kibble 2-0, although I was concerned to see a +2tp. I had one of those two weeks ago and got an ear-bashing from James Death that I didn't peg an oppo ball out first for a +1tp. I didn't know that was a thing, but apparently it is an important thing. Duncan, what went wrong?

Into the semis, and the weather was glorious on the Sunday afternoon! Reg, against Duncan, had another SXP and then slipped up with a simple +19. Duncan later advised that he had set a Sextuple Leave himself in one of the games, only to see Reg hit the Tea Lady shot three-quarter-ball.

In the other semi, playing Super Advanced, DavidM against DavidG, DavidM was of course completely aware of this +1tp thing and won the first game with that score after being 2 and 2 vs peg and peg, much to the amusement of the gallery. Don't poke the Goat either, because DavidG won the last two to move into the final.

The final was able to start at midday on Monday and so was declared to be best of three, Super Advanced. It was a pity that there was no video, as I am sure that most of us could learn a thing or two from Reg's two SXPs to take the trophy. That was 5 SXPs out of 8 for the tournament. The conditions were not particularly punishing, but even so, quality stuff. Congratulations Reg.

The rest of us were battling it out in the Consolation Event, in which Duncan Reeve defeated Dave Kibble +11 in the play-off.

What a great event! I will certainly make this a regular on my calendar. Many thanks to the ladies who provided such excellent lunches and teas and making the sound of the lunch bell a highlight of the day. Many thanks also to the many club members ensuring the great playing conditions. Finaly thanks to Mark Suter for keeping us all so well organised.


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