To mark the end of the playing season, on Saturday 3rd October our President, Ian Vincent, hosted a well attended Alternate Stroke Doubles event, followed by the traditional Presidents' Tea - appropriately socialy distanced this year - and presentation of club trophies. Increasingly heavy rain rather put a damper on planned games of Pirates to follow. However nothing could put a damper on the surprise presentation of the Croquet Association Diploma for outstanding service awarded to Martin Beacon. Martin has contributed to the club in innumerable ways over many years, including his role as pavilion manager, his work in regularly stocking the bar, acting as Grounds Manager for major events, and lending his expertise to assist the projects to sink a borehole and provide an automatic watering system. The full citation can be found here . Congratulations and thanks to Martin.
The three former bowling greens which have been used for croquet in recent years had deteriorated in turf quality, levelling and differential drying (the eastern third of each lawn being considerably faster than the rest in dry conditions), making them unappealing for club play, unsuitable for any kind of accurate play and particularly unsuitable for high class tournaments. They were taken out of commission after the Annual Tournament this year (22nd August) to have turf and top layers of soil removed, a new growing surface laid, levelled, prepared and seeded, and are now beginning to germinate. If all goes well (mainly weather-dependent) the new surface should be usable as four full sized croquet lawns and one half sized lawn some time in 2021.
The main contracters were Talbot Landscapes, with support of Irrigation Technology (Paul Graham) who had earlier this season extended our automatic irrigation system to include this new sward.
A chronological series of photos can be found HERE showing the state of the lawns before relaying, some of the processes, staff and equipment involved in the development work, and through to early germination (including Harriet the fake hawk, to scare off foraging seed-eating birds).
Match report by Ian Burridge.
3 October at Roehampton
Defending champions Nottingham conceded home advantage to Roehampton, but things weren't looking promising at 9am with all the lawns under water. However a fantastic effort by the ground staff ensured that everything was perfect for the scheduled 11am start. The rain stopping meant that the Roehampton team were able to show off their named team shirts and sweatshirts which they had been provided with for the match, the players from both sides received a water bottle memento from the club.
The first match to finish was the doubles which was a relatively comfortable 7-5, 7-5 win for Harry Fisher and Mark Van Loon (Roehampton) against James Death and Ian Burridge (Nottingham). Fisher started well and he gained Roehampton a lead that Nottingham were unable to claw back. In game two the Roehampton pair came back from 3-5 down, winning 4 hoops in a row, to win the match 2-0.
After a slow start, Alain Giraud (Nottingham) came back against Tim Russell (Roehampton) to win the match 2-1, having lost the first game, a more conservative approach in games two and three being rewarded.
The last match of the morning to finish was Daniel Pearson (Roehampton) against Richard Bilton (Nottingham). After consistent hooping from both, Bilton took the first game at hoop 13. In game two, Bilton missed some clearances as Pearson began hitting his and levelled the match. Bilton was fortunate in game 3 as he missed a peg-high clearance which snuck through a gap between two balls to run the hoop for a 3-1 lead. After this, Pearson’s form began to dip and he lost 4 of the next 5 hoops giving Bilton a relatively comfortable 7-2 win in the decider.
The score at 'lunch’ was 2-1 to Nottingham. For Covid reasons lunch, provided by the club for both teams, was actually taken at a fixed time which happened to be whilst both the morning singles were still in progress.
The first match of the afternoon was Van Loon against Burridge, the first game of which was a hoop-running masterclass from Mark. Ian found some consistency in game two, and although there were times during the next two games where things could have gone either way, Ian ran out a relatively comfortable winner in three.
The first game between Russell and Bilton was close all the way, only one hoop between them until Richard took a 6-4 lead, Tim managed to take the game to hoop 13 but first ball to one yard position was good enough for Richard to win the game.
At around 3pm, with the crowd at its peak of about 20 spectators, the weather turned rather gloomy and the floodlights were switched on. Roehampton were also staging a mini comeback with Fisher taking the first game against Death, and Pearson 5-2 up to Giraud in game two, having lost the first. However in the other match Richard had other ideas, in another nip and tuck game, Richard took the lead with a long hoop 11 after a prolonged clearing battle. Again Tim managed to take it to the deciding hoop but again Richard’s first ball to position prevailed to win the match 7-6, 7-6 and given Nottingham an unassailable 4-1 lead.
Alain came back from behind against Dan to win the second at hoop 13, whilst Harry completed an accomplished performance winning the second and the match against James 7-4. This made the final score 5-2 to Nottingham, who with this victory completed a hat-trick of victories in the event.
John Bowcott was on hand to present the trophy and thank the club for their efforts and the players for the entertainment they had provided for the spectators. Ian Burridge also thanked the club and the Roehampton team for making it a most enjoyable day together along with his fellow team members and Euan Burridge and Ian Vincent for their participation during the earlier rounds. He ended by thanking the CA for enabling the event to take place in this difficult year, and John Bowcott for directing the Inter-Club competitions so well for many years.
The final results (Nottingham names first) were:
James Death & Ian Burridge lost to Harry Fisher & Mark Van Loon 5-7, 5-7.
Richard Bilton beat Daniel Pearson 7-6, 4-7, 7-2.
Alain Giraud beat Tim Russell 3-7, 7-4, 7-5.
James Death lost to Harry Fisher 5-7, 5-7.
Ian Burridge beat Mark Van Loon 5-7, 7-4, 7-3.
Richard Bilton beat Tim Russell 7-6, 7-6.
Alain Giraud beat Daniel Pearson 7-2, 7-6.
On 19th and 20th of September, against top class opposition, Rachel Gee won the English National Singles Golf Croquet Championship, and retained the Ascot Cup, without dropping a single game over the whole weekend (winning all 6 of her best-of-3 matches by 2-0). The detailed results are here https://croquetscores.com/2020/gc/english-national-singles-championship-ascot-cup/championship .
This premier GC event was held at Southport Croquet Club, and all the semifinalists were Nottingham Croquet Club members (Rachel Gee, James Death, Richard Bilton and Ian Burridge).
Congratulations to Rachel on this remarkable achievement.
A fuller report is available here https://www.croquet.org.uk/?p=press/news&NewsID=7134
The semi-final of the Secretary's Shield (handicap Association Croquet) was closely contested between St. Albans and Nottingham on Sunday 27th September 2020 at Nottingham. In the end the result depended on a golden hoop ending, with St Albans winning by four games to three.
Results (St Albans names first):
Heather Bennett (3) & Stuart Stafford (16) lost to Omied Hallam (-1) and Debbie Watson (14)
Stephen Mills (6) lost to Roger Watson (-6) -16T
Roger Bowman (14) beat Andrew Beaumont (6) + 10
Heather Bennett (3) beat Omied Hallam (-1) +8
Stephen Mills (6) lost to Andrew Beaumont (6) -11
Roger Bowman (14) beat Roger Watson (7) +3
Stuart Stafford (16) beat Debbie Watson (14) +1 T (Golden hoop)