Hugh Stephenson and Steve Edney competed for the Golf Croquet Trophy this year. Best of three games.
Steve won the toss, so played Blue and Black. Hugh won the first hoop, Steve the second, and both players took it in turns to win the next hoop until Hugh won three in a row to win 7-4.
In the second game, again Hugh took the first hoop, and again Steve the second, and again taking it in turns until Steve broke away 5-3, and this time won the game 7-4.
In the third, deciding, game, the first hoop took a few shots to be won, again by Hugh. Steve took the next two, then Hugh levelled, and then Hugh took a 3-2 lead, and then Steve equalized. Hugh went to 4-3, but back came Steve on the next hoop, 4-all. Yet again, Hugh went 5-4 up, only for Steve to level 5-5. Guess who won the next hoop? Yes, it was Hugh, but Steve levelled once more to make it 6-all.
Golden hoop. All or nothing, Steve played Black nicely into a shooting position, 6 feet from the hoop, a bit to the right. Hugh knocked Yellow a long way past but also a potential for a hoop-run. Steve’s Blue crept in close to the hoop but under hit and on the wrong side. Hugh managed to get Red into a closer position, straighter than Steve’s Black. So what should Steve do? Having missed a couple of similar shots earlier, there was initial doubt, but given the position of the Red, Steve went for it. Straight through for the win!
So the final score was Steve 2 – 1 Hugh. 4-7, 7-4, 7-6 (golden hoop).
Ember Croquet played Ealing on 7 September 2019 in a friendly fixture. It would have been an SECF B League match, but Ealing could not field an eligible team. Ember therefore were assured of victory, recorded as a 3-0 win for the official record.
Bob (18 handicap) and Roger S (20) took on Simon (6) and Ruth (18) in the morning doubles. Simon managed to hit in to our joined-up pair on his first shot onto the lawn and after a bit of manoeuvring got his team’s balls set up for his partner at hoop 1. Seizing his chance and using our first bisque Roger ran hoop 1, and then hoop 2 and on to Rover using four bisques in the process. A not unfamiliar start for Roger!! Ruth got round to hoop 3 with the help of a bisque and Bob got started also round to hoop 3. We were then treated to a master class of tactical play from Simon who planned to take his ball all the way round having peeled Roger through Rover with the intention of pegging him out. Fortunately for Ember, the turn broke down at 2-back. Bob bided his time waiting for the opportunity to get the lawn set for a four-ball break. Eventually the moment arrived and using all but two of our bisques he got round to the peg, and tried to set up Roger to run Rover and peg out. Unfortunately, he left his ball just out of position, and we were at the risk of disruption if Ruth had been able to hit in using her side’s last bisques. Luckily, she failed with her attempt and Roger used our last two bisques to run Rover and peg out. A 26-10 win for Ember.
We had lunch outside the Croquet Pavilion as Bowls were holding their finals weekend. Margaret Dollimore provided a delicious chicken dish, accompanied by ham, salad, cheeses, and bread. For dessert, she supplied a glorious fruit flan. Everyone got stuck in and then we remembered we had to play croquet again.
In the first singles, Steve (12) took on David (14). Steve took a bisque to set up a 4-ball break and skipped round with black to peg in no time at all (just one blob on a hoop run, so a second bisque taken). David had a few goes and with a number of bisques, managed a few hoops with both balls but never succeeded in setting up a lasting innings. Soon enough, Steve had another turn, and again with one bisque, the balls were reasonably well setup for another long innings. Not long after the game was over, Steve had won using only four of his six bisques, by 26 points to 6.
Steve timed his game perfectly to leave the lawn as victor to a celebratory tea and fabulous fruitcake (made of course by Margaret). The Ember players were in sparkling form, as was the food! Ealing, although starved of success on the croquet lawn, enjoyed the sustenance.
Roger D (9) took on Colin (6) in the final singles game. Colin started with a standard east boundary layup with Roger opting for a west boundary tice with the first ball. Roger then hit in on Colin’s balls on the east boundary with his second shot, and proceeded via his own ball on the west boundary to run the first hoop, only to stall on the second (as usual). the game then became a bit of cat and mouse until Roger made a break from hoop 2 too 1 back. Colin made a couple of hoops then Roger made the break from 1 back to rover. More jousting and Colin making a few hoops in ones and twos with Roger making rather better progress to 2 back. Colin then missed a long hit in and with Roger on 2 back and Rover with one bisque remaining Colin decided to concede the game. 18 to 14 win to Ember.
This result means Ember won 3-0 and have won all four matches in the competition. With all other teams reporting at least one loss, except Caterham who have won two with two games unreported, Ember might be in the frame to at least draw a victory in the SECF B League. Well done team!
The league matches were completed this afternoon and what a tussle it was! Well done to everyone for finishing their matches in good time.
Steve, playing in the morning needed to make at least 12 hoops if he lost to Simon, which he did on both counts!! He ended with 27 match points and 163 hoop points.
Roger S playing in the afternoon then needed to win with 18 hoops against Roger D to tie the competition, which he also did on both counts and also ended on 27 match points and 163 hoop points!!
So, the result was a tie for first place. Rule 12 then came into play:
The winner of the competition is the player with the highest number of match points. If two or more players have the same number of match points, then the player with the greatest number of hoop points will be the winner. If this still results in a tie, then the player who has the greater or greatest number of hoop points in the relevant head-to-head match or matches will be the winner of the competition. If this still results in a tie, the league organiser shall decide how the winner will be determined.
Steve won both of the head-to-head matches and so he is thereby the winner.
Congratulations to Steve and commiserations to Roger on another close fought competition.
The 2019 Ember Croquet Open Singles final was held on Weds 4th September. Early morning rain delayed the start to 11am, though the lawn was rather waterlogged in front of the pavilion. The two combatants, Tom Eddy and Steve Edney, were slightly perplexed but delighted to have made it to the final two, both for the first time. Steve had played very well to beat seasoned campaigners, Hugh and Mike, while Tom had claimed the scalp of none other than serial open winner, Roger Dollimore.
Tom said he had organised for Sky to cover the game, as they bid more than the BBC. Somewhat disappointingly, no TV cameras were there.
Tom got going first and moved both balls to hoop 3, including a peel at hoop 2, in the opening exchanges. Steve then got motoring with red ball, moving it round to the peg in two or three innings, while Tom inched black and blue round the first circuit.
Steve then stalled with yellow, setting up four ball breaks but then failing on the hoop approaches. Tom gained more confidence and started hitting in from longer distances, and eventually gained the lead when yellow was still on 2 back, but both black and blue were on 4 back.
Steve regrouped and moved yellow to the peg. Victory in sight, he fluffed a relatively simple croquet shot to get position on red (between 3 back and rover). All he could do was rush it towards the east boundary (tennis courts). Too far for the shot to peg, he felt confident to put both balls near the peg for the next turn as surely Tom would miss a 25 yarder, black to blue…
…Tom did not miss. Instead he proceeded to split up red and yellow, and run to peg with blue. Next step was to peg out yellow from less than 3 yards. He missed! A couple of nervy exchanges later (this bit feels rather hazy as to what actually happened at this time), Steve managed to get back in and finish the game as winner. The final score was 26 to 21.
Both players agreed that at times the play was a bit twitchy but for the most part both of us were absolutely magnificent. Croquet won today, and the Sky Sports cameras missed a ripper
This year’s Croquet Doubles Final took place on 15 August. Bob teamed up with Roger S (8 bisques), and Steve with Simon (7 bisques). After getting all four balls onto the lawn, it was Roger who got the first chance to build an innings. With the aid of only two bisques he was round to Rover in one turn. Next on the lawn was Simon who needed three bisques to proceed to 2-back. After a bit of sparring it was Bob’s turn, taking four bisques he got to 3-back. One bisque left for Bob/Roger. After more sparring it was Steve’s go. Using just one bisque he was also round to 3-back, before he missed a roquet and ran too far to risk another bisque.
This was the first time in living memory (well, amongst those playing anyway) that the first scoring turns from all four players had proceeded past 1-back.
Now, short on bisques, both teams played tactically. With half-an-hour to go it was anyone’s game. Bob then took his side’s last bisque and ran two more hoops. The pressure was on. Simon then had another good turn and ended up on Rover, using up his team’s remaining bisques. With Roger and Simon both on Rover, Steve was two hoops behind Bob. Time was running out and Steve put Simon back in for an easier chance of a hoop, not realising that he would not get another turn. Time was called with Simon still on the lawn, but there were no more points to gain, apart from shooting at the peg. Bob had his team’s final turn and added a further hoop. The final score: Bob and Roger, 23: Steve and Simon, 20.
This was a well fought game, played in an excellent spirit. In fact, all players reckoned it was the best doubles matches they had played. A shame there had to be a loser!