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!
B-League match against Reigate on 11th July at Ember Sports Club.
Bob (16) and Roger S (20) took on Frank (8) and Mike (18). Our opponents had been delayed by nearly three-quarters of an hour by a motorway traffic accident, so we agreed to have an 18-point game over two and-a-quarter hours instead of the usual 26-point game so that lunch was not unduly delayed. The mutually agreed end-product was 8 bisques for the home team and 5 for our opponents.
Roger, then Bob, got off to a steady start with the help of a bisque each. Our opponents followed suit, but they never really got going. Bob and Roger moved onwards until, after a quick tactical discussion, we agreed Roger should run Rover and get onto the peg while Bob was still on 2-back. Eventually our opponents ran out of bisques and got stuck in the hoop at 2-back – Bob’s hoop. Bob seized his chance and with the help of a bisque ran the remaining hoops and pegged out with the score at 18-5 and two bisques not used! The quick finish meant that we were able to adjourn for an early lunch! Ember one-up after the morning’s play.
In the afternoon, Roger (8) played Simon from Reigate (14). Simon made progress with both balls, nudging them along a few hoops at a time, then leaving Roger with difficult hit ins. In these early battles, Roger scored two hoops, while Simon, with bisques aplenty, got considerably further than that. Eventually, Roger sniffed a chance and by taking a bisque he got his lead ball round from Hoop 3 to the peg in one innings. Simon then proceeded some more, nearing the end of the journey for both balls. Another chance fell for Roger, again setting up the lawn using his second, and last, bisque, he ran eight hoops with his second ball, until his approach to 3-back was just a fraction short letting Simon back in. Roger was in touching distance, but alas it was not enough as Simon took his chance, and remaining bisques, to peg both balls out. The final score was 26 – 21 to the Reigate player.
So one game apiece. In the decider, Steve (14) played against Philip (20), who was an experienced GC player but new to AC. Given Phil had 14 bisques, Steve thought he should get a lead and put some pressure on the Reigate man. He did manoeuvre Red around the first circuit but was rather wasteful with his bisques, so when he blobbed one at 1-Back, he decided he couldn’t take yet another one, and in any case it was hot and he needed a sit down. Once he had done so, he realised he had gifted Phil a perfect start. So Phil got a long way on Blue, using bisques like confetti, as his tactical nous let him down. Unfortunately, Steve was struggling to maintain his form and also frittered away his remaining bisques, with Red on the peg and Yellow on 3-Back. Phil then was back in it, with Blue on the peg and Black proceeding nicely, but then he ran out of bisques and ideas when Black was on 4-Back. Bisqueless Steve now had to summon up the energy to finish the game and found some form at last, but then carelessly left the Yellow a good eight feet from the hoop. He went for it, slamming the ball into the Hoop upright, but luckily with enough forward momentum to spin through the hoop. That shot effectively won him the match as it was relatively straightforward after that to peg both balls out. Steve won by seven, 26 – 19.
Yet another win for Ember. Could we win the B-League?
The Ember Croquet team – Roger Dollimore, Bob Knox, Mike Lambert and Steve Edney – travelled down to Duncton, just south of Petworth in West Sussex for a Croquet B League game against Rother Valley Croquet Club, on 25th June 2019.
Mike (12) and Bob (16), with 8-and-a-half bisques, took on Chrissie (7) and Chris (16), with 6 bisques, in the doubles. Chrissie helped Chris to make good progress while Mike and Bob struggled to get started. Eventually Mike managed to peel Bob through hoop 1 with a hard roll and got both balls almost up to hoop 2. Ember were under way! Chris eventually progressed to Penultimate before the lower handicapped Chrissie tried to get started herself. However, she had spent too long nursing her partner round and had left too little time for a late charge. By this time Mike and Bob had found their rhythm and as the end of the match neared Bob was on Rover with Mike just a little behind. Ember were now in control and Chrissie could only manage 4 hoops with Chris making no further progress. Bob ended up on the peg and Mike on Rover, with the half bisque unused! The final score was 23-14.
In the first of the singles, Roger (8) played Edward (12), so under the base six rule Roger had 2 bisques 2 and Edward 6. The match got underway very slowly. Only 4 hoops had been run in the first hour while combatants jockeyed for an opening. Then Roger got going with a nine hoop break round to 4 back where he got out of position. Edward meanwhile had used three of his bisques and progressed to 4 and 5. The game then stalled for a while with mistakes from both sides but Roger eventually progressed to penultimate and peg using his last bisque 6 minutes from time to win 23/14 (+9).
In the final game, a singles match provided the closest contest between Steve and Rother Valley captain Alan, both playing off 14, with 8 bisques apiece. Steve was off to a great start and moved white round to Penultimate in no time, but, with a few unlucky shots on the rather loose hoops, he squandered a few bisques along the way. Alan made slower progress, only making four hoops in the first hour. Steve got going with the pink ball, but the heat got to him, and the concentration levels waned. Stuck on four back, Steve started to run down the clock but a couple of careless errors let in Alan for a late surge. Steve got a chance to get white on to the peg and pink to penultimate, and Alan ran out of time for a final rally. The score at the bell was 23 – 20 to Steve, phew!
And so in the end a three nil win for Ember. We all managed to get to 23 points, so on this occasion 23 was our lucky number. Thankfully none of us lost 26 – 23! Our opponents were a little bit slow in play, which ultimately cost them the opportunity to overtake.
Anyway, after that we rehydrated. Mike did murmur a desire for a glass of wine, but the water was much needed and appreciated. Then we sat down to a fantastic lunch. I think we were all relieved to stop playing as the heat was rather oppressive, so off we trundled back up the A3, content as victors once again!
Pauline, Irmgard, David and Stephen from Purley Bury arrived together nice and early for a prompt start at 10am. We played the two singles matches in the morning, then the doubles in the afternoon. According to new rules this season, all games are to be played with “Base 6” handicap, so Bob, for example, playing off ‘16’ had 10 bisques.
Bob took on David (handicap 11). David
shot into a decisive lead, mainly because Bob “could not hit a barn door”.
Eventually Bob found some form and edged his way back in, and actually took a
narrow lead as they started the return trip. Alas, David pulled away again and
pegged out winning 26 -17, with seconds left on the clock (3 hours 15 minutes).
Steve played Irmgard, with a handsome set of 10 bisques each. Irmgard got going first using five bisques to achieve only five hoops. Steve then rapidly consumed five bisques and manoeuvred his pink ball to the peg. Irmgard ran a few more hoops but used up all but one bisque. Steve proceeded on another long innings, and was on 4 back by the time he had one bisque left. Comfortably ahead, he got the wobbles for a while but the bisque-less Irmgard could not capitalise. Finally Steve got himself together to finish the game and win 26 – 10.
We had a fantastic lunch, supplied by Margaret Dollimore. Margaret’s cake which was devoured at tea time was absolutely fabulous too. It’s worth playing croquet for the food alone!
In the afternoon, the two Rogers – Roger D playing off 8, and Roger Stearn playing his first external match off 20 – took on Pauline (4) and Stephen (20). The Purley team could not get going, so the first significant push was by Roger S, reproducing his club form, to get his ball round to 4 back, with only a few bisques taken. After that, Roger D doggedly traded a handful of hoops with Pauline and Stephen, but the clock ran down, leaving Ember comfortable winners on 18 -10.
So, in the end, a conclusive win for the home team. Roger S should be very proud of his first game for the Ember club. Steve needs to slow down and think a bit more at critical moments (he completed his game in half the allotted time). Bob just needs to get that winning mentality back again!
It was a very good day and the Purley Bury players were a pleasure to play against, but WE WON! Hooray!