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