Lucky 23 for Ember at Rother Valley

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.


A glorious view of the South Downs, as the players “warm up”

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.

Mike and Bob bide their time, as Chrissie guides Chris
Job done, a justifiably smug doubles pair watch the end of the singles matches

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).

Mike watches on admiringly as Roger pulls away

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!

Steve on white, while Alan ponders and Roger pauses

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!



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