Roger Stearn had managed to beat stalwart Roger Dollimore on the Saturday, and progresses to the semi-final against last year’s valiant runner-up, Tom Eddy. On Monday, it was the turn of fellow rising star, Simon Charrington, to take on the defending champion, Steve Edney, in the first semi-final.

Steve hit in with his second ball (the yellow) but when taking off over to Simon’s black and blue in the opposite corner of the lawn, the red ball ran and just touched boundary line (bit more levelling required in Autumn!). End of turn. This enabled Simon to build a lead and Steve to continually miss long hit ins. Simon got blue round to 3-back and black to hoop 5, and kindly peeled Steve’s yellow he had blobbed earlier for a solitary point. Simon was sailing and Steve consoled himself with drinking his thermos of coffee, answering a couple of texts and having his turn against his mother at UpWords (you can get so much done during a game of croquet, I find).

However, Simon did eventually fail on a shot and gave Steve a sniff to get started on red, which he duly took, at last finding form, and sped round “Ronnie O’Sullivan-esque” running eleven hoops, and setting up to do likewise on yellow. Simon missed a long hit in, and Steve continued his rich vein of form running yellow round UNTIL…  inexplicably, he lost his balance on an easy roll on 3-back. Calamity, but never mind, he could limit the damage by just knocking yellow into the corner, 5 yards from red, at 4-back.

Simon managed a great hit in, black to blue, so he did a take off into the corner. Nicely positioned to rush red to hoop 5. A valiant effort on the roll but not close enough so he joined up with blue. Steve tried to hit yellow, missed, but was safe back in the corner. This was repeated three times until Simon finally ran black through hoop 6, and brilliantly manufactured a couple more after that.

Simon’s turn ended when he could not get position on the next hoop, so Steve had a go with yellow. First attempt, a weak final take off meant he was unable to run the hoop. Simon couldn’t hit in so Steve tried again, this time perfectly in front of the hoop, three feet away. The ball shook against both uprights and doggedly refused to go through. End of turn.

Simon then managed to progress bit by bit until he took the lead. Steve still had chances but could not take them, returning back to his jittery early-game form.

Simon gave Steve one more chance, blobbing blue at the last hoop, with black on the peg. Steve played a take-off with yellow off red on the north boundary trying to get to the south side of blue to push it out. It was too short, but immediately Steve felt he should dislodge blue even if it went through for the chance to rush black to 3-back. He missed the twelve-footer, giving Simon an easy opening to finish the game.

After that, Simon maintained his composure and pegged out as the deserved winner. Well done Simon.

It was a great game, and it could have gone either way. It epitomised Steve’s inconsistent form and it confirmed Simon’s rapid rise this season.

Who will Simon meet in the final? The favourite surely is Roger Stearn, who like Simon, has really come on leaps and bounds this year. However, Tom is certainly no pushover and of course has years’ more experience. Whichever way it goes, there will be a new name on the Ember Croquet Club Open Singles Rose Bowl this year.

Steve Edney

8th September 2020

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