Ember Croquet Club explored new horizons this week, with a trip to Cheam Village to play in our first Golf Croquet league match.
The team comprised: Roger Dollimore – Captain (Handicap 5); Roger Stearn (7); Simon Charrington (7) and Steve Edney (7).
Steve and Roger S took on Cheam’s Sue and Liz in the first doubles, and it was level pegging, when Roger S was close in front of hoop 5 for us to take the lead. If he could get some pace on the ball, he reckoned he could get the ball up to hoop 6. It was the right thing to attempt but unfortunately he didn’t run the hoop! Cheam pulled away after that and won 7-4.
The second doubles saw Roger D and Simon take on John and Hazel from Cheam. As there is one lawn, they had to wait for the first game for over 15 minutes to clear hoop 4. That’s the only issue with GC if there are two games sharing the lawn (it’s even worse with AC, in my view!) Anyway, Ember did not fair any better in this one, which finished on the same score, 7-4 to Cheam.
Next to play was Steve in a singles match against Sue. This was neck and neck all the way through with some great shots played. Steve eventually got Ember up and running, 7-5. Ember 2-1 down in matches.
Roger S played Liz, but she really showed her experience at this brand of croquet and did not allow Roger S to settle and find his usual flowing rhythm. 7-3 was the final score in this one… 3-1 to Cheam.
Next it was the battle of the captains. Someone asked Roger D how long he had been playing croquet. “56 years” was the response, but Roger D quickly added that he was an AC man through and through and this was probably the fourth or fifth serious game of GC he’d ever played. It showed unfortunately as John trounced him 7-0. At least it meant Simon could get on with his game and Steve could have his lunch.
Simon played the fourth singles game of the morning session against Hazel. Each hoop was fiercely contested and Simon ground out a 6-1 victory as the buzzer went. Oh, I should have mentioned Jackie (spelling uncertain, it may be Jacqui) who did a tremendous job as the non-playing referee, and boy did we need a referee on several occasions, the most hilarious of which is coming up soon, so please stay awake and read on…
Going into the afternoon session, Ember were 4-2 down but far from disheartened. This, after all, was very much a learning exercise.
Steve and Simon played the doubles game against John and Sue. This was another tight tussle, and it went to a golden hoop. Both Ember chaps had used their bisques effectively, resulting in points, and Simon also managed to “deem his ball had been played” (GC players know what that means) on one occasion. On the golden hoop, Simon managed a great rush shot sending Sue’s ball far away, and Steve’s ball was over the hoop. Sue probably had an inch to aim at from 15 yards to stay in the game. It just missed so Steve had the easiest of hoops… 7-6 to Ember. Now it was Cheam 4, Ember 3! Could the Rogers turn it round in the two remaining singles games?
Roger D was first to play, this time against the in-form Liz. This time Roger D gave a good account of himself and the game was closely fought. Only one problem, Liz won it 7-5. So the match was lost, 5-3 to Cheam. Did Roger S know? Actually I forgot to ask him, but Roger S was playing for pride, would he finally find his usual consistent form that had evaded him for much of the morning’s play?
Yes he did, and he won! Another golden hoop victory for Ember, as Roger S’s dogged determination won out against Hazel. A more respectable match score of 5-4 to Cheam. Valiant try by Ember. Scoresheet below:
I mentioned the brilliant referee Jacky earlier. Well, in the last game between Roger S and Hazel, she had a right pickle to sort out. Steve had been checking the quality of his photos (shown above in the slideshow) then looked up and remarked, “Hey, Roger is playing black? I thought he was red and yellow!” Screams of “you’re playing the wrong ball!” came from the gallery, as Jacky marched on and took control of the situation, backed up admirably by John with an easy guide to GC and the rulebook in his hands. Sue ran on and took a photo, and Steve took one of the melee (it’s in the slideshow). It was decided all four balls were to be placed in the penalty area (boundary centre line) and play resumed, and the right balls were hit thereafter.
So, that was fun. A great day of Golf Croquet, played in the right spirit. Cheam were great hosts and I hope we can play them every year.
Steve Edney 12th June 2021.