On the eve of the late Queen’s funeral, Sunday 18th September, the Croquet Club had a distracting time playing a fun tournament of Golf Croquet.
We decided to play a round robin of 30-minute games. To encourage rapid play, to win the tournament each pair had to accumulate as many hoops as possible, so it did not matter too much if individual games were won or lost. As usual, we tried to match experienced players with new members or guests.
Members and guests trickled in, remembering to park on the Drive, as dutifully requested to do so by Bowls, who were hosting an important match. Tom, guru of the GC rules, paired up with Pauline, while husband Peter got lucky and joined up with dark horse Louise.
Tricia and Alan turned up next with a huge picnic hamper on wheels but were quickly encouraged to pack away the foie gras and pick up mallets. Simon partnered Tricia versus Roger and Alan, and the tournament was underway.
All Saints Church regulars, but not yet members, Ruth and Martin arrived next and were split up, joining club stalwarts Pat, with Ruth, and Geraldine, with Martin.
Finally, Simon’s old school friend David came along with wife Maxine. Yours truly needed a partner and eyed potential in Maxine, leaving David partnerless. However, Brendan was eventually persuaded to play a game, even though he was just popping in to say hello. David’s eventual permanent partner was Belita, who also just turned up to say hello and make us tea, and had the honour of subbing for Tricia, so she and Alan could devour their picnic.
Each team got more familiar with the game and the format. More hoops were run per game. Tactics were learned and applied. Mis-hits were replaced with eight-foot hoop runs and blistering hit ins.
Did I say it was a round robin? Well, time and exhaustion put paid to that, though everybody played four games. Of the eight teams, four all tied with an aggregate score of fourteen points: Simon & Tricia; Louise & Peter; Steve & Maxine; and Belita & David.
It was now five o’clock, so I decided we’d have a “closest the peg” competition, though to Tricia’s amusement it took me a while to explain how we’d do it. Finally, all was understood. Simon blew it, so did Steve. Nowhere near! Peter, Belita and David got closer. Then up steps Louise and shows us how it’s done, inches from the peg – a sure winner! Could Maxine or Tricia match that? Unfortunately not, so Louise and Peter were declared the victors of the competition.
Oh, I forgot. Simon and Tricia thought they may have won, but their fifteenth point was deemed illegal by Tom. Players with bisques are not allowed to use an extra shot to peel their partner’s ball through the hoop. Well, they can do that if they wish, but the hoop point does not count!
It was a terrific day and we are hopeful to do more of these events over the coming seasons, probably one in the Spring and one in the Autumn. The club is in transition, expertly managed by Simon Charrington, who has doubled the membership in the last two years. We have many new members who have joined to have fun and play the more sociable game of Golf Croquet. The club is having to adapt from an AC club, delivering rollups and competitions for experienced players, to one that offers both codes and achieves a mix of serious competitive play with more light-hearted events such as today’s. We are getting there, and that’s really down to the marvellous efforts of Simon. Thank you!!!
Geraldine and I got the chance to serve the bowlers drinks in the bar afterwards, and watch the sunset over the Ember sports pitches, with the union flag at half-mast. May you rest in peace, Your Majesty.