For several years Ember Croquet Club has played against other local clubs in the South East Croquet Federation’s Beginner’s League, aka SECF B League. Given the rapid improvement in handicaps of our ‘younger’ players – Simon Charrington; Roger Stearn; and Steve Edney – this year we decided to join the ‘S’ League. ‘S’ denotes clubs with a single lawn, but the standard is higher as there is a lower restriction on handicaps.
The team has played two games so far, match reports recorded below:
CHEAM AWAY 5TH MAY
Ember’s ‘S’ league AC team, comprising Roger Stearn (capt), Roger Dollimore and Simon Charrington, travelled to Cheam for the first SECF match of the season – two rounds of singles and doubles, doubled banked. Simon (11) was first up in the singles vs Geoff Gunton (6); while Roger S (11) and Roger D (9) played Brian (8) and Colin (11). With the benefit 5 bisques and a midweek team practice/coaching session Simon successfully kept full control of his singles game vs Geoff, winning 26-0. The first round doubles was a much closer affair with Cheam’s fast lawn proving challenging for the Ember pair to gauge, and time ran out for Ember to make up the final five point deficit. With 1-1 at lunch (deliciously provided by the home team), the second round continued in very closely fought fashion, with frequent unforced errors on both sides. With five minutes left on the clock all permutations of result remained open – win, draw, loss Ember/Cheam. In the doubles, Ember needed to make up a two point deficit, at time, when, with the lawn well set, the ball lodged tantalisingly in the jaws. End of game. Now, with less than five minutes to go, a draw remained on the cards. The ebb and flow of the afternoon singles showed it was anyone’s game, but ultimately finishing 24-23. So, a 3-1 loss for Ember, but lovely day, hosts and lunch, and good experience for us in this elevation from ‘B’ League.
HAMPSTEAD HEATH HOME 27 MAY
In glorious conditions, both weatherwise, and our fast playing surface, the odds turned significantly in Ember’s favour when a mix up at Hampstead led to their being a player short, their star player at that (handicap – minus 1). This was such a shame as we had mentally prepared ourselves to be playing against a very low handicapper, and with Steve on standby as substitute, when suddenly we had to reset our thinking, firstly how to contrive a match to lead to a result, and then to the reality of handfuls of bisques being available to our opponents, Tom Hankinson and Steven Eggelhoefer. This was all negotiated and agreed in good spirit, and the match finally stuttered to a start, first with a singles, Simon vs Tom (26-7), closely followed by another singles, Roger S vs Steven – his first inter-club match – (16-11); then Rogers D&S playing the doubles in the afternoon. This became a very close game, with the Hampstead pair concentrating mostly on splitting up the Ember duo, and both sides picking up the odd hoop here and there. At 12-12, and getting close to full time, Hampstead missed a simple hit-in allowing Roger S to seize the initiative, run two hoops and be on the lawn when time was up. So, final result to Ember, 3-0 plus the walkover, and a lovely salad buffet lunch (thank you Belita) and proper late-May English summer’s day!