Croquet AGM – Trophies and a Big Thank You

Last night we held our AGM in the clubhouse. The committee member reports all went smoothly and apart from a bit of moss, and some temperamental lawn mowers, I am pleased to say we are doing all right, thank you very much!

Here are some photos from the evening:

In the internal competitions this year, Steve Edney won his first open trophy, narrowly beating Tom Eddy in the final, after impressive wins against stalwarts Mike Lambert and Hugh Stephenson.

Roger Stearn swept through to the Handicap Knockout Cup, beating David Cooke in the final. Roger has only been with us two seasons and he has two victories in this competition already!

Roger Stearn teamed up with Bob Knox to win the Doubles Knockout, beating Steve Edney and Simon Charrington, in a closely fought final.

Steve Edney managed to cling on to the League, although Roger Stearn ended up on the same number of points AND hoops run. Steve took the title because he managed to win his two games against Roger.

Steve Edney also won the Golf Knockout, coming from behind to beat Hugh Stephenson in the final.

Most improved player was most certainly Roger Stearn, who also performed valiantly for us in our external league games. The player to watch, though, is new boy Simon Charrington (he has a “How to Play Croquet” book).

Roger Dollimore, our chairman for the past 12 years, is going to take a well deserved rest from all the things he does for our club (he does everything). In recognition, Geraldine presented Roger with the Club Member of the Year. Mike Lambert proposed that – reminiscent of Brazil and the Jules Rimet Cup in 1970 – Roger should be allowed to keep the cup. Everyone else seconded that emotion. Bob, the Acting Treasurer, also opened up the coffers and presented Roger with some bottles of fine wine too.

A new committee was sworn into office, and will meet in the coming weeks to figure it all out. Thankfully Roger will still be around to give advice and help where he can.

And finally… we won the South East Counties Federation (SECF) B League for the first time in our 30 year history! Things are certainly looking up for Croquet!




Croquet win South East Counties B League (confirmed)

Ember has won the 2019 SECF B League for the first time. The table below shows all clubs. Each club plays four games, and our opponents this year are highlighted in green.

Congratulations to everyone who took part this year:

Roger Dollimore

Mike Lambert

Bob Knox

Roger Stearn

Steve Edney

Golf Croquet Final 2019

Hugh Stephenson and Steve Edney competed for the Golf Croquet Trophy this year. Best of three games.

Steve won the toss, so played Blue and Black. Hugh won the first hoop, Steve the second, and both players took it in turns to win the next hoop until Hugh won three in a row to win 7-4.

In the second game, again Hugh took the first hoop, and again Steve the second, and again taking it in turns until Steve broke away 5-3, and this time won the game 7-4.

In the third, deciding, game, the first hoop took a few shots to be won, again by Hugh. Steve took the next two, then Hugh levelled, and then Hugh took a 3-2 lead, and then Steve equalized. Hugh went to 4-3, but back came Steve on the next hoop, 4-all. Yet again, Hugh went 5-4 up, only for Steve to level 5-5. Guess who won the next hoop? Yes, it was Hugh, but Steve levelled once more to make it 6-all.

Golden hoop. All or nothing, Steve played Black nicely into a shooting position, 6 feet from the hoop, a bit to the right. Hugh knocked Yellow a long way past but also a potential for a hoop-run. Steve’s Blue crept in close to the hoop but under hit and on the wrong side. Hugh managed to get Red into a closer position, straighter than Steve’s Black. So what should Steve do?  Having missed a couple of similar shots earlier, there was initial doubt, but given the position of the Red, Steve went for it. Straight through for the win!

So the final score was Steve 2 – 1 Hugh. 4-7, 7-4, 7-6 (golden hoop).



Ember starve Ealing of croquet opportunities

Ember Croquet played Ealing on 7 September 2019 in a friendly fixture. It would have been an SECF B League match, but Ealing could not field an eligible team. Ember therefore were assured of victory, recorded as a 3-0 win for the official record.

Bob (18 handicap) and Roger S (20) took on Simon (6)  and Ruth (18) in the morning doubles. Simon managed to hit in to our joined-up pair on his first shot onto the lawn and after a bit of manoeuvring got his team’s balls set up for his partner at hoop 1. Seizing his chance and using our first bisque Roger ran hoop 1, and then hoop 2 and on to Rover using four bisques in the process. A not unfamiliar start for Roger!! Ruth got round to hoop 3 with the help of a bisque and Bob got started also round to hoop 3. We were then treated to a master class of tactical play from Simon who planned to take his ball all the way round having peeled Roger through Rover with the intention of pegging him out. Fortunately for Ember, the turn broke down at 2-back. Bob bided his time waiting for the opportunity to get the lawn set for a four-ball break. Eventually the moment arrived and using all but two of our bisques he got round to the peg, and tried to set up Roger to run Rover and peg out. Unfortunately, he left his ball just out of position, and we were at the risk of disruption if Ruth had been able to hit in using her side’s last bisques. Luckily, she failed with her attempt and Roger used our last two bisques to run Rover and peg out. A 26-10 win for Ember.

We had lunch outside the Croquet Pavilion as Bowls were holding their finals weekend. Margaret Dollimore provided a delicious chicken dish, accompanied by ham, salad, cheeses, and bread. For dessert, she supplied a glorious fruit flan. Everyone got stuck in and then we remembered we had to play croquet again.

In the first singles, Steve (12) took on David (14). Steve took a bisque to set up a 4-ball break and skipped round with black to peg in no time at all (just one blob on a hoop run, so a second bisque taken). David had a few goes and with a number of bisques, managed a few hoops with both balls but never succeeded in setting up a lasting innings. Soon enough, Steve had another turn, and again with one bisque, the balls were reasonably well setup for another long innings. Not long after the game was over, Steve had won using only four of his six bisques, by 26 points to 6.

Steve timed his game perfectly to leave the lawn as victor to a celebratory tea and fabulous fruitcake (made of course by Margaret). The Ember players were in sparkling form, as was the food! Ealing, although starved of success on the croquet lawn, enjoyed the sustenance.


Roger D (9) took on Colin (6) in the final singles game. Colin started with a standard east boundary layup with Roger opting for a west boundary tice with the first ball. Roger then hit in on Colin’s balls on the east boundary with his second shot, and proceeded via his own ball on the west boundary to run the first hoop, only to stall on the second (as usual). the game then became a bit of cat and mouse until Roger made a break from hoop 2 too 1 back. Colin made a couple of hoops then Roger made the break from 1 back to rover. More jousting and Colin making a few hoops in ones and twos with Roger making rather better progress to 2 back. Colin then missed a long hit in and with Roger on 2 back and Rover with one bisque remaining Colin decided to concede the game. 18 to 14 win to Ember.


This result means Ember won 3-0 and have won all four matches in the competition. With all other teams reporting at least one loss, except Caterham who have won two with two games unreported, Ember might be in the frame to at least draw a victory in the SECF B League. Well done team! 

Internal Croquet League 2019 Result

The league matches were completed this afternoon and what a tussle it was! Well done to everyone for finishing their matches in good time.

Steve, playing in the morning needed to make at least 12 hoops if he lost to Simon, which he did on both counts!! He ended with 27 match points and 163 hoop points.

Roger S playing in the afternoon then needed to win with 18 hoops against Roger D to tie the competition, which he also did on both counts and also ended on 27 match points and 163 hoop points!!

So, the result was a tie for first place. Rule 12 then came into play:

The winner of the competition is the player with the highest number of match points. If two or more players have the same number of match points, then the player with the greatest number of hoop points will be the winner. If this still results in a tie, then the player who has the greater or greatest number of hoop points in the relevant head-to-head match or matches will be the winner of the competition. If this still results in a tie, the league organiser shall decide how the winner will be determined.

Steve won both of the head-to-head matches and so he is thereby the winner.

Congratulations to Steve and commiserations to Roger on another close fought competition.


Bob Knox, League Coordinator, 5th September 2019


Final Table

Open Singles Final Nail-biter

The 2019 Ember Croquet Open Singles final was held on Weds 4th September. Early morning rain delayed the start to 11am, though the lawn was rather waterlogged in front of the pavilion. The two combatants, Tom Eddy and Steve Edney, were slightly perplexed but delighted to have made it to the final two, both for the first time. Steve had played very well to beat seasoned campaigners, Hugh and Mike, while Tom had claimed the scalp of none other than serial open winner, Roger Dollimore.

Tom said he had organised for Sky to cover the game, as they bid more than the BBC. Somewhat disappointingly, no TV cameras were there.

Tom got going first and moved both balls to hoop 3, including a peel at hoop 2, in the opening exchanges. Steve then got motoring with red ball, moving it round to the peg in two or three innings, while Tom inched black and blue round the first circuit.

Steve then stalled with yellow, setting up four ball breaks but then failing on the hoop approaches. Tom gained more confidence and started hitting in from longer distances, and eventually gained the lead when yellow was still on 2 back, but both black and blue were on 4 back.

Steve regrouped and moved yellow to the peg. Victory in sight, he fluffed a relatively simple croquet shot to get position on red (between 3 back and rover). All he could do was rush it towards the east boundary (tennis courts). Too far for the shot to peg, he felt confident to put both balls near the peg for the next turn as surely Tom would miss a 25 yarder, black to blue…

…Tom did not miss. Instead he proceeded to split up red and yellow, and run to peg with blue. Next step was to peg out yellow from less than 3 yards. He missed! A couple of nervy exchanges later (this bit feels rather hazy as to what actually happened at this time), Steve managed to get back in and finish the game as winner. The final score was 26 to 21.

Both players agreed that at times the play was a bit twitchy but for the most part both of us were absolutely magnificent. Croquet won today, and the Sky Sports cameras missed a ripper

Croquet Doubles Final

This year’s Croquet Doubles Final took place on 15 August. Bob teamed up with Roger S (8 bisques), and Steve with Simon (7 bisques). After getting all four balls onto the lawn, it was Roger who got the first chance to build an innings. With the aid of only two bisques he was round to Rover in one turn. Next on the lawn was Simon who needed three bisques to proceed to 2-back. After a bit of sparring it was Bob’s turn, taking four bisques he got to 3-back. One bisque left for Bob/Roger. After more sparring it was Steve’s go. Using just one bisque he was also round to 3-back, before he missed a roquet and ran too far to risk another bisque.

This was the first time in living memory (well, amongst those playing anyway) that the first scoring turns from all four players had proceeded past 1-back.

Now, short on bisques, both teams played tactically. With half-an-hour to go it was anyone’s game. Bob then took his side’s last bisque and ran two more hoops. The pressure was on. Simon then had another good turn and ended up on Rover, using up his team’s remaining bisques. With Roger and Simon both on Rover, Steve was two hoops behind Bob. Time was running out and Steve put Simon back in for an easier chance of a hoop, not realising that he would not get another turn. Time was called with Simon still on the lawn, but there were no more points to gain, apart from shooting at the peg. Bob had his team’s final turn and added a further hoop. The final score: Bob and Roger, 23: Steve and Simon, 20. 

This was a well fought game, played in an excellent spirit. In fact, all players reckoned it was the best doubles matches they had played. A shame there had to be a loser!

Worthy winners – Roger and Bob
Runners Up – Steve and Simon

Ember Croquet keep winning

B-League match against Reigate on 11th July at Ember Sports Club.

Bob (16) and Roger S (20) took on Frank (8) and Mike (18). Our opponents had been delayed by nearly three-quarters of an hour by a motorway traffic accident, so we agreed to have an 18-point game over two and-a-quarter hours instead of the usual 26-point game so that lunch was not unduly delayed. The mutually agreed end-product was 8 bisques for the home team and 5 for our opponents.

Roger, then Bob, got off to a steady start with the help of a bisque each. Our opponents followed suit, but they never really got going. Bob and Roger moved onwards until, after a quick tactical discussion, we agreed Roger should run Rover and get onto the peg while Bob was still on 2-back. Eventually our opponents ran out of bisques and got stuck in the hoop at 2-back – Bob’s hoop. Bob seized his chance and with the help of a bisque ran the remaining hoops and pegged out with the score at 18-5 and two bisques not used! The quick finish meant that we were able to adjourn for an early lunch! Ember one-up after the morning’s play.

In the afternoon, Roger (8) played Simon from Reigate (14). Simon made progress with both balls, nudging them along a few hoops at a time, then leaving Roger with difficult hit ins. In these early battles, Roger scored two hoops, while Simon, with bisques aplenty, got considerably further than that. Eventually, Roger sniffed a chance and by taking a bisque he got his lead ball round from Hoop 3 to the peg in one innings. Simon then proceeded some more, nearing the end of the journey for both balls. Another chance fell for Roger, again setting up the lawn using his second, and last, bisque, he ran eight hoops with his second ball, until his approach to 3-back was just a fraction short letting Simon back in. Roger was in touching distance, but alas it was not enough as Simon took his chance, and remaining bisques, to peg both balls out. The final score was 26 – 21 to the Reigate player.

So one game apiece. In the decider, Steve (14) played against Philip (20), who was an experienced GC player but new to AC. Given Phil had 14 bisques, Steve thought he should get a lead and put some pressure on the Reigate man. He did manoeuvre Red around the first circuit but was rather wasteful with his bisques, so when he blobbed one at 1-Back, he decided he couldn’t take yet another one, and in any case it was hot and he needed a sit down. Once he had done so, he realised he had gifted Phil a perfect start. So Phil got a long way on Blue, using bisques like confetti, as his tactical nous let him down. Unfortunately, Steve was struggling to maintain his form and also frittered away his remaining bisques, with Red on the peg and Yellow on 3-Back. Phil then was back in it, with Blue on the peg and Black proceeding nicely, but then he ran out of bisques and ideas when Black was on 4-Back. Bisqueless Steve now had to summon up the energy to finish the game and found some form at last, but then carelessly left the Yellow a good eight feet from the hoop. He went for it, slamming the ball into the Hoop upright, but luckily with enough forward momentum to spin through the hoop. That shot effectively won him the match as it was relatively straightforward after that to peg both balls out. Steve won by seven, 26 – 19.

Yet another win for Ember. Could we win the B-League?

The winning team: Roger Stearn; Roger Dollimore; Bob Knox; and Steve Edney.

Halfway through the Croquet Internal Handicap League

All games for the first half of the season have now been completed.

Here are the current standings:

All to play for in the second half. Good luck everybody!

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!