INTER-CLUB GC: Cheltenham 2–5 Ashby

Sun 9th July Report by Tim King

Cheltenham played well to make for a tight match but, in the end, Ashby showed enough experience to win.

The main feature of the Cheltenham team was being able to field Mark Suter and Sarah Hayes at one and two. These two players have long and distinguished careers in croquet but Hayes had no games in the GC ranking system until 2017 and Suter had a break between 2001 and 2017 of any such games.

Meanwhile, with Rachel Rowe unavailable for their strongest team, Ashby fielded Tim King at two, reflecting some better success for him in 2017. He last made the top two in the team in 2015 (a gap of nine matches) and last played doubles with Will Gee in 2013 (a gap of 11 matches).

Reflecting the gap since last playing together, Gee and King started poorly in the doubles but, from 2-6 in the first game, won 11 of the next 13 hoops to level the rubber at 1-1 (6-7, 7-1). Their initial struggle did not weigh quite so heavily as David Bell (7-1) and Mike O’Brian (7-5) started strongly in the singles, winning first games against Tony Forbes and Richard Thompson, respectively.

As the tide turned in the doubles, however, the singles ran in the opposite direction and the three rubbers all reached 1-1.

The courts were fast, with the hoops not too challenging but having no rabbit runs. In these conditions, the play was tight but Suter and Hayes remembered some of their best play from the first game to take the doubles (7-4 in the third).

Once again though, the three rubbers were in anti-phase, so Ashby prevailed in the two singles to take a 2-1 lead at a lunchtime that was later than often for an Inter-Club match.

While play remained tight in the afternoon session, only Hayes and King took their rubber into a third game. They were halfway through that game when Gee took the honours of gaining the winning point for Ashby.

Cheltenham were close enough to have caused some consternation among the Ashby travelling support but lost four games on the golden hoop in the afternoon. These games, if reversed, would have swung the result of the match.

Ashby go through to the semi-finals to play the winner of the match between Belsay Hall and Bowdon.

Teams
Cheltenham: Mark Suter (-1), Sarah Hayes (-1), Richard Thompson (0), Tony Forbes (1)
Ashby: Will Gee (-3), Tim King (-1), David Bell (-1), Mike O’Brian (1)

Results (Cheltenham names first):
Suter & Hayes beat Gee & King – 7 – 6, 1 – 7, 7 – 4
Richard Thompson lost to Mike O’Brian – 5 – 7, 7 – 5, 5 – 7
Tony Forbes lost to David Bell – 1 – 7, 7 – 6, 3 – 7
Mark Suter lost to Will Gee – 5 – 7, 6 – 7
Sarah Hayes lost to Tim King – 6 – 7, 7 – 3, 5 – 7
Richard Thompson lost to David Bell – 6 – 7, 6 – 7
Tony Forbes beat Mike O’Brian – 7 – 4, 7 – 5

ARTHUR WINS THE SHAKESPEARE CUP

Sat 8th July  Manager and reporter: Arthur Rowe

Six players contested the Shakespeare Cup internal AC tournament on Saturday 8th July. The weather was warm with only a light wind. The ground was rock hard after a week of warm dry weather, and the lawns were very fast making playing conditions difficult. This was the first time the competition had been played since 2014, and it was good to see the new players Heather and Adam competing in their first level play competition. The hoops were set at 2.5mm but were very unforgiving of loose shots: as a result everyone had plenty of opportunity to make progress and both players had many turns in all the games.

We played 4 of the possible 5 rounds, with the round featuring the top 3 players vs the bottom 3 being omitted. The rounds were timed to finish 2 hours after the previous round, essentially fixing the finish time. After 3 rounds Mick was undefeated, and was the only player to have completed a game inside the time limit – he had in fact completed 2. He was well ahead in the last round against Arthur until the last 30 minutes when Arthur made an all-round break with black and finished two turns later, with Mick on penult and peg. Derek had the chance of changing the final reckoning but lost his last game to Adam who did well to emerge with two wins in 3rd place and only a few points short of a handicap reduction. Arthur was the winner having beaten Mick in the last round, with both players having 3 wins.

Thanks a lot to everyone who played for making it such a good day. The ranking of 3,4,5 is unresolved by who-beat-whom, so I have based these results on hoop difference – which puts Adam 3rd.

JOHN-PAUL MOBERLY WINS THE NATIONAL FOREST GC

July 1st & 2nd at Moira  Manager and reporter: Tim King

John-Paul Moberly won the National Forest GC tournament for the second time in three years, with a 7-1, 7-2 victory over David Bell in the final.

Moberly brushed aside his opponents and only had one wobble when Martin French managed to win the first game of their quarter-final. Moberly kicked on from that set back and won his following, final six games in the knockout 7-0, 7-1, 7-1, 7-3, 7-1, 7-2 against the strongest selection of the other players.

On the three courts at Ashby, the qualifying Swiss for the Championship involved each competitor playing six games in a balanced, pre-drawn sequence. These games were each 13 points.

The first round of the Swiss was the only one that saw any major shocks with Kath Wright (versus David Bell) and Ray Mounfield (versus Mark Daley) both succeeding against top five players in the event (7-6 in each case). These shocks aside, the finest performance of the Swiss was from Christine Wood, who performed above her ranking with three game wins. She was unlucky to miss out on qualifying (coming ninth on net hoops) but went on to claim victory in the consolation event.

The Tournament Manager battled with the vagaries of play being slightly slower on the Saturday than in 2016 and the need to put Moberly on the last train back to Edinburgh on the Sunday. This battle included, contrary to the original plan, only persuading one quarter-final to play a first game on Saturday evening.

Play did start early on the Sunday but the quarter-finals all went to three games and the Manager was then involved in a three-game semi-final, which was a close contest until Bell showed superior jump shot technique to make some vital hoops in the third game.

All is well that ends well; Moberly conserved energy by the strength of his performance in the semi-final and was ruthless (and swift) in winning the final, so he had a calm and orderly journey to catch his train.  The spectators had shown willing by cheering brief flashes of success from Bell in the final but he was never able to find the consistency that would be needed to put any pressure on his dominant opponent.

The biggest threat to Moberly taking the title was his admission that his handicap card had not been up to date when play started with him having announced himself as a -4. He used the time he had saved by his superior play to put previous results on his card and discovered that his excellent form at the Open Championship had actually taken him to -5.  The Tournament Manager showed discretion and decided that a disqualification incident would not have befitted the “crime”!

Moberly and Bell both qualify for the English National GC Singles Championship on 16 and 17 September at Nottingham.

Ashby provided the usual green and pleasant setting, with hoops posing a moderate (but fair) challenge; rain on Thursday and Friday having taken the real edge off what would have probably have otherwise been very tough conditions.

Quarter-finals:
John-Paul Moberly beat Martin French 5-7, 7-0, 7-1
Mark Daley beat Richard Bilton 7-3, 5-7, 7-3
David Bell beat Graham Good 7-6, 4-7, 7-6
Tim King beat Mike O’Brian 6-7, 7-4, 7-3

Semi-finals:
John-Paul Moberly beat Mark Daley 7-1, 7-3
David Bell beat Tim King 7-5, 5-7, 7-3

Final:
John-Paul Moberly beat David Bell 7-1, 7-2

Full results on CroquetScores


LONGMAN CUP: Ashby 2–3 Hunstanton

Thurs 29th June at Moira

Ashby were drawn against Hunstanton at Moira, but unfortunately neither club could raise a regulation team of 4 by the closing date, but the clubs agreed to press ahead anyway with an unofficial version of the tie, contested by teams of 3, with the winning club progressing to the next round.

Mick reports: The weather was cold and miserable and there was light drizzle for most of the day. There were some very close games but Hunstanton played just that bit better and deserved to progress to the third round. Adam Wheatley in his first competitive event started nervously but once he had settled down produced some excellent play and was easily the best Ashby player.  With the scores tied at 2-2 everyone was watching the deciding match between Tim and Bryan which couldn’t have been closer.

Results, Ashby names first:
Mick Haytack (7) and Adam Wheatley(20) beat Bryan Saddington (4.5) and David Haslam (12) 26-13
Tim King (4) lost to Charles Ostler (5) -6T
Adam beat David 26-14
Mick lost to Charles 26-19
Tim lost to Bryan -1T

VISITING PLAYER TERREY SPARKS WINS VETERANS GC

Mon 5th June, Moira  Report by Eileen

In the FEMCC and Ashby CC Veterans GC Tournament, fourteen players battled over seven rounds in cold, wet and windy weather. We call it “Flaming June”!

Terrey Sparks, of Hunstanton and Pinchbeck croquet clubs, was the winner with 6 wins.  Mike O’Brian of Ashby finished second with 5 wins and a net score of +16.

Every one appeared to enjoy the day, and four people have already booked for next year!

Thanks to Jenny Biggs for providing an excellent lunch and drinks etc. all day. Chris Mounfield and Janet Harker kindly assisted her in serving the lunchtime meal.  They also helped by recording the scores. This really helped the manager, Eileen Buxton, who was also playing in the Tournament.

Thank you to Derek Buxton for setting out the Lawns. I don’t know who tidied up after play but a big thank-you if it was you.  I was working out who had won.