NATIONAL FOREST GOLF CROQUET CHAMPIONSHIP
A national Golf Croquet weekend tournament (level-play) at Moira, open to all Croquet Association members. This is a qualification event for the English National GC Singles Championship (Ascot Cup).
Previous winners (Ashby winners in bold):
2011 Will Gee
2012 Rachel Rowe
2013 Will Gee
2014 Will Gee
2015 John-Paul Moberly
2016 Martin French
2017 John-Paul Moberly
2018 Jayne Stevens
2019 Callum Johnson
June 29th & 30th, Moira Manager and reporter: Mick Haytack. Photos by Arthur Rowe
Callum Johnson, an under-21 visitor from York Croquet Club has won our National Forest GC tournament.
On Saturday the players were divided into two blocks of eight and all played all in each block. Despite the blistering heat all 56 matches were finished well in time thanks to excellent co-operation from all the players. Out of the 56 matches no fewer than 19 went to the thirteenth hoop and another 12 finished 7-5 or 7-4. When the dust had settled, Callum Johnson was the clear winner of block A with six wins. Four players came equal second with four wins so after some number crunching John Noble and Noel Gill had to play off for second place.
Tim King won block B with six wins with Jonathan Lamb and Mike O’Brian tied for second on five wins. Unfortunately, Jonathan had to retire hurt so Mike had an easy ride to the semi-finals
On Sunday, the schedule was far less punishing, as was the temperature. The block A play-off was won by John Noble 7-3.
Mike played well in the first semi-final but Callum was on fantastic form and won 7-5, 7-3.
The other semi final was a different story. In the first game there were excellent clearances by both players, John took a 4-0 lead but Tim recovered to level at 6-6 but then lost hoop 13 to John. In the second game Tim missed nothing and whitewashed John 7-0. John was far from demoralised by this and game three was another ding-dong battle with John finally winning 7-5.
In the first game of the final Callum continued with his fine form and won 7-3 quite comfortably. When he reached 6-2 in the second game it looked all over but John made a great comeback, won the next four hoops and had a tricky shot at hoop 13 which just failed. Callum, who had missed chances to win the match at the previous three hoops, finally ran hoop 13, much to his relief.
This was Callum’s first GC competition as he’s been concentrating on AC. Had he taken up GC a little earlier there’s no doubt that he would have easily qualified for the World under 21 GC championship later this year.
On Sunday the plate was won by Richard Brooks with a 100% record. David Bell and Michael Hills were joint second with 75%.
Special mentions go to Ray Mounfield who was the only player to take a game off Callum and to Noel Gill who lost his first three games 6-7 but still made the play-off for second in block A.
Our thanks go to Lynda and George Allen for their excellent catering, to Martin Wroughton for preparing the lawns and to Tim King for setting the hoops.
Full results (CroquetScores)
June 30th & July 1st
After a couple of late withdrawals from the competition, twelve players contested our 8th annual National Forest GC tournament which was won by Jayne Stevens from Northampton, beating Ashby’s Tim King 7-4, 2-7, 7-6 in the final.
Following a long spell of scorchingly hot weather the lawns had suffered and playing conditions were challenging. On Saturday, in a “qualifying Swiss” each player had six games. The manager’s decision to play quarter finals, coupled with the overnight withdrawal, on health grounds, of David Bell rendered a consolation event impractical and left three competitors with no further involvement in the competition. Interestingly all six of Jayne Stevens’ qualifying Swiss opponents were also quarter finalists.
The winning quarter finalists, who fortunately had each won in two straight games, produced a semi-final of Tim King vs Richard Brooks, which Tim won, with relative ease, 7-3,7-5 and a semi-final in which the two Northampton players Jayne Stevens and Michael Hills had a lengthy three-game battle, resolved by Jayne winning 7-4 in the final game.
The final between Tim and Jayne had an inevitably late start, then went all the way to the thirteenth hoop of the third game. Jayne emerged as the worthy winner. For her it had been a long and tiring day – but clearly worthwhile. The photograph was taken by Richard Sanville, who had stayed to see the presentation.
The happy finalists (and Ascot Cup qualifiers) Tim King (tournament manager) and Jayne Stevens (winner)
Full results on CroquetScores
July 1st & 2nd (Manager and reporter: Tim)
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.
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
John-Paul Moberly beat Mark Daley 7-1, 7-3
David Bell beat Tim King 7-5, 5-7, 7-3
John-Paul Moberly beat David Bell 7-1, 7-2
Full results on CroquetScores
Tim referees a shot played by Mike in a game against Ray
L-R: Winner John-Paul Moberly; manager Tim King; runner-up David Bell
July 2nd & 3rd (Manager and reporter: Tim)
Ipswich player Martin French won our National Forest GC Tournament at Moira, defeating David Bell (of Leicester and Ashby) in a close final.
Martin French held his nerve through a tough second day of the National Forest GC Championship, winning the final 7-6, 2-7, 7-6 against David Bell.
This was the sixth running of the championship, hosted by Ashby Croquet Club in the former mining village of Moira.
Despite the National Forest often not living up to its name, the club’s courts are surrounded by plenty of trees in a generally quiet rural setting. The club only has three courts, so the championship is not able to provide as much play as larger clubs when the entry reaches the maximum of 16 players.
The Tournament Manager was Tim King and he was determined to conduct the main event knockout as three rounds of best-of-three, 13-point games on the Sunday.
This plan required a suitable scheme for play on the Saturday and, after careful consideration, the manager found a solution in the form of a pre-drawn Swiss. This solution gave each player six games, facing (using seeding position as an indicator of strength) the same total difficulty of opponents as every other player.
The entry for the championship reached a total of 16, consisting of four clear top seeds, all from beyond Ashby, with the remainder of the field including a further four visitors and eight local players.
The Swiss proceeded smoothly and exactly three quarters of the games were won by the higher ranked player.
In terms of the expected eight qualifiers for the quarter-finals, the two under-performers were Arthur Rowe and Ray Mounfield, who only won three games between them.
The top seeds, in general, made expected progress. Defending champion and top seed John-Paul Moberly was undefeated, beating both Nick Mounfield and Martin French. Nick, though, also suffered the most surprising result of the day, losing at the golden hoop to Eileen Buxton (15th seed).
Arguably, the top performer of the day was Kath Wright, who failed to qualify but four losses included three of 6-7 (and the other was 5-7). Kath, as a consequence, achieved a net hoop score of +2.
The qualification cut-off fell in the midst of three local players on three wins (with two places available): Mike O’Brian; Chris Mounfield; and Martin Wroughton. Mike had played and beaten Chris, so Chris and Martin played off for the eighth spot in the quarter-finals. The former won 7-3, with this extra game still only taking the close of play to 18:15.
Sunday dawned with a continuation of the largely fine weather of the Saturday.
The quarter-finals each progressed steadily and although three of them included a 7-6 score in the second game, all finished in two games.
7-6 was somewhat of a feature across the weekend, with a total of 20 games (out of 77) going to the golden hoop.
The results of the quarter-finals went to seeding and, thus, the semi-finals pitched John-Paul Moberly against David Bell and Martin French against Nick Mounfield. Nick had been a doubt at times during the weekend as he battled with a sore shoulder but he continued his determination into his match against Martin, who twice looked comfortably clear but both times had to hold on and survive at the golden hoop after late surges by Nick.
Meanwhile, the other favourite was having even more of a struggle.
Having been unbeaten in his eight previous games, John-Paul went 0-2 down in three successive games. His considerable talent hauled him back in the first but, under pressure for the first time in the weekend, he lost his rhythm and David made a series of clutch shots, including some mid-range jump shots that held John-Paul firmly back from swinging the momentum.
The defeat of John-Paul took almost 3.5 hours and showed the potential downside of playing three best-of-threes in a day. The result also broke the sequence to date of the trophy always going to a player no older than 24.
The final was no less of a battle than the semi-finals with Martin once again undaunted in tight finishes. He played steady croquet to take the first game 7-6 but then began to show tiredness and lost control in losing the second 2-7.
David, however, fell behind in the third game to make Martin the clear favourite at 5-3, despite the latter bemoaning to the few remaining spectators his lack of energy. David kept on hitting enough of his big shots though and the final climaxed in the archetypal third game, hoop 13 battle.
Martin made just enough advantage from having first approach, leaving David on the back foot. The former, however, left the possibility of a final dramatic twist but David was only able to hit the inside leg of the hoop from seven yards, leaving Martin a trivial last shot to finish the day at 19:15 with almost everyone else having left to other engagements.
Each of the top four had their spell of looking like the potential champion but Martin showed the mental strength necessary to take advantage of his opportunities.
Not many tournament winners will have four 7-6 wins across the combination of semi-final and final, along with a net hoop score of -1 across the two rounds.
In the plate event, Kath Wright continued her excellent form from the Saturday and won all three of her games to come top of the super block formed by those who did not qualify for the main knockout. She was a deserved winner of a bottle of wine for her efforts.
Martin French and David Bell qualify to play in the Ascot Cup final, to be held at Hurlingham on 17 & 18 September.
Full results (CroquetScores)
Martin French receives the National Forest GC trophy from Tim King (Photo: David Bell)
June 27th & 28th (Manager: Ray) Report by Ray
John-Paul Moberly from Durham is the new National Forest GC champion, beating Ashby player Mike O’Brian 7-4, 5-7, 7-3 in the final.
Although the tournament was oversubscribed at the allocation date, later cancellations meant that all entrants were able to take part. The field included players from Ashby, other Midland clubs, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Australia.
One of the top seeds, Nick Mounfield, was unfortunate when he suffered mallet failure early in his first game and had to adjust to a substitute mallet with somewhat different characteristics. By Saturday evening the block placings were decided. J-P Moberly, having won all his games and securing a semi-final against Peter Freer, while Mike O’Brian was to play Will Gee. Sunday morning, saw J-P beat Peter in two games, and Mike edged his way past Will in three closely-fought games. The final saw J-P narrowly beating Mike.
This was John-Paul’s first major win, and it certainly will not be his last! Both finalists earned places in the Ascot Cup (National GC Singles Championship) to be played at Nottingham later this year.
John-Paul Moberly beat Peter Freer 7-4, 7-5
Mike O’Brian beat Will Gee 7-6, 4-7, 7-6
John-Paul Moberly beat Mike O’Brian 7-4, 5-7, 7-3
Full results (CroquetScores.com)
Consolation events took place during Sunday morning. The ‘Headers’ victory went to Nick Mounfield and the ‘Footers’ event was won by Philip Wood.
At 3–4 down in the deciding game of the final, Mike attempts (unsuccessfully) a jump shot with the blue ball at hoop 8.
June 28th & 29th (Manager: Ray)
Will Gee is National Forest GC champion for the third time after a highly entertaining and well-fought 2-1 victory over Nick Mounfield in the final.
The fourteen entrants were divided into two blocks of seven players, with everyone playing two games against all other players in their block. The block play was not concluded until midway through Sunday, with the top two players in each block progressing to a best-of-three-games semi-final. Nick Mounfield beat Tim King in two tightly-fought games (7-6, 7-5). Will Gee beat David Bell, also in two games (7-1, 7-2) thus setting up a final between the two top seeded players, each of whom had headed their block. Both players had declared themselves to be lacking in GC play this season but the first game was exciting and highly entertaining, going all the way to the thirteenth hoop, where Nick’s win resulted in Will losing his first game of the event. However, in what continued to be a display of high quality croquet by both players, with long hoop runs and spectacular clearances, Will went on to win the next two games, taking the match 6-7, 7-3, 7-4.
This was Nick’s first appearance in the Ashby National Forest Open. Will has now played on three occasions and been victorious every time!
Tim King beat David Bell 3-7, 7-6, 7-4 in the 3rd/4th place play-off.
Full results (CroquetScores.com)
Report by Ray Mounfield; pictures by Arthur Rowe; lawn setting-up by Martin and Tim; catering by Jenny and Simon – all much appreciated!
June 29th & 30th (Manager: Ray)
Will Gee has won the National Forest Golf Croquet Tournament at Moira for the second time in its three-year history.
This year the tournament was oversubscribed prior to the allocation date, but later cancellations meant that all entrants were able to take part. The field included players from Ashby, other Midland clubs, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Australia.
Block play was completed on the Saturday. Will, having won every game, topped Block A and Tim King was second, having lost only to Will. Block B was headed by Lionel Tibble and David Bell, each with 6 out of 7 wins.
The semi finals, held on Sunday morning, saw Tim beat Lionel in 3 games and Will triumphing over David in two. The afternoon saw two closely fought games between Will and Tim. A pleasing number of spectators were treated to a combination of finesse and power shots from both players but Will emerged victorious on 7-6, 7-6, a worthy winner since he had not dropped a game in the entire tournament.
Consolation events took place on courts 1 and 3. As in 2012 the ‘Headers’ victor was Richard Thompson, but only after Rachel succeeded in beating Arthur in a tight last game and after applying the ‘who beat who’ rule. The ‘Footers’ event was won by Ray.
The weather was kind to us, the lawns were playing well (thanks to Martin), the hoops were not too forgiving (thanks to Tim), catering was good (thanks to Jenny and Simon), and ten players and three wives enjoyed a pleasant evening thanks to The Lakeside.
And the croquet world was instantly alerted to the results of every game thanks to Peter Freer and modern technology!
Report by Christine Mounfield
Block A: Will Gee (handicap 0) 7 wins; Tim King (0) 6 wins; Arthur Rowe (2) 5 wins; Richard Thompson (1) 3 wins; Steve Thornton (2) 3 wins; John Moore (2) 2 wins; Ray Mounfield (1) 1 win; Kathy Wright (4) 1 win
Block B: Lionel Tibble (0) 6 wins; David Bell (2) 6 wins; Rachel Rowe (0) 5 wins; Peter Freer (1) 5 wins; Mike O’Brian (1) 3 wins; Dennis Crossland (3) 2 wins; Christine Mounfield (2) 1 win; Graham Good (7) 0 wins
Will Gee beat David Bell 7-6, 7-5
Tim King beat Lionel Tibble 7-6, 3-7, 7-2
Will Gee beat Tim King 7-6, 7-6
June 30th & July 1st (Manager: Ray)
Rachel wins the second National Forest Golf Croquet Tournament.
Players from Ripon Spa, Nottingham, Leicester, Bury St Edmunds and Edgbaston joined Ashby club members to contest the second National Forest GC Tournament. The tournament was fully subscribed with 16 players taking part, ranging in handicap from 0 to 8.
Despite recent extreme weather conditions, the three courts were all in excellent condition, fast and generally true. Play began in two blocks of eight, all play all, leading to semi-finals between Tim King and Rachel Rowe, and Ray Mounfield and Arthur Rowe. Both of the semi-finals were closely fought, resulting in a father-versus-daughter final. Could this be a “first” for an Open Croquet event?
In the best-of-three final, Arthur took the first game but Rachel put up a strong response, winning the next two games and the National Forest Shield.
In the 3rd/4th place play-off, Tim beat Ray 7-6. Other players competed in two consolation blocks, with Richard Thompson topping the “Headers” and David Crawford the “Footers”.
David Bell did very well in his first tournament, and a special prize was awarded to Penny Matthews for playing in an event she had initially thought was a “B” Class!
Martin’s hard work ensured that the lawns played magnificently throughout; Tim’s hoop re-positioning and setting provided challenging play; Jenny’s superb daytime catering certainly contributed to the success of the event; and Lakeside Tea Rooms was the venue for a relaxed and enjoyable dinner on Saturday evening. Very many thanks to all!
Report by Ray and Chris
Block A: 1st Rachel Rowe 6 wins; 2nd Ray Mounfield 6 wins; 3rd David Bell 5 wins; 4th Mike O’Brian 5 wins; 5th Eileen Buxton 2 wins; 6th Richard Sanville 2 wins; 7th Valerie Harding 1 win; 8th Daphne Pepler 1 win
Block B: 1st Arthur Rowe 6 wins; 2nd Tim King 6 wins; 3rd Richard Thompson 5 wins; 4th Chris Mounfield 4 wins; 5th Derek Buxton 3 wins; 6th David Crawford 2 wins; 7th Gill Brent 2 wins; 8th Penny Matthews 0 wins
Semi-Finals: Rachel Rowe beat Tim King 7-5, 7-6; Arthur Rowe beat Ray Mounfield 5-7, 7-5, 7-4
Final: Rachel Rowe beat Arthur Rowe 5-7, 7-3, 7-4
July 2nd & 3rd (Manager: Ray)
Will Gee wins the first National Forest Golf Croquet Tournament at Ashby Croquet Club.
The tournament attracted players from Australia and Bury St Edmunds as well as more locally. The weather was good, hoops were tight and the courts were challenging.
Day 1 saw the competitors playing in two blocks of seven, all play all, 13 point games with no time limit. Block winners were Will Gee and Ray Mounfield.
The quarter-finals on the Sunday saw Will Gee beat Peter Freer 4-7, 7-2, 7-5; Richard Thompson eventually beat Rachel Rowe 7-6, 6-7, 7-5; Tim King beat Arthur Rowe 7-0, 7-2; and Ray Mounfield beat Steve Thornton 7-5, 7-4.
Will won his semi-final against Richard 7-0, 7-3 and the game between Tim and Ray went the distance with Tim snatching victory at 4-7, 7-3, 7-6.
In the final Will quickly got into his stride, made few mistakes, gave Tim few openings and won 7-0, 7-3.
Winner: Will Gee
Runner-up: Tim King
Joint 3rd place: Ray Mounfield and Richard Thompson
Joint 5th place: Peter Freer and Rachel Rowe
Joint 7th place: Arthur Rowe and Steve Thornton
David Crawford was the winner of the Plate event, winning all his games.
Report by Ray; photos by Arthur and Richard S