Last Friday Chelmsford entertained Colchester in an East Anglian B Level match played in ideal conditions for croquet. Our team of Paul Bridgman, John Skuse, Tony Frewin and David Dawsey started well and by lunch led by 3 games to nil. The second half of the fixture continued in similar vein apart from a sterling effort by Colchester’s 4th player Pat Drinkwater who managed a 3 set win over David Dawsey 7-5 5-7 7-4. In fact this was one of 5 games that went to best of 3 with the closest being that of Paul Bridgman overcoming Jill Waters 2-7 7-3 7-6. Other Colchester players taking part were Lydia Vaux and Stephen Scrase. Final score Chelmsford 6 Colchester 1. Thanks must go to Anne Skuse for providing a regular supply of teas and coffees throughout the day and to Marion Manning of Colchester for her help in keeping a check on the scores.
Chelmsford Blue v Chelmsford Green GC Handicap League Match – Thursday May 10th The seasons opening GC handicap league match took place at home on Thursday with the two home sides playing each other. The Blue team of Peter Wilkinson (handicap 9), June Brown (9) and Deb Clarke (11) was lead by Judith (4), while the Green team of Paul Bridgeman (3), Tony Frewin (4) and Linda Murrell (10) was lead by David Dawsey (7). Greens just won the initial doubles by the close margin of 7-6, but thereafter, pulled away to comfortably win the match by 14 games to 4. Thank you ladies for the lovely cakes, Lesley for timing the matches and to Judith’s friend for match scoring and updating handicap cards.
As the season draws to a close many members took the opportunity to visit the lawns on a fine October day. Amongst them Paul Bridgman (handicap 3) and Tony Frewin (4) had a final match to play in this the second running of the Handicap Singles. Unfortunately it took place on the lower lawn and only a handful of members watched what turned out to be a very close contest. After losing the first hoopTony took his one “extra turn” on the second to level but then fell behind 3-1 as they turned towards the 5th. From that moment on Paul maintained this lead until Tony won the 10th and 11th hoops to lead for the first time 6-5. Paul with the first shot to the 12th levelled but Tony with a finely positioned shot to the “golden” hoop that Paul was unable to block or clear ran the hoop from about 8 feet to win 7–6.
Our visitors, prompted by warnings about possible car-parking problems, had arrived by 9.30am and Judith managed proceedings as play got underway in bright sunshine. This Doubles Friendly with our welcome visitors from Leighton Linslade took the form of 4 fixed doubles pairings representing Chelmsford whilst Leighton decided just prior to the match to rotate departing from their normal practice of established pairings throughout the day. Clearly this worked in our favour as Tony and Deb and Bob and Betty both won all their 4 games whilst Karen and Sheila and John M and June only dropped one game making the winning margin 14-2 with a hoop difference of 106 to 63. The sight of 16 immaculately clad players all in white playing on our lawns on a lovely day in October was a sight to behold. This is the second time that Leighton Linslade have visited Writtle for a friendly and one hopes that next year we can raise a team to travel to their courts in Leighton Buzzard for a return match. The day concluded with the usual sharing of refreshments and thanks to our visitors for an enjoyable day’s croquet.
Today John Mariner and John Skuse agreed to the same format as last year in playing the final over 19 hoops following the friendly match versus Leighton Linslade (report later). After a brief flourish from JS in taking the first two hoops JM fought back well with some fine clearances and there was never more than 2 hoops between them as JM with a fine approach took the 13th. He was unfortunate at the 14th as he hit his opponent’s ball through the hoop. This meant that JS led 8-6 with first ball to the 15th which he also won. JM retaliated by winning the 16th but JS positioned his red ball 3 or 4 feet in front of the 17th which stayed in position and ultimately enabled him to win 10-7.
The final of this event was held on the 5th October with conditions ideal for croquet. Paul Bridgman and Linda Murrell played John Skuse and Pete Wilkinson in a 13 point game to decide who would take the honours. After 8 hoops it all appeared to be over as John and Pete led 6-2 thanks to some fine hoop running and clearances by Pete. However Paul and Linda had other ideas as 6-2 became 6-3 6-4 6-5 and, glory be 6-6, which goes to prove a game is never over till it’s over. John, with the first shot to the 13th, obtained a straight 6 foot hoop running position with his Blue which eventually proved decisive. A fine game of croquet and a pity that one side had to lose after such a great fight back.
No fewer than 20 players took part in this event held on 21st and 26th September to determine who would go through to the final which it is hoped will be played on Sunday 8th October following the friendly fixture with Leighton Linslade. Ten players each day were split into 2 blocks of 5 with an all play all in each block of 7 complete hoops with a winner and runner-up going through from each grouping before those successful would play eliminating best of 13 hoop games before a finalist emerged. On both days the weather behaved, the sun shone, and, gratifyingly, there have been several reports of how much members enjoyed the games. In Block A John Skuse (4 wins) and David Dawsey (2 wins) qualified for the quarter finals whilst Joan and Len can feel rather unfortunate in that they each won 2 games but David had a superior hoop difference. Block B resulted in a tie in terms of games won with Linda Murrell and Bob Jones each winning 3 games out of the 4 played. Linda, however, won the group by the narrow margin of +4 hoops to Bob’s +2. Quarter final scores could not have been closer: David 7 Linda 6 and John 7 Bob 6. Finally John played David to determine who would go through to the final. By their own admittance both played well but John, having taken an early lead, seemingly could do no wrong and hands (not throats) were shaken after 7 hoops. Blocks C and D were played on the 26th with Karen Jones winning the first block with wins in all 4 games whilst John Mariner with 3 wins was the runner-up. Pleasingly Sue McDonald, Betty Craig and Janis Owen all won a game and they shared the honours of coming 3rd with identical hoop differences. Block D turned out to be quite exciting in that Tony Frewin and Tess Gossett each won 3 games and had an identical hoop difference of +8. As Tess had beaten Tony by 4 hoops to 3 she went through as winner of the block with Tony as runner-up. In the quarter finals Tony, rather surprisingly had a straightforward 7-1 win over Karen whilst John M after gaining an early lead over Tess was taken to the 12th hoop before winning 7-5. The semi-final between Tony and John M was watched by a crowd in double figures (just) and proved to be an exciting contest. John led 5-3 before Tony levelled taking the next two hoops. John won the 11th but Tony managed to jaws his red ball in the 12th hoop. John’s decision after playing black took some by surprise. Instead of trying to jump red with his blue from about 10ft he simply smashed red to the boundary. Tony, possibly taken aback by this opportunity to have first ball to the 13th hit well but not well enough as the red came to rest 3ft from the hoop. John’s black finished 9ft in front of the hoop and, after a brief exchange of shots he won the hoop and took his place in the final.
Sixteen hardy souls arrived by 10.00am to take part in this event where partnerships are determined by the drawing of names out of a hat. Formed into 2 blocks each pairing was required to play 3 games with the number of wins deciding the winner and runner-up of each block with hoop difference a factor should number of wins be equal. Play went very much to form with Paul Bridgman and Sheila Harris from Block A and Tony Frewin and Deb Clarke from Block B winning all 3 games with hoop differences of +7 and +9 respectively. The runners-up in Block A was a less clear cut business as the remaining 3 pairs had all won 1 game but Anne Skuse and Joan Black just took the spoils with a hoop difference of -1 compared with -3 by the other pairs. In Block B Peter Wilkinson and Betty Craig with 2 wins took the second runner-up spot. The first semi-final resulted in a 4-0 win over Anne and Joan by Tony and Deb whilst the second was much closer with Paul and Sheila just edging their way past Peter and Betty by 4 hoops to 3. With the weather threatening to advance from cold and bleak to wet and miserable the 13 hoop final was watched by a large number as Tony and Deb rather overwhelmed Paul and Sheila. Three individual shots stood out : Tony’s angled jump shot at hoop 5, Deb’s successful running of hoop 8 from the vicinity of hoop 7 and Paul’s running of hoop 9 from close to the boundary (photo attached). At 6-2 down this shot ensured the match came down to the 10th by the clubhouse where, after a great approach, Deb settled matters (photo attached) by closing out the game 7-3. Trophies were presented to Tony and Deb – Doubles Champions 2017 – Congratulations!
Our final fixture versus an Enfield team of David Frost (scr) Ken Pickett (1) Brian Dawes (3) and Peter Brock (5) was played on a day when heavy showers persisted for virtually the whole match. The doubles games were both won by Enfield 7-5 and 7-4 and from that start things only got worse for our team of John Skuse (3) Tony Frewin (4) Judith Hand (4) and Karen Jones (5). Lunchtime came with Enfield winning all 8 singles with Tony and Karen rather unlucky in losing at the 13th hoop to Ken Pickett and Peter Brock respectively. Fears of a whitewash however were removed during the 3rd set of singles as Tony had a convincing 7-4 win over Peter. Tony continued his good work in the final set of singles with a 7-5 win over Brian whilst John scrapped a 7-6 over Peter. Final result: CHELMSFORD 3 (85 hoops) ENFIELD 15 (120 hoops). As handicap cards were filled in at the end of the match the weather finally improved as players and supporters enjoyed the “after croquet”. Thanks must go to all who supported and helped by the making of cakes, serving teas and coffees etc etc today and throughout the season. We know from the comments made by visiting clubs that they look forward to the hospitality we show them and that is not entirely or even partly meant to refer to the defeats that are often inflicted upon us! Incidentally Enfield were the club many years ago who introduced us to the “Easy Fund Raising” scheme website that has helped the club raise over £400 to date. Any member buying on line from the likes of Amazon, John Lewis etc etc can benefit the club financially at no cost to themselves. Details are available from committee members. Members who would like to inspect our Level Play and Handicap results, tables, etc should log on to www.angliacroquet.co.uk and www.croquet.org.uk for much more information about our sport.
On a grey day with the threat of light rain likely throughout the day our team Paul Bridgman (3) John Skuse (3) Karen Jones (5) and Bob Jones (6) welcomed the strong Northampton team of Lionel Tibble (-3) Mike Hills (scratch) Les Heard (scratch) and Richard Cain (5) for our penultimate EACF GC Level Play fixture this season. Fears of a whitewash (Leighton Linslade had recently lost 18-0 to our visitors) surfaced all too quickly as the two doubles games were lost in next to no time 7-0 and 7-1. The first set of 4 singles games included two more one sided games for Northampton but John’s performance in taking Lionel to the golden hoop and Bob chalking up our first win with a 7-6 over Richard Cain improved morale as the weather took a turn for the better. The second set of singles saw Karen gain a second point for us with a 7-4 win over Richard whilst the other 3 singles were taken comfortably by Northampton. After a leisurely lunch break our hoop success ratio increased but without reward in terms of games won. The 3rd set of results were as follows: 6-7, 5-7, 4-7 and 4-7. However the best (I think we can call it that) came in the 4th and final set of games. Karen lost to Mike Hills 5-7, John lost to Richard Cain 6-7, Bob lost to Lionel Tibble 6-7 and Paul managed to overcome Les Heard 7-4. Whilst we lost the match by 46 hoops that 4th set deficit was only 1 hoop! Final score: Chelmsford 3 (73 hoops) Northampton 15 (119 hoops). A splendid spread of cakes greeted the players at close of play and after Mike Hills had thanked us for another enjoyable and well organised day’s croquet we wished our visitors a safe journey home. Our final match is at home to Enfield on Friday 8th September.