Steve Reynolds and John Lucas were joined by Jack Good at this event, which gave Bowdon a chance of winning something. The weather proved to be challenging with very heavy showers on both days. On Saturday, lunch was taken early while the lawns dried out after becoming unplayable due to the soaking. There were 8 competitors initially but 2 had to withdraw from playing on the Sunday, which required the manager, David Barret to juggle the pairings creatively. Eventually Steve won 1 out of 5, John won 2 out of 4 and Jack won a very impressive 5 out of 5. Accordingly Jack can go through to the national finals. Steve has prepared himself well for Wild Wednesday by moving his handicap from 11 to 12, and Jack should be proud to have had his handicap reduced from 24 to 14.
Above, Jean Hargreaves on left and David Barret on the right who managed the weekend. The players, on Sunday, from left are, Steve Reynolds (Bowdon, 11 raised to 12), Richard Leach (Bury, 24 reduced to 16), Jack Good (Bowdon and Bury, 24 reduced to 14), John Dawson (Chester 2.5), John Lucas (Bowdon, 2.5) and Geoff Sonley (Penrith, 14). All a bit damp but cheerful after a nice tea.
Our most prestigious event of the season was held over the Bank Holiday, when the sun shone all weekend and temperatures were well into the 80’s. 19 players, 17 of whom had minus handicaps, were competing. Mark Avery and Mark Suter, two of England’s top players fought an exciting final. The final was played as “best of 5”, under Super Advanced rules. Mark Avery won 3-1. The last frame was pearticularly competitive, with Mark Suter having taken black to 4-back, before Mark Avery got in and triple-peeled and pegged-out that black. A game of ‘cat and mouse’ croquet ensued with Mark Suter getting just a few very difficult opportunities, that he was never quite able to develop into a break. Mark Avery won that final game 26-15, and became the champion for the third time.
So, do you remember these? – Sandy was being seduced by Danny; – ABBA were taking a chance; – Boney M were trying to cross the Rivers of Babylon
Well, all were hits in 1978.
It was also the year that club member Chris Hudson started making plans to resurrect the defunct Association Croquet Championship of the North of England. Although it was inaugurated in 1903 in Alderley Edge CC then later moved to Buxton CC, it had lain dormant since 1956 as interest in the sport had waned at that time.
Plans were made and with a lot of club effort, in particular from Barry Keen, who became the director and motivator, the club hosted the renewed event in 1979.
With two world war breaks and that hiatus, the 2019 event is the 85th Championship and the 41st as a Bowdon fixture. Classed as a CA Grade 1 Championship, over the years it has always attracted top International players from around the world and this year is no different.
Historically, seven players have won the event more than once including the demon lady player D. D. Steel (5 wins), David Openshaw (6 wins), Mark Avery (2 wins), past Club President Colin Irwin (4 wins), Robert Fulford (4 wins), Keith Aiton (2 wins) and home grown David Maugham (12 wins) and three of those are currently entered to play this year. Overall we have 5 previous winners in the entry.
This year probably has the strongest ever entry with 17 of the 19 entries being minus players, including 8 from the worlds top 50 players.
However, for those about to place a bet – a warning. Whilst it will be hard to look beyond the top four seeds for an eventual winner, such is this strength in depth of the entry that it is entirely possible for a so called “wildcard” to take top honours. Like all sports, the top players will still have to play well to overcome “lower ranked opposition”.
So, the stage and hoops are set, the lawns cut and the kettle on. What more can you want apart from sunshine to make an enjoyable Bank Holiday week-end of top class croquet.
The following five Bowdon members are taking part:
4 Bowdon members took part in the East Dorset Midweek Handicap Tournament (Alan Mayne & Kay Martin, Ken & Sue Cooper). It was won by ex-club member Tim Dennis. Alan was unbeaten but left early on the last day to drive home and did not qualify.
Margaret Moss & Jack Good represented Bowdon at the Northern heat of the All-England qualifiers on Saturday 3rd. August. Played at Ashby, where the lawns were, at best, indifferent and both our players took some time to adjust.
Handicaps ranged from 14 to 5 and with Jack playing off his new 5 he gave away 9 bisques to local player Janet in his 1st game – eventually winning 7-6 on the golden hoop. With a slight change to his normal tactics things became a little easier in the next 4 games and despite giving away bisques in all of them he won them all comfortably.
With qualification almost guaranteed, Jack managed to contrive to lose to Michael (7) and gave the manager kittens when he realised there could be a 3 way tie. The (extremely complicated) All England rules were studied in depth – a complete waste of time when Michael then lost to the rank outsider and Jack cruised to a 7-2 victory against Phillip (5) the pre-event favourite.
Jack qualified as the winner and Michael was declared 2nd on ‘who beat who’. Philip was an unlucky 3rd, whilst Margaret was a solid 4th with a 4/7 record.
The winner of the event will be entitled to play in the national final at Camerton & Peasedown CC over the weekend of 14-15 September.
The World Championship is happening this week at Sussex County, Tunbridge Wells, Compton and West Worthing clubs, featuring 80 of the world’s best players from 19 countries (England have 19 representatives, including our very own JP Moberly).
John-Paul won his group, only losing 1 match out of 9, so went into the Championship Knockout competition. In his 1st round match, he lost to New Zealander Hamish McIntosh. This gave him entry to the Bowl Knockout and he did very well to reach the semi-final where he lost to Harry Fisher of England.
Bowdon played Penrith at Penrith & North Lakes Croquet Club in the CA Short Inter-club semi-final competition on 1st August. In spite of the heavy rain the day before, the lawns were in good shape and the weather was perfect croquet weather – warm but not boiling, sunny spells and a very brief spit of rain!
Bowdon lost the doubles before lunch but won the 2 singles games. Lunch was a veritable feast provided by Penrith (for which, many thanks) and the afternoon ended up with Bowdon winning 5 of the 8 singles, ending up with an overall win for Bowdon 7-4.
Well done to Jack Good, aged 13, for winning all his matches.
Bowdon will play either Bury or Kington Langley in the final on 15 September at York.
The Bowdon team:
The Penrith Team: John Henderson (3.5), Ted Thwaites (9), Ian Ward (9), John Perkins (9).
Doubles: Louise & George lost to
John (H) & John (P) 11-12.
Jack – beat Ted 14-10 – beat John (P) 14-3 – beat Ian 14-8
Cas – beat Ian 14-6 – beat John (H) 11-10 – lost to Ted 4-14
Louise – beat Ted 14-9 – beat John (H) 10-5
George – lost to Ian 6-14 – lost to John (P) 13-14
York are hosting a short lawn 14-point AC handicap tournament, nine or ten games guaranteed over two days. Applications are welcome from players of all abilities, including those with higher handicaps. This is one of the few short croquet AC tournaments in the Croquet Association fixtures book and each year has proved to be a very enjoyable weekend, appreciated both by experienced players and by those entering their first tournament.