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: