Wrest Park

All England Handicap

As the club has had a representative in the national final for the past two years it’s perhaps a timely moment to record this and past successes. The All England Handicap is the most democratic event in the calendar. You don’t have to be a member of the CA to enter and it is open to anyone subject to the restriction that they cannot play off a handicap greater than 20 even if their own handicap is more than this. Players who are not members of a club must enter via a qualifying competition at a nearby club, and the club can then send a number of players to the area final, the number being dependent on the number who entered the club qualifier (one for every four who enter). The winners and runners-up from the area finals then go through to the national final.

Wrest Park members have won the event three times: Mike Wilson in 1980, Robert England in 1986 and Ben Ashwell in 2001. Several others have got to the national final as a result of winning the area final: Peter Newman in 2003, Tim Brewer the following year, Peter Aspinall in 2015 and John Bevington in 1996 and again in 2016. There may have been others before that but if so the details have yet to be unearthed.

This year John Bevington and Tm Brewer were among the eight players who assembled at the Edgbaston club for the area final on 3-4 September.

The view from lawn 3 looking towards the Edgbaston clubhouse.

John won his first game against Esther Jones, an Edgbaston member who came in at the last minute to make up the numbers as on of the original entries had had to withdraw. He then won a close game on time against Wendy Spencer-Smith, who was handicapped in the initial stages by the fact that the lawn was verging on the unplayable due to heavy rain at lunchtime. This was followed by a win against Tim (!) and another the following morning against Ian Slater, finally losing to Jonathan Lambton, last year’s All England winner. This left John and Wendy on four wins apiece but John as overall winner by virtue of his win against her.

John and Wendy with manager Paul Trafford.

The final was on 17-18 September and held at the Hamptworth club, part of Hamptworth golf club in the north-east of the New Forest. The five lawns are on two tiers on the side of a valley, with a clubhouse perched on the bank giving an aerial view of the lower lawns.

The Hamptworth lawns, which are visited by deer at night.

John lost his first game against Tony Elliott, the eventual winner. Tony won all five of his games, the crucial one being the fourth against Will Mellor, won +1 on time. Had he lost manager Peter Wilson might have had work to do later on. John was never in contention, finishing with two wins against Ian Wills and Will Mellor.

Standing L-R: Liz Wilson (Referee), Ian Wills, John Bevington, Stephen Stuart-Matthews, Phil Nuttall, Jerry Wilde (Hamptworth), Peter Wilson (Manager)

Seated L-R: Mo Boys, Will Mellor, Tony Elliott, Wendy Spencer-Smith

© Wrest Park Croquet Club