Wrest Park

© Wrest Park Croquet Club  

Mary Rose 2016

Final v East Dorset (at Surbiton)     1 Oct     won 5-2

Bryan Harral (0) and George Collin (1) beat David Kendrick (0) and Tom Weston 1½) +16

John Bevington (1) beat David Williams (2) +16

Tim Brewer (2½) lost to Anthony Dix (2) -20

Bryan Harral beat David Kendrick +16

George Collin beat Tom Weston +17

John Bevington lost to Anthony Dix -15

Tim Brewer beat David Williams +19

Wrest Park beat East Dorset 5-2 to win the Mary Rose trophy and thus atone for last year’s defeat in the final. Since the competition began in 1989 the club has won the trophy five times and been runners-up a further five times, which is a proud record for a small club. This year a combination of player availability and fluctuating handicaps meant that captain Bryan Harral called on eight players who contributed to the team’s success, and congratulations are due to them all.

Saturday morning began with sunshine and mist, but the rain had set in by the time Tim had driven us to Surbiton by 9.15. The sun came out before lunchtime, but later in the afternoon heavy showers returned with the accompaniment of a superb double rainbow, finally easing off in time for the presentation. In the doubles our missed roquets and the opponent’s blobbed hoops kept the game going longer than was really necessary, but George’s clean hoop running put us well ahead.

The only drama was when Bryan’s short term memory was called into question at penult, when the pioneer had ended up in the jaws, the striker’s ball was placed in contact on the playing side, the croquet stroke shifted the pioneer but left the striker’s ball in the jaws, and the continuation stroke ran the hoop and either (a) did or (b)did not roquet the pioneer.

The opponents stormed onto the lawn and insisted that Bryan had picked up his ball (a consequence of (a)) rather than roqueting another ball (ditto (b)). Bryan has been known to play the game in his imagination but, dear reader, not in this case. However to maintain cordial relations Bryan accepted their version of events and then missed the roquet. Bryan and George went on to win +16.

On the other lawn David got started by rolling both balls to hoop 1 from between hoops 1 and 2. The striker’s ball, heading for the left-hand wire, swung round to gently run the hoop backwards into perfect position. John took a while to get going but eventually took control to win +16. Tim was struggling with an injured wrist which hampered his swing, and it seemed that every time he got into a good position Anthony Dix hit in. So, 2-1 up at lunch.

The afternoon singles did not start well when David went to 4-back in the twinkling of an eye, but Bryan was not put off and was the first to finish. Tim then recovered his form against David, including a neat leave cross-wiring David at hoop 4 when Tim was for 4 and 4-back. David seemed to rather lose heart, and Tim’s win gave us the match.

With the pressure off George, who was well ahead against Tom, proceeded to entertain the crowd with some gung-ho hoop approaches and peel attempts before finally pegging out. Anthony’s game against John was relatively error-free: his break to 3-back being followed by John’s break to 4-back and Anthony’s hitting the short lift. A period of interactive play followed but Anthony’s good shooting prevailed and he finished by making the last three hoops in pouring rain.

Manager Brian Fisk presented the trophy, and we posed for the obligatory photo before the drive back to Ampthill where Bryan provided us all with a glass of champagne - a perfect end to the day.

v Nottingham (home)     17 Sept     won 5-2

David Marsh (-½) and Bryan Harral (0) beat Clive Goode (0) and Beatrice McGlen (0) +1

Cliff Jones (0) beat Peter Death (3½) +16

Geoff Strutt (9) lost to Arthur Rowe (2) -17

David Marsh beat Clive Goode +3

Bryan Harral beat Beatrice McGlen +3

Cliff Jones beat Arthur Rowe +25TP

Geoff Strutt lost to Peter Death -4

Captain Bryan Harral needed all his juggling skills to get a team together for this semi-final. David Marsh was only eligible because his handicap had dropped below the minimum of scratch less than a week before and other players were unavailable for a variety of reasons: John Bevington’s excuse being that he had qualified for the All England handicap final on the same day. Geoff Strutt stepped in, and the team came through on the back of three narrow wins by David and Bryan, whose report explains just how narrow they were:

The doubles did not start well, Clive and Beatrice (Nottingham) were on 3-back and 4-back before Bryan and David had run a single hoop. Bryan eventually got going and took a ball to 4-back, but then the game deteriorated into short breaks and defensive leaves. After 2.5 hours we stopped for lunch, by which time the two singles games had finished and the match was 1 -1. After a much needed hot lunch David, in shorts, was rejuvenated and after a few turns Clive's ball which had reached the stick was pegged out. After 4 hours of play we were rover and peg versus rover and box. Beatrice ran rover, shot at the peg and missed. Bryan duly finished, winning by the narrowest of margins, +1.

The match was now 2-1 to Wrest Park. When Cliff and Geoff finished in short order, Cliff with a TP, it was 3-2. Meanwhile David and Bryan were struggling in their singles games. Eventually, Bryan was peg and box against rover and peg. Beatrice blobbed rover, Bryan hit the ball in rover and won by +3. David then won, also by +3. It's Wrest Park 5 Nottingham 2 and we are into the final.

Our thanks to Sharman Harral for a much needed hot lunch on a very chilly day. Also many thanks to George for turning up early, clearing the debris from the lawns after the previous days flooding, then mowing non-stop and providing us with excellent lawns to play on.

v Pinchbeck (home)     23 August     won 4-3

Cliff Jones (0) and John Bevington (1½) beat Adrian Kirby (0) and John Filsak (2) +9

Tim Brewer (2½) lost to Bob Thompson (2½) -15

Eric Audsley (2) beat Mike Bowser (2½) +3

Cliff Jones lost to Adrian Kirby -9

John Bevington beat John Filsak +12

Eric Audsley lost to Bob Thompson -1

Tim Brewer beat Mike Bowser +5

A narrow win. In the morning Bob Thompson got the first break and and had a win on the board while the rest of us were still coming to terms with reasonably fast lawns and the hot weather. John Bevington eventually got going and went from 2 to the peg after Cliff had got to 4-back, and after Cliff finished lunch was taken with Eric and Mike’s game pegged down in the final stages. The afternoon singles then started. Adrian got the better of Cliff, but Eric came off worst in a pegged-out ending against Bob to leave Pinchbeck 3-1 up. John then beat his namesake to make it 3-2, and Tim recovered some form to beat Mike. 3-3. This meant Eric and Mike had to finish their singles, and Eric eventually got home +3. It could not have been closer. Many thanks to Gill Brewer for providing lunch, choc ices and trays of cooling drinks.

v Northampton (home)     23 July     won 4-2

Cliff Jones (0) and George Collin (½) beat Mike Hills (1) and Derek Humphreys (1) +7

Tim Brewer (2½) lost to James Skelton (1) -10T

John Bevington (1½) beat Nick Evans (2) +10

Cliff Jones beat Mike Hills +15

George Collin beat Derek Humphreys +22

John Bevington v James Skelton unfinished

Tim Brewer lost to Nick Evans -12

An extremely hot day, with an early start to mow lawns 2 and 3 as the recently applied fertiliser had upped the growth rate. After Mike Hills had got to 4-back in the doubles Wrest Park unleashed their secret weapon in the shape of Cliff Jones, for whom it was his first ever Mary Rose match. He embarked on a TPO which didn’t come off, and he was then pegged out. Derek then failed 2-back off partner, and George took full advantage of the lift to finish with a superb 3-ball break starting from hoop 3.

The singles games on the tricky lawn 2 were less assured with plenty of blobbed hoops and both were paused so we could all have a splendid lunch provided by Bryan Harral, our non-playing captain. Afterwards John eventually got the better of Nick, and James, with both balls on peg, won on time after a 3pm deadline had been agreed.

By this time the match was effectively over as Cliff and George had won their singles games, and when Tim, who had been struggling with a game leg all day, lost to Nick at around 6pm, James and John agreed to abandon their game so we could all stop for tea. Special thanks are due to Gill Brewer who appeared at intervals with jugs of squash to keep us all hydrated.  

L-R John Bevington, George Collin, Tim Brewer, Bryan Harral

Bryan pegs out in the doubles

George Collin somewhere
under the rainbow

Anthony Dix swinging in the rain