All England Handicap Area Final 2019

L-R Colin Davies (8, Letchworth), winner Neal Bacon (2½, Edgbaston), Peter Aspinall (9, WP), John Bevington (1, WP), Adam Wheatley (16, Ashby), Jonathan Lambton (5, Watford)

John Bevington and Peter Aspinall were Wrest Park’s representatives at the area final held at Ashby over the weekend of 31 August-1 September, managed by Mick Haytack. There were five bona fide entries and Ashby’s Adam Wheatley made up the numbers so that nobody had to sit out.

John and Peter found themselves drawn against each other for the first game, playing on lawn 3. Everyone had to play one game on this lawn, which was more uneven than the other two and (due to an administrative oversight) had not been cut. It was a case of hit hard and hope, and John won. Neal’s fluent accuracy was obvious from the start when he went round on the third turn against Adam, but he ended up losing the game. As it was his only defeat he finished the clear winner, but could not be presented with his trophy as there was nothing to present. Is this a CA austerity measure or merely another administrative oversight?

The runner-up was Colin Davies with three wins, the last of which was a close-run game against Adam. John and Peter were among the also-rans with two wins. The weather was sunny and warm but with short sharp showers on both days. The hard ground did cause the odd hoop to work loose, and trying to run a hoop gently could result in the death rattle as the ball bounced from side to side and stuck in the middle. Mick Haytack, like a bell tuner working in reverse, would sometimes hear the characteristic timbre and walk on with a rubber mallet to knock the hoop in further, but of course by then it could have been too late.

Peter Aspinall waiting for his final game on Saturday, with his opponent still in play on lawn 3.

Colin Davies about to make 2-back on his way to establishing a winning lead in his final game against Adam Wheatley.

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