Wrest Park

GC A level tournament 20-21 April

The players, with manager Richard Keighley on the right. Photo by Gill Brewer.

report by Richard Keighley

The tournament was won by Tony Butcher, who beat Ross Bagni in the final.

A full field of 16 players arrived in bright sunshine but soon encountered a chilly north-easterly wind which prevailed over the weekend. Block play commenced against a background of a steady stream of cars attending the St George’s Festival being staged by English Heritage at this venue. It remained to be seen whether only dragons were in danger or if any giant-killing acts were to occur on the lawns.

In Block A, Ross Bagni (Leighton-Linslade) made serene progress by winning 6 of his 7 games. He was closely followed by David Frost (Enfield) with 5 wins. There was a good scrap for the remaining two places in the Main Knockout with 3 players recording 4 wins each. George Collin (Wrest Park) and Mike Hills (Northampton) succeeded on net hoops at the expense of an unlucky John Gosden (Guildford).

Block B was decided on hoop count with both Tony Butcher(Southchurch)  and Peter Tofield (Northampton) recording 6 wins each. Tony prevailed and he and Peter were joined n the Knockout by Mike Bilton (Gainsborough) with 5 wins and Andy Jones (Phyllis Court) with 4 wins.

The cold wind did not relent for the Quarter-Finals. Ross was too consistent for Andy (7-1,7-3) but Peter and Tony had good battles before beating George and Mike Hills respectively by the same score (7-5,7-5). Mike Bilton needed a deciding game before beating David Frost (7-0, 5-7, 7-3). The Semi-Final between Ross and Peter was a thoroughly enjoyable contest which demonstrated how games could be won and lost by very narrow margins. Peter’s ability to block from long range was not quite enough to counter the all-round game of Ross who won (6-7, 7-5, 7-4) . Meanwhile, Tony earned a place in the Final by beating Mike Bilton (7-3,7-5).

The Final pitched the two best players of the weekend together. Tony maintained his positional accuracy and consistent hoop-running whilst Ross challenged him all the way and this provided an enjoyable spectacle for those watching. Tony won (7-5,7-6) and he was presented with an engraved glass. Both Finalists also received a bottle of wine, as did Rick Lilley (Phyllis Court) who had experienced a welcome return to form by winning the Plate with 5 wins out of 6 games.

Tournament Manager Richard Keighley thanked all the players for braving the conditions but especially Gill and Tim Brewer and John Bevington for catering, and George Collin and fellow club members for preparing the lawns and kindly assisting in the running of the tournament.

Runner-up Ross Bagni (white) and winner Tony Butcher (red). Photo by Gill Brewer.

© Wrest Park Croquet Club