Middle Bisquers 2005

Saturday 2 July dawned bright and warm.  An air of uncertainty and anticipation pervaded the capital.  Crowds soon started flocking to the Meadows.  Eight hundred coaches arrived from every corner of the country.  Helicopters hovered overhead.  Police, politicians, prelates and people of all walks of life, over two hundred thousand in total, created a carnival atmosphere.  It was the first scheduled day of the 2005 Middle Bisquers.

I was sitting out the first round...  Oops I've slipped into the first person already.  I must learn to refer to myself in the third person like Alan Shearer or Julius Caesar.  "The Meadows West Lawns est omnis divisa in partes tres" and so on.  Actually only two courts were necessary for the tournament, with Alice Fleck coming north to take on four Edinburgh based players, but court three was used by some visitors during the course of the afternoon.  The lawns were in excellent fettle, save only the relatively new strip down the middle, which besides being very much quicker than the rest, as usual in dry weather, did not always run true.  Hoop settings were firm and tight enough to bring howls of protest from at least one player.

Two matches had been played the previous day - Campbell getting the first of his +26s against Ian and Jamieson winning narrowly against Alice. This was part of the manager's complicated scheme to run a five person tournament with plenty of matches whilst allowing leave for those who wanted it also.  His plan to win the tournament was rather less subtle.  He seemed intent merely on playing much better croquet than the other competitors.  Whilst Alice beat Ian 26-7, he beat Jamieson 26-10.  Rumours of his good form were confirmed in the second round of matches as he beat Alice 26-0 whilst Martin beat Ian 23-10 with both players unhappy with their form.

During the day Campbell climbed up the ladder onto the roof to behold the swelling scene but was able to report little more than that when people relieve themselves behind trees and bushes, they typically scan for people at ground level, but not for people on the roof above them.

Martin then beat Jamieson 26-3 before taking on Campbell.  By this time Campbell was playing near text book croquet:-
Turn 1 Campbell plays to the standard position
Turn 2 Martin lays 11 yard duffer tice
Turn 3 Campbell, who obviously hasn't read the bit in Wylie where he says that when he left 8 yard duffer tices top internationals were too scared to shoot at them from the middle of the north boundary, hits the tice from the middle of the North boundary and makes dream leave
Turn 4 Martin misses
Turn 5 Campbell breaks down after one or two hoops leaving Martin an eight yarder
Turn 6 Martin misses
Turn 7 Campbell goes to 4 back with diagonal spread
Turn 8 Martin misses
Turn 9 Campbell eschews the triple peel and goes to peg with a vertical spread
Turn 10 Martin misses
Turn 11 Campbell wins

With the contest about as close as the Lions v New Zealand or Federer v Roddick, and little great croquet on show (although only two matches went to the two and a half hour time limit), crowds on the Meadows on the Sunday were very much smaller.

Martin beat Alice and attention focussed on a thrilling encounter between Ian and Jamieson.  A close finish saw all the clips on at least 4 back as time drew near.  Three times Jamieson tried to make penult with blue.  The first time his backwards take-off approach crashed on the wire.  The second time the same shot deflected off the wire but he was able to run the hoop.  Alas neither player noticed that he failed to move the clip.  Next he made the rush to rover saw where the clip was and left the rush to penult, coming off the lawn muttering that he had thought he was for rover.  (As off course he was - but the spectators could not intervene.)  At last he made the hoop and took the lead, finishing on peg and rover.  Now Ian got the innings and made four back with his backward ball.  With time called as he walked onto the lawn, Jamieson eschewed the lift and shot at Ian by penult, leaving his balls close together on the East boundary. By now Ian needed to take his ball through penult and rover and peg out to win by one.  He made penult roqueting his partner ball.  His mind racing ahead, he then played as if taking off to Jamieson's balls without actually taking croquet.  Discussion ensued, but the laws confirmed that the balls were to be replaced without penalty and Ian calmly went on to win.

This left Campbell as effectively champion, having beaten everyone else easily.  Martin had beaten everyone except Campbell and the others had one win each. Two rounds further were to be played however, Campbell winning two more games and Jamieson and Martin one more; Martin beat Ian after choosing to give contact rather than to leave himself the dreaded 1-b and 4-b clips.  Ian's response to this was to break for tea.  It had been discovered that the manager had already started on the tea, so tempting had been the repast Campbell had prepared.

As the trophy was on a mid-summer break, Jamieson presented a makeshift trophy to Campbell.

Thanks to Campbell for the management and the teas and congratulations for the win.

Martin Stephenson



1. Campbell Morrison 6 wins (bt Martin Stephenson 26-0, 26-3; Jamieson Walker 26-10, 26-8; Alice Fleck 26-0; Ian Wright 26-0)
2. Martin Stephenson 4 wins (bt Jamieson Walker 26-3; Alice Fleck 26-4; Ian Wright 23-10, 26-11)
3. Jamieson Walker 2 wins (bt Alice Fleck 26-23, 26-4)
4. Alice Fleck 1 win (bt Ian Wright 26-7)
5. Ian Wright 1 win (bt Jamieson Walker 24-23)


Below: some of the players and some of the crowds (pictures by Campbell Morrison).