Scottish Handicap Finals 2005

25 September 2005, Meadows

The finals of the SCA's season-long competitions were played at Meadows West on the last Sunday of September, in pleasant conditions with periods of warm sunshine and just one brief shower.  Members of the Meadows Club were victorious in all three events.

First was the Interclub League final, between Meadows, who had narrowly won their block on points after a draw against Glasgow two days earlier (both having beaten Kinross), and Heriot's, who had won the other block by drawing with Auchincruive and beating Edinburgh.  Improving Meadows player Steven Boyne, his handicap recently cut from 18 to 14, still had too many bisques and too much accuracy for his opponent Malcolm O'Connell (4).  Malcolm got off to a good start by hitting in and running hoop 1 in the third turn of the game, but then went off the lawn in a croquet stroke trying for a rush to hoop 2, and never made another roquet - though some of his misses were very near - as Steven took both his balls round to win +25 with one bisque to spare.  The other game of the final, between Martin Stephenson (Meadows, handicap 6) and Jamieson Walker (Heriot's, 8), was very scrappy, and ended with a +2 win for Martin on time.  So the Meadows Club would have its name on the trophy for the first time (though under its former name as the Bush Club it had won the inaugural League in 1987), and by that two-point margin it had won outright rather than only on points.

Martin Stephenson was playing again in the Handicap Singles final, against Tony Whateley from Glasgow (handicap 16), and this time Martin played much better than in the morning.  He made the first roquet of the game in turn 5 and went to penult.  Tony took three bisques in the ensuing turns to score only one hoop.  Martin got in again and was threatening to win +25 with seven of Tony's bisques standing, until his attempt at a straight double peel went wrong and he had to stop on rover and peg.  Now Tony made sure he used his bisques!  He played his backward ball and went round to the peg and pegged Martin's forward ball out.  Unluckily he also pegged out his own ball in the same stroke, leaving his remaining ball still on hoop 2 against Martin's on rover, with no bisques left.  Tony failed hoop 2; Martin scored rover and narrowly missed the peg; Tony ran hoop 2 and hit the last-chance shot at the ball by the peg, but could only delay his fate, Martin achieving a cross-pegged position shortly afterwards and finishing (+11) after Tony missed the obstructed shot.

Lastly there was the Handicap Doubles final, in which Martin was playing yet again, with James Hopgood (handicap 18) as his partner, against Fergus McInnes (3) and Allan Hawke (10).  Fergus hit James's tice in turn 3 and made a dream leave (James's ball near the west boundary, Allan with a rush towards it from the other side of the court).  Martin missed to the south boundary.  Allan played the rush and attempted hoop 1 off James's ball, but failed it, and James played a good break to the peg using three of the five-and-a-half bisques.  (The third one was needed only because his hoop shot at rover stopped in the jaws.  While James and Martin were looking at the position and conferring on what to do, the ball rolled through the rest of the way, but as it had been at rest, and clearly not through the hoop, for more than five seconds this didn't count and it had to be replaced where it had initially stopped.)  Fergus trickled from NW of hoop 2 at Allan's ball near hoop 3, and hit! - but then his take-off went over the south boundary, handing the innings straight back.  Fergus got another try at the long shot after James had reconstructed the leave, but this time he missed it, and Martin went round to complete a +26 victory with a bisque and a half to spare.

So it was a good day for Martin!  He is now the only player in the history of these events to have been a winner in all three in the same season.

Thanks to Ian Wright and Tony Whateley for some of the pictures below.

Fergus McInnes


Steven Boyne on the way to his win against Malcolm O'Connell.

Martin Stephenson and Steven Boyne with the (refilled) Interclub League trophy; Fergus McInnes presenting it.

Handicap Singles finalists: Tony Whateley and Martin Stephenson.

James Hopgood during his all-round break in the Doubles.

Doubles finalists: Fergus McInnes, Allan Hawke, Martin Stephenson, James Hopgood.