CA v SCA 2006

30 September and 1 October 2006, Crake Valley

Each even year an incursion of blue-shirted Scots invades the tranquillity of Crake Valley on the south side of the Lake District in an attempt to carry back to Scotland the Glasgow Quaich.  (The English reply in odd years by sending a raiding party to Edinburgh.)  This year's fixture was arranged for the 2nd and 3rd of September, but the SCA had difficulty in raising a team of suitable strength, and by agreement between both sides' organisers the match was postponed to the end of the month when a stronger team could be put together.  The eventual Scottish line-up ranged in handicap from -1 to 5, and the CA team organiser Dave Nick put up a well-matched set of opponents for them - declining to play himself to concentrate on the hospitality, but appointing Bob Burnett instead as the host side's no.1 and playing captain.

On Friday night four parts of the Scottish contingent foregathered with the opposition, and a limerick challenge was instituted, to be contested the following evening.  On Saturday morning the other two players arrived from Edinburgh - by way of some 45 unnecessary miles of M6 and A591 after conversation took priority over navigation, but still in good time for a 10am start - and on the dewy grass by the River Crake the battle commenced with three best-of-three doubles matches.

One match was decided in straight games - the SCA's David Magee and Alan Wilson defeating the CA's Peter McDermott and Klim Seabright.  Another went to three games but was still finished well before sunset, with Bob Burnett and Ray Lowe coming back from one game down to beat Bruce Rannie and David Appleton and level the overall scores.  The third match was the slowest, in which a narrow win by the Scottish pairing of Brian Murdoch and Fergus McInnes was followed by a slump in their play whereupon Peter Wardle and Keith Roberts won the second game on time (24-5); daylight was beginning to fade as the third game began, and with the scores dead level and all balls on the boundaries it was pegged down in the dusk with the remaining hour to be played if necessary after Sunday's singles.

Dinner ensued at the Armadale restaurant (chosen perhaps to make the Scots feel at home, with its tartan decor and selection of 90-odd malt whiskies - we didn't try them all), and in amongst much enjoyable eating and drinking the players read out the limericks they had composed - some of which are appended to this report.  A suitably spirituous prize was awarded for one by the junior member of the Murdoch-McInnes doubles pair casting doubt on the genuineness of his partner's wrist problem which had worsened his shooting in the middle of their uncompleted match.

Sunday's weather forecast had been uninviting, and there was heavy rain overnight which left the lawns slower than on Saturday, but the day turned out better than expected with only brief showers and some sunshine between them.  Each player had a best-of-three match against his opposite number.  As expected, the top players' match was the quickest, and Bob Burnett was free to watch and referee for the rest of the day after despatching David Magee in straight games.  At second position the games went the other way and by mid-afternoon Bruce Rannie had a victory over Peter Wardle.  At positions four and six the players were struggling with the heavy lawns and the games were going to time, but the English players had the better of it - Ray Lowe following up a very narrow first-game win over Fergus McInnes with a less narrow second one (though again it was a reversal after Fergus had established an early lead), and Keith Roberts having a rather similar pair of scores but in the opposite order against Alan Wilson.  So the score for the weekend stood at 4-2 to the CA, and the Scots needed to win the deciding games of the two singles matches still on to force a revival of the pegged-down doubles for a chance of victory.

Klim Seabright had won his first game against David Appleton, and David had taken the second.  With Klim's clips on peg and rover in the third game, David got the innings and played a series of good breaks under pressure to win +3 and keep the Scots in contention.  Now the crowd's attention turned to Peter McDermott and Brian Murdoch, who were battling out the remaining match on one of the lower lawns.  After a very narrow loss in the first game and a +15 win in the second, Brian hadn't had much success in the third, and Peter was a long way ahead by the time Brian started putting up a credible threat.  However, he got his chances and took them, and advanced one clip to 4-back, and when time was called he was in play with his backward ball, with two peels and a one-ball peg-out needed to gain the lead.  He made a valiant attempt, rolling his partner ball over after hoop 2 and trying the 4-back peel after hoop 3, but an impossibly angled position at hoop 4 put an end to his turn, and so the game went to Peter by 11 points on time, and the whole event to the English CA by 5 matches to 3, with no need for completion of the doubles - a mixture of disappointment and relief for Brian and Fergus, who would have had a very late return to Edinburgh if they'd had to play an extra hour in the gloom of the evening before setting off.

The hospitality of the Crake Valley club was excellent as usual, with substantial and varied lunches and teas adding to Saturday night's feast to leave the visitors "well fed up".  The usual banter amongst the players added to the entertainment - and the limerick competition may now have to become an annual fixture.

Fergus McInnes



Bob Burnett (-1)
Peter Wardle (0)
Peter McDermott (1.5)
Ray Lowe (2)
Klim Seabright (4)
Keith Roberts (5)

David Magee (-1)
Bruce Rannie (-0.5)
Brian Murdoch (2)
Fergus McInnes (3.5)
David Appleton (4)
Alan Wilson (5)

(CA names first)

Day 1
Burnett & Lowe beat Rannie & Appleton -14 +14 +6tp(B)
Wardle & Roberts unfinished v. Murdoch & McInnes -3 +19T
McDermott & Seabright lost to Magee & Wilson -5 -11

Day 2
Burnett beat Magee +20 +16
Wardle lost to Rannie -10 -11
McDermott beat Murdoch +1 -15 +11T
Lowe beat McInnes +1T +9T
Seabright lost to Appleton +6 -20 -3
Roberts beat Wilson +10T +2T

Overall result
CA 5.5, SCA 3.5



These are a few of the entries submitted for Dave Nick's limerick competition.  I might add more if I could remember all the words or be reminded of them by the writers.

David Appleton's double limerick was perhaps too subtle to convince the judges on the night, but its ingenuity can be appreciated on careful reading, although the scansion may remain controversial:

Last night Dave was bragging of sex-
tuple peels he had done; he was ex-
tremely rude to Bob Burnett,
whose best peeling turn yet
has not gained the magical hex-

agonal badge, but Bob's will-
ing to tell you he's equally skil-
ful at croquet as Dave.
Well I have to be brave:
and I say it's Dave 1 Bob 0.

This one was written when the play of Murdoch and McInnes was at a low ebb in the second game of their doubles match:

My game's gone astray: I can't make
Any more than two hoops in a break!
The lawns are too tricky!
The hoops are too sticky!
I'm away off to jump in the Crake!

And so was this, the one that won the whisky, appearing here in a third and slightly bowdlerised edition:

That's another one Brian's just missed!
He's blaming it all on his wrist,
But I think it's a ruse:
He just wants to lose
And repair to the local place of strong waters and reduce himself to a state of inebriation.