SCA v Croquet North 2009

2-3 May 2009, Meadows

The Croquet North team that came to Edinburgh for this year's match consisted of Charles Waterfield (handicap 0) from Middlesbrough, Derek Watts (2.5) and Sheila Watts (9) from Tyneside, and Alice Fleck (10) from Belsay Hall.  The SCA had found four players with a similar spread of handicaps to form their opposition: James Hopgood (-0.5), Fergus McInnes (3.5), Jamieson Walker (8) and Joe Lennon (10).

The format was based on the one devised by Bruce Rannie for last year's match at Tyneside, with three rounds of doubles - in which all the possible partnerships on one side met the corresponding pairs from the other side - and three rounds of singles in the course of the weekend.  Differences from last year were that each player was to meet three different opponents in the singles (rather than playing their opposite number twice and one other opponent once) and that the order of the rounds was permuted so that it would be a doubles rather than singles round that was left unplayed if the match was decided after five rounds.

The visiting side arrived half an hour early for the scheduled 10am start on Saturday, and had to wait for the locals to arrive to unlock the gate.  Soon after 10am everyone was present, and the match began with the doubles round specified cryptically in the manager's email as "AD v ad, BC v bc".  This meant the top and bottom players in the Scottish side (James and Joe) playing their North of England counterparts (Charles and Alice), while Fergus and Jamieson were up against Derek and Sheila.  James and Joe won by 10 points on time, but in the other game Fergus failed to score the equalising hoop in the turn after time was called and so the result was Watts +1 on time - the same as in the singles encounter between Derek and Fergus at the Glasgow Open two weeks before.

Fergus then had to dash off to the Co-op to buy food and drinks for lunch, having failed to get this organised in advance.  There was thus a slight delay, followed by furious hacking of bread in the absence of a proper bread knife, but the rough-hewn lunch when achieved seemed to meet the players' requirements.  And so they moved on to the afternoon's two rounds of singles games.

In the first singles round the top two Scots were playing numbers 3 and 4 from Croquet North, and vice versa, and the results were as expected - wins for the higher-ranked players on each side, all with scores in double figures.  Match score 3-3.  But in the next round (first v second player, third v fourth) Alice achieved an upset, beating Jamieson +20, and with the other games going according to handicap the score at the end of the day was SCA 4, CN 6.  James's game against Derek was notable for a fine combination peg-out: having run into the peelee (black) after rover on his triple, James sent it about four feet from the peg, rushed red to a position in line with it and a couple of yards away, and then cannoned black onto the peg with red and pegged out blue in the same stroke.

A veritable feast ensued at Jamieson's house, with entertainment including a recitation of his croquet version of Rudyard Kipling's poem "If".  Jamieson was also providing overnight accommodation for Derek, Sheila and Alice, while Charles and Fergus had a walk through Bruntsfield Links and the Meadows to Fergus's house to round off their day.

Sunday, like Saturday, was a day of sunny intervals, but colder with a fresh westerly wind.  Play began shortly after 9.30am, with another pair of doubles games.  The Scots managed to make up their deficit by winning both of these, and then in the afternoon's singles they pulled ahead with three wins - including James's fourth consecutive TP - to take the score to 9-7.  Sheila made a valiant fight-back from 24 points down after Jamieson had pegged out one ball, but got only one of her balls round before he hit in and finished.  So the final doubles round was needed, Croquet North chasing a 9-9 draw to retain the Scottish & Newcastle beer pump trophy which they had won in 2008.  Fergus and Joe reached a peg-out against Derek and Alice, and the Scots had an unassailable 10-7 lead.  The other game was left unfinished, the recently polished beer pump handle was presented with due ceremony, and the Croquet North team headed off across the border.  The SCA players had enjoyed their company, and there had been plenty of good croquet on both sides.  We look forward to a return visit in 2010.

A few photographs can be found below.

Fergus McInnes

(SCA names first)

Day 1, Saturday 2 May 2009:

James Hopgood & Joe Lennon beat Charles Waterfield & Alice Fleck +10T (21-11)
Fergus McInnes & Jamieson Walker lost to Derek Watts & Sheila Watts -1T (19-20)

James Hopgood beat Sheila Watts +26 TP
Fergus McInnes beat Alice Fleck +19
Jamieson Walker lost to Charles Waterfield -18
Joe Lennon lost to Derek Watts -11

James Hopgood beat Derek Watts +18 TP
Fergus McInnes lost to Charles Waterfield -10
Jamieson Walker lost to Alice Fleck -20
Joe Lennon lost to Sheila Watts -15T (8-23)

Day 2, Sunday 3 May:

Hopgood & McInnes beat Waterfield & D Watts +17 TP (JRH)
Walker & Lennon beat S Watts & Fleck +2T (24-22)

James Hopgood beat Charles Waterfield +26 TP
Fergus McInnes beat Derek Watts +3T (20-17)
Jamieson Walker beat Sheila Watts +12
Joe Lennon lost to Alice Fleck -3

Hopgood & Walker v Waterfield & S Watts unfinished
McInnes & Lennon beat D Watts & Fleck +10

Match result: SCA 10, CN 7


Final stages of James Hopgood's second TP on Saturday: lining up the rover peel ...

... and preparing for the combination peg-out (with Charles Waterfield at rover in the double-banked game).

The players at the presentation of the trophy: Alice Fleck, Charles Waterfield, Jamieson Walker, Sheila Watts, Derek Watts, Fergus McInnes, Joe Lennon and James Hopgood.