All England Area & National Finals

Lt-Cdr Ronnie Sinclair won the CA Open Championship Centenary edition of the Croquet Association All-England Handicap event in 1967, Bill Spalding won it in 1968, Robert Milne in 1969 and Bob Maclean in 1970.  These events were a catalyst for the formation of the Scottish Croquet Committee, which led in 1974 to the formation of the Scottish Croquet Association.

Edinburgh CC, the Green Hotel, Kinross, Airthrey CC, and later, Bush CC, hosted one of the CA Area Finals annually until about 1989, after which Scottish clubs no longer participated in early rounds.

Donald Lamont appeared in the National Finals at Surbiton in 1993 (see report), but there is no record of the means by which he qualified.

 

Roll of honour:

 

Winner

National Final achievement

1967

Lt-Cdr Ronnie Sinclair

Champion

1968

Bill Spalding

Champion

1969

Robert Milne

Champion

1970

Bob Maclean

Champion

1971

Not recorded

 

1972

Not recorded

 

1973

Not recorded

 

1974

Jack Norton

Injured beforehand, lost all games

1975

Jack Tait

Lost in the first round

1976

Jack Norton

Had good games but not in running for trophy

1977

Malcolm Smith

Not in running for trophy

1978

Rod Williams

Somewhere in the middle of the pack

1979

Carol Rowe

Off form on first day and good play on Sunday could not make up the deficit

1980

Jack Norton

One of three scratch players out-bisqued

1981

William Stuart Kilpatrick

Champion

1982

Dave Arnot

In contention up to final round of five in Swiss competition

1983

Chris Jay

Not recorded

1984

Fred Mann

Not recorded

1985

Not recorded

 

1986

Allan Ramsay

Not recorded

1987

Stephen Taggart

Not recorded

1988

Bruce Rannie

Not in running for trophy

1989

Mike Ranshaw

Third

1993

Donald Lamont

Joint second, lost second place in play off

 

Reports:

September 1974:

Edinburgh, Glasgow and Glenochil each provided two entrants for the Area Finals of the All-England Handicap Championship which was held by the Glenochil Club at the Green Hotel, Kinross.

On the first court, Carol Rowe put up a gallant fight against Jack Norton but was finally defeated.  On the other court Glasgow’s second contender, Rod Williams, had only one bisque left and his second ball still to go through the first hoop when Bill Spalding had reached rover and two-back.  Then Bill incautiously gave him the innings with a ball at each of the first two hoops and did not get another turn.  With his one bisque Rod Williams completed the game with an all-round break and his first ever double peel.

In the semi-final between Rod Williams and Ian Wright the latter repeated Bill Spalding’s mistake by sticking in the first hoop and gave Rod another all-round break.  His other ball was already on four-back and he finished the game in his next scoring turn.  The other semi-final, between Miss Anne Murray and Jack Norton, was a much closer affair.  For the last half-hour it was anybody’s game until Miss Murray, with both clips on rover, went off the north boundary on a long visit.  Jack, by then on penultimate and peg, seized his opportunity and ended the game a few turns later.

Jack Norton’s relief at winning such a close game was so great that his start to the Final was almost hilarious.  Playing second, he tried hoop one with his first ball and bounced to the side.  Rod Williams hit this unusual tice and put it to the centre of the court.  Undeterred, Jack tried again with his second ball and went though almost to the second hoop, but missed the ball in the middle.  Shortly after this he tried a 20-yd roll from the other side of the court to hoop two and landed dead in front of it by hitting the hoop and bouncing into position!  Thereafter he scored several hoops from four or five yards – all of this with a borrowed mallet as the shaft of his own one broke at the start of his first game with Carol Rowe.  Meanwhile Rod got both his balls as far as penultimate with careful play and good use of his 3½ bisques, but Jack’s superior shooting paid off in the end.

National Final:

The National Final at Roehampton on 28 and 29 September turned out to be an anti-climax because Jack Norton strained his foot badly just before it.  This meant he had to alter his stance to such an extent that his balance, and consequently his accuracy and touch, was affected.  Despite the provision of ‘ball boys’ to reduce his walking, Jack was beaten in all his games.

September 1975:

Under the Croquet Association’s new arrangements for this Championship, the Norton Hall club from Teesside was included in the Scottish Area.  We welcomed Colin Snowdon and John Ovenstone to face Jack Norton and Jim White respectively in the quarter-finals.

Seven players having reached the Area Finals, the draw gave Stephen Wright a bye into the semi-finals, the third quarter-final between Jack Tait and Ian Wright being played at Lauriston Castle starting early.  Ian was not at his best, perhaps suffering from an overnight train journey on his return from competing for the Spencer Ell Cup at Eastbourne.  Jack Tait’s steady play and Ian’s inability to hit in resulted in a quick victory, only one bisque being used, and that for the peg out.  At Kinross, John Ovenstone easily beat Jim White while Jack Norton made a last minute spurt to beat Colin Snowdon in what had been a very close game.

In the semi-finals Jack Tait beat John Ovenstone narrowly on time in a hard-fought game in which both players were hitting in well but were less competent at picking up a break and continuing it.  In his game against Stephen Wright, Jack Norton seemed to be in a frame of mind such that he expected to be beaten.  Some of the tactical risks he took were successful, but not sufficiently so as to gain a victory.

Stephen Wright went on to meet Jack Tait in the Final which did not start until nearly six o’clock.  By half-past seven the light was fading and it was eventually agreed to stop play and to continue at Lauriston Castle on Monday, Stephen Wright being on penultimate and three while Jack Tait had both balls on 3-back having used only one of his eight bisques.  Like his father Stephen had not been hitting the long shots and this had allowed Jack to creep round steadily.

When the game was resumed two days later, Stephen had one good chance when he hit in with his backward ball and might have gone round to a peel and peg out, but broke down at hoop six.  Jack Tait sensing the danger started using his bisques and won the right to go to the Final at Roehampton later in the month.

National Final:

The National Final at Roehampton on 27 & 28 September was intended to be played as a block of six players but there was such heavy rain during Friday night that the courts were flooded and unplayable until after lunch on the Saturday and so it was re-arranged as a knock-out.  Jack Tait whose handicap was down to 7 lost to Eric Audsley (7) from Wrest Park in Bedfordshire, who himself was beaten in the Final by J.H. Coutts (6) of the Jealotts Hill club in Berkshire who now has the distinction of having won the title two years running. 

September 1976:

The Aithrey Club provided two good courts playing fast and true for this year’s Area Finals.  The excellence of the courts was matched by the unpleasantness of the weather which provided a bitterly cold and very strong wind accompanied by occasional showers.  In the quarter-finals Robert Milne easily eliminated John Ovenstone and Jack Norton had a clear victory over Malcolm Smith.  The low bisquers from Edinburgh and Glasgow were showing themselves in good form.  In the other quarter-finals Carol Rowe was not hitting in as well as she usually does, and Margaret Lauder’s bisques enabled her to reach the semi-finals.  Jim White had reached the semi-final stage by beating G. Foster earlier in the week.

In her semi-final against Robert Milne, Margaret Lauder perhaps used too many bisques to regain the innings without scoring any points.  She might have done better on several occasions to use a second bisque to start a break from which she would have scored four or five points at least.  This tactical failure, together with Robert’s accurate shooting, eliminated the last woman from the event.  The other semi-final between Jack Norton and Jim White attracted less attention, possibly because they have played one another so often.  Jack, arrayed to face any weather in gumboots and windcheater, won a fairly quick game.

There is an interesting sideline on the time it takes to play a game of croquet.  To ensure finishing before dusk, a time limit of three hours had been placed on all games.  This never came into operation which suggests perhaps that players who reach the later stages of an important competition usually play an attacking type of croquet which results in shorter games.

The Final between Robert Milne and Jack Norton, both of whom had reached the London Finals previously, promised to be an interesting game.  At the start Jack’s shooting was poor and Robert staggered on, one or two hoops in each turn, using only his two balls.  Eventually Jack hit in, picked up a four ball break and went to penultimate.  Robert missed the shot and it looked as though Jack would go out on his next turn, but he broke down after a couple of hoops.  Robert was receiving half a bisque, and on one occasion showed how untrue is the remark ‘a half bisque on its own is quite useless’.  Jack had laid up well in from the boundary and Robert played a long shot gently, presumably intending to take the half bisque after missing.  His ball trickled gently up to make a roquet from which he picked up a break and scored three points.  He used the half bisque later to regain the innings but on this occasion it was useless as Jack hit in and went on to eventual victory.

A noticeable feature of Robert’s game is that he prefers to play a ‘square’ break rather than the standard four ball break with one ball in the centre of the court.  In the Croquet Gazette for January 1970 the report on the All-England Finals criticises him for this.  Different players have different ideas on the beat way of playing a break and on that occasion Robert went on to win.

National Finals:

At the National Finals at Roehampton in October Jack Norton had good games but was not in running for the trophy.

September, 1977

Norton Hall having withdrawn from the competition at a late stage, there were seven players in the Area Finals at Glasgow on 3 and 4 September.  They were divided into two blocks, one of four and one of three, the winners of the blocks to play off to determine the Scottish representative to go to Roehampton in a month’s time.

In Block ‘B’ Malcolm Smith used his bisques well to beat Stuart Malin but Stuart responded with a narrow victory over Richard Weyndling, leaving the third game as the decider with a possible points decision.  The first two games having been fairly short, the players’ request to play the third game on Saturday was allowed and Malcolm, needing to score 18 points to ensure winning the Block, had achieved this target within little over an hour, and the rest was a formality.

Block ‘A’, in which games were double banked on Saturday, provided several good games which were given added interest by the shrieks of anguish from Vera Macpherson and Alasdair Adam when short roquets were missed or easy hoops failed.  Vera had a tense first game against Alasdair in which she came strongly from behind with Alasdair needing only three points to win when Vera still had neither clip on the side of a hoop.  Her one point victory does credit to the steadiness of her nerves.  Geoff Strutt found himself off form and failing to hit in on any long shot.  A low handicap player in this situation can only resign himself to defeat.  Rod Williams played his usual steady game and was experimenting, both on Saturday and Sunday, when given bisques, by electing when possible to play the second and fourth turns and getting all four balls into the fourth corner. This tactic seemed to have little effect as no breaks came from it whether or not a third or fourth turn roquet was made.

Sunday morning brought a steady drizzle interspersed by heavy rain.  Dedication to this game in all weathers was shown by Geoff and Alasdair who resolutely played out their game, the result of which could in no way affect the winning of the Block as Vera and Rod had both won their previous two games.  Rod won his game against Vera in style by taking his first ball to rover in a good break.  Vera used her bisques to advantage while Rod missed some shots but then hit in with yellow and completed an all round break, including the rover peel at five, and the peg out to win the quickest game of the weekend in just over an hour and a half with one of Vera’s bisques still standing.

By the afternoon the weather had cleared and the play off between Rod Williams and Malcolm Smith provided a sunny and interesting climax to the proceedings.  Rod again took his red to rover with a good break early in the game.  Malcolm played soundly, using his bisques where necessary to rebuild breaks, but eventually allowed Rod to get the innings in what could easily have been the last turn.  To everyone’s surprise Rod’s break with yellow broke down at a critical stage allowing Malcolm in to play with determination, using his last bisque to peel and peg out Rod’s red with black and yellow both on 1-back.  Few players with handicaps over five or so have a good understanding of the pegged-out game and Malcolm showed his lack of this skill by unnecessarily removing Rod’s yellow from the boundary on several occasions, and failing to attempt to wire when the opportunity arose.  Rod in fact hit in twice but failed to keep the break going.  Eventually Malcolm scored rover with black, but failing to peg out blue, left two balls only in the game.  Rod could only expect one ‘last shot’, but having missed it, was presented with another when Malcolm missed the peg from about five feet.  Rod’s second ‘last shot’ was also missed and Malcolm gained a well deserved victory by pegging out from eight feet.

National Finals: 

Our All-England Handicap finalist was Malcolm Smith from Auchincruive Croquet Club which was representing Scotland in the National Finals for the first time.  He enjoyed his games but found the pace of the fast Roehampton courts too difficult to judge.

September, 1978

As in previous years it had been agreed that to avoid players travelling long distances and then being knocked out in their first game, the Area Finals at Edinburgh should be played in two Blocks with a play off to determine the weather. 

Block ‘A’ had four players and all the games were played on Lauriston No 1 court on Saturday, double banked and with a three-hour time limit.  Three of the six games resulted in a very close finish with Stuart Malin scraping home +3 against Bill Spalding and +2 against Alasdair Adam, who in turn beat Bob Maclean +1 on time, the only occasion that the time limit was needed in this Block.  Bob was not hitting as any long shots as usual and was also beaten by Stuart Malin who won all of his three games in the Block.

There were only three players in Block ‘B’.  In the first game Roger Hissett lost to Malcolm Smith by eight points but in the next game he beat Rod Williams by six on time.  The last game started with everyone knowing that to achieve victory Rod had to win the game by at least seven points while Malcolm could afford to lose by six points and would still reach the play off. Rod’s convincing score of +20 left the result in no doubt. 

The play off promised to be exciting; Stuart had won all his games so far and Rod, as he so often seems to do, had started badly but improved his form as play went on.  Rod quickly showed that he was indeed now near the top of his form by taking yellow to penultimate in one break early in the game.  Stuart missed the shot and Rod took red to the peg.  Stuart decided that it was now time to make use of his 1½ bisques.  He shot at red on the East boundary, missed, and not seeing a good chance of a break, took the half-bisque with the intention of setting up the four ball break and using the whole bisque to start it.  Unfortunately he went off on the take-off along Lauriston’s notorious East boundary.  Being now very close to yellow, he was forced to take the bisque without being in a good position for a break.  With some very good play he managed to pick up a three ball break but never really got it organised and broke down at hoop six.  Rod missed the shot and Stuart staggered on to get his forward ball to 2-back.  At this stage, Rod hit the shot with yellow and it looked as if the game was over.  In the event, he failed to get a good rush to rover, tried the long approach, reached a runnable but difficult position, tried it and blobbed the hoop.  Stuart however, was unable to score any more points and a few turns later Rod got in and became winner of the Area Finals.

National Finals:

Rod Williams’ unfortunate habit, referred to above, of seldom hitting his best form until he has lost his first game was his undoing in the National Finals at Roehampton.  In fact he lost his first two games and won the other two to finish ‘somewhere in the middle of the pack’.

Scottish players had a winning streak in the Finals for four consecutive years in the late 1960’s and early 70’s but we have not seen a winner since.  It must be our turn again soon.  Best of luck to 1979’s Scottish Area Winner whoever he may be; the wheel of fortune ought to be operating in his favour when he goes to Roehampton.

1979:

Circumstances precluded a full report on the Area Finals of the All-England Handicap Championship.  One box reduced itself to three players due to scratching and Jack Norton emerged the winner before the fixed date through games being played ‘by arrangement’.  The other box was played on the advertised date and was won by Mrs Carol Rowe.  In the play off, again ‘by arrangement’, Carol beat Jack and qualified to go to Roehampton.

National Finals:

In the finals Carol Rowe was off form on the first day of a Swiss competition, winning none of her three games; good play on the Sunday brought two wins, never enough to make up the deficit.

1980:

The All-England Handicap ran its course with the Scottish Area Finals being held on 6 & 7 September.  From the spectators’ point of view the most amusing game was that between Jack Norton and Malcolm Smith in which both players had bouts of missing short shots and which was eventually Jack’s game by one point.  Mention should also be made of Jack’s double peels against both Margaret Lauder and Phillip Simpson.

National Finals:

In the finals at Roehampton, Jack Norton joined two other scratch handicap players, but the three experts finished firmly at the foot of the eight-strong table, all blaming the erroneous handicapping of their opponents for their fate.

1981:

This year once again there was a good entry from club members to the All-England Handicap Championship, and so the Area Finals were contested by nine players from six clubs.  The event was played on 5 and 6 September as an American tournament with two blocks, and a play off between the winners.  Block ‘A’ with five players was held at Morningside, and Block ‘B’ at Lauriston Castle.

In Block ‘A’, Jim Lomax, down from Strathcona CC near Aberdeen, got off to a good start by winning a close game against Bob Calder of Edinburgh, the single bisque being in his favour.  He then won fairly comfortably against Alasdair Adam of Dollar CC.  Roger Hissett from Auchincruive CC beat fellow club member Malcolm Smith by a fair margin.  On Sunday, Alasdair Adam started off successfully against Malcolm Smith while Jim Lomax beat Roger Hissett.  This third win put Jim in a strong position as all the others had lost a game.  Alasdair had to play Roger with the winner having a chance should Jim lose his final game.  Despite giving Roger one bisque, Alasdair won the close game +5.  Meanwhile Jim was playing Malcolm, having to win because Alasdair’s net points score was better – this proved easy enough and a comfortable win gave him the Block victory without conceding a game.

In Block ‘B’, William Kilpatrick of Glasgow CC got off to a very good start by twenty-sixing fellow clubman Bill Spalding, thanks to the correct use of his four bisques.  Alistair Hunter of Bush CC had a much harder fight against Edinburgh CC’s Vera Macpherson but managed to win +4.  The second round was West versus East with honours shared – Alastair Hunter had a fairly easy victory over Bill Spalding but Vera Macpherson made William Kilpatrick fight hard for his close win.  In the final round Alistair faced William, both undefeated.  Alistair received one bisque, but that was not enough and William won the Block outright.

The play off between the two Block winners was at Morningside, but despite the great difference between the two playing surfaces William Kilpatrick was soon at home, and, perhaps with the confidence of the half-bisque in his favour, finished the tournament as he had begun it, with a win by twenty-six points.

National Finals:

The National Finals at Roehampton in early October were played as a Swiss tournament, with each player having five games.  Our representative won his three games on Saturday but lost his first on Sunday.  At this stage he was equal in wins with Matthew Tapp but had the slight advantage of having scored +34 net points compared to Matthew’s +30.  William Kilpatrick’s last game was against Prof. Bernard Neal (-2) whom he had to beat well in case Matthew also won his last game with a good score.  Tapp did play a good game to win +26, but William, having learnt how to use his bisques against minus players, took his first ball to the peg with a few bisques, left Bernard Neal one long shot which was missed, and finished in one more turn, using six bisques in total to win +26 too. 

So after a gap of eleven years, once again a Scottish player has brought back this Trophy, and for the first time, a West of Scotland club receives the trophy for the winner’s club.  Our congratulations to them both.

1982:

The 1982 All-England Area Final for Scotland, held at Lauriston Castle on 4 September, started under a blue sky with eight contestants from six clubs, each competing to represent Scotland at the National Finals at Roehampton a month later.  The Area Finals were played as a knock-out, and with only one ‘good’ court at his disposal, the manager decided that the fairest thing would be to give the advantage of playing the first round ties on the better court to those who arrived on time – a manager’s protest at the shocking timekeeping of  competitors at Scottish events!

At the top of the draw, Mary Fotheringham (Edinburgh) was playing Morrison Crawford (Piersland) who started well, but after failing hoop 6 left a fat triple target which his opponent did not miss, and she began to overtake and finally to vanquish him.  Meanwhile on the same lawn at the bottom of the draw, husband Lionel was playing Alistair Hunter (Bush).  Alistair has been trying out a variety of openings this year, and this time all four balls landed in the fourth corner, but in the fifth turn, Lionel Fotheringham failed to make anything out of it.  The game progressed slowly, with few breaks on either side, until Lionel finally won, making the spectators speculate on a possible all-Fotheringham final.

On No. 2 court meanwhile, last year’s national winner Stuart Kilpatrick (Glasgow) very quickly had his black clip on hoop 4 against Fred Mann (Dollar).  But two hours later it had advanced only one hoop, while the blue ball staggered slowly from hoop to hoop until it reached 4-back.  Fred kept hitting in well and scored steadily, making use of his six bisques, but when both his clips were on rover, Stuart hit in with black, and finished off in two scoring turns.  The remaining first round game between Bill Spalding (Glasgow) and Dave Arnot (Auchincruive) was also on court two, and neither of the players really got to grips with the subtleties of the undulating slope.  When time was called Dave was in the lead.  Bill scored the hoops he needed to draw level, but failed to score the one he needed to clinch the game.  Dave hit in and did score it.

The semi-finals were both on court one, so once again the Fotheringhams were on court together, but this time the result was different.  Lionel made good use of the five bisques he received from Stuart Kilpatrick, and did not give his opponent much chance to get in; whenever Stuart did get in Lionel soon got the innings back, and won by a handsome margin.  But Mary was not having the same success.  The single bisque was in Dave Arnot’s favour, and he kept the initiative to win by 14.

Dave Arnot’s play improved noticeably as the day progressed, and the three bisques he received from Lionel Fotheringham in the final were more than enough.  Lionel’s touch was not so sure, and Dave, making the best of his chances, finished the day with a +19 win, and paid the penalty with a two-bisque reduction in his handicap.

National Finals:

The National Finals at Roehampton took the form of a five round Swiss tournament.  Dave Arnot was in contention until the last round when both he and the eventual winner had each lost only one game.  But Dave lost his game to Keith Aiton (0) of Cambridge University, while A.J. Palmer (3) of Roehampton won his last game and the Championship.  So congratulations to Dave Arnot for doing so well and nearly bringing back the trophy to Scotland.  He is a player we shall surely see winning more trophies soon – also congratulations to the Auchincruive Club for producing another good Area winner.

1983:

The Scottish Area Finals of the All-England was held on the first Saturday (3rd) in September, at the end of a long glorious summer.  Up to that weekend the courts at Lauriston had become almost impossibly fast, but some heavy rain earlier in the week and on the Friday night was enough to take the fire out of them without slowing them down too much.  Then, as if to demonstrate that the weather was on our side, the sun shone most of the day despite heavy menacing clouds at the 10 o’clock start.  There were eight finalists, two each from Edinburgh and Glasgow, and one each from Auchincruive, Bush, Dollar and Piersland, so the tournament was organised as a knock-out.  Despite the prompt start, the manager was too optimistic in hoping for quick games, and time limits operated on every round.

The only game to finish within time was the first round tie between Nick Hyne (Edinburgh) and Alasdair Adam (Dollar), where Nick struggled on the sloping court 2, allowing Alasdair to get a ball to rover.  Nick did get started with the aim of pegging that ball out, but, after completing the peel at 2-back, stuck in 4-back off Alasdair’s other ball.  Alasdair soon finished the game +17.  In the three games that went to time, Chris Jay (Glasgow) got off to a grand start against Vera Macpherson (Edinburgh), taking one ball round using only three bisques.  Vera responded well, but could not catch Chris before time ran out.  Roger Hissett (Auchincruive) beat Allan Ramsay (Bush) by four points, while John Surgenor (Glasgow) squeaked home against Geoff Strutt (Piersland) by just one.

The semi-final games were double banked on the relatively level court 1.  In a steady game where the lead changed hands often, Roger managed to beat John by the odd point.  Chris played a very cautious game against Alasdair, slowly building a big lead despite not using many bisques.  Once Alasdair did hit in to make some progress, the bisques started to fall, but Chris was still five points clear with 3½ still standing when time was called.

These bisques were the margin between Chris and Roger in the final, so they were left in the ground.  This was yet another game where the lead changed hands frequently, each player scoring a few hoops at a time, but neither being able to get a commanding lead.  As darkness fell and time was called, Chris was still four points ahead.

The manager would like to pay tribute to the players, as, with three rounds to play in September, each requiring 3¼ hours, there is no margin for delays.  The manager thanks the players for their prompt starts, their quick resumption after a short lunch break, and their stamina for playing from 10 o’clock until half past eight.

National Finals:

No report has been found.

1984:

The All-England Scottish Area Finals were played this year on Glasgow Green West bowling greens, which were rather patchy due to the lack of rain.  The day itself was a mixture of some rain and occasional rays of sunshine.  There were six competitors, comprising two each from Glasgow and Edinburgh, and one each from Auchincruive and Bush.  In the first round the home club’s representatives both lost, with Fred Mann beating John Surgenor by +7, and Alistair Hunter beating Campbell Smith by +11.  In the second round, the two players with first-round byes both came unstuck.  Alasdair Adam made the classical mistake when trying to peel his partner ball through rover, letting Fred Mann in to go on to win by +6.  A steady Alistair Hunter beat Malcolm Smith by +17.

In the final Alistair started well and built up a sizeable lead, reaching penult and rover, while Fred had used all four of his bisques to reach hoop 6 and rover.  Nevertheless Fred had a good hit in, running his ball from hoop 6 to the peg, and, although Alistair did have a few unsuccessful attempts to regain the innings, Fred hung on to win by +3.  With this Fred Mann will go south to Bowdon to represent Scotland in the National Finals.

National Finals:

No report has been found.

1985:

No report has been found.

1986:

This report comes from Glasgow Croquet Club newsletter No. 7.  The All-England Area Final was held on Sunday 7 September.  Rod Williams, Malcolm Smith and Corla van Griethuysen were all drawn in the same block.  Rod beat Corla +3, by pegging out Corla’s forward ball when the other was for penult – Corla failed to hit in, and lost.  Malcolm beat Rod by +9, when Rod peeled Malcolm’s forward ball through rover, but failed to get the rush to the peg – Malcolm took his bisque, and kept Rod out of the game.  Malcolm beat Corla +2, after Corla had succumbed to nerves when on penult and penult, while Malcolm had yet to start.  Some nice roquet enabled Malcolm to catch up and peg Corla’s ball out when the other was on rover – Corla narrowly failed to hit in.

Allan Ramsay had won the other block (details not recorded) and beat Malcolm +10 in an exciting match to win the place in the National Finals.

National Finals:

No report has been found.

5 – 6 September, 1987 at Gleneagles:

The Scottish Croquet Association held its All-England Handicap Area Final at Gleneagles Hotel on 5 and 6 September.  A wet morning showed little promise of ideal croquet weather, yet by 11 o’clock conditions were perfect, and continued for the rest of the tournament.  For the first time for many years we welcomed entrants from south of the border (Tyneside), along with finalists from Auchincruive, Bush, Edinburgh and Glasgow.  The competition was run in two halves as a round robin, with four players in each block, each block remaining on the same lawn, and the winner being determined by a play off between the block winners.

Block ‘A’: 

Round 1:  Rod Williams was not in his usual form, Allan Ramsay was playing his usual suicidal game, and with his luck, murdered Rod.  Dave Arnot found the speed of the lawns difficult initially, but Gail Curry played very steadily, her pre-match preparations obviously paying off. 

Round 2:  In his second game, Rod was still not firing on all cylinders, and Dave took advantage of this and used his bisques to peg rod out when his second ball was still on hoop 1 – it is hard at the top in handicap croquet, especially when opponents play well and the rubs don’t come off as expected.  Allan’s technical skill was not good enough for Gail’s steady and safe performance.  She took her first ball to 4-back with two bisques; her second ball proved a little more difficult, but despite a spirited fight after her bisques had gone, Allan’s second ball remained on hoop 1.

Round 3:  Dave won a slow game despite Allan’s good and consistent long hitting.  Against Rod, Gail used more than half her bisques to get her firs ball to 4-back – the first sign of a chink in her game when less accurate pioneers resulted in poor hoop-making.  Her skill returned with her second ball which went round without using all her remaining bisques.  A most promising player in only her second season, and the qualifier for the play off.

Block ‘B’:

Round 1:

With a two-and-a-half bisque advantage over John Portwood, Fred Mann reached peg and 4-back with John far behind, but he saw his lead dwindle as John played with brisk directness, though sometimes finding problems near the hoops.  Ultimately it looked like curtains for Fred as John negotiated rover and came back to peg out his opponent’s ball, which he had previously placed by the peg – only to miss a three-foot roquet.  Reprieved, Fred finished in a few more turns.  Against Niall Smith, Stephen Taggart was quietly placing his clip on rover inside thirty minutes without having to use his lone bisque; Niall fought hard but could never pull back the leeway.

Round 2:

Niall found John in sparkling form.  When he was for 4-back and rover, against John’s rover and rover, and laid up in the fourth corner, with John at hoop 4 and first corner, Niall might have cashed his remaining bisques, but…  The two winners played each other, and Fred broke down early at hoop 6.  Stephen used two bisques to reach peg with his first ball.  Fred hit in and made a couple more, but then Steve used two more bisques to reach peg and peg.  Fred missed, and that was that.

Round 3:

Niall gave Fred few chances, and won quite easily.  John could still win the block if he beat Stephen by 18.  Playing with great dash and control he was able to get one ball round and had started on the other, with Stephen stranded on 3-back (still requiring one hoop) and six bisques still staring reproachfully at the heaven (‘I didn’t think he could get a break going with my balls in different corners!’).  At 4-back, John stuck from about a foot, Steve took his chance and his remaining bisques, losing by three but qualifying for the play off.

The Saturday ended with the two blocks decided, and the play off to come.  As both blocks had been won by members of the Tyneside Club there did not seem to be any point in incurring a night’s hotel expenses when they could play it off at their own club.  So they set off again for Newcastle, which they had left at six that morning, each two bisques the lighter.

The next day they played the deciding game which must have been an interesting one to watch, because Stephen won it +1T.

National Finals:

No report has been found.

1988:

(Report by John Surgenor)

The 1988 All-England Area Finals took place at Bush lawns on the weekend of 10-11 September. Six people fought out a block:  John Surgenor (2) and Malcolm O’Connell (11) representing Glasgow, Roger Hissett (7) Auchincruive, Fred Mann (5½) Edinburgh and John Portwood (2½) and Bruce Rannie (14) from Tyneside.  The weather was fine, although the wind was there as usual at Bush.

In Round One, Bruce Rannie played John Surgenor and started using his bisques before the fourth ball was on the lawn.  He got to hoop 4 and stuck; John hit in and went to penultimate.  Bruce then used more bisques and took a ball to rover.  John hit in and did the two peels necessary to finish the game, but in an attempt to rush the ball from rover to peg put the ball in the jaws of rover.  He then pegged one ball out, leaving Bruce with three balls to play with and seven bisques to finish the game; Bruce found this too difficult and lost by 6.  Elsewhere John Portwood pegged out Malcolm O’Connell and his own ball with his ball on penultimate and Malcolm on hoop 6; Malcolm scraped home with some good hitting.  Fred managed a comfortable win against Roger +14.

Round Two saw Fred watching Bruce as he marched round +20.  John Portwood beat Roger +9, and John Surgenor had a close game with Malcolm O’Connell.  Malcolm, well ahead and using bisques well, had John on the ropes but ran out of bisques.  John pegged him out, but with some very slack play and good hitting from Malcolm, he managed to score the last three hoops +3.

Round Three: used to watching, Fred now sat and watched Malcolm march round +26.  John Surgenor did the same as John Portwood took his half-bisque to take the innings, went to peg and cross-wired John with a rush to hoop 1 for himself.  John attempted to jump hoop 2, failed, and then watched another all round break, +25.  Bruce did the same to Roger as he had to Fred in the previous round, +23.

Round Four: with so many games being played so quickly, John Portwood and Bruce Rannie played their match so both could have an earlier drive home on Sunday – Bruce won +26 (I really think that he has too many bisques!).  Fred Mann also played John Portwood and John won a close match +4 (and John went home that night!).

Sunday was the same regarding the weather, and, with Bruce Rannie having only one game to play, it was decided no time limit (who needs that?).  But with fewer bisques that soon ran out, the breaks were few and far between.  Both Malcolm and Bruce were good at hitting, but that does not run hoops.  Eventually the score was +1 to Bruce with Malcolm losing because he never attempted to peg out his forward ball; after running rover he just rolled them up and pegged one out.  Bruce hit in and a few shots later were the winner.  John Surgenor watched Roger go round, and only took croquet after Roger missed a two or three yard roquet after running rover with his second ball.  John went to peg, and left Roger cross-wired at hoop 2 with a rush to hoop 1 for himself.  Roger, very annoyed with himself for not winning +26, decided to fire at the balls behind hoop 1, and he hit; +14 to Roger.

In the final round John watched Fred go round, and then with some indifferent shooting from John, Fred managed a +25 victory.  Roger then watched Malcolm finish +21.

The overall winner was Bruce Rannie.  An enjoyable weekend was had, even if you were only watching.  Thanks go to the members at Bush for setting out the lawns.

National Finals:

Bruce Rannie was handicap 12 at Colchester, fazed by the slick lawns, and only able to play when heavy rain equalized the conditions somewhat – Pat Hetherington examined the handicap setting carefully and concluded that it was sound because of nerves (and because Bruce, in planning to miss the white bits on the hoop, kept hitting the grey bits where the paint was chipped off).  He was never in contention where Richard Southgate won.  Present also was Ewen Mackenzie-Bowie, well known in earlier years in Scotland, and some others still at the top of their game twenty-five years on, including Chris Williams and Jeff Dawson.

1989:

Mike Ranshaw beat Bruce Rannie +5T in the Area Final, and then went to the All-England Championship Finals on 23 September, where he came third.  Other Area Finalists were Fred Mann, Malcolm O’Connell, John Surgenor, Colin Rogers and Malcolm Smith.

1993:

(Report by Donald Lamont)

At 8:00 on Saturday 2nd October, as I made my way down the stairs of the comfortable Maypole Guest House in Surbiton, I was surprised to hear a very loud noise proceeding from below.  As I entered the breakfast room, I perceived that rain was pelting down upon the glass roof.  By 9:30 we eight competitors were standing in the Surbiton Croquet Clubhouse watching the downpour. 

Fortunately by 10:00 the rain had abated and we donned our waterproof clothing.  We were then able to make a start on the only two, of seven, lawns which were playable.  Four of us were sent to the lawn farthest from the clubhouse; beside it there was a welcome wooden shelter.  I was agreeably surprised to find that my opponent, Neil Chalmers of Norwich, had a handicap of 14, as against mine of 12.  We were each allowed to take bisques above a base of six, and so he played with eight and I played with six.  My won by +8 was very encouraging.  More so was another success in the afternoon when I won by +18 over Peter Nash of Dulwich (6).  He said I was ‘brilliant’, but he himself was, I think, off his game.  It was a different matter that evening when I met young Nigel Mottram of Bristol (4½); he seemed able to hit in wherever I placed my balls, and by winning by +15 made me fancy him as the probable winner of the tournament, that being his third success.  But, as I was to find out, results in croquet can be misleading.

Next morning I was paired with Peter McGowan of Woking (6), who had also won two games.   He proved too good for me and won by +17.  Each of us could only play against five of the other seven competitors and my final game was against Bryan Judson of High Wycombe (16).  He had won only one game (against Neil Chalmers), but how nearly did he win a second!  Making good use of his ten bisques, he took both balls to the peg and had them lined up to annihilate me, for I had made only about four hoops.  A desperate shot that hit his yellow ball saved me for the time being.  Helped by my outstanding bisques, I plodded along, but once again had to face defeat.  However, I managed to repeat the hit in and eventually reached the peg to win by +2.  Of the other players not yet mentioned, Kevin Wells of Wrest Park (8) was the only player to beat Peter McGowan, which he did by +9 in his first game, but proceeded to lose the other four games (in contrast to Peter who won his other four).  David Barratt of Pendle (6) had three wins against Bryan, Kevin and Nigel(!).  The most sensational result was that of the game in which Peter Nash, who had suffered so severe a defeat from me, beat Nigel Mottram by +26.

To sum up, the twenty games ended up with Peter McGowan winning the ‘final’ against Peter Nash by +18.  Thus Peter Nash joined Nigel, David and me, each with three wins, in second place.  Ultimately Peter Nash was successful in a single ball play off and was awarded the runner-up trophy.

In conclusion, let me add that, after going to Surbiton with some anxiety, I much enjoyed good company and sporting games; also being well cared for by the ladies of the Club, who fed us so copiously.  Finally I must not forget Mrs Deadman of the Guest House who was most welcoming, and her husband who so kindly drove me through the rain to the Club on the first morning, and also took me to the station for my train to Waterloo.

 

 

Results: 

1974:     Quarter-finals: 
Jack Norton (Incorrigibles) beat Mrs C. Rowe (Edinburgh) +9
Rod Williams (Glasgow) beat Bill Spalding (Glenochil) +8
Semi-finals:
Jack Norton beat Miss A. Murray (Edinburgh) +4
Rod Williams beat Ian Wright (The Whins) +21
Final:
Jack Norton beat Rod Williams +6

1975:     Quarter-finals:
Jack Tait beat Ian Wright
John Ovenstone (Norton Hall) beat Jim White
Jack Norton beat Colin Snowdon (Norton Hall)
Semi-finals:
Jack Tait beat John Ovenstone
Stephen Wright beat Jack Norton
Final:
Jack Tait beat Stephen Wright

1976:     First Round:
F.V.X. Norton (Incorrigibles, ½) beat C.R. Adams (Auchincruive, 9) +18
Quarter-finals:
J.G. White (Glasgow, 4) beat G. Foster (Auchincruive, 11) +15
F.V.X. Norton beat M.P.W. Smith (Auchincruive, 9) +16
Mrs M. Lauder (Alloa, 10) beat Mrs C.A. Rowe (Edinburgh, 5½) +12
R. Milne (Edinburgh, 1) beat J. Ovenstone (Norton Hall, 9) +12
Semi-finals:
F.V.X. Norton beat J.G. White +15
R. Milne beat Mrs M. Lauder +7
Final:
F.V.X. Norton beat R. Milne +7

1977:     Block ‘A’ winner: 
Rod Williams (2) 3 wins, beat G.G. Strutt (2) +16, Mrs V.M. Macpherson (6½) +14, A. Adam (10) +4
Block ‘B’ winner:
Malcolm Smith 2 wins, beat S.R.C. Malin (3½) +13, R. Weyndling (10) +5
Final:
Malcolm Smith beat Rod Williams +5

1978:     Block ‘A’ winner:
Stuart Malin (4) 3 wins
Others:
Bob Maclean (2), Bill Spalding (3), Alasdair Adam (9) one win each
Block ‘B’ winner:
Rod Williams (2½) 1 win (+14 net points)
Others:
Roger Hissett (9) 1 win (-2 pts), Malcolm Smith (6) 1 win (-12 pts)
Final:
Rod Williams beat Stuart Malin +19

1979:     Block ‘A’ winner:
Jack Norton 2 wins
Block ‘B’ winner:
Carol Rowe
Final:
Carol Rowe beat Jack Norton

1980:     Block ‘A’:
Jack Norton 2 wins, beat Malcolm Smith +1, Margaret Lauder +9
Malcolm Smith 1 win, beat Margaret Lauder +16
Margaret Lauder 0 wins
Block ‘B’:
Phillip Simpson 2 wins, beat J. Lomax +5, Bill Spalding +26
Bill Spalding 1 win, beat J. Lomax +14
J. Lomax 0 wins
Final:
Jack Norton beat Phillip Simpson +8

1981:     Block ‘A’:
J. Lomax (6) 4 wins, beat R. Hissett +14, M.P.W. Smith +12, R.O. Calder +6, A.H.M. Adam +14
A.H.M. Adam (8) 3 wins, beat R. Hissett +5, M.P.W. Smith +20, R.O. Calder +19
R. Hissett (9) 2 wins, beat M.P.W. Smith +16, R.O. Calder +1
M.P.W. Smith (5) 1 win, beat R.O. Calder +6
R.O. Calder (5) 0 wins
Block ‘B’:
W.S. Kilpatrick (7) 3 wins, beat W.M. Spalding +26, Mrs V.M. Macpherson +4, A.G.M. Hunter +15
A.G.M. Hunter (8) 2 wins, beat W.M. Spalding +24, Mrs V.M. Macpherson +4
W.M. Spalding (3) 1 win, beat Mrs V.M. Macpherson +10
Mrs V.M. Macpherson (7) 0 wins
Final:
W.S. Kilpatrick beat J. Lomax +26

1982:     Round 1:
Mary Fotheringham beat Morrison Crawford +16
Dave Arnot beat Bill Spalding +1T
W.S. Kilpatrick beat Fred Mann +4
Lionel Fotheringham beat Alistair Hunter +9
Round 2:
Dave Arnot beat Mary Fotheringham +14
Lionel Fotheringham beat W.S. Kilpatrick +24
Final:
Dave Arnot beat Lionel Fotheringham +19

1983:     Round 1:
Roger Hissett (7½) beat Allan Ramsay (8) +4T
John Surgenor (8) beat Geoff Strutt (3) +1T
Chris Jay (11) beat Vera Macpherson (7) +6T
Alasdair Adam (3½) beat Nick Hyne (2) +17
Round 2:
Roger Hissett beat John Surgenor +1T
Chris Jay beat Alasdair Adam +5T
Final:
Chris Jay beat Roger Hissett +5T

1984:     Round 1:
Fred Mann beat John Surgenor +7
Alistair Hunter beat Campbell Smith +11
Round 2:
Fred Mann beat Alasdair Adam +6
Alistair Hunter beat Malcolm Smith +17
Final:
Fred Mann beat Alistair Hunter +3

1985:     No information has been found

1986:     Block ‘A’:
Malcolm Smith beat Rod Williams +9, Corla van Griethuysen +2
Rod Williams beat Corla van Griethuysen +3
Block ‘B’:
Allan Ramsay won, details not recorded
Final:
Allan Ramsay beat Malcolm Smith +10

1987:     Block ‘A’:
Gail Curry (12, 3 wins) beat Dave Arnot +19, Allan Ramsay +16, Rod Williams +26
Dave Arnot (11, 2 wins) beat Rod Williams +17, Allan Ramsay +14
Allan Ramsay (5½, 1 win) beat Rod Williams +23
Rod Williams (1, 0 wins)
Block ‘B’:
Stephen Taggart (11, 2 wins) beat Niall Smith +17, Fred Mann +19
John Portwood (4, 2 wins) beat Niall Smith +6, Stephen Taggart +3
Fred Mann (6½, 1 win) beat John Portwood +6
Niall Smith (10, 1 win) beat Fred Mann +18
Final:
Stephen Taggart beat Gail Curry +1T

1988:     Bruce Rannie (14, 4 wins, +64 points) beat Fred Mann +20, Roger Hissett +23, John Portwood +26, Malcolm O’Connell +1
Malcolm O’Connell (11, 4, +51) beat John Portwood, John Surgenor +3, Fred Mann +26, Roger Hissett +21
John Portwood (2½, 3, +10) beat Roger Hissett +9, John Surgenor +25, Fred Mann +4
Fred Mann (5½, 2, -11) beat Roger Hissett +14, John Surgenor +25
Roger Hissett (7, 1, -53) beat John Surgenor +14
John Surgenor (2, 1, -61) beat Bruce Rannie +6

1989:     Final:
Mike Ranshaw beat Bruce Rannie +5T
Other Area Finalists were Fred Mann, Malcolm O’Connell, John Surgenor, Colin Rogers, Malcolm Smith

1993:     No records have been found
Donald Lamont qualified for the National Finals