First National Centre Invitation Doubles

This event was held at the Opening of the original National Centre of Croquet at Bush in 1988 and it was so successful that it was repeated in 1989.  Since then it has been replaced by the Scottish Masters Weekend in May.  It was an advanced level doubles event in which the best available home players partnered top-class English, Irish or Anglo-Scottish players.

Participants:

 

Home players

Visitors

1988

George Anderson
Malcolm Smith
John Surgenor
Corla van Griethuysen
Rod Williams
Ian Wright

Keith Aiton
Michael Heap
Stephen Wright
Martin Murray
Ian Bond
Andrew Hope

1989

George Anderson
Malcolm O’Connell
John Surgenor
Corla van Griethuysen
David Warhurst
Rod Williams

David Appleton
Jerry Guest
Andrew Hope
Geoff Roy
Carl von Schmieder
Simon Williams

 

Reports:

11 – 12 June, 1988:

Our New National Centre for Croquet

The main event of this year, indeed the most significant event in Scottish croquet since the formation of the SCA, was the opening of the Scottish National Centre for Croquet at Bush on 11th and 12th June 1988.  Over 100 guests turned up to see Dr Ivor Davies of the Scottish Sports Council perform the opening ceremony and to watch some of the Scottish / Anglo-Scots Doubles Tournament. 

The establishment of the National Centre marks the culmination of several years of effort by many people.  Attempts to find a suitable site for a National Centre had been going on since the late 70s.  Several possibilities were considered, and the SCA felt it would be in the best interests of Scottish croquet if we were to look for good quality croquet facilities in the east to complement the facilities at Glasgow Green in the west.  With that in mind, most of the effort was put into trying to find a suitable site in the Edinburgh area which other interested parties would be prepared to support financially.  After some time, negotiations between the Scottish Sports Council, Edinburgh University (through the Edinburgh Centre for Rural Economy, ECRE), Bush Croquet Club and the SCA led to an agreement being reached in 1984 / 1985 on the establishment of two new top quality lawns at Bush Estate.

Work was started in late 1985, and it was hoped that they would be ready for play towards the end of 1987.  However the very poor weather in September 1985 and again in 1987 caused some delay, and they were not considered suitable for play until 1988.  Another problem which affected the opening, and which will continue to have considerable influence on the development of the National Centre, was caused by draconian cuts in government funding suffered by ECRE; their groundstaff of 23 in 1985 is now down to 4, and this will be further reduced in the very near future.  The result of this was that ECRE was unable to provide the labour, materials and equipment originally intended, and it was left to the members of Bush Croquet Club to step in; since the lawn contractors finished laying the lawns in 1986 virtually all the work on their upkeep has been carried out by those members, without whose tremendous effort we would have been back to where we were three years earlier.

Once we were sure the opening could go ahead an SCA sub-committee was set up to co-ordinate all the various activities associated with it.  Again, members of Bush Croquet Club spent a great deal of time and effort liaising with ECRE and Edinburgh University over access, catering, etc, while other members of the sub-committee concentrated on such things as publicity (250 press releases were sent out), invitations (over 500), commissioning trophies, etc.  The smooth running of the whole event is a tribute to the hard work of many people, but our thanks must go in particular to Alastair Hunter, Rod Williams, Corla van Griethuysen and Ian Wright.

The one factor that we could do nothing about was the weather and unfortunately Opening Day turned out to be the coldest day in June.  Despite that, a large number of guests stayed on after the opening ceremony to watch the tournament itself and enjoy some of the minus handicap players showing how the game can be played if you have the necessary skills.  It is a pity that more spectators did not turn up on the Sunday when the sun shone and the croquet players warmed to the challenge before them.

Croquet in Scotland received a lot more publicity than usual during the few weeks around the time of the National Centre Opening, and this has already had its effect on the number of enquiries at the SCA and at clubs themselves.  Let us hope that this interest continues, and more people are persuaded to take up the best game there is!

The National Croquet Centre Opening Invitation Doubles Tournament

Ever since 1980, when the Home Internationals between Scotland, England and Wales were first staged, a small band of Anglo-Scots has flown the flag for Scotland in the annual matches, joined sometimes by a single representative of the ‘true’ Scots living north of the border.  Three of the team had never, until this year, struck a single croquet ball in Scotland, but the idea of bringing these players to Scotland was first raised at Nottingham in 1980 when Scotland achieved victory over England in the first competition.

Until now, croquet in Scotland has suffered from a shortage of suitable facilities for staging major events.  None of the clubs has even three good lawns, and the occasional borrowing of other facilities (e.g. bowling greens) is no substitute for dedicated lawns for croquet.  This lack of facilities made the idea of a visit by the Anglo-Scots difficult to realize, but at last, after many years of planning and hard work, a National Croquet Centre has been provided at Bush Club, south of Edinburgh.  The Bush Estate is a complex of agricultural institutes, similar in many ways to Wrest Park in England.  To the club’s one lawn (good turf but not very level) have been added two lawns on level ground, thanks to the financial support of the Scottish Sports Council and Edinburgh University, and much hard work by members of Bush Club and the SCA. 

For the opening of this facility, invitations were sent to five members of the Scottish Home International team, Keith Aiton, Ian Bond, Andrew Hope, Martin Murray and Stephen Wright, and also to Michael Heap, who, though not now qualified for the national team, played at Edinburgh Croquet Club several years ago, and has often played for the Scottish CA in the annual match against the English.  Fortunately a date was found when all these players could make the trip, and Corla van Griethuysen, Match Secretary of SCA, arranged a doubles tournament, pairing each of the visitors with one of the best local players, played as an American Block of five rounds over Saturday and Sunday.

The Saturday came at the end of an excellent week of weather in Scotland, and two of the visitors had enjoyed this to the full by arriving in the country a few days earlier.  Unfortunately the Official Opening saw a change in the weather, and low cloud with a fine drizzle persisted throughout Saturday.  The two new lawns were the focus of interest, proving to be basically flat and reasonably paced after the week’s fine weather, but with odd patches of poor grass growth probably due to problems with soil compaction.  With good attention they should however improve to become excellent lawns.  The hoops had been firmly set, but seemed to give fewer problems than expected, at least to the visitors.

The first round saw wins for Martin Murray & Corla van Griethuysen, Keith Aiton & George Anderson, and Ian Bond & Rod Williams.  The last pair, with their more equal standard of play, looked likely to do well, and indeed they won all three games on Saturday.  The visitors produced some good play, the highlights being Keith Aiton’s triple peel on an opponent’s ball, which turned out to be a winning tactic (for once), and Martin Murray’s straight double peel which gave his pair victory over Keith Aiton & George Anderson. 

By Sunday morning the three pairs who had won in the first round had established themselves as likely to provide the winners, and the critical match was between Ian Bond & Rod Williams and Keith Aiton & George Anderson.  Despite the much better weather, Ian Bond suffered a sudden loss of form, possibly brought on by the previous evening’s Scottish hospitality, so that Aiton & Anderson were able to snatch a close win and level the scores at three wins apiece for each of the top three pairs.  This meant that if Martin Murray & Corla van Griethuysen could win their final game against Stephen Wright & John Surgenor they were assured of victory, as their net points record was so much better than those of the other two pairs.  In the event the game turned out to be a tense affair; Stephen Wright accidentally (!) peeled Corla van Griethuysen’s ball through rover, so pegged it out, but Martin Murray, despite displaying nerve on gentle shots, scraped victory by hitting a series of long roquets at the end.

This ending brought the tournament to a conclusion in time for a brief ceremony when all the players were awarded small mementoes, before the visitors had to set off on their long journeys home.  All the visitors thought the trip had been worthwhile, and with Bush now providing suitable facilities for top class play, it would appear likely that they will be back again before too long.  Certainly the hospitality provided by the SCA was first rate, the highlight being a most enjoyable dinner on Saturday night at the house of Alastair Hunter, Chairman of Bush Croquet Club.  To him and his wife, and to all members of the SCA who worked so hard to make the event such a success, a warm thank you from the six visitors.

26 – 27 August, 1989:

Report by Manager, David Appleton:

‘Doubles or Quit?’

It was so cold and wet on the Saturday of the Invitation Doubles event at Bush this year that it was not clear whether the players would get through their three matches without contracting pneumonia, but extra wellingtons were provided for those who had not bought their footwear at yacht chandlers’, and the programme was completed.

The plan was for each of the home players, George Anderson, Corla van Griethuysen, Malcolm O’Connell, John Surgenor, David Warhurst and Rod Williams, to partner a different visitor in each of five doubles matches.  The visitors consisted of two members of the Scotland Home Internationals side, Andrew Hope and Geoff Roy, the two finalists in the recent Championship of Ireland, Simon Williams and Carl von Schmieder, erstwhile member of the Anglo-Japanese side, Jerry Guest, and manager David Appleton, who had a recurring problem remembering he was a visitor.  The plan was reasonably successful but needs some fine tuning – George, for example, played against only two of the visitors.

Play was generally positive, with only four of the fifteen matches going to time (usually a bit less than three hours because of late risers, and slow service at The Steading).  Two of these were exciting +1T games: in one George hit in during the turn after time was called, went round from 3-back with a peel on partner an pegged out his own ball to win; in the other Andrew had to do the same, but, having difficulty with the peel, opted to tie the scores and leave Rod in position, only for David Appleton to hit the peg.  The most spectacular play was by Simon in his last game – Sunday was much more conducive to good play than Saturday – when he performed a quadruple peel.

The most successful players were Simon, David Warhurst and Malcolm, who each lost only one game, but mainly it was fun, especially when it wasn’t raining.  On behalf of the visitors, thanks to those who provided beds, hot baths, food and drink, and generally contributed to the very enjoyable social side of the weekend.

 

Results:

1998:     Martin Murray & Corla van Griethuysen (4 wins, +57 pts) beat Keith Aiton & George Anderson +18, Michael Heap & Malcolm Smith +18, Andrew Hope & Ian Wright +22, Stephen Wright & John Surgenor +4
Ian Bond & Rod Williams (4 wins, +42) beat Michael Heap & Malcolm Smith +8T, Andrew Hope & Ian Wright +25, Martin Murray & Corla van Griethuysen +5, Stephen Wright & John Surgenor +12
Keith Aiton & John Surgenor (4 wins, +33) beat Ian Bond & Rod Williams +8, Michael Heap & Malcolm Smith +18, Andrew Hope & Ian Wright +6tpo, Stephen Wright & John Surgenor +19
Andrew Hope & Ian Wright (2 wins) beat Michal Heap & Malcolm Smith +17, Stephen Wright & John Surgenor +16
Stephen Wright & John Surgenor (1 win) beat Michael Heap & Malcolm Smith +24
Michael Heap & Malcolm Smith (0 wins)

1999:     Simon Williams, Malcolm O’Connell and David Warhurst only lost one game each

C. von Schmieder & R.ap W. Williams beat J. Guest & J. Surgenor +16T
S. Williams & D. Warhurst beat D.R. Appleton & G. Anderson +22
A. Hope & M.J. O’Connell beat G. Roy and C.M. van Griethuysen +16

D.R. Appleton & M.J. O’Connell beat C. von Schmieder & J. Surgenor +13
S. Williams & C.M. van Griethuysen beat A. Hope & G. Anderson +14
J. Guest & D. Warhurst beat G. Roy and R.ap W. Williams +16

A. Hope & D. Warhurst beat J. Guest & M.J. O’Connell +23
G. Roy & J. Surgenor beat D.R. Appleton & C.M. van Griethuysen +7
S. Williams & R.ap W. Williams beat C. von Schmieder & G. Anderson +1

G. Roy & M.J. O’Connell beat S. Williams & J. Surgenor +10
J. Guest & G. Anderson beat C. von Schmieder & C.M. van Griethuysen +1T
D.R. Appleton & D. Warhurst beat A. Hope & R.ap W. Williams +1T

G. Roy & G. Anderson beat C. von Schmieder & D. Warhurst +4T
D.R. Appleton & R.ap W. Williams beat A. Hope & J. Surgenor +22
S. Williams & M.J. O’Connell beat J. Guest & C.M. van Griethuysen +18qp