New Zealand Match

Scotland v New Zealand

The first International Test Match played by Scotland was staged at Gleneagles Hotel to entertain the full New Zealand team, in the British Isles for the 1974 MacRobertson Shield series.   The standard format of the time was used, being three best-of-three doubles and six singles.

Match score:

1974

Scotland

3

New Zealand

6

at Gleneagles

 

The following players represented Scotland in this match:

Bob Duncan

NZ 74

Michael Heap

NZ 74

Bob Maclean

NZ 74

David Nichols

NZ 74

Ian Wright

NZ 74

Stephen Wright

NZ 74

 

SCA Bulletin no. 1 (August 1974) contains the following report of this historic occasion:

SCOTLAND v NEW ZEALAND at Gleneagles Hotel, 27 to 29 June 1974

The New Zealand team arrived at Edinburgh Airport at half-past-ten on Saturday night, June 22nd, showing all the signs of a long and tiring journey.  After a brief welcome, they were taken off to be given private hospitality in Scottish homes for four nights.  On Tuesday evening the touring team was welcomed at a reception given by the Scottish Croquet Association at the Royal Hotel in Bridge of Allan.  The Kiwis were able to meet many Scottish croquet players at a very pleasant function which laid the foundation for the very happy spirit which prevailed throughout the Match.  The principal guest was Mr L.E. Liddell, the Chairman of the Scottish Sports Council, who spoke appreciatively of what Scotland was doing to further international sport.  Mrs Liddell graciously presented specially designed ties to the Scottish and New Zealand teams.

The New Zealand team was taken to Gleneagles Hotel on Wednesday to allow them a day’s practice on the lawns which were to be used for the International.  During the whole of the Match, the weather was warm and sunny.

Three doubles matches were completed on Thursday.  The games started somewhat nervously, the New Zealanders perhaps not quite recovered from their journey and not fully adjusted to the pace of the lawns.  Bob Jackson’s magnificent shooting was a feature of the Match, and it carried Cliff Anderson and him through to a 2-0 victory.  Scotland’s only success in the doubles was due to the steady play of David Nichols and Ian Wright.

The singles started on Friday and the standard of croquet had improved.  John Prince twice tried straight triple peels in beating Michael Heap and failed narrowly both times.  Alan Anderson, in his first game against Bob Maclean, got the first triple peel of the tour, but had to work hard for it.  The young New Zealander finally got a troublesome 4-back peel before scoring 1-back, then had to jump the peeled ball as he scored rover and hit a 10-yd shot from the boundary, and finally cannon his partner ball clear of rover as he got the rush to the peg.

The first three singles having been completed by early afternoon the second three were started immediately.  One of the best matches was between Bob Jackson and Scotland’s most promising player, young Stephen Wright, who won his first game and got his first ball to 4-back in the second, only to be triple peeled and pegged out by New Zealand’s sharpshooter.  Stephen hit in from the third corner to the first hoop but unfortunately broke down at 3-back.  Bob Jackson made no mistakes in the third game and went out with another triple peel.

Bob Duncan gave Scotland her first victory in the singles by keeping at bay a Cliff Anderson whose usual accurate shooting had gone adrift.  A marathon first game between Ian Wright and Gordon Rowling lasted almost five hours and was the only uncompleted match on Friday.

On Saturday the other members of both teams played more croquet or watched the Rowling-Wright match continue for two more long games.  These culminated in a victory for Ian Wright, the only Scottish player to win both his doubles and his singles, who pegged out Gordon Rowling’s ball in both games when black was on penultimate and red on 3-back.  The 4-back lift seems to be forgotten fairly often when a ball has been pegged out, and Ian added to the number of players who have made this mistake when, on failing to get a good rush to penultimate, he laid up on the north boundary only a few yards from ‘B’ baulk imagining himself to be safely wired from Gordon Rowling’s ball.  Gordon hit the easy shot, got the rush, but made a somewhat mediocre approach to penultimate and only got a few inches through the hoop.  He attempted a very difficult hammer shot but failed to hit so Scotland won a second singles, giving a Match score of 6-3 to New Zealand.

Scotland’s Match manager, Jack Norton, had the magnificent idea of bringing the proceedings to a close with champagne.  A toast was drunk on the lawns to the New Zealand team in which they were wished every success in their tour.

This was the first international event for the newly formed Scottish Croquet Association.  The Scottish team did not really expect to beat their strong antipodean opponents, but can feel proud to have put up a good fight in which every Scottish player won at least one game.  Many new friendships have been made and New Zealand were given a good run-in for the Test Match series.

In July, Ian Wright, SCA Secretary, received a letter from the Chairman of the Croquet Association, the hosts of the MacRobertson Shield Test Series.

Dear Ian,

I have now had an opportunity of chatting to the New Zealand team and officials and all are most glowing in their accounts of the Scottish visit.  I can say that your hospitality and all the arrangements far exceeded their wildest expectations – you have set a very hot pace for the rest of the tour to live up to.  Perhaps their only comment was that their stay in Scotland was all too short.

May I on behalf of the CA thank you and all concerned for all the work you put in to make it such a success.  On the financial side do let me know if you would like a contribution from the Test Tour Fund?

…..

Again my best thanks for your new Association’s great contribution to the Tour.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Rothwell,

Chairman of Council

Ian Wright comments in SCA Bulletin no. 1 that he ‘was very happy to reply and say that in fact we had been able to cover the expenses of the Match ourselves.  The handsome Programme, printed by James Shearer of the Glasgow Club, and the Reception at the Royal Hotel in Bridge of Allan nearly covered themselves, and the rest of the money, just over £300, was raised by donations, the sale of remaindered copies of Croquet and Croquet and how to play it, and from four mallets made by Bob Maclean of Glenochil CC from wood donated by Jimmy Rowe of Edinburgh CC.  I think the Scottish Croquet Association has got off to a flying start and look forward to the Clubs and the Executive Committee maintaining the impetus.’

SCA Bulletin No. 2 in November comments that Great Britain retained the MacRobertson Shield, but that New Zealand beat Australia two Tests to one during the series to come second, and that Australia’s warm-up Test Match in Ireland, coincident with the Gleneagles Match, ended with a 9-0 win to the touring side, giving more emphasis to the Scottish performance on this occasion.

 

Results:

Scottish names first

Doubles:
M.E.W. Heap & R.N. Maclean lost to A. Anderson & J. Prince -21, +12, -15
D.I. Nichols & I.H. Wright beat R. Murfitt & G. Rowling +16, +13
R. Duncan & S.J.H. Wright lost to C. Anderson & R. Jackson -10, -12

Singles: 
M.E.W. Heap lost to J. Prince -26, -25
D.I. Nichols lost to R. Murfitt -14, -12
R.N. Maclean lost to A. Anderson -26tp, -14
R. Duncan beat C. Anderson +17, +22
S.J.H. Wright lost to R. Jackson +5, -3tpo, -25tp
I.H. Wright beat C. Rowling -9, +3, +2