West Midlands Match

SCA v West Midlands – The Willetts Shield

Trophy:  The Des and Susan Willetts shield. 

The Des and Susan Willetts Shield was first presented in 1980.  There have been no matches since 1997.

Match scores:

1977

SCA

6

W Mids

11

at Himley

1978

SCA

4

W Mids

8

at Wolverhampton

1979

SCA

3

W Mids

5

at Glasgow

1980

SCA

7

W Mids

8

at Dudley

1981

SCA

 

W Mids

 

at Glasgow

1982

SCA

6*

W Mids

6

at Dudley

1983

SCA

8

W Mids

4

at Glasgow

1984

SCA

6

W Mids

5

at Himley

1985

SCA

12

W Mids

6

at Edinburgh

1986

SCA

6

W Mids

6*

at Himley

1987

SCA

7

W Mids

5

at Himley

1988

SCA

3

W Mids

7

at Glasgow

1989

SCA

6*

W Mids

6

at Himley

1990

SCA

7

W Mids

5

at Glasgow

1991

SCA

7

W Mids

10

at Himley

1992

SCA

8*

W Mids

8

at Bush

1993

SCA

11

W Mids

7

at Himley

1994

SCA

7

W Mids

3

at Bush

1995

not played

1996

SCA

13

W Mids

5

at Bush

1997

SCA

5

W Mids

3

at Himley

When the match was drawn, the winner (denoted by an asterisk) was determined on the basis of points scored.

The following have played in matches against the West Midlands:

Alasdair Adam

WM 79 86 88

George Anderson

WM 82 83 84 85 94

David Appleton

WM 94

Dave Arnot

WM 91

Steve Barnett

WM 94

Iain Bissett

WM 85

Robert Calder

WM 77

Colin Dinwoodie

WM 77

Lionel Fotheringham

WM 84

Mary Fotheringham

WM 84 85 86 87

Bernard Gallivan

WM 79

Harry Hawkins

WM 80

Roger Hissett

WM 79 82 83 84 87

Alistair Hunter

WM 85 88

Simon Jones

WM 91

W.S. Kilpatrick

WM 78

Margaret Lauder

WM 77 80

Vera Macpherson

WM 77

Stuart Malin

WM 79

Fred Mann

WM 86 87

George Mason

WM 78

Brian Murdoch

WM 91

Jack Norton

WM 78 82

Ray Otley

WM 91

Ralph Pirrie

WM 88

Allan Ramsay

WM 82 85 87 91

Jimmy Rowe

WM 84

Ann Rutter

WM 88 91

Jim Shearer

WM 78

Phillip Simpson

WM 80 82 83 86

Malcolm Smith

WM 78 79 80 82 83

Bill Spalding

WM 79

Gillian Spalding

WM 86

Richard Sparrow

WM 88

Geoff Strutt

WM 82 83 85 88

John Surgenor

WM 83 84 86 87

Stephen Tones

WM 77

Charlotte Townsend

WM 94

Corla van Griethuysen

WM 83 85 86 87 91

David Warhurst

WM 86 87

Des Willetts

WM 80

Adrian Williams

WM 78

Rod Williams

WM 77 82 83 84 87

Garry Wilson

WM 85

Ian Wright

WM 77 80 85

Mona Wright

WM 85 91


No records for 1981 have been found.  Full list of players in 1988 not known; those mentioned in the report are included above.  No records for 1989 to 1993 have been found.  Full list of players in 1994 not known; those mentioned in the report are included above.  No match took place in 1995.  No records for 1996 or 1997 have been found.

 

Reports:

1 October 1977

A new event for 1977 was the Invitation Match between the West Midlands Federation and a Scottish team of comparable handicap ratings.  This was held on 1 October at Himley Hall, once the home of the Earls of Dudley, and a favourite retreat some half-century ago for David, Prince of Wales.  Nowadays the Hall houses the Management Studies Department of the Wolverhampton Polytechnic, but the setting remains in all its splendour.  The wide expanse of terraced lawns lies close against the two main frontages of the Hall.  The wider scene is of gently undulating English parkland studded with magnificent trees – lime, beech, horse chestnut – and beyond, the lake whose waters reflect the mood of every hour.

The last day of September was wild and stormy, but the start of October dawned bright and clear, with a hustling wind which swept every fallen leaf away from the lawns; only a cluster of beech nuts lurked in a corner of one lawn as corner-flags, winning pegs and balls were put out to complete the setting of the lawns.  There were seven full-sized lawns to cater for the seven players in each team – the Match arrangements were settled between Ian Wright for Scotland and Des Willetts for the West Midlands.

The morning games were advanced play level singles, for which the Scots fielded the stronger (lower-bisqued) players in games 1-3 and the West Midlands in games 5-7 with an even balance between opponents in game 4.  The West Midlands took game 4 comfortably, and also managed to secure Game 3 after a close struggle, while the remaining five games ‘followed the form book’ to provide an overall lead of 5-2 to the West Midlands.  In the afternoon the sequence of opponents was juxtaposed for a series of handicap singles.  In these the higher-bisqued player achieved success in every case, though not without prolonged struggles and breath-taking finishes in several of the games.  Again, the West Midlands had the advantage, this time 4-3.  As these games finished, the players paired up for a final series of doubles from which the West Midlands emerged the winners by two games to one, giving an overall score for the day of 11-6.

30 September 1978

In this match SCA picks a mixed ability team and West Midlands matches it with players of similar handicaps.  This year in Wolverhampton Scotland was represented by four players from Glasgow and two from Auchincruive.  In a poor result, the star of the Scottish team was Adrian Williams who was the only player to win both of his games.

5 August 1979

This annual fixture was held on the first Saturday in August and the sun shone all day for the visitors – a rare event for Glasgow this ‘summer’.  Despite the recent heavy rains the courts were hard and a little bumpy so local knowledge was an asset, but the Willetts had been up for the Stourbridge v Glasgow match the previous week and spent the intervening days touring the west coast.  Invigorated by their tour and encouraged by their experience of the tricky Glasgow courts, they spear-headed the West Midlands attack.  As the handicaps of the two teams were fairly evenly matched it was agreed by the captains to play the morning matches advanced and the afternoon ones handicap.  As there were only two courts available, one singles and one doubles was played on each court, double banked, thus allowing everyone to have two games.

The visitors did not take long to get used to the courts and Harry Hawkins, in particular, was round to 1-back very quickly in his game against Stuart Malin.  In the other singles, Alan Girling went off on a croquet stroke letting Bill Spalding in to go to 4-back, but it was not long before Alan had a clip there.  A feature of all the games was the number of hit-ins which failed to yield results because subsequent short roquets were missed or hoop approaches rolled too far.  The remark of the day came when Bill Spalding was asked by the manager whether he wanted to stop for lunch before he started his next turn, or did he want to try the twenty-yard shot that his opponent had left him.  He took the shot, missed, and then turned to his opponent and said ‘I think I’ll play that shot after lunch’.  After lunch, an hour’s time limit was placed on the games still in progress.  The doubles between the Willetts and Bernard Gallivan and Roger Hissett ended well within it but both the others went to time, one to Scotland and one to the West Midlands, leaving the latter 3-1 up.

The second round of games was handicap and started quickly on Court 1 but was held up on Court 2 with a photographer from the Glasgow Herald taking some pictures.  This time Scotland did better, as it needed to, and by half past seven had won two games and lost one, so everything depended on the doubles between Malcolm Smith and Bill Spalding for Scotland and Sue Willetts and Harry Hawkins for the West Midlands.  Early in the game the Scots were on 1-back and 2-back when their opponents were still on hoop 3.  They held their lead for some time until Sue Willetts made a big break to 4-back to take the lead, all other clips being on 2-back.  Harry Hawkins took his ball to the peg and Sue got hers to rover.  All the others players were now watching intently as Bill Spalding went to the peg with the intention of pegging out Harry’s ball, which he did, but on a roquet, ending his turn.  Sue hit the resulting 15-yard shot but could only take position for rover.  Malcolm hit a long shot on his partner ball but missed a short one on Sue’s ball, landing on the boundary opposite rover.  She ran the hoop but did not get very far, so trickled up to the peg.  This time Bill got the long hit-in, putting Sue’s ball into the first corner and setting up Malcolm for 3-back.  Sue missed the peg; Malcolm made 3-back, took Sue’s ball up to 4-back but failed to get good position so returned to his partner.  This time Sue made no mistake from fifteen yards and hit the peg to give West Midlands a 5-3 overall victory.

27 September, 1980

The SCA challenge to the West Midlands Federation got off to a shaky start when one of the original team of six took ill and another was unable to take part because of an administrative misunderstanding.  However the SCA has two members living in the West Midlands of England and so it was agreed to play the Match with teams of five, one of the local members playing for SCA in the morning and the other in the afternoon.  As a last minute surprise it was revealed that Des and Sue Willetts had presented a magnificent Shield as a trophy for this event.  This added an extra edge to this year’s contest with both sides keen to have their names at the top of the list of winners.  Of course the two local players, Des Willetts and Harry Hawkins, were certain of being in the winning team whichever side won. 

All the games were played handicap this year, with three rounds of five single games.  For the first round the players were matched in handicap order; for the second round the order of the players in one team was reversed so that the lowest handicapped Scot played against the highest handicapped adversary, and so on; in the final round players were mixed so that everyone played someone whom they had not met previously.

The first round had two close games.  Ray Jones pegged out Malcolm Smith’s forward ball with the other on rover and his own backward ball on hoop 5, the same hoop but in the other direction.  Ray scored a few hoops before Malcolm scored rover, but while trying to score 2-back off Malcolm’s ball he only just trickled through, not far enough to roquet anything, so the best he could do was to go to the side boundary about fifteen yards from his partner ball.  This gave Malcolm the chance to roll up to rover, and finish the game when Ray missed the long shot.  The other close game was between Harry Hawkins (SCA in this round) and Joe Potter, who was well ahead for most of the game reaching peg and peg with Harry still far behind.  But Harry won the innings, started to score, and kept Joe out so that he could win the game by two points.

Alan Girling was unwise enough in his game against Ian Wright to take his first ball to rover, as Ian promptly hit in and started a break in which he peeled Alan’s ball through rover but failed his approach to 4-back.  However a few turns later he took his other ball from hoop 1 to the peg, and then pegged out Alan’s ball with Alan’s other ball still for hoop 1.  The two-ball game did not last long; Ian scored 4-back and took position for penultimate leaving Alan’s ball near the south boundary in front of hoop 1.  Alan tried to score the hoop from ten feet, missed badly, glancing off it to finish up beside Ian’s ball.  This was too much of a gift for Ian who finished off the game in the next turn.

The SCA went to lunch 4-1 up, but did not do so well in the afternoon.  Ray Jones showed Ian Wright just how to make best use of his 2½ bisques.  He took the half to set up a break then immediately used a full bisque to start the break, playing it well and taking a ball to the peg.  Later he used the last bisque to start another complete break from hoop 1, so winning the game in only two scoring turns.  Phillip Simpson had to use too many of his six bisques against Alan Girling to take his first ball round, having stuck in several hoops along the way.  When Alan finally got going he took his first ball to rover in one turn and finished off in the next turn with a nice all round break and a single peel.

In this round it was Des Willetts who played for SCA and he had a very exciting game against Peter Barnes who pegged him out when Des’ other ball was for penultimate and Peter’s was for 3-back.  Des hit in long shots time after time in the three ball game but could not get a break together; by the time he got through rover both Peter’s clips were on the peg.  He failed to peg out and eventually found himself about eight yards from the peg when Peter tried a long peg out from the other side of the peg.  He missed with the croqueted ball and out the other out.  Des hit the fairly short shot and pegged out to win by one point, the SCA’s only win in that round.

This meant that the two teams went into the final round level-pegging, both keen to win the Shield.  Ian Wright lost to Harry Hawkins and Margaret Lauder to Joe Potter, but Des Willetts, still playing for SCA, had a good win against Ray Jones, while Phillip Simpson narrowly beat Peter Barnes.  In the fifth game, Alan Girling’s experience told against Malcolm Smith, and so the odd game went to the West Midlands to give them victory in a very closely fought match.

However the Scots did not come away completely empty-handed, as the next day saw the West Midlands Federation Golf Croquet Championships in which all the Scots did well, with the captain Ian Wright coming home with the Sunday Mercury Rosebowl.

1981:

No details have been found of this home match, due to be played in Glasgow.

2 October, 1982:

This year’s match at Dudley was played in the form of four handicap doubles and eight handicap singles, with the option of another set of handicap singles (highest v lowest) if time permitted.  As it turned out, the doubles, not unexpectedly, lasted so long that the last set of singles was not played.  The SCA’s morning effort was not too good, no doubt due to the strenuous journey the night before, only George Anderson and Rod Williams winning their game +1 on time.  The scores were only too typical of handicap doubles – Jack Norton and Allan Ramsay lost by 2 on time, Geoff Strutt and Roger Hissett lost by 7 and Malcolm Smith and Phillip Simpson lost -1 on time.

The afternoon session was, however, a great improvement.  Jack Norton beat Alan Girling +17, and Phillip Simpson, Roger Hissett and Allan Ramsay all won comfortably.  Malcolm Smith won a cliff-hanger against Ray Jones, all clips being on the peg before Ray made one mistake too many.  Rod Williams lost by 8 to Harry Hawkins, his attempt to double peel Harry coming to grief on the very heavy lawns.  Geoff Strutt lost to an in-form Jim Potter by 11.

The net result of all this was that the score was 6-5 to SCA, while George Anderson and Hazel Potter were left wondering how much Hazel had to win by in order to snatch a net points victory for the West Midlands.  In fact the SCA had a sufficiently large points advantage that even a 26-0 win would not have been enough; the captains allowed the players to continue in ignorance so that they would enjoy their game that much more!  Eventually Hazel won by 3 on time, leaving SCA the winners by 26 net points.

On Sunday, SCA members entered the South West Midlands Golf Croquet tournament.  Being polite visitors, we generously lost early in the main event, but, just to prove we could actually play the game, between us we came first and second in both the ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ events.  There were many entrants from the Sixth Form of Wolverhampton High School for Girls, an indication of the interest generated by Ken Townsend’s weekly coaching sessions at the school.

6 August, 1983:

No report has been found of this match, played in Glasgow, won by SCA 8-4, but the scores have been found.

29 September, 1984:

Himley Hall was the venue this year.

The morning had three doubles and one singles, the afternoon seven singles.  In the first doubles, John Surgenor had an early break to 1-back, Rod Williams followed with an ‘interrupted’ break to 4-back, leaving the opponents cross-wired at 1-back.  John did not make much of this opportunity, and Jim Potter and Gerald Johnson fought back to reach 1-back and 2-back before John regained the innings, predicating a Scottish win by +12.  In the second doubles, Terry Greenwood and Roy Weaver, both fast-moving 8-bisquers, lost no time in getting their balls to 2-back and 3-back, before George Anderson and Mary Fotheringham could get started.  But at this point the Scots did get in, with Mary getting to 3-back and George as far as hoop 4.  Then the West Midlands pair regained the initiative, but Roy Weaver failed to finish off, missing the peg out of Terry’s ball but putting his own ball out of the game.  George hit in and got his ball to the peg.  Terry missed a few opportunities to hit in, and finally Mary managed a nice break from 3-back to pegging out, leaving Terry a 10-yard peg out shot which he missed, and George a 2-yard one, which he hit.  In the third doubles, David Spear and Des Willetts beat Roger Hissett and Jimmy Rowe by two.  In the only morning singles Lionel Fotheringham played Helen Hewitson, who had an early break.  After two hours the game was level with each player having reached 4-back.  Despite having three bisques to use, Lionel could not gain a significant advantage, and Helen won by seven in exactly three hours play.

In the afternoon singles, Jim Potter made the most of his chances in a shoot-out with Rod Williams to win by 10.  John Surgenor used his bisque to keep Gerald Johnson at bay to win by 22.  Des Willetts dispatched Jimmy Rowe by 20.  David Spear beat Roger Hissett by 5.  Mary Fotheringham played the West Midlands Secretary, Terry Greenwood, and came out the winner by +13, but the game was closer than the score suggests.  Mary used one of her three bisques to get out of trouble early in the game, and a second to gain a small advantage.  The turning-point came when Mary ran a difficult penult, clearing the hoop by inches, and only having her opponent’s ball at 2-back as a target.  She made a good roquet however, and used her final bisque to complete the break and the peg out.  Lionel Fotheringham played Roy Weaver, an up-and-coming player with a natural flair for the game.  His actions could be compared to Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins or Jimmy ‘Whirlwind’ White on the snooker table, as everything was done at breakneck speed, with hoops being run from long distance or an impossible angle.  He did let Lionel in when breaking down trying something really impossible, and after two hours, Lionel had reached 2-back and 4-back while Roy was on penult and rover.  Lionel decided that this was the time to use his sole bisque, running the 2-back ball to the peg and leaving a set-up for 4-back.  Roy just failed the long roquet and Lionel went on to win +5.  The final match was between Helen Hewitson and George Anderson, and comprised occasional breaks of four or five hoops for each side with periods in the doldrums interspersed.  Eventually George got to peg and peg with Helen about eight points behind.  He was not in position to peg both balls out, but did score with one, leaving Helen a long roquet; this she hit, but managed to score only one hoop before breaking down, leaving George the chance to take the game.

SCA won 6 games to 5.

3 August, 1985, Lauriston Castle, Edinburgh:

This year it was the turn of the West Midlands Federation of Croquet Clubs to visit us in Scotland, and the courts of Lauriston Castle wee in fine form to greet them.  The weather was, for 1985, reasonable, and everyone was set for an enjoyable contest.  With ten players in the West Midlands team, it was not possible to have everyone playing in every round, so the format decided on was to play one doubles and one singles game double banked on each court.  All games were played handicap, and opponents were matched as closely as possible, so there was seldom more than two bisques difference in any match.  This led to some very close games with really exciting finishes.  While the SCA went into lunch two games up, four games were settled by a margin of five hoops or less.

In the first afternoon round, the SCA were a little more successful, but again just scraped home by the odd point twice.  After tea there was not time for full games, so 14-point games (six hoops and the peg) were played in the third round.  The finally tally was SCA 12, WM 6, but the match was really a lot closer than the game total indicates.  Nearly half the games, 7 out of 18, had nail-biting scores of +1 or +2 on time, and in another 7 the result was in single figures. 

The visitors were staying in Glasgow where they were due to play a match the next day, so it as fitting that the day should end with a meal in the St Michael Hotel at Linlithgow.

27 September, 1986, Himley:

Himley Hall must be one of the most impressive club-houses in the country.  From the terrace of the Palladian House you look over trim lawns, invisibly bound by ha-has, beyond rolling parkland to the lake, tree-girt and colourful with sailing craft.  The Saturday weather was glorious and of course so was the croquet.

Everyone on the Scottish team was receiving bisques, on average three per player, but the consistency of handicapping meant close games, all but four of the twelve ending in single-figure margins.  The morning doubles were halved.  Alasdair Adam and David Warhurst were generally in control in a tense game with Terry Greenwood and Roy Weaver, while John Surgenor and Gillian Spalding just lost in a tight finish.  Corla van Griethuysen and Mary Fotheringham used their bisques well to get nearly round but could not quite hold off Brian Hallam and Peter Dorke.  Phillip Simpson and Fred Mann had the edge most of the way, though the latter was relieved when, after his loose shot had let Hazel Potter in, he successfully willed her to stick in 3-back, his own hoop.

The singles were also closely contested, and most of the morning’s losers got their revenge.  Special mention might be made of good play of Corla, who gave Terry very few chances, and Gillian, rumoured to be playing her first ever singles match, who gave a creditable performance against a much more experienced opponent.  Mary Fotheringham and Phillip Simpson naturally kept their nerve in two other nailbiters.  With six wins each, it all turned on hoop points, and the West Midlands regained the trophy by the narrow margin of five.  Both sides were satisfied with a good day.

After a very enjoyable dinner as guests of WMFCC, the Scots returned to the fray on Sunday for Ken Townsend’s mammoth Golf Croquet tournament.  There must have been 60 or 70 entrants, many of them enthusiastic teenagers.  Play was on level terms, first and second round losers going into a Y or a Z.  John Surgenor managed to retain the trophy he had won in 1985 by beating Des Willetts in the premier final.  Alasdair Adam lost in the Y final.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend with very friendly hosts.

3 October, 1987, Himley Hall:

No report in Bulletin No. 32, March 1988.  SCA beat WMFCC 7-5.

8 August 1988, Glasgow:

(Report by Alastair Hunter)

Sixteen players gathered at the leafy and secluded lawns of Glasgow Green East for this annual friendly fixture.  The Federation of West Midlands Croquet Clubs had brought a battery of supporters with them, and the Scots had dropped some of the best players from their team to provided welcome catering instead.  No-one however, was expecting to see a giant pair of pink legs floating high above the hedge and over the lawns.  Croquet may be distracting to the onlooker, but it has nothing on the appearance of the First Ever Glasgow Kite Festival in the adjacent park.

Clearly West Midlands were greatly less distracted than Scotland, for in the morning session, their score became three doubles wins to Scotland’s one.  Jim Potter and Keith Fennell beat Geoff Strutt and Ann Rutter +23 in under two hours, including a pass roll by Jim from near rover to split the opposition by second corner, pegging Keith’s ball out along the way!  In the other morning games, Helen Hewitson scored a rush peel through hoop 4 for Alastair Hunter on the opposite side, which was kind as it was nearly the last hoop he made.  Alasdair Adam steered his side to the first Scottish win, one of his incomparable victories at +1 on time; he proudly boasted that the score had swung to Scotland only after time had been called!

After an excellent lunch at the Hielan Jessie (two course lunch with unlimited helpings for £1.75, but choose a stranger to guide you there because even the Glasgow regulars can lose their way), Daniel John at 15 years old reckoned he should abandon the West Midlands Supporters Club and join the team instead.  We were all please to see him win what was possibly his first match, but he revealed a little inexperience in the result of a timed game:  ‘Did you win, Daniel?’ ‘Well, I got 10 hoops and Ann Rutter got 9, does that count?’  Well done Daniel, and let’s hope you enjoy improving at croquet, as you surely will.  Philip Potter also abandoned the Supporters Club but he went to watch St Mirren v Aston Villa at Paisley (croquet is dull to watch, isn’t it!).  Meanwhile Hazel Potter took massive encouragement from Ralph Pirrie’s folly of trying to use her half-bisque for himself, and beat him +11T.  Richard Sparrow appeared to be another foolish Scot when he announced that he had been on 2-back twice (how many more times was he going to go around the lawn?), but he was really reporting his score which was inferior to Keith Fennell’s, he being on peg twice.

This was a happy day for the visitors with the result of 10 to West Midlands and 3 to Scotland.  More equally matched was the bowls which proved a lot of fun, and revealed some talents; Jack Norton struck the jack into the side ditch (not the end one) and that cannot be easy!

1989:

No report has been found of the match at Himley.  The SCA beat the West Midlands on points after the match score was 6-6.

1990:

No report has been found of the match at Glasgow.  The West Midlands beat the SCA 7-5.

5 – 6 October 1991, at Himley Hall, Stourbridge:

(Report by Brian Murdoch)

West Midlands v SCA … a personal view

The Scottish side for this annual event consisted of Allan Ramsay, Mona Wright, Ray Ottley and Brian Murdoch from the east, with Corla van Griethuysen and Dave Arnot from the west, Ann Rutter from Aberdeen and Simon Jones from Stirling.  Our expectations of the journey south were not frustrated as we met those marvels of modern car travel, road works and traffic jams – the highlights of every journey.  After an exquisite meal at a Little Chef we arrived none the worse for wear at our destination and were very hospitably accommodated by Des and Susan Willetts and Jim and Hazel Potter.  The next day dawned, not quite as glorious as the day before.  Ray and I admired the antics of the squirrels outside Jim and Hazel’s lounge window, wondering if squirrels were as mad as croquet players, for it was truly lashing with rain.  Breakfast was consumed amongst much discussion of shrubs, cuttings, etc. – all avoiding the traditional topic of conversation, ‘cos it was truly ‘orrible.

At the competition venue, Himley Hall, we were allocated our games and lawns.  The lawns had been cut recently, but the rain was still pouring down and play was going to be heavy.  But what a wonderful parkland setting – specimen trees, splendid views, lake – glorious.  Play started, the surface was a bit bumpy due to casts from worms flooded out by the rain with squelchy bits – balls jump over target balls, almost stop in puddles, etc.  But the gritty Scots, full of breakfast, put their heads down and get stuck in – familiar conditions after all - so they say.  Crack – I hit my ball the length of the lawn – and it goes off!: ‘Pidcock power’ – this is my first game with the new mallet and it is quite a surprise.  I would never have believed that there could be such a difference – I’ll have to moderate my swing a bit.  The first round must have been played in conditions that we liked as we won four of the first six games.

A patch of blue breaks through the truculent cloud cover and the rain slackens off – did I bring my sun hat?  These balls are not made by Jaques!  They must be Barlow balls, but they are not bad at all.  Hoop 3 is like a barn door, so how did I clang it?  How do Roy Weaver and Terry Greenwood manage to hit so accurately whilst holding lighted cigarettes?  And how does Bill Ward hit in across the rather bumpy lawn three?  Croquet has many mysteries.  The improvement in the weather was an ill wind for us visitors as the home team started to find an advantage and took five of the next six games.  I am informed that the contingent in the Glasgow car has nominated me to write this report – nae comment.

The autumn colours in the trees around here are wonderful and as the day progresses, the colours become brighter with the improving light.  Lunch is to be taken in the ‘Log Cabin’ – this is made of logs.  Our return to the lawns was to be greeted by ever improving weather.  The afternoon sees the Scots rallying a bit as they take two of the five matches, but this is far from being enough to prevent the West Midlands taking the competition by ten games to seven.  When play finished, many of us felt dry enough not to have to change, so we all retired to a local hostelry and were magnificently entertained by our West Midlands hosts.  ‘Here you will be well fed up’, to quote Hoffnung’s apocryphal Austrian inn keeper.  The report to this stage has been gleaned from notes scribbled on a paper serviette from the pub which miraculously avoided disintegration from being soaked in beer – someone else’s of course – I don’t partake in the degenerate habit of strong waters myself.

Dawn next day:  Ah – is that large bright object in the sky the Sun?  Hazel and Jim provide another breakfast to set us up for the day, and with the prospects of being dry, at least to start with, we depart for a day’s golf croquet in high spirits.  Stop at newsagents to but a notepad for rest of report. 

The sun-bathed Himley Park looks just wonderful.  We are sharing the venue today with horse and bridal (no, not bridle) shows – but even that won’t distract me from my croquet.  The Sunday of this fixture is traditionally golf croquet, not that I’d played much of it before, but a game with its own subtleties.  A fourth lawn has been marked out, but not mown, and I have to play my first game on it – where’s my spinach?  By mid-morning we are playing in warm sunshine – glorious.  Dinghies on the lake, local youths hurling missiles into chestnut trees to harvest conkers, etc., etc.

After lunch in the ‘Log Cabin’, the manager decides that the finals will be played between the two winners from the three blocks, and the two best losers.  So I and some others who can’t yet understand golf croquet retreat to lawns 3 and 4 to play real croquet again.  Bill Ward and I start a friendly.  I relate the time when I hit my first ball through hoops 1 and 2 with the first swing of my mallet a couple of years ago, and then demonstrate this one-off fluke again.  This time was a real fluke – the course the ball took was far from straight.  Perhaps the first time was a fluke as well – my confidence is shattered.

The sunshine persists, accompanied by a gentle breeze for the dinghies on the lake – is that a few clouds I spy?  Activity round a tent, be-tokened ‘The Inn of the Seventh Happiness’, signifies tea – mad stampede by the Scots to fuel up for the journey home.  Clouds increasing – perhaps it is time for the Scots to leave; after all we are not accustomed to such inclement conditions.

The presentations are made which brings to a close a most enjoyable weekend – our West Midlands hosts have boosted their hospitable reputation and we prepare to take our leave.  Cloud cover is now 10/10ths and the Scots will have to leave.  What a pity we shall not have the joys of traffic jams on the way back – but we still have the culinary delights of the motorway service stations to sustain us.

1992:

No report has been found.  The SCA won on net points after the match at Bush was drawn 8-8.

1993:

No report has been found.  The SCA won 11-7 at Himley Hall.

31 July, 1994 at Bush:

(Report by David Appleton)

This was a one-day fixture this year, the teams from Himley and Stourbridge which had played Bush and Glasgow respectively the previous day joining together to form a West Midlands side to take on the SCA.  Our best wishes go to Des Willetts who was not well enough to come.  There were nine players on each team, and in the morning four doubles and one singles were played, while in the afternoon, for reasons that escape me, there were only two doubles and three singles.  Eight of the Scots won at least one game, and Charlotte Townsend and Steve Barnett won both of their doubles together.  The SCA won by 7 games to 3.  The reason why I am less clear about what happened was that I was at a very enjoyable silver wedding celebration on the Saturday night and most of the Sunday morning.  Wearing his selectorial hat (at least I think that is what it was – it might just have been to keep the flies away) George Anderson informed me that if I intended to go to the golden wedding party I would be dropped for the corresponding fixture in 2029 (sic, the golden wedding would be in 2019 of course).

1995:

The match due at Himley Hall did not take place, cancelled by West Midlands.

1996:

No report has been found.  SCA won 13-5 at Bush.

1997:

No report has been found.  SCA won 5-3 at Himley Hall. 

Desmond Willetts of Stourbridge died in June, 2000.  He and his wife Susan were keen supporters of Scottish croquet for many years, and gave the Des and Susan Willetts Shield in 1977 for an annual match between the SCA and West Midlands.  The illness of Des over the past few years restricted his croquet playing, and the match between West Midlands and Scotland foundered as a result.

No further matches have taken place.

 

Results

Scottish names first

1977:     Advanced Singles
Ian Wright beat Howard Bottomley +2
Rod Williams beat Alan Girling +1T
Bob Calder lost to Donald Lanfesty -4T
Colin Dinwoodie lost to Martin Granger Brown -20
Vera Macpherson lost to Mick Tompkinson -20
Stephen Tones lost to Des Willetts -7
Margaret Lauder lost to Jim Potter -5
Handicap Singles
Margaret Lauder (8) beat Howard Bottomley (3½) +3
Stephen Tones (7½) beat Alan Girling (4) +5
Vera Macpherson (6½) beat Donald Lanfesty (3½) +2
Colin Dinwoodie (4½) lost to Mick Tompkinson (5) -11
Bob Calder (3) lost to Martin Granger Brown (4½) -9
Rod Williams (2) lost to Des Willetts (5) -19
Ian Wright (-½) lost to Jim Potter (5½) -4
Handicap Doubles
R. Williams & R.O. Calder lost to M. Granger Brown & D. Willetts -14
I.H. Wright & Mrs M. Lauder lost to H. Bottomley & J. Potter -10
Mrs V.M. Macpherson & S.J. Tones beat D. Lanfesty & A.J. Girling +3T

1978:     F.V.X. Norton lost to H. Bottomley -20
M.P.W. Smith lost to A. Girling -11
J. Shearer lost to D. Lanfesty -21
W.S. Kilpatrick lost to P. Barnes -10
A. Williams beat M. Tompkinson +9
G. Mason lost to J. Potter -12
F.V.X. Norton lost to A. Girling -19
M.P.W. Smith beat H. Bottomley +10
G. Mason lost to P. Barnes -7
J. Shearer lost to H. Hawkins -8
W.S. Kilpatrick beat M. Tompkinson +2
A. Williams beat J. Potter +7

1979:     First Round (Advanced Play)
Singles:
W.M. Spalding beat A.J. Girling +3T
S.R.C. Malin lost to H. Hawkins -23
Doubles:
B. Gallivan & R. Hissett lost to D. Willetts & Mrs S. Willetts -23
M.P.W. Smith & A.H.M. Adam lost to K. Jones & R. Jones -8T
Second Round (Handicap Play)
Singles:
B. Gallivan (5½) beat R. Jones (6) +15
A.H.M. Adam (8) lost to K. Jones (6) -8
Doubles:
W.M. Spalding & M.P.W. Smith (9) lost to H. Hawkins & Mrs S. Willetts (12½) -5
S.R.C. Malin & R. Hissett (13) beat A.J. Girling & D. Willetts (8) +18

1980:     All Matches Handicap – Harry Hawkins (1) and Des Willetts (2) played for SCA in part of the Match
First Round:
I.H. Wright (2) beat A.J. Girling (2) +13
H. Hawkins (4) beat J. Potter (4) +2
M.P.W. Smith (5½) beat R.C. Jones (5½) +6
Mrs M. Lauder (6) lost to P. Barnes (5½) -14
P. Simpson (8) beat D.C. Willetts (5½) +10
Second Round:
I.H. Wright lost to R.C. Jones -6
D.C. Willetts beat P. Barnes +1
M.P.W. Smith lost to J. Potter -14
M. Lauder lost to H. Hawkins -18
P. Simpson lost to A.J. Girling -7
Third Round:
I.H. Wright lost to H. Hawkins -13
M.P.W. Smith lost to A.J. Girling -13
D.C. Willetts beat R.C. Jones +21
Mrs M. Lauder lost to J. Potter -10
P. Simpson beat P. Barnes +5

1981:     No details of this match have been found

1982:     Handicap doubles:
Jack Norton & Allan Ramsay (9) lost to Harry Hawkins & Mrs Sue Willetts (11½) -2T
Rod Williams & George Anderson (9½) beat Alan Girling & Mrs Hazel Potter (8½) +1T
Geoff Strutt & Roger Hissett (10½) lost to Jim Potter & Mrs Helen Hewitson (9) -7
Malcolm Smith & Phillip Simpson (12) lost to Ray Jones & Des Willetts (9½) -1T
Handicap singles:
Jack Norton (0) beat Alan Girling (1) +17
Rod Williams (1½) lost to Harry Hawkins (2½) -8
Geoff Strutt (3) lost to Jim Potter (3) -11
Malcolm Smith (5½) beat Ray Jones (4½) +2
Phillip Simpson (6½) beat Des Willetts (5) +11
Roger Hissett (7½) beat Helen Hewitson (6) +14
George Anderson (8) lost to Hazel Potter (7½) -3T
Allan Ramsay (9) beat K. Townsend (10) +13
Match drawn 6-6, SCA won by +26 net points

1983:     Details of this match have been found, won by SCA 8-4 in Glasgow
Handicap doubles:
Rod Williams & Roger Hissett (8½) beat Harry Hawkins & Sue Willetts (10½) +5T (22-17)
Geoff Strutt & John Surgenor (11) beat Hazel & Jim Potter (10) +19
Phillip Simpson & George  Anderson (11) beat Des Willetts & Roy Weaver (17) +17
Malcolm Smith & Corla van Griethuysen (18½) beat Helen Hewitson & Terry Greenwood (17) +7
Singles:
Rod Williams (1½) beat Jim Potter (2½) +19
Geoff Strutt (3) lost to Harry Hawkins (2½) -8
Malcolm Smith (6½) lost to Des Willetts (5) -10
Phillip Simpson (6½) lost to Helen Hewitson (6) -21
Roger Hissett (7) beat Hazel Potter (7½) +9
George Anderson (8) beat Sue Willetts (8) +2
John Surgenor (8) beat Terry Greenwood (11) +4
Corla van Griethuysen (12) lost to Roy Weaver (12) -6

1984:     Morning:
Doubles:
Rod Williams & John Surgenor (7) beat Jim Potter & Gerald Johnson (6½) +12
Roger Hissett & Jimmy Rowe (13½) lost to David Spear & Des Willetts (11½) -2
George Anderson & Mary Fotheringham (17½) beat Terry Greenwood & Roy Weaver (16) +1
Singles:
Lionel Fotheringham (9) lost to Helen Hewitson (6) -7
Afternoon:
Singles:
Rod Williams (1½) lost to Jim Potter (2½) -10
John Surgenor (5½) beat Gerald Johnson (4) +22
Jimmy Rowe (6½) lost to Des Willetts (5) -20
George Anderson (6½) beat Helen Hewitson (6) +7
Roger Hissett (7) lost to David Spear (6½) -5
Lionel Fotheringham (9) beat Roy Weaver (8) +5
Mary Fotheringham (11) beat Terry Greenwood (8) +15

1985:     Round 1:
Ian Wright & Mona Wright (14) lost to Jim Potter & Mike Bowen (15½) -1T
Geoff Strutt & Mary Fotheringham (13½) beat Des Willetts & Pat Woodhams (17) +5T
George Anderson & Garry Wilson (16½) lost to Terry Greenwood & Hazel Potter (15½) -2T
Corla van Griethuysen (7) beat Roy Weaver (6) +2T
Allan Ramsay (7) beat Helen Hewitson (6) +17
Alistair Hunter (5½) beat Sue Willetts (7½) +10
Round 2:
Geoff Strutt & Garry Wilson (13½) beat Fred & Pat Woodhams (14½) +1T
Ian Wright & Corla van Griethuysen (9) lost to Des Willetts & Helen Hewitson (11) -15
Alistair Hunter & George Anderson (12½) beat Roy Weaver & Mike Bowen (19) +4
Iain Bissett (10) beat Sue Willetts (7½) +1T
Allan Ramsay beat Terry Greenwood (5½) +9
Mary Fotheringham (11) beat Hazel Potter (10) +15T
Round 13 (14-pt games):
Ian Wright & Iain Bissett (12) beat Terry Greenwood & Pat Woodhams (17½) +2T
Corla van Griethuysen & Allan Ramsay (14) lost to Roy Weaver & Hazel Potter (16) -2T
Alistair Hunter & Mona Wright (17½) beat Helen Hewitson & Fred Woodhams (13½) +8
Geoff Strutt (2½) beat Jim Potter (2½) +4
George Anderson (5½) lost to Des Willetts (5) -8
Garry Wilson (11) lost to Mike Bowen (13) -6

1986:     Doubles:
John Surgenor & Gillian Spalding lost to Des Willetts & Helen Hewitson -3T
Alasdair Adam & David Warhurst beat Terry Greenwood & Roy Weaver +10T
Corla van Griethuysen & Mary Fotheringham lost to Brian Hallam & Peter Dorke -7
Fred Mann & Phillip Simpson beat Jim & Hazel Potter +5
Singles:
John Surgenor lost to Brian Hallam -14
Alasdair Adam lost to Jim Potter -9
Corla van Griethuysen beat Terry Greenwood +21
David Warhurst beat Peter Dorke +6
Phillip Simpson beat Des Willetts +1
Fred Mann lost to Roy Weaver -4
Gillian Spalding lost to Helen Hewitson -14
Mary Fotheringham beat Howard Stanley +3

1987:     Doubles:
Rod Williams & Roger Hissett (8) lost to Jim Potter & Fred Woodhams (9) -10T
John Surgenor & Mary Fotheringham (11½) beat Terry Greenwood & Hazel Potter (11½) +2T
Corla van Griethuysen & Allan Ramsay (10) lost to Des Willetts & Helen Hewitson (10½) -7T
David Warhurst & Fred Mann (10) beat Roy Weaver & Howard Stanley (10½) +17
Singles:
John Surgenor (2½) beat Jim Potter (1½) +15
Rod Williams (1½) lost to Terry Greenwood (2½) -16
David Warhurst (3½) lost to Gerald Johnson (2½) -5
Allan Ramsay (5½) beat Roy Weaver (4) +7
Fred Mann (6½) lost to Des Willetts (4) -1
Corla van Griethuysen (4½) beat Howard Stanley (6½) +20
Mary Fotheringham (9) beat Helen Hewitson (6½) +8
Roger Hissett (7) beat Hazel Potter (9) +1T

1988:     Doubles:
Geoff Strutt & Ann Rutter lost to Jim Potter & Keith Fennell -23
Alastair Hunter & partner lost to Helen Hewitson & partner
Alasdair Adam & partner beat two West Midlands players +1T
Two SCA players lost to two West Midlands players
Singles:
Ann Rutter lost to Daniel John -1T (9-10)
Ralph Pirrie lost to Hazel Potter -11T
Richard Sparrow lost to Keith Fennell -10T (14-24)
Other games not recorded
Final match score:
SCA 3 West Midlands 10 (according to report) or
SCA 3 West Midlands 7 (according to results recorded in Yearbooks over the years)

1989:     No records have been found
SCA 6 West Midlands 6 – SCA win on points

1990:     No records have been found
SCA 5 West Midlands 7

1991:     No records have been found
SCA 7 West Midlands 10

1992:     No records have been found
The SCA won on net points after the match at Bush was drawn 8-8

1993:     No records have been found
SCA 11 West Midlands 7

1994:     No records have been found
SCA 7 West Midlands 3

1995:     Match cancelled

1996:     No records have been found
SCA 13 West Midlands 5

1997:     No records have been found
SCA 5 West Midlands 3