21 and 22 August 2012 – East Dorset Golf Croquet Ranking Event, Ascot Cup Qualifier
I had a great start to the day – my Dad took me for a bacon butty before play, this was the perfect kick start I needed if I was going to play well against these excellent players. I arrived early to make sure I got a good practice in, but to my surprise I was pressed into service with sweeping the lawns!
The weather was on our side as it was baking hot at 10 am. Bill Arliss (tournament manager) gave a quick opening speech and then I went to look at the fixtures board and saw I had my first match against the croquet legend, William Omerod himself! A good, even start to the game as it was 2 a piece but then there was no stopping William after that. He was tapping through the hoops like nobody’s business, I lost 7-3 in the first game.
My next opponent was unknown to most of us, Nick Archer from Watford. His brother was watching his games, cheering him on. A very good and even match, but time went by and he had a ball in the jaws of hoop 10 with a score of 5-4 to him. Trying the 7 metre jump shot was some what of a failure.
For the third match of the day, it was challenging player Richard Thompson who is known for playing brilliantly. This was the best match, so far, for the both of us as the game went on for a astonishing hour and twenty minutes. I eventually managed to win 7-5 and obtain 18 trigger points on the handicap card.
After a delicious lunch in the East Dorset Club restaurant, I had to play the winner of the East Dorset tournament in 2010, Ryan Cabble. After being in the lead and then 5-5 I was quite comfortable and satisfied with my play until from the boundary, Ryan whacked my ball away and made the score 6-5 as he unbelievably scored the in-off and he of course won the game.
The heat started getting to all of us as the simmering sun continued through the afternoon, rare in England I know. Never the less I had to play Richard Brand, Tom Weston, Peter Balchin and Ivor Brand for the rest of the day. I managed to beat Richard 7-5 with some luck and beat Peter 7-0. Giving Tom and Ivor a run for their money, lost 7-4 and 7-5. I discovered at the end of the day that I was playing Jack Wicks the day after, which made me think that an early night was a good idea.
With the same start as yesterday, I played “The” Jack Wicks, the winner of East Dorset 2011. It was just scary to watch him warm up, running hoops from boundaries and roqueting balls from 10 to 18 metres – not missing a thing. I think you can guess what happened in the match. Swing, smack and swoosh, 7-0 to him.
Putting the embarrassing result of the last game behind me, I had to play the gentle gentlemen Jim Gregory who has a handicap of 0. An interesting match but I managed to run hoops and come away with a 7-5 victory.
The last player of the blocks was the referee of referees, Bill Arliss. He is capable of blasting black away and running red ruthlessly, but I managed to use my black blocking and blue beautifully – resulting in a 7-3 win to me.
Nick Archer vs Tom Weston and Ryan Cabble vs Jack Wicks were in the semis. Four people played in the Plate; Richard and Ivor Brand, Peter and myself. The others watched the semis and finals. Ivor was the first player I played in the plate and I knew this was going to be hard as he had beaten me the day before. I was left with two long distance jump shots thanks to Ivor but I managed to score them both which let me win 7-5.
The very last game of the tournament was against Peter Balchin, the lovely welshman. We managed to be one all on games so far this season as he beat me earlier in the year and I beat him yesterday. We weren’t taking it very seriously until hoop 3, but it was a hard challenging match. In the end, I won 7-6 to win the Plate.
To finish the great tournament off, there was the ending speech. Jack Wicks won the tournament again, Nick Archer was runner up and I won the Plate. This was a fantastic tournament and I recommend any croquet player to visit this club; take part in this well organised competition and enjoy the super lawns and the fantastic club house. My mum comes just for afternoon tea & cake!