Andrew Willis wins Wrest Park Handicap

May 21st 2007

Sixteen players competed over the long weekend of 18th to 20th May 2007 at Wrest Park. The tournament was run as two blocks of eight, with everyone from one block playing everyone in the other. George Collin suggested a scheme for dealing with time limits by checking how many points had been made per hour and imposing a limit if this number fell below a certain amount, but in the event only one game came close to having a limit applied and in fact was concluded some 20 minutes later. Players seemed to respond to the lack of time limits; play was positive and there were no awkward delays. The lawns were easy paced and the weather fine apart from some rain on Friday.

Poor Colin Hemming suffered a breakdown en route and missed out on the first day’s play, which saw the visitors in dominant form, Nigel Polhill, Ken Pickett and Andrew Willis all with three wins. The high (or should it be low?) point of the day was the appearance of a glider which came across the lawns at about 200 feet, heading west into a stiff breeze, and landed in the field between the park and the A6. Some time later a light plane appeared, landed in the field and towed the glider back into the far corner pointing into the wind. A towrope was attached, the glider pilot climbed back in, his female companion held the wing steady, and the plane then moved off and got the glider up, clearing the A6 by not very much, and they disappeared, leaving the girl on her own in the field. The 51st way to leave your lover?

Saturday saw the local players on better form. Ray Pearcy picked up another win to go with one the previous day. Elaine Newman had two wins and George Collin three. For the visiting players Ken and Nigel faltered, but Andrew continued to be unstoppable, and George Woolhouse was also undefeated on the day.

On Sunday Andrew made sure of things with wins against Owen Bryce and George Collin (who held him up for some time). The nearest Andrew had come to losing a game was in his second game against Steve Jones, who was all set to win until he played the wrong ball after running rover. Steve was a candidate for the shot of the tournament when at one point he ran 4-back from corner 1 while trying to roquet a ball in the middle of the lawn.

Andrew was chased all the way by George Woolhouse, but it turned out some time later that George had been playing off the wrong handicap all weekend! Our thanks to George Collin and John Wheeler for extra mowing and to everyone who turned out to help with the catering, in particular Margaret Marshall who supplemented Saturday’s provisions with chicken drumsticks, pork and a large rum and pineapple cake.

Ray Pearcy and Geoff Strutt earned bronze awards and Ray’s handicap was cut to 20 (he had been playing off 20 in the tournament but had a club handicap of 24) as a result of his three wins. Andrew won 8 matches out of 8 and his handicap was cut
from 9 to 8, and on his present form it will be rather less than that by the end of the season.

(Report by John Bevington of Wrest Park Croquet Club)