Difficult Conditions for Short Lawns Team

July 17th 2022

Bath’s Short Croquet team suffered their first defeat of the season, away at Lym Valley. It was a glorious spot, with views of the village of Uplyme on the other side of the valley, amongst the rolling hills of East Devon, but conditions were difficult, to say the least, in view of the current drought.

We were offered two lawns to play on, double-banked. The first was leafy and green, behind a magnificent hedge, and well shaded, with a river running alongside it. However it was a 3/4 sized lawn, reasonably flat but with a steep run off towards the W boundary, and was remarkably slow in comparison to ours in Bath, which made it interesting. Martin Alabaster and Sue Duncan were elected to play on it, and managed two good wins each, once Martin had retrieved his ball from the river!

Team captain Philip de Glanville and veteran team member Tony Jackson thought they’d have a go on the other court, which was situated in the outfield of the local cricket pitch, and sloped challengingly from SW to NE, with a variety of gradients to manage. Roqueting from any more than 3 yards was a complete lottery. For the first hour or two, with the longish coarse grass moistened by dew, the slowness of the ‘lawn’ helped quite a bit, and hoop scores on the results sheet were at least respectable. However, once the sun rose overhead, the field became increasingly hard and fast. Any pioneer sent towards H2 ended up in C3, for instance, and local knowledge of the vagaries of the playing surface, aided by numerous bisques, gave the Lym Valley team an enormous advantage. Neither Tony nor Philip managed more than one win each, and the number of hoops scored by each side in the final games could be counted on one hand.

Our hosts were extremely charming and welcoming, and apologetic about the ‘croquet’ on offer. However they enjoyed a 10-6 win, which made up, to some extent, for the crushing 13-3 defeat we had inflicted on them in June at the Rec!