- Credit: Archant
Spectators at the Budleigh Croquet Club were thrilled by the dramatic play they saw in four days of top quality golf croquet, writes Charles Townshend.
Taking part in the first day’s doubles matches were 12 pairs in two blocks that gave five single games to begin with.
An early shock came when the local team of Tony Bower and Alan Rush came up against the World Champion, Reg Bamford and his partner Charles Barlow and beat them 7-6.
Order was rapidly restored when Bamford and Barlow won their remaining four games to head the block with Tibble and Lightbody close behind with three wins. The second block produced three pairs with three wins each. The young English team of Will Gee and Rachel Rowe was joined by the Australian pair, Freer and Thornton, in the next stages.
The semi finals were the best of three games. Bamford and Barlow edged a close encounter with Gee and Rowe; 7-6, 6-7, 7-4.
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In the other semi Freer and Thompson beat Tibble and Lightbody 7-4, 7-6. The final came in the early evening with Bamford and Barlow winning in two convincing games that earned them the title and Championship trophies.
Friday morning began early with 24 players divided into four blocks and seeded to ensure that the top players would only meet in the later stages of competition.
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All the players had five best-of-three games to play, four that day and the last one on Sat morning.
Bamford in Block A had five straight wins with Harry Dodge, at 17, the youngest competitor, close behind with four wins out of five. Dodge is already a force to be reckoned and will surely win the title himself sooner rather than later!
Block B was led by Mulliner with five straight wins, followed by Rachel Rowe with four. In Block C Will Gee and Lionel Tibble had four wins each, and, in Block D, Jeff Dawson came out on top with five wins and Ryan Cabble, another of the young and promising players, on four.
The top sixteen players then had to enter the knockout stage of the championship with its first round giving victories to the top two in each block.
In the quarter finals Rowe lost 2-7, 2-7 to Bamford. Dawson beat Tibble, 7-6, 6-7, 6, 7-4; Cabble beat Gee 7-6, 6-7, 7-5 and Mulliner beat Dodge 7-2, 7-2.
Both semi-finals needed just two games to determine winners as Bamford and Mulliner eased their way into the final which took place on Sunday afternoon.
Mulliner, in masterly form following his victory in the European Championships at Budleigh earlier in the month, won the first game 7-3.
It looked as if the second game might go all the way as Bamford ran the 11th hoop to make the score 5-6 only for Mulliner to seal a well-deserved victory by running the 12th hoop from just over seven yards.
Players who lost in the knockout moved into the Mini Bowl, Bowl and Super Bowl events. These were won by Tim King who beat Mark Ormerod 7-3,7-6; Peter Freer who beat Nelson Morrow 7-4, 6-7, 7-5 and Dodge who beat Tibble 7-2, 7-6.
the Plate was won by Richard Brooks, beating Stephen Thornton 7-6, 7-6 in the final.
The club was warmly thanked by the manager and by Croquet Association chairman, Jeff Dawson. The latter said it was some years since his last visit and he greatly applauded the many improvements of recent years, especially in the quality of the grass and speed of the courts. The Budleigh welcome was as warm as ever and he much looked forward to his next visit.