Sidmouth players star at Budleigh

The Challenge and Gilbey tournament was first held at Budleigh Croquet Club in 1900 and is still popular with players of all standards from all over the country.

The first two days are for the Handicap Knockout. The purpose of croquet handicaps is that a less experienced player can have a good game against even a top player, with a chance of winning. This was demonstrated by the eventual winner Colin Walls, from Sidmouth. In round 1, Walls (handicap 10) beat David Mooney (handicap 1) by 26-0; Mooney sits on the national handicap committee and was not best pleased to have his own system used so effectively against him!

In round 2, Walls beat Chris Donovan (handicap 2.5) by 26-0. In round 3, he beat Roger Mills (handicap 11) by 26-6; and in the final beat Cliff Jones (handicap 0) by 26-4 to win the Gilbey Goblet, incidentally beating in the process three of the four players who later won Challenge Cups.

The final two days are for the Challenge Cups. For this players are divided into divisions based on handicap, but no handicaps are used in the games themselves, which are played as Level Advanced. This format adds extra difficulty to the game to make it interesting for people who can routinely run 12 hoops in a single turn. In the lowest division the final was an all-Sidmouth affair in which Philip Harris, in spite of a dogged fight back from a poor start, was eventually beaten by Roger Mills, who thereby won the Stevenson Cup in only his second competitive season.

The Reckitt Cup was won by Susan Davies from Roehampton; her consistent play and meticulous three-ball breaks beating Sidmouth runner-up Peter Nelson. The Council Cup was won by Budleigh’s croquet chairman Chris Donovan from Andrew Wise; and the top trophy, the Roehampton Cup was won by Cliff Jones from Mike Hann, in a reversal of last year’s final. Cliff has been a member of Sidmouth in the past so we count him as an honorary Sidmothians.

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The weather was mostly kind, except on Saturday morning, when an unexpected downpour made swamp-like conditions that required considerable extra power to force the balls through the mire. The complex tournament was run with her usual imperturbable efficiency by Julie Horsley; and our hosts at Budleigh provided the usual warm welcome and excellent lunches and teas.

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