Tough advanced level play for Sidmouth team at Budleigh

Mills wins Case Shield

Sidmouth Croquet Club fielded a team of John Dixon (captain), Nancy Temple, Graham Harford, Graeme Pryor and Keith Thorley for their home Intermediate League match against Exeter.

After a previous long spell of hot, sunny weather, the morning session was played in a dense sea mist and the afternoon was little better, on and off with the rain gear between heavy showers. Nevertheless, some enjoyable croquet was played in a friendly spirit. The doubles partnership of Graham and Graeme won their game, whilst in the singles both John and Nancy recorded one win out of two. Graham and Keith won their singles games to pull off a 5-2 win for Sidmouth. The usual large tea at the end went on for some time, everyone being reluctant to venture home in the pouring rain.

? On a damp foggy day, Sidmouth sent a team of four to Budleigh Salterton for a SW Federation Parkstone Qualifier match. Play in this league is “level advanced” and, with Budleigh fielding a considerably stronger team with a combined handicap of 14.5, against Sidmouth’s 24.5, the final score of Budleigh 6, Sidmouth 1, was perhaps to be expected.

Robert Hammond and Peter Hills were unfortunately outclassed, but Ken Wallman put in a good performance, only losing by two on time against Michael Lester and by five to Peter Jones.

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Richard Mills was Sidmouth’s sole victor against his longstanding rival, Brian Shorney. They have played each other in five tournament games this season, with Richard always losing on time by the odd hoop.

On this occasion, however, with both players on rover and penult, when the timer sounded it was Richard’s turn to win by gaining the golden hoop. Weather conditions were temporarily forgotten as all players enjoyed the traditional tea and cakes provided by the hosts.

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? For Sidmouth’s last Golf Croquet League match of the season, and on a beautiful day, John Coombes (captain), Pam Bowra, Helen Pryor, Dudley Ractliffe, Anne Reece and Keith Thorley travelled to the very hospitable Dowlish Wake Club situated in the soft rolling Somerset hills, just south of Ilminster.

The morning did not go well for Sidmouth, who trailed 8-5 at lunchtime. However, some determined play in the afternoon stemmed the tide and, with John and Anne, clinching the final game, Sidmouth recovered to finish with a reputable 10-10 draw. Keith put in his usual strong performance, winning three and drawing one of his four singles games.

? For the second time in a week, Sidmouth played a Parkstone Qualifier match and this time it was the turn of Sidmouth to host Nailsea 2nds.

A few years ago, members of the Sidmouth team were extremely strong with handicaps around 0, but over time, one by one, they ceased to be available and to-day’s team is always up against teams with lower handicap players.

Peter Hills (captain), Richard Mills, Robert Hammond and David Clarke put up a good fight and, having won the morning doubles and shared the two singles, things looked promising.

However, after lunch with all four singles in the balance, it was Nailsea who cashed in on very close matches to run out overall winners.

David played a magnificent game, beating Nailsea’s top player +2 and Robert also had a very good day, winning his singles +5 and combining with Peter to win the doubles +2. Richard, having produced a +1 win in the previous Budleigh match, felt the disappointment of a –1 loss on time.

Result: Sidmouth 3, Nailsea 2nds 4.

lLast Friday, 26 members competed for the Robert Case Shield and Tankard. This is an annual light-hearted competition where players strive to win points by attempting eight set pieces designed to test their skill at various Association Croquet strokes.

This year the Shield was won by Richard Mills with David Clarke in second place – no real surprise here, as Richard and David are two of the club’s strongest players. In the Tankard competition, however, where a player’s handicap is added to his score, the winner was Colin Walls, with Philip Harris, last year’s winner, a close second.

The afternoon concluded with an enjoyable get-together over an excellent cream tea provided by caterer Gill Hodge.

? On a more general note, members who have not experienced playing at other clubs during the recent dry spell may not fully appreciate the good condition of the Sidmouth lawns. Whilst still running quite fast, they have obviously benefited from the installation of the automatic watering system and the attention of groundsman, Colin Whitehall.

Sidmouth Croquet Club held their Colclough and Sidmouth Cups Tournament.

This is a three-day handicap doubles competition played over 18 points and open to all members of the club.

Twenty four players entered this year and were paired according to handicap with high handicap players being paired with those of lower handicap.

The lower handicapped member of the partnership has traditionally taken on the responsibility of “setting up” his partner whenever possible, rather than rushing his own ball round first.

This approach can reap dividends in the long run, as well as allowing the high handicapper to be involved in a good proportion of the game.

On the Friday, 12 games were played in not very promising, and sometimes wet, weather and 12 games were played on Saturday, mostly in the sunshine.

Games were played in two blocks. Many were won by 2-4 hoops, but there were a few high scores….the highest score being +16 by David Temple/Edward Colman and the most consistent high scores being by Ian Friedlander/Colin Walls, who won all their games by a margin of 10-14 hoops.

The winners and runners-up of each block went through to the semi-finals with Ian Friedlander/Colin Walls playing Keith Thorley/Pamela Bowra and Ken Wallman/Philip Harris playing Nancy Temple/Graeme Pryor.

Both Colin Walls and Philip Harris were playing in their first doubles tournament. The final was played out between Ian/Colin and Ken/Philip.

The game was a little one-sided to begin with as Ken and Philip got off to a good start, gaining a commanding lead.

However, croquet being the game it is, Ian and Colin began to catch up but, with time running out, it was Ken who managed to peg out, securing an 18-11 win for himself and his in-form partner, Philip.

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