Bowdon claims overall Championship at Southport
2014 Festival - Golf Event
2014 Festival - Short Event
2014 Festival - Handicap Event
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2014 Festival - Advanced Event
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Bowdon claims overall Championship at Southport
The North West Federation of Croquet Clubs held its annual Club Championships at the Southport & Birkdale Club (S&B) over the weekend of 28th and 29th June 2014. This was the 20th Year of the Championships, which we call the Festival of Croquet, and we still believe that this is the largest annual gathering of Croquet players in the world at a single venue.
S&B managed to produce 16 courts on 13 ‘full size’ lawns including 7½ full size equivalent on the Club’s north lawns. Some 228 games were played requiring 78 players to be ‘on the lawns’ for any one round, but most Clubs brought extra people to give all of their members the opportunity to participate in this very special event. In all we estimate the number of individual participants to be in excess of 110. Although the Manager had promised that the sun would shine the first day started cloudy and there were occasional threats of rain which failed to materialise. Sunday started bright with some sunshine and presentations were made under a clear blue sky.
The overall Championship was won by Bowdon with Southport in second place, Bury finishing third.
There were eight entrants of three person teams in the Golf Croquet Championship which was won by Bowdon with six victories from seven matches, Culcheth took the runner-up spot with five wins.
The Short competition, also best of three per match, was won by Chester with four wins from five matches. Chester could well have made a clean sweep were it not for one of a number of voided or replayed games, in the Golf and Short disciplines, caused by teams not playing their games in handicap order. S&B was in second place.
As in 2013, eight teams competed in the Handicap event which was played as an 18 point. The Handicap Championship returned to three singles per match having been one singles and one doubles in 2013. It was won by Westmorland which has had notable successes in league handicap play in the last couple of years. Pendle was runner-up.
The fourth event, Advanced play, was, once again, a doubles event played almost exclusively on Southport’s Lawn 1. Although a serious affair, which included many County and International players, it was also the one with the most colourful participants. The Bowdon pair was unbeaten in their five games with Pendle a solid second losing only to the Champions.
Entry levels were much the same as in 2013 with just one fewer Golf Croquet team competing, resulting in 84 games compared with 108 last year. The number of games was further reduced as last year’s schedule called for Short Croquet teams to ‘all play all’ twice – 90 games – this year there were half that number. These reductions allowed an additional 28 games of Handicap play due to the change from a two game match (one single/one double) in 2013. These changes in format, ie. the reduction in the number of games, appear to have been received favourably by Golf and Short Croquet players as the previous year’s schedule was a tad hectic. Handicap players were delighted to be able to play a full singles format.
The Manager is of the opinion that the Advanced players enjoyed playing all of their games on the same lawn as it allowed for greater interaction with the gallery (a euphemism for banter!)
Although we don’t have data on the number of Handicap games resulting in a finish at the peg, from your reporter’s perspective it appeared to be the case that a significant proportion of games were completed in this manner.
Keith Roberts, Manager (and reporter) began the presentation formalities by thanking Liz Wilson, the Championship Secretary, and highlighting the work of the Event Managers – the people who keep everything rolling along – they were Sue Hardman, Golf Coquet; Brian Lewis, Short Croquet; Liz Wilson, Advanced. Keith managed the Handicap event. Keith also thanked Colin Irwin for being Referee of the Tournament, Brian Lewis, Chairman of S&B and all of the members of the club who worked hard to prepare lawns in the weeks leading to the Championships and at the weekend. Keith’s final thank you was for all of the participants over the two days, many of whom had travelled some distance and at no little cost, to play in the Championships. He made special mention of the Tattenhall Club which was enjoying its first experience of the Championship and acquitting itself well by winning two of its Golf Croquet matches.
Liz Wilson, now in her role of Chairman of the Federation, thanked the Southport and Birkdale Club particularly the clubs organisers and caterers, those wearing bold colours, the Championship Manager and went on to highlight the range of croquet skills and experience from Great Britain internationals, County players (two from Cheshire, one from Yorkshire and several Lancashire representatives) to the first timers who were invited to stand and were applauded. Shields were presented by Liz.
Another splendid Championship, I’m looking forward to next year.
Keith Roberts, Championship Manager
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