Jubilee Trophy Handicap tournament (Peter Wilson reports from Midgeland Road)
Winner Andy Brandwood, Bury. Runner up Robbie Dodds, Shrewsbury. Third place Joe Lennon, Edinburgh & Robert Fulford, Colchester.
The weather was mainly dry and Sunny but there were occasional brief light showers. With a capacity of twelve players, Peter Wilson ran this as a five round Swiss event. Soon entries were coming in from far and wide: Andy Brandwood (11) and Graham Saunders (9) from Bury, Eileen Rossiter (18), and Eileen Gallagher (10) from Southport, Brian Christmas (3) and Robbie Dodds (0) from Shrewsbury, Joe Lennon (9) Glasgow, Janet Davies (14) Chester, Malcolm Daines (5) Huddersfield, Susan Fulford (22) and Robert Fulford (-2½) from Colchester, Ian Theakstone (12) Fylde.
Having advertised this as being the ideal venue to enter your first tournament we were delighted to see Susan doing just that. We were also delighted that Robbie entered and that he achieved a handicap reduction to minus half at the end of the tournament. But having Robert as a player made the tournament very special for all the players and everyone connected with Fylde, we looked forward knowing we would see some amazing play on our lawns.
In Round one we got it from Robbie who, playing Robert, hit on turn 4 and for 1.5 bisques, took his ball to peg, joined up in corner 3 with a cross wire at hoop 1. Robert missed and Robbie completed the game. Andy was also looking in form, completing his game with a straight rover peel. In Round two Andy beat Robbie +25 with a bisque or two standing. Robert faced his second crosswire against Gally just as one of the heavier showers arrived. He hit in with Red and at 13:44 took croquet for the first time. At 1 Back the waterproof was off and yellow peeled through hoop two. And now peeled though hoop three as Robert makes 4 back with the waterproof on. Finally yellow is peeled through hoop four as Robert takes his waterproofs and both balls off. This left Gally four behind with 7 Bisques remaining. A little cat and mouse ensues and Gally runs out of bisques at 1 back. Robert has a five point two ball break going from 1 back, we are being treated to a master class of hoop running. Good effort from Gally but Robert wins +6.
Round 3 and Graham is trying to do a straight rover peel to beat Robert who is on 1 & 2 but it is going wrong. Robert has hit in and is taking a ball around trying to peel partner as much as possible and succeeds in pegging Graham out. There is some impasse for a while, but with a delightful take off to behind opponents ball in corner three, Robert picks up a break and finishes. Susan chalked up her first victory and Joe beat Brian to lead overnight.
Sunday, weather even more changeable. Robert beat Brian +20TP, Susan achieved a Bronze award against Ian. Janet beat Malcolm and Gally beat Graham. Wins from Andy against Joe and Robbie against Rossy set up four players on 3 points for two deciding matches on lawn 1 in the final round. Robbie faced Joe, Andy faced Robert. The tie break situation was that if Andy won his match, he would win the tournament (having beaten both Robbie and Joe earlier). While if Robert were to win he would be runner up if Robbie were to beat Joe. The manager was ready with a 14 point decider if Joe and Robert won. But the writing was on the wall. Andy had 11 bisques remaining and the first ball to peg against Robert and then completed the game using only four more bisques. Andy achieved a handicap reduction to 10.
As the remaining games concluded Robert demonstrated a sextuple peeling finish. This together with his play and tactics in general was both remarkable and inspirational. He, together with a handful of players have raised the bar in Croquet to a new level.