Southport Challenged in Longman Cup Final
The Southport team of Carol Lewis, Tony Thomas, Brian Lewis and Alan Farrell, turned out in determined mood for the Longman Cup in Surbiton. In glorious weather, Southport fielded their squad on some of the best lawns in the country in the Semi-Finals against the pride of Midlands croquet – Nottingham. This proved to be a tough match with every game hard fought. In a closely played doubles game, Carol and Brian Lewis just lost out to a very good Nottingham pair, whilst on the other lawn, Alan Farrell played with amazing skill for the first Southport win of the match. Tony Thomas felt the full power of the opposition, falling behind early, to thankfully claw his way back into the game to give Southport another win by plus one on time. Lunchtime score Nottingham 1 Southport 2. In the afternoon singles games, Brian Lewis failed to contain his Nottingham opponent as the sides drew level 2-2. But Tony Thomas had a good win to restore Southport’s lead at 3-2. The remaining singles games were nail biting affairs with players giving their all and no one could sustain any advantage. But with time running out, Alan Farrell achieved the critical break out to produce the vital win. Meanwhile Carol Lewis with almost the last turn of her game came from behind to secure another glorious victory. Final score a flattering 5-2 win for Southport against excellent opponents, putting Southport into the Longman Cup final.
With high hopes Southport took to the lawns again on Sunday to play Woking in the final. Woking surprised Southport with their strength and skilled play, being a team of experience and rising stars. Despite Southport playing good croquet, the talent of the Southerners showed. With Tony facing an opponent with over eleven bisques, Carol and Brian facing a strong doubles pair, only Alan Farrell could salvage a win in the morning session and Woking secured a 2-1 lunchtime lead. Southport discussed tactics over lunch and felt the match could still be turned around. But this was not to be, as Woking turned up the pressure in the afternoon with formidable croquet, which Southport could not counter and failed to secure a further win. Final score: Woking 6 Southport 1 – a deserved win for a superb Woking team. A big disappointment to Southport but there was still the pride of reaching a national final, and receiving a trophy for being runners up.
Picture shows the Southport team receiving the runners up Longman trophy. From left to right – Brian Lewis, Carol Lewis, Quiller Barrett (President of the Croquet Association), Alan Farrell and Tony Thomas.