Westminster Park becomes International Croquet Venue
The good citizens of Chester were all agog this weekend. Was it the Queen’s 90th? No. Was it Shakespeare’s 400th ? No. Was it the Everton/ Man U. Semi Final? No. It was the debut of Chester Croquet Club on the international stage with a match against Zurich.
Early on St George’s Day the Swiss team of five turned up at Westminster Park more promptly than Roger Federer’s Rolex and during a day of informal play with the host club members, they set about familiarising themselves with the intricacies of Chester’s infamous sloping lawns. Bright and sunny described not just the weather but also the style of golf croquet played. After a brief foray into Chester city the teams and their spouses settled down to a buffet supper with the occasional glass of wine.
On Sunday the teams were out on the lawns early; the weather was dull and overcast but this did not deter a steady stream of spectators – club members and interested Cestrians. The Swiss team was truly international coming from as far afield as Sydney, Kansas and Liverpool. The Chester team, solidly British, was forced into a late change due to an overnight injury to one of the team. The morning format was “level play, all play all”. The matches were closely fought but Chester managed to sneak the majority so that they went into lunch 15-4 ahead.
The afternoon play followed a similar vein with close matches ending in narrow Chester wins. A final round of doubles eventually gave overall victory to Chester 21.5 to 6.5. However as the Swiss scooped the last match it was clear that they had at last got the measure of the pace and slope of the lawns.
John Dawson, Chester club secretary, presented the inaugural trophy to David Crawford, the Chester captain. As dusk gathered Arthur Graf, the Zurich captain said “It has been an exacting but enjoyable challenge for us. The lawns have been in great shape and a pleasure to play on. We have enjoyed the generous hospitality of the Chester club and tomorrow is a day for enjoying the sights of Chester. To misquote General MacArthur slightly – ‘We shall return’.”
Overall a very enjoyable weekend for both the Chester and Zurich teams.
The Chester team: David Crawford (Captain); Pat Clare; Sally Slater; Chris Slater; Trevor Farrell.
The Zurich Team: Arthur Graf (Captain); Neil Thomas; Erika Wurth; Kerstin Lorenz; Kevin Collins.
Photos by Sally Slater.