I took up croquet shortly before I retired in 2016 and have become quite hooked on it. I prefer playing AC, but I am quite happy to join in with GC as well. I practice as often as I can, which is showing up as a steady reduction in my handicap.
Professionally, I am an astronomer and space scientist.
On Saturday 18th September about 19 club members gathered for a “fun day” of croquet. Mary Elizabeth had organised the day and Peter Allan arranged the matches. The basic idea was to team experienced players up with less experienced partners. With a few people not playing for all of the day, this needed some judicious tweaking of team membership during the day.
The weather was perfect for croquet, warm, but not too hot. Before lunch we had two rounds of 13-point games (first to score 7 hoops) of GC doubles, with double banking on each lawn. After lunch, we switched to 7-point games (first to score 4 hoops) in order to play more rounds in the time available.
The team that won the most games was Tom Griffin, playing with Patsy Jones in the morning, and with Mary Hewlett in the afternoon. In fact they won all of their games, so congratulations for such a solid win.
Plenty of people said how much they had enjoyed the day, so we can regard that as a success.
On 29th August, a cold summers day, barely warmed by the sun, Harwell/Eynsham played East Dorset in the Longman cup. Harwell/Eynsham beat East Dorset 4-3.
Full match details. The Harwell/Eynsham players are listed first.
Morning Doubles Noel Harris (8) & Kevin Colton(14) beat David Williams(3.5) & Alan Jones (7), 13-12 (+1 t)
Morning Singles Tom Griffin (14) beat John Pollard (7), 26-8 (+18) Nick Goodwin (14) lost to John Speigal (7), 20-22 (-2 t)
Afternoon Singles Noel Harris (8) beat David Williams (3.5), 26-3 (+23) Tom Griffin (14) beat John Speigal (7), 26-2 (+24) Kevin Colton (14) lost to Alan Jones (7), 10-16 (+6 t) Nick Goodwin (14) lost to John Pollard (7), 16-23(-7 t)
The critical game was the morning doubles, where we won by narrowest of margins – 13-12, but only by finishing with a peel and hoop after time was called.
As a result of this win, the Harwell/Eynsham team has qualified for the semi-final of the Longman Cup, which will be held at Surbiton on 2nd October, with the final on 3rd October.
On a sunny Friday 23rd July, our intrepid team of Mary Elizabeth Shewry (captain), Peter Allan, Pat Knights, and Roy Platon, took the ferry to the Isle of Wight to do battle with Ryde in the SCF GC doubles-only league. It took us a while to get use to the slower lawns at Ryde, but we emerged victorious with a 5-3 win.
The club has a raised patio area from where one gets a good view of the action on all four of their lawns. It was a nice place to relax after the match over a cup of tea and some tasty cake.
On Wednesday, 21st June, Harwell played against Blewbury in the SCF GC handicap league. Our team consisted of Mary Elizabeth Shewry (captain), Peter Allan, Roy Platon, and Sarah Roycroft. The format was that each player had one game against each player from the opposing team. The games were played using the ‘advantage’ handicap system. After the first three rounds, we had a commanding lead, only needing one win to clinch the match. In the end, we won by 12-4.
On Sunday, 18th July, the combined Eynsham and Harwell AC team beat Swindon in the Longman Cup. The match was played at Swindon, which has three lawns. Our team consisted of Tom Griffin, Kevin Colton, Hugh Manson, and Noel Harris. We had a convincing win with a 5-2 score.
This takes us into the quarter finals, where we will meet East Dorset.
On a pleasant Thursday afternoon, Harwell played against Wingrave in the Southern Croquet Federation GC advantage league (North). The Harwell team consisted of Mary Elizabeth Shewry (captain), Peter Allan, Judy Goodall, and Pat Knights. We had a very successful time, winning 14 out of 16 games.
On a cool Thursday evening, the joint Eynsham/Harwell team got off to a good start in this year’s SCF AC handicap league win a 4-0 win over Blewbury. Our team was Peter Allan, Hugh Manson, Noel Harris, and Peter Mansfield. The game between Hugh and Anthony Harwicke was very close and came down to the golden hoop, which Hugh won. The other games were substantial wins for Eynsham/Harwell by 10 or more points. The next match will be against Caversham on 8th and 9th May.
We have finally finished the 2020 GC handicap competition.
After a late start last year due to what we now know as Lockdown 1, we made good progress with the block stages, where all of the players in a block played against each other to determine which two players from each block should go into the semi-final matches.
However, before we could play either of the semi-final matches, Lockdown 2 was declared. Once that was over, Mary Elizabeth Shewry and Peter Allan played their semi-final. Peter winning 7-4, 7-4.
Then along came bad weather in the run up to Christmas and Lockdown 3, which prevented play for a further 12 weeks.
Finally, Lockdown 3 was over, we had some decent weather, and hopefully we could still remember how to play. Tom Griffin and Judy Goodall contested the second semi-final on 1st April and Tom won 7-3, 7-5. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, Tom and Peter played the final. It was a close match that swung one way and then the other, but in a nail-biting finish, Peter just won, 7-5, 1-7, 7-6.
According to government plans, it will be possible to restart playing outdoor sports such as croquet and golf on Monday 29th March 2021. We are intending to re-open the lawns on that Monday morning.
The restrictions that we were operating under last year – no more than six players on a lawn at any one time, you must sign up on the booking system before playing – will still apply for the next few months.
On the blustery morning of 22nd August, five members of Harwell croquet club contested the 2020 One-Ball competition. One-ball is essentially a fun game with each game typically lasting around 30 minutes. It is always played as singles, and each player only has one ball instead of the usual two. The rules are those of AC, but the play is more similar to GC, since big breaks rarely happen.
The competitors were Peter Allan, Judy Gold, Tom Griffin, Sarah Roycroft, and Mary Elizabeth Shewry. We played an ‘all plays all’ round robin with each player sitting out for one round. Everyone enjoyed the variety of a different type of game and we all needed to think what tactics were best, since they differ from both AC and GC. Of course you still need to get your ball through the hoops!
The winner, by the narrowest of margins, was Tom Griffin.