SW Federation Handicap Final vs. Phyllis Court
Well, I assumed that this would be an easy match, after all they were only sending one player. Easy. I looked up who this Phyllis person was but I couldn't find her on the CA Member list, so I assumed that the powers that be at Cheltenham were being a bit slow. I wasn't happy when a car-load of four turned up, and one of them was a minus handicapper!
Thursday was very cold but clear. A lovely day in fact for some 'late-season' croquet, although layers and woolly hats were very much required. Kirin had done a great job and the lawns looked fantastic.
Non-playing captain, Mike Rice, had selected: David Williams (3.5), David Fuller (4), Nigel Parkins (7) and Neil Cleverly (14) for the task. Games were full handicap, 3h time limit - so no hanging about as we were giving bisques in three matches.
Nigel and myself were both on Lawn 2 and both giving 7 bisques away to our respective opponents. Nigel started off well and was soon ahead against Rick Lilley (14). Unfortunately, once the 7 bisques were used up, Rick then played like a demon running everything to win +9. Tim O'Donnell told me recently that when trying to get better in the early days, he would often sacrifice his bisques to create a level game as he thought it was better for his improvement. Interesting thought.
Neil, with the Secondaries on Lawn 1, never really got going and his opponent Roger Goldring took advantage to get a good number of hoops on the board, from which recovery was impossible. A +7 result seemed fair. Bad luck Neil.
My opponent, Robin Coates, was playing reasonably well, but was not able to fully capitalize on four-ball break opportunities after using bisques. With two bisques left he was 8-0 up after an hour and a half. I had two or three half chances for a break but had not started. Into the last hour, I was able to hit in across the lawn with the balls set and go round to penult with a nice leave. I am embarrassed to admit that I then went into defensive mode to close out the win +3.
DavidW had the more difficult task of playing Chris Roberts (-0.5) on the ultra-flat Lawn 1. This match would count double, as a 2-2 draw would be decided in the results of this line up. I believe that Chris played very well and late in the game was on Rov/Rov but David needed just to get in once to have a chance. A tricky medium length take-off to behind a ball for 1b just ran and ran on the fast lawn and sadly went out of play by a couple of millimetres. Sometimes, this game really is a game of millimetres! After a couple more turns Chris pegged out +5 for the game and the match.
Result: East Dorset 1-3 Phyllis Court
Well done Phyllis Court and they will now represent the Southern Federation in the Secretary's Shield next year. I then took this photo for them which they will enjoy and I will make into a dartboard.
1 Dec 2022