Home Internationals 2004

19-20 June 2004, Wrest Park

Wrest Park is a wonderful setting for croquet, provided that is you can find the lawns.  The place itself - a large country estate with formal parkland looking more like a French chateau or a German palace than an English house - is easy to find.  Just South of Bedford, it's an English Heritage site and also now a government agricultural research institute.  However, when David and Eileen Magee and myself turned up at 5:30pm on the Friday afternoon, we gave up hope of seeing what the lawns were like after twenty minutes of looking for a way to reach them.

On the Saturday morning all became clear: to find the way in you turn up with someone who's been there before, walk past all the buildings, climb over a gate, make your way through a maze of farmyards and walk a few hundred yards through some trees.  The view is worth it when you get there!

Scotland were drawn to play England first, and Keith Aiton and David Magee kept hopes alive at first.  Keith held on to win his first game, and lost the second narrowly after tpo'ing David Maugham, but the rest of us, David included, had lost 2-0 by lunch.

On to Ireland, and here we felt we had a very good chance, as they had had to field a weakened team with Mark McInerney and Andrew Johnston both playing in the World Golf Croquet Championship, and Ronan McInerney away in Australia this year.  Keith and I had relatively comfortable 2-0 victories over Ed Cunningham and Simon Williams, with three triples and a tpo in the four games.  David and Bruce both won their first games comfortably, and then lost the second narrowly.  Gordon meanwhile had lost his first game narrowly.  Bruce stormed round in his third game to win +26, but unfortunately the applause that greeted this victory (and Scotland's victory over Ireland) caused David and Gordon to lose their concentration and they both gave the innings away in their very next stroke!  They had both had to wait a while to start since their opponents had been finishing their rubbers against the Welsh, and David's rubber against Alan McInerney didn't finish until 8:40pm.

Most of the players were staying some distance away, in different directions, so only four of the Irish, Bruce and I had dinner at the local pub, the Star and Garter.  The food is very good (so is the beer I'm told), but do make sure to get there by 9pm when they stop serving.  Alan made it by about a minute!

On Sunday we played Wales while England played Ireland.  England and Ireland had both beaten Wales, and it was still possible for any team to win the event, although England were very strong favourites.  They duly beat Ireland 4-1 to win the event, leaving Scotland and Wales to battle it out for the minor places.  We expected to beat Wales and come second outright, and were somewhat shocked to go into lunch a game down in all five rubbers.  Sadly, Keith, Bruce and Gordon all succumbed in the second game too, and while David and I recovered to win our rubbers by then it was too late.  A countback of rubbers and games meant that we'd come fourth again, although it was as close as it's been for several years.

The five of us made our ways back to the five different parts of England we'd come from.  Perhaps next year some people based in Scotland will play and take us back off the bottom of the table?

Jonathan Kirby



England beat Scotland 4.5 - 0.5
Robert Fulford beat Jonathan Kirby +24tp, +12
David Maugham drew Keith Aiton -15, +7otp
Mark Avery beat David Magee +12tp, +26tp
John Gibbons beat Bruce Rannie +20, +19
Ed Duckworth beat Gordon Hopewell +20, +14

Ireland beat Wales 3-2
Ed Cunningham beat Chris Williams -16tp, +6, +17
Simon Williams beat Sam Tudor -21, +26tp, +23tp
Alan McInerney beat Ian Burridge +16, -21, +8
Fred Rogerson lost to John Evans -3, -22tp
Tom Browne lost to Tony Mrozinski -1, -25

England beat Wales 4.5 - 0.5
Robert Fulford beat Chris Williams -14otp, +19tp, +24tp
David Maugham beat Sam Tudor +26tp, +26tp
Mark Avery beat Ian Burridge +16, +16tp
John Gibbons drew John Evans -17, +3
Ed Duckworth beat Tony Mrozinski +3, +24tp

Scotland beat Ireland 3-2
Jonathan Kirby beat Ed Cunningham +18tp, +24tp
Keith Aiton beat Simon Williams +26tp, +11tpo
David Magee lost to Alan McInerney +19tp, -5, -7
Bruce Rannie beat Fred Rogerson +22, -9, +26
Gordon Hopewell lost to Tom Browne -7, -15

England beat Ireland 4-1
Robert Fulford beat Ed Cunningham +23, +26
David Maugham lost to Simon Williams -16, -22
Mark Avery beat Alan McInerney -15, +26tp, +26tp
John Gibbons beat Fred Rogerson +23, +17tp
Ed Duckworth beat Tom Browne +24, +24

Wales beat Scotland 3-2
Chris Williams lost to Jonathan Kirby +10, -26, -24tp
Sam Tudor beat Keith Aiton +10, +17
Ian Burridge lost to David Magee +2, -14tp, -26
John Evans beat Bruce Rannie +13, +18
Tony Mrozinski beat Gordon Hopewell +19, +12

Final Placing
England 3 Matches
Ireland 1 Match 6 Rubbers
Wales 1 Match, 5.5 Rubbers, 17 games
Scotland 1 Match 5.5 Rubbers, 12 games