Croquet North v SCA 2008

3-4 May 2008, Tyneside

Three players from Edinburgh - James Hopgood, Fergus McInnes and Allan Hawke - travelled down the A1 on Saturday morning for their first experience of the Tyneside Club's lawns in Exhibition Park.  The other quarter of the SCA team had a shorter journey and more familiarity with the venue, being Newcastle resident David Appleton.  On the Croquet North side, locals Phil Errington and David Turner were joined by Charles Waterfield and Peter McDermott from Middlesbrough.  The logistics were in the capable hands of Bruce Rannie (another Tyneside Scot), and Sheila and Derek Watts kept us all well fed and looked after throughout the weekend.

The plan was for two rounds of doubles and one round of singles on Saturday, and one round of doubles and two rounds of singles on Sunday - with each of the possible CN doubles partnerships having a game against the corresponding SCA pair, and everyone playing singles games against both those in the same half of the rank order in the opposing side.  The last round of singles would be needed only if the match was undecided after five rounds.

On Saturday all the doubles games took the full allotted time of 2 hours 45 minutes - though one reached a peg-out in the turn after time was called - and all the singles games were completed within time.  (The difference in the lawns - the one by the clubhouse being faster and smoother than the one by the clock tower - didn't seem to have much influence on the timing.)  On Sunday, in contrast, the doubles finished within the time limit and all but one of the singles games went to time.  The only discernible common factor was that in every round it was Charles's game that yielded the clearest win for Croquet North - as befitted his handicap of 0.5, which was well below those of the other seven players.

Croquet North took three of Saturday's four doubles games.  SCA no.1 David Appleton noted that in each of his games his junior partner got to 4-back quite quickly but he himself had less success - though in the second one he did achieve the 4-back peel before breaking down through the lack of a pioneer at 2-back.  The singles were halved, with each team's first and third players beating the other team's second and fourth - all games going to handicap except that David Appleton (2) beat Peter (1.5), overtaking from far behind after Peter played a wrong ball.  So it was 5-3 to Croquet North when we packed up for the day and made the short but devious journey (about four times longer by road than in a straight line) to the Avanti restaurant in Brentwood Gardens, well chosen by Bruce, for dinner.  From there we dispersed, agreeably stuffed, to our lodgings for the night.

Saturday had been dry with glimpses of sun, but Sunday dawned damp and continued with intermittent rain, and we were glad of the Tyneside Club's two spacious gazebos.  The SCA's top pairing scored only three hoops against their CN counterparts in the morning's doubles, but Allan and Fergus kept the match close with a win over Phil and David - in which Allan scored 15 of the SCA's 26 points, since he peeled Fergus's ball through 2-back before hoop 1 as well as pegging both balls out to finish the game.  Time to enjoy Sheila's delicious lunch (featuring corned beef pie and broccoli quiche as well as a good variety of salads), and then out we went for the head-to-head singles, in which the SCA, at a disadvantage on handicap in all four games, had to win two out of four to retain a chance of winning the match, or one out of four for a chance of a draw.

In the event we fell short of the mark.  All four games were competitive, with scores in double figures for each player; and the one between Allan and David Turner was extremely close, with Allan missing a peg-out of David's ball and David (a few turns later) pegging Allan out instead; but as David ended ahead by one point, and his team-mates all won by wider margins, the final score was 10-4 to Croquet North and the sixth round was not played.  The rain had abated enough for group photographs to be taken on the lawn, though without the Scottish & Newcastle beer pump trophy as we'd forgotten to bring it with us, and the non-local players all headed off north and south with memories of an enjoyable weekend.  Many thanks to all involved on the CN side for their hospitality, which we'll aim to match in Edinburgh in 2009.

Fergus McInnes


Croquet North v SCA 2008

(Croquet North names first)

Day 1, Saturday 3 May 2008:

Charles Waterfield & David Turner beat David Appleton & Allan Hawke +12t (24-12)
Peter McDermott & Phil Errington beat James Hopgood & Fergus McInnes +7t (23-16)

Waterfield & Errington beat Appleton & McInnes +7
McDermott & Turner lost to Hopgood & Hawke -4t (19-23)

Charles Waterfield beat James Hopgood +17
Peter McDermott lost to David Appleton -14
Phil Errington beat Allan Hawke +15
David Turner lost to Fergus McInnes -12

Day 2, Sunday 4 May:

Waterfield & McDermott beat Appleton & Hopgood +23
Errington & Turner lost to McInnes & Hawke -16

Charles Waterfield beat David Appleton +15
Peter McDermott beat James Hopgood +8t (22-14)
Phil Errington beat Fergus McInnes +6t (17-11)
David Turner beat Allan Hawke +1t (23-22)

Match result: CN 10, SCA 4