East v West of Scotland 2008

31 May - 1 June 2008, Meadows

The annual match between the East and West of Scotland is an oddity in several ways.  It combines Association Croquet and Golf Croquet, level and handicap play; there is no entry fee; the results don't count for the ranking and handicap systems; and perhaps most importantly from the manager's point of view, it is not subject to the rules governing international matches which prohibit changes of allegiance between matches within a designated period (currently 13 months).  As many of Scotland's players are qualified for both sides of the country, this allows flexibility in making up the teams.  This year 12 players represented the East, and 10 played for the West - including seven currently resident in the East of Scotland but with West connections by birth, parentage, past residence or club membership.

Saturday, the warmest day of the year so far, began with the only three level advanced Association Croquet games of the weekend, plus one handicap doubles game, on the two end courts, and a mixture of singles and doubles handicap Golf Croquet on the one between.  Throughout the match, two rounds of GC were scheduled in parallel with one round of AC, with each GC game contributing one point to the match score and each AC game counting for two points.

East captain Fergus McInnes made a good start against West captain Rod Williams by playing a supershot opening, hitting the ensuing double target and going to 4-back in turn 3 - though this involved a bit of luck when he missed his reception ball after hoop 4 and hit the third ball in the middle of the lawn.  Rod shot down the east boundary and missed, and Fergus set about attempting his first ever fifth-turn triple.  This came to grief when the peelee, which had been almost on the wire of penult, was dislodged to an unpeelable position; the penult peel was posthumous, a backward take-off from south of rover fell short, and the turn ended with both clips on rover.  Rod then got to 4-back before Fergus pegged out, but the game was still the first of the AC to finish, and put two points on the scoreboard for the East.  Two of the morning's other Association games went in the same direction - Bryan Sykes defeating Bill Spalding +18, and the doubles partnership of Robert Inder and Ruth Munro (both handicap 20) winning by 5 points on time against Duncan Reeves (14) and Joan Marshall (20).  The East's other AC player, Alasdair Adam, returning to croquet after several years' absence, had an even closer game, but this one went to the West, with a +1 on time for George Anderson.

The Golf Croquet results were evenly split: Matthew Woodward had a part in two East wins, partnered first by Jola Jurasinska and then by Jackie Shannon, while Alison Ross was involved in two wins for the West, first playing singles against Jackie and then playing with Jamieson Walker against Jola and new Meadows Club member George Geis.  (The West's losing doubles partnerships comprised Vivien Wightman with Jamieson in the first round and with Charlotte Townsend in the second.)  So the score at lunch time, after four AC games and four GC games involving nine players on each side, was East 8, West 4.

The same nine East players, in differing combinations, continued with the same forms of croquet in the afternoon, except that Jola switched to playing the Association game.  The West lost Alison, but gained Ian Wright, and had several changes of AC/GC roles.  This time it was the AC that produced an even division of points, while all four GC games went to the West, levelling the match at 12-all by late afternoon.  The only peg-out in this round (with three-hour time limits) was by Joan, playing with Charlotte, for a win over Alasdair and Bryan.

Well after the optimistically scheduled starting time of 4pm the day's last session got under way - still in warm sunshine, though the shadows were extending across the courts when time was called at 8.35.  Bryan was not available for this round, and only three AC games were played, along with another quartet of GC games.  The East lost another player when Alasdair had to leave to catch a bus, with Joan ahead by 12 points to 5 in their singles game.  Each side won one AC doubles game, and the West took three out of four Golf games, to end the day with a 19-15 lead.

Sunday was several degrees cooler.  The forecast had warned of this, but had also suggested dry weather till mid-afternoon.  In fact the rain arrived by lunch time, and the courts were distinctly wet and slow for the afternoon's games.  The East was without Alasdair and Matthew, but was joined by Brian Cosford, Allan Hawke and (in the afternoon) Kay Lucas.  The West had the same players as on Saturday with the exception of Bill.  The order of play gave two courts to AC and one to GC again for most of the day, but included a final round which was all GC.

With only seven players on at a time, Sunday morning was mostly singles.  In the one doubles game, Robert had his first loss of the weekend, playing with Bryan for the East against Joan and Rod - with no bisques on either side, as each pair's handicaps were 20 and 3.  Other AC wins for the West were achieved by Jamieson against Jola and by George Anderson against Ruth, while Allan fought back for the East, scoring the decisive hoop after several turns of extra time to beat Duncan 24-23.  The GC games were also closely contested, and yielded two 7-6 wins for the East (by Fergus against Charlotte and by Jackie against Ian) and two 7-5 wins for the West (by Ian and then Charlotte against Brian).  The West thus increased its lead to 27-19, leaving the East with a tough challenge for the afternoon.

Eleven points were at stake after lunch, in four Association games and three Golf games, and the East needed ten of those points to regain the lead.  At one end of the green, Allan was playing Vivien, while Bryan took on Duncan.  At the other end were two doubles games: Robert and Brian against Rod and George Anderson, and Fergus and Kay Lucas against Ian and Joan.  On the middle court, the Golf Croquet games set George Geis against Jamieson, Jola and Jackie against Charlotte and Alison, and then Jackie and George against Jamieson and Charlotte.  The East players did manage to win three of the four AC games, two of them by the narrow margins of +1 and +2 on time, but Bryan lost a close game against Duncan, and the West took two out of three GC games - bringing the score to East 26, West 31.

As it was now after 6pm, and still raining, the planned final Golf Croquet round was abandoned.  The players gathered in the pavilion, and the East captain presented the Piersland Rosebowl to the West captain - who completed the celebrations in the traditional manner by buying a round of drinks across the road at Cloisters for those who had the time and inclination to stay.

The continuing success of this match as an enjoyable and inclusive event relies on several ingredients.  I've already said plenty about the croquet and the weather, both of which were mixed on this occasion, though I think there was more good than bad.  What was definitely good, and a major contribution to the enjoyment, was the catering - for which thanks are due to Jola and Jamieson, the principal providers of lunch, and to the other contributors including Charlotte and Kay.  Behind the scenes were the many Meadows Club members who had helped to ensure that the lawns and the pavilion were in good condition and fully equipped.  And of course there was that intangible but vital ingredient, a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, in which all those involved had a part.  My only regret is that we didn't quite manage to stop the West from winning for a third consecutive year.  At least the result was closer than last time!

A few photographs can be found below.

Fergus McInnes


(East names first; asterisked games played level, other games handicap, with players' AC or GC handicaps as shown after their names)

Day One:

Association Croquet:
* Fergus McInnes beat Rod Williams  +17
* Bryan Sykes beat Bill Spalding  +18
* Alasdair Adam lost to George Anderson  -1T (13-14)
Robert Inder (20) & Ruth Munro (20) beat Duncan Reeves (14) &
Joan Marshall (20)   +5T (11-6)
Jola Jurasinska (20) lost to Duncan  -6T (11-17)
Robert beat Ian Wright (10)  +5T (16-11)
Fergus (4.5) & Ruth beat Rod Williams (3) & Vivien Wightman (20)
+13T (20-7)
Bryan (3) & Alasdair (5) lost to Charlotte Townsend (4.5) & Joan  -14
Alasdair lost to Joan  -7T (5-12)
Robert & Jola beat Charlotte & Bill (5)  +6T (19-13)
Fergus & George Geis (20) lost to Ian & Vivien -8

Golf Croquet:
Jackie Shannon (4) lost to Alison Ross (4)  5-7
Jola (4) & Matthew Woodward (4) beat Jamieson Walker (2)
& Vivien (4)  7-4
Matthew & Jackie beat Charlotte (2) & Vivien  7-5
Jola & George Geis (6) lost to Jamieson & Alison  4-7
Matthew lost to George Anderson (4)  3-7
Jackie & George Geis lost to Jamieson & Bill (3)  3-7
Jackie lost to Jamieson  5-7
Matthew & George Geis lost to George Anderson & Bill  4-7
Ruth (5) beat Duncan (5)  7-5
Matthew & Jackie lost to Jamieson & George Anderson  4-7
Matthew lost to Jamieson  5-7
Ruth & Jackie lost to Rod (3) & George Anderson  3-7

Day Two:

Association Croquet:
Allan Hawke (6) beat Duncan  +1T (24-23)
Ruth lost to George Anderson (6)  -6T (3-9)
Jola lost to Jamieson (7)  -7T (13-20)
Bryan & Robert lost to Rod & Joan  -3T (17-20)
Allan beat Vivien  +15
Bryan lost to Duncan  -2T
Robert & Brian Cosford (20) beat Rod & George Anderson
+2T (20-18)
Fergus & Kay Lucas (20) beat Ian & Joan  +1T (11-10)

Golf Croquet:
Fergus (2) beat Charlotte  7-6
Brian (4) lost to Ian (3)  5-7
Jackie beat Ian  7-6
Brian lost to Charlotte  5-7
George Geis lost to Jamieson  4-7
Jackie & Jola lost to Charlotte & Alison  4-7
Jackie & George Geis beat Jamieson & Charlotte  7-5?

Final scores:
East 26 (AC 20 + GC 6), West 31 (AC 18 + GC 13)


(by Fergus McInnes and Ian Wright)

Bryan Sykes during his Saturday morning game against Bill Spalding.

West players on the sidelines (in the shade): Rod Williams and Bill Spalding.

Golf Croquet players: Jackie Shannon in the foreground, and George Geis, Alison Ross, Jamieson Walker and Jola Jurasinska beyond.

Charlotte and Vivien (West) consider their tactics in a congested position during their GC game against Jackie and Matthew.

Outplayers on a sunny Saturday evening: Jackie, Bill, Jola, Charlotte, Rod and George.

Joan Marshall at 2-back, guided by her partner Rod Williams, on the way to a win against Bryan Sykes and Robert Inder on Sunday.