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Ball Bounces Back to Land Sidmouth Croquet Tournament Success

Sidmouth Journal published 29 September 2017

The season draws to an end with only the club finals to be held – they are being played this weekend, writes Richard Thurlow.

September did see the staging of the Open Tournament, an event that was open to players with handicaps ranging from six to 12.

The tournament attracted players from as far away as Norfolk, a county so flat that one might have thought that croquet would take the place of cricket in every village!

Play was advanced level association and the tournament was ‘managed’ on the well-known Egyptian format – readers will, by now (the end of the season), know exactly what this means, so I won’t explain!

The only two local players at the tournament, Jon Ball and Ian Friedlander, both started well, one by default and one by his play.

The former, Jon Ball was beaten in his opening match by an opponent who subsequently fell sick and retired from the tournament, making this result void.

Thereafter Jon never looked back and won all his remaining five games.

His crouching style, precision and bronzed legs (displayed despite the weather) drew gasps of admiration from spectators – well, gasps anyway.

The latter, Ian Friedlander, won all his matches on the first day, but fell away thereafter. In a reversal of the norm, his game did not pick up after the clubhouse bar opened at lunchtime.

Jon Ball emerged as the clear winner with Richard Jelly (Bath) in second place and Linda Shaw (Nailsea) in third. Jon therefore retained the Connaught Cup.

The tournament was graced by the presence, as a player, of the chairman of the Croquet Association who played Jon in the tournament.

This had repercussions as this august gentleman was later seen in earnest discussion with the local handicap committee, the result being a major downward adjustment to Jon’s handicap ‘by inspection’.

The lesson here is not to humiliate national officials if drawn against them in competition.

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