Sidmouth Journal published 12 October 2017
Photo: Sidmouth & Carrick Mines Teams
Following visits in the past two years to Corfu and South Africa, some of our Association Croquet players recently went abroad again to demonstrate our skills, writes Richard Thurlow.
The destination this time was Dublin, at the Carrickmines Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, an upmarket facility so far removed from our own sweet rustic club that we seemed to be in croquet heaven.
I hasten to add that selection depended not on skills but on the ability to afford to go.
Sidmouth eventually rustled up a team lead by Peter Nelson, with Jane Babbage, Julie Sorrell, Andrew Thomas, Barrie Huxley, and your correspondent, Barrie was a temporary Sidmouthian, but thank goodness he was co-opted, as he was the only person to win all his matches.
We travelled two days before the tournament to acclimatise and carry out on-the-spot training, which peaked in the hours before the match, strengthening our arms through lifting copious draughts of Guinness and wine.
On the first day of the tournament, we were collected from the hotel in style by two luxurious limousines. One particular vehicle had every extra possible; the ladies have not yet recovered from overusing the heated massage facility for the front passenger seat.
The weather for the tournament was cold and overcast, with the wind hurtling down from the hills. Our team, though, was not dismayed, some even having had the forethought to bring and even wear thermal underwear.
The first three matches were doubles; the remaining eighteen, played over the remainder of the two days, were singles, a point being scored for a win for every match.
We were 2-1 down after the three doubles in the morning and won three of the six singles in the afternoon, so that the result was that Carrickmines was one point ahead at the end of the first day at five games to four.
We were magnificently entertained that evening by the Carrickmines members, a cunning plan of theirs which further proved our undoing.
The second day we played the remaining twelve singles matches, six in the morning and six in the afternoon. These were hard fought; eventually Sidmouth and Carrickmines won six matches each.
So the final score was Carrickmines eleven and Sidmouth ten.
We presented Carrickmines with the newly handcrafted ‘Cock and Ball’ trophy, which it is hoped will be competed for very year.
Did we improve our croquet? Probably not, but we had a most enjoyable time made possible by our wonderful Irish hosts.