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Sidmouth Croquet Team ‘Outgunned’ But Held To The Golden Hoop In Final Game

Updated: May 11, 2020

Sidmouth Herald published 23 July 2019

Photo: (LtoR) Roger Hayes, Chris Donovan, Richard Wood, John Grimshaw, Peter Nelson, Daniel Gott, Jon Ball, Paul Francis

The Sidmouth ‘Parkstone’ A Team met the Bath Team in a close fought match-day despite a Bath player being a real ‘star’, writes Chris Donovan.

The Parkstone or South West Federation Level Play League is played, as all Association Croquet League days, as two single matches and a doubles in the morning with four single matches in the afternoon. This, of course, means there is no clear winner at lunchtime, well usually not absolutely clear, and all to play for in the afternoon.

Clubs put their lowest handicapped players in these teams and handicaps above four are seldom seen. Association Handicaps have a maximum of 24 and then reduce by two to 12; then by one to five and finally by half steps. Each step is a net 50 point increase in a base index starting at 800. Thus a 'scratch' player is on an index of 2000. However, thereafter a minus half requires 100 clear points, minus one 150 points and a further 150 points to minus one and a half. Not too many players at that level, but Bath brought along Daniel Gott on -1.5 - definitely challenging!

The day was very hot and the lawns were running very fast with every small bump and lump exacerbating already challenging ball control such that three-hours-and-fifteen-minute games threatened to be not long enough for a peg-out finish. Well, it was challenging for the mere mortals, but Daniel Gott managed to Triple Peel in both games - a difficult proposition at any time, and finished in well under 90 minutes. We could only offer congratulations at this impressive play.

And so the results;

Morning: Richard Wood [S] [0] beat Roger Hayes [B] [0] by 26 - 18 hoops;

Daniel Gott [B] [-1.5] beat Chris Donovan [S] [3] by 26 - 5 hoops [Triple Peel];

Peter Nelson [S] [1.5] & Jon Ball [S] [4] beat John Grimshaw [B] [2.5] & Paul Francis [B] [4] in a very close game

After lunch:

Gott beat Wood 26 - 0 hoops [Triple Peel];

Roger Hayes beat Nelson 26 - 16 hoops;

Donovan beat Grimshaw 26 - 11 hoops

and, and with 45 minutes to go the teams were level.

Six players watched the Ball versus Francis game with 'great interest' with quiet discussion following every shot played by the two highest handicapped players in play. Ball finally had a good run and caught-up with Francis with only one hoop adrift. Francis missed his next shot and Ball managed to peel one of his balls through the last hoop [known in the sport as 'rover'] and the scores were level.

Time was called and Ball was able to set himself up for his next turn to score the one critical winning hoop; known as 'the golden hoop'. Unfortunately, Francis had not been given a copy of the script and he decided to make an excellent 'hit-in' over a long distance that Ball had assumed to be 'safe'.

Francis then took 'took-off' for the peg, rather than trying to get in front of an actual hoop to run it, and pegged his ball out as one may do in level play. Francis thus scored the final point and victory went to Bath. Well done, but a tighter finish there could not have been. Good match!

Jon Ball lines up his peel shot to even the score

Donovan can't believe he missed!

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