C Class Advanced Tournament 23/24 June 2018

In the lead up to the tournament, the main issue was whether or not to cancel. The Nailsea lawns had had a major levelling project which began last September and had been thwarted at every turn by the weather. Endless rain including flash floods, two bouts of snow, freezing cold and then hot dry spells had played havoc with germination so the grass, at best was uneven. Some areas had been underwater continuously for months, leading to colonisation by meadow grass instead of the germination of the rye grass seeds. Then the rye grass got stressed by the June drought (like stressed people, it went grey!) and emergency supplies of high nitrogen fertiliser were dispatched by Duncan Hector and another daily irrigation programme was instigated. At last, the lawns looked green. In spite of several major and minor re-seeding efforts, they still had uneven grass coverage but were pronounced playable and the tournament went ahead. The uneven surface made rushing tricky and balls sometimes bounced, particularly for players whose natural style is to hit down on the balls but at least the Nailsea mini-Mendips had disappeared. The euthanised meadow grass clumps were still there but not causing too much extra grief. Nailsea is renowned for its firm hoops but these were set to a generous eighth and the hoop areas were watered to soften the ground a bit. Conditions were still difficult but, ironically, players at neighbouring clubs were having to cope with glass-like conditions as lawns turned brown in the dry heat.
Once the tournament got underway, the focus of attention soon switched to 17 year old James Galpin. Although he is National Junior Champion, this was his first tournament at senior level. In spite of the difficult conditions, James played confidently and fluidly and won his first ever Advanced Rules match with a rover peel and 4 minutes to spare. In the second and third rounds, James got both balls most of the way round quite quickly but then got becalmed and eventually won them both on time.

With 3 blocks of 4, the semi-finals would be between the Block winners and the best runner up. James, David Hunt (Nailsea) and Philip de Glanville (Bath) had won all their block games. The best runner up slot was far from clear with Peter Dyke (Nailsea) and David Marcus (Southwick) having very similar records in all respects. Peter, as the home player, very nobly stood down to give a place to the visitor. However, David Marcus withdrew from the tournament on the Sunday morning and Peter was reinstated and went on to beat Philip de Glanville. In the other semi-final, David Hunt had led James for nearly 3 hours and was 2 hoops ahead when James began his final turn. James showed huge character by producing his best turn of the day and turning the result round. It seemed written in the stars that the Final would be between Peter Dyke, well known for his successful coaching of juniors and his latest protégé. The weather was scorching and the hoops had become more unfriendly in the dry ground so the match was slow with neither player able to sustain breaks. When time was called, Peter was slightly ahead and on the lawn so hit his ball into a corner when he broke down. For the second time in the day, James had to dig deep and pull off some tricky shots, including a 3 or 4 yard take-off to get in front of 3 back. It was perfect and he ran the hoop to clinch the victory. The two CA handicappers present were in no doubt that James should have his handicap reduced from 7 and they decided upon 4 as a suitable number.
Elsewhere on the lawns, the players were hot but cheerful. Philip de Glanville had played well and smiled all weekend and won the 3rd place play-off. Brian McCausland (Nailsea) won the consolation knockout competition and also the prize for the fastest win – he had pegged out with 12 minutes to spare. Margot Soakell (Bristol) was runner-up in this consolation event and her wins gave her a handicap reduction from 7 to 6. Philip de Glanville and James Galpin won prizes for causing the biggest upsets. In both cases, they were 7s and had beaten two different 5s.
The manager thanked the Nailsea members for their usual superb club spirit in preparing the lawns, producing delicious food and generally being excellent hosts. It was heartening to see so many people enjoying taking their AC game on to the next stage, or in some cases, letting it wind down from dizzier heights! Now that the Nailsea lawns are basically flat, we hope that they will provide superb surfaces very soon.

B Class Advanced Tournament 8/9 July 2017 Winner Andrew Wise

After various dropouts and late additions, we had the full complement of 16 players – perfect for four lawns and with 11 different clubs represented. Players travelled from as far afield as Blackpool, Nottingham, Brighton and Sidmouth to take part in this tournament where matches were played level with Advanced Rules.

The conditions were challenging from the start and got worse. The lawns were green but sufficiently fast that most of the players found if quite difficult to get in front of the hoops. However, the firm hoops, although accurately set to a 1/16, were the main problem for most. There was frustration and disbelief as balls bounced back time after time. As the temperature soared towards 30C, the ground dried out even more, the lawns speeded up and the hoops became increasingly unfriendly.  Completed games with peg-outs were fairly infrequent. Some players found the right technique and ran the hoops effortlessly but the majority struggled.

The star of the Blocks was Nathan Baker from the Fylde club (handicap 4) who won all three matches with two peg-outs. He succumbed, -22, to Andrew Wise (Bristol, handicap 1) in the semi-final but must be very pleased with his calm performance. The other Block winners, all with two wins, were Andrew Dutton (Woking, 1,), John Wells (Cheltenham, 4) and Andrew Wise. John Wells played Andrew Dutton in the other semi-final which was slow and low-scoring, John winning +4T. In the Final, Andrew Wise, showed his experience and skill and put enough breaks together to win the match and take the Margaret Fleming Shield.

The runners up in the Blocks were Adam Moliver (Cheltenham, 2.5), Paul Castell (West Sussex,1.5), Sarah Melvin (Dyffryn, 1) and Peter Nelson (Sidmouth, 3.5). In the semi-finals for their consolation event, Peter beat Sarah and Adam beat Paul. Adam then beat Peter in the final to win a bottle of Merlot.

The prize for the fastest win went to Chris O’Byrne (Reigate Priory, 3.5) with a time of 1h 53min. Frances Ransom (Bristol, 4.5) caused the biggest upset by taking 16 index points from Paul Castell.

The local players from the Nailsea club were Geoff Hughes, Pat Long and Erica Malaiperuman. Although she had the highest handicap of the three, Erica was the most successful, claiming 3 wins from 5 games, all against players ranked higher than her.

The manager thanked the players for their fortitude in the heat and unfamiliar conditions. There was a good spirit throughout and many players expressed appreciation of the opportunity to learn how to run firmer hoops than they usually experience. Others might have preferred to be able to play their usual game! The manager also thanked the Nailsea members who had worked hard to make the tournament a success – lawn maintenance, hoop setting and catering had all been done with the usual Nailsea dedication and hospitality.

SWF Short Croquet Teams 22nd 23rd April


The winning team

Nailsea Croquet Club was the venue for the 2017 Spring  South West Croquet Federation’s Short Croquet team event.

Teams from all over the South West competed over 2 days  22nd – 23rd April, playing this shortened form of Association Croquet.

The overall winner in Division 1 was Nailsea.


C Class Advanced Tournament 3rd 4th June

The entrants assembled on Sunday morning

A full entry of 16 players competed this event for the Michael Poole Cup, 6 from the home club and with visitors from Bristol, Cheltenham, Guildford, Cumbria and Edinburgh.  The event is for players with handicaps in the range 5 to 12. They were divided into four blocks of four players and on Saturday everybody played a 3 hour game against each of the other players in their block. The lawns were freshly cut on the preceding evening and the hoops firmly set to the correct tolerance.  Saturday started overcast, then a cool wind blew up and the evening was sunny and pleasant.  In round 1, 3 of the 8 games were completed within the time limit, in the second round none of them did, but then nerves steadied and 5 games in the third round finished with a peg out. The fastest win was by Kathy Wallace in 2 hours exactly. The four block winners were Kathy Wallace (Nailsea), David Hunt (Nailsea), Frances Ransom (Bristol) and Robert Upton (Dyffryn and Nailsea), so this quartet qualified for the semi final stage on Sunday morning.  The runners up of each block competed the positions further down the field in a similar arrangement.

The lawns were mowed early on Sunday for the semi final and final stages.  The weather was mixed, starting overcast, then drizzle which turned into a downpour in the early afternoon which made all but the most hardy shelter for about 15 minutes and have a brew.  The skies then cleared and we finished in brilliant sunshine. The successful semi finalists were Kathy Wallace and Frances Ransom. Kathy had played well from the first game on Saturday and Frances, who has much experience of playing at this standard kept improving after an indifferent start.  She gave Kathy few chances and Kathy’s long range shots were not finding their targets as well as they had previously.  Frances ran out the winner with a score of 26 – 6, lowering her handicap one step in the process.

Frances carries off the Michael Poole Cup, David Houston won the Moroccan competition (for the greatest improvement in index) before flying back to Edinburgh, Kathy Wallace won a prize for the quickest win (in 2 hours exactly) and Hugh Gallacher won a prize for winning against the largest adverse handicap before driving back to Bournmouth.