Our club plays in the southeast region U-league. This involves playing four of the other ten clubs during the summer – two home matches and two away. The results page for 2023 is here. A detailed report of the final match of the season (against Caterham) is below. As Caterham and Hampstead Heath were the only teams remaining unbeaten after three matches, the final match was a winner-takes-all decider for the League title. It turned out to be a most satisfactory end to a most enjoyable season with all players contributing to the final winning scoreline of 4-3. Congratulations to everyone who played a part in this success.
The trip to Caterham ……….
Phil tells me that he burned off a “staggering” 5,400 calories during the day. While he reckons a 1,000 of those could have been chasing Rod on his electric motor assisted Brompton up the 11% hill from Caterham Station to the croquet club, the bulk of the rest were burned off in nervous energy watching the final throes of the match: with the score at three games all and the final game at 18 points all hope of lifting the U-League Trophy all rested on Rod.
Now read on ……
(With thanks to Phil for the words.)
In the morning Phil & Tom played the doubles which got off to a poor start with all players missing a lot of short roquets. We eventually wrested control and with the aid of four of our five and a half bisques Tom reached 1 back. With Jon also on 1 back Phil took a break to rover peeling Tom through 1 back en route. Tom attempted a speculative approach to 2 back with opponents joined on the N boundary behind 1 back. Failing to get position he ran away to corner 4, only to see Jon approach 1 back from the boundary and run it with a south bound rush. The game now reached the crucial position as Jon ran the resulting break to the peg, belatedly getting the balls in position to attempt a peel and peg out of Phil, which would leave Caterham in a commanding position. Fortunately for us the peel only went through by a foot, and in a position likely to stymie striker’s ball from the escape ball if the hoop was run with control. Striker’s ball duly ran the hoop and bumped into the peelee directly, leaving the peg out back through hoop 5 as the slim but only chance. The peel attempt left Phil’s ball in the jaws of 5, and in trying to bury the escape ball (Tom) deep towards the N boundary Jon sent it off into B baulk with his ball three yards from the peg. From there it was a simple matter for Phil to take his wiring lift to B baulk, rush Tom to the safety of the boundary and peg out Jon. With Colin (the remaining opponent) still for hoop 1, a few turns later Tom pegged out having made his remaining hoops without further drama.
In the two morning singles Rod found his opponent too strong and lost by 12. And seasoned veteran Julien just failed to hang on to the lead built with his bisques to lose by the classic handicap scoreline of minus one on time. This was somewhat unlucky insofar as very recently Julien’s handicap had been reduced from 14: clearly a critical factor in this result. Be that as it may, at 1-2 down at lunch the odds definitely favoured Caterham.
After lunch the four remaining singles were played, players being matched in handicap order. Julien was always in control of his game against Colin and made amends for his morning close loss with a quick and emphatic win by 15 points. After Jon had expended three of his four bisques for just two or three hoops Phil established the first break of his game. Wary from the doubles experience of the peg out threat posed by Jon, Phil took this to 3 back only. Shortly after Phil effectively clinched this game by running a second break to the peg whilst peeling partner to penult. Jon regained the innings with his final bisque and with the help of a couple of missed short roquets by Phil made some progress before missing a shorty of his own, from which Phil finished competently enough from penult.
This gave us the lead at 3-2 with Tom & Rod still in play and with us needing to win just one of them. Both our players used their bisques to build healthy but not decisive leads, and then fought to hang on once they had run out. Matt then showed the same form he had displayed in his morning match to polish off Tom with two solid breaks to level the match at 3-3.
Which left it to Rod with the eyes of everyone else fixed firmly on the final match. Rod’s lead held until shortly before time expired, but Stephen managed to draw level with both sides for 2 back & 4 back. Precise details are a bit hazy, but my recollection is that time was called during Rod’s turn, which ended with him with a three yard join on the south boundary behind hoop 4 and Stephen separated. Stephen then played his mid-court ball and hit partner in the middle of the north boundary. With the hidden dew beginning to precipitate, his take off to Rod’s balls landed four or five yards short and he missed! Rod now managed to extract maximum stress from his team mates as his take off to get a rush on partner to rover was slightly overhit leaving the sort of nasty cut rush you really could do without at this stage of the game. But an excellent shot put him within easy take off distance to get in front of the hoop, which he duly ran to the great relief of his team mates.
HHCC won this competition once before, in 2019.
Phil (-1) & Tom (18) beat Colin (31/2) & Jon (3) +13
Julien (12) lost to Stephen (4) -1 (T, 21-22)
Rod (16) Lost to Matt (5) -12
Afternoon GamesPhil beat Jon +18
Julien beat Colin +15
Rod beat Stephen +1 (T, 19-18)
Tom lost to Matt -10
Caterham 3 – 4 Hampstead Heath
Final League Table
The final league table is reproduced below, though the website has a couple of scorelines which the league organiser is looking at, fortunately none of which threaten HHCC’s victorious position at the top.
|Guildford & Godalming||4||1||3||0||15||13||53.57%||6|
|Royal Tunbridge Wells||4||1||3||0||14||15||48.28%||6|