Club Champions Tournament
by year:

AC Association Croquet

Wrest Park - Sunday 17th April 2011

Manager: Terrey Sparks

Click on images for an enlargement

Swans Behaving Badly at Wrest Park

Swan's Way: In Search of Lost Breakfast

When the sun shines there is no better place to start the outdoor season than in the magnificent surroundings of Wrest Park. So it was this year with the Federation's opening event, the 2011 Club Champions Tournament, which had attracted eighteen entries from eight of the region's clubs - the highest number since the event was introduced some 10 years ago.

However, before play could commence, which was scheduled for 9.30 am, there was a small matter in the form of two local swans which had taken up residence on the lawns that had to be dealt with. It appeared that they had spent the night there, and not being early risers, were not in the habit of vacating their B&B early. Despite assurances from the local members that they were harmless, no volunteers came forward to evict the unwelcome residents, leaving it in the hands of the local club Secretary, who it was noted, despite his protestations had armed himself with a large spade just to be on the safe side.

Once the matter of the outside agencies (swans) had been successfully dealt with, play eventually got underway in which the contestants split into three groups of six, (A) Level Advanced, (B) 'B' Level Advanced and (C) Handicap, to determine who would be this year's Champions. However, during the day it was observed by the competing players that they were coming under close scrutiny by the local swan squadron who repeatedly made regular reconnaissance patrols over the lawns. Despite one futile attempt in the mid afternoon from a lone swan to recover lost ground, which was quickly sent packing, things eventually returned to normality for the rest of the day.

Royal bird you may be, but in this game
you are just an outside agency.
So please push off.

Playing in 'Group A' a strong start was made by Nick Mounfield, Jeff Race and John Bevington, who all recorded wins. This was followed up in the next round with a win for Nick over Jeff, and with John also recording his second win, meant that we had a two-horse final play off between Nick Mounfield and the local man John Bevington. However, local knowledge proved no advantage to John and Nick Mounfield (Letchworth), last year's 'B' Class winner, ran out the winner to lift the shield.

Meanwhile in Group (B) the early leaders were Nick Steiner, Tim Brewer and John Smallbone. In the second round Tim lost to Nick and John fell away to Ian Thompson. This meant that it was possible for Ian to win the group providing he could overcome Nick in their third game. However, Nick Steiner (Colchester) in rampart form was not prepared for this to happen and ran out a worthy group winner.

Group (C) however turned out to prove a different kettle of fish, with no one player dominating. In fact after three games four players stood on two wins a piece: Timothy Race (Hunstanton), Keith Rhodes (Letchworth), Georgeen Hemming (Colchester) and Geoff Johnson (Watford). After much procrastination by the Manager Terrey Sparks it became impossible to use the 'who beat whom' format as each had beaten the other. A shoot out was discounted not only due to the lateness of the day but our avian friends appeared to have reoccupied the lawns, and it was felt further conflict was best avoided. So 'quality of wins' was the next option looked at. Even here things were not that simple, as three of the leaders were still tied. However, Geoff Johnson held a marginal advantage over the rest and was therefore declared the group winner.

Trophies were presented by the EACF Secretary Terrey Sparks who thanked not only the Wrest Park Club for letting the Federation stage this event on their lawns, but also the competitors for making their long journeys.

Finally, as all were about to depart on their various ways, the Wrest Park Secretary John Bevington was heard to mutter to himself in exasperation "I really ought to let those swans have a membership form, but I can't find their email address".

Terrey's swan-song?

The winners, left to right:
Geoff Johnson, Nick Steiner,
Nick Mounfield

Terrey Sparks presenting the trophy
to Nick Mounfield
Report by Terrey Sparks
Photos by John Bevington

See also:

Club Champions Tournament - past winners