AC Association Croquet

Watford - Saturday 2nd October

Manager: Simon Hathrell


Winner: Newport

Results vs.: Newport Great Dunham Wrest Park GAME
Newport   2-1 2-1 4 1
Great Dunham 1-2   2-1 3 2
Wrest Park 1-2 1-2   2 3

The Chairman's Cup
Click to enlarge

AC League play-off results by year:

See also:

Previous AC league winners - all years

Newport win the Chairman's Cup

It was wet. Very wet. But croquet players in East Anglia are a hardy breed, and when suitably attired in their wet weather gear nothing was going to deter them. Hardly a murmur of complaint was heard all day - a day in which the afternoon rain was so unrelenting that play at the top club Surbiton not far away was called off completely. The enterprising Gabrielle Higgins even deployed a hot water bottle to keep her seat warm when off the court. No well-prepared player should travel without one, of course.

The three teams of four were all quite closely matched, with only 3½ handicap points separating the aggregate handicaps of all three, and it led to well contested games all day. The morning doubles games were all quite close, with each team chalking up one win: Wrest Park beat Great Dunham, Great Dunham beat Newport and Newport beat Wrest Park. So in the afternoon singles there was everything to play for.

In the encounter between Gabrielle (-1½, Gt Dunham) and Andrew (2, Newport), Andrew managed to burn through all of his 3½ bisques setting up his first break, so at that point the betting favoured Gabrielle. But she had trouble coming to terms with the speed of the slower, rain-soaked courts and failed to capitalise on her opportunities. By the time she finally managed to get a good break under control Andrew had reached peg and 4-back. It looked very much as though Andrew's peg ball was going to be pegged out when Gabrielle had reached 4-back with a laid break. But then disaster struck: out of nowhere she blobbed a simple 4-back hoop off Andrew's 4-back ball - the worst possible time to break down - leaving him with a straightforward finish to win +12.

In the other Great Dunham vs. Newport encounter which was double-banked on the same court, Terrey Sparks reached peg & peg against Fran Lambert while Fran was still a long way behind. But Fran then hit in and subsequently managed to pull off two good breaks to win that encounter by +2.

However, all was not yet lost for Great Dunham. In their other two games, which were both against Wrest Park, Peter Ross used his 6 bisques to secure a comfortable +25 win against David Woolley, and the wily Duncan Hector (½) used his many years of experience to keep control in his game against Bryan Harral (-½). Perhaps the highlight of the latter was a very effective leave by Duncan at the end of his first break to penult, in which Bryan's balls were left cross-wired at hoop 3 while Duncan set up a dolly rush in corner II to hoop 2, the next hoop for his backward ball. Then when Bryan spurned the 20 yard shot and ran away to a corner with one ball, Duncan still had a laid 3-ball break which he duly took to peg, picking up the fourth ball on the way, albeit only managing one of the two remaining peels. But the end wasn't far away, and was soon dealt with.

The Newport winners L-R: Chris van Essen,
Fran Lambert, James Brind, Andrew Gregory

So at this point Great Dunham and Newport were tied on three games each, with only the two games between Wrest Park and Newport left in play. If Wrest Park won both then it would leave a 3-way tie with all 3 teams on 3 wins each - the manager's nightmare; but James Brind then removed that problem by managing to win a close game against John Bevington, thereby securing the EACF championship for Newport. Richard Keighley was left to salvage a win for Wrest Park in the last game against Chris van Essen - the only game out of the 9 played that day to reach the time limit.

So notwithstanding the weather the day reached a successful conclusion, with congratulations to Newport for winning the Chairman's Cup for the first time.


Great Dunham Wrest Park Newport
Gabrielle Higgins (-1½) Bryan Harral (-½) James Brind (0)
Duncan Hector (½) John Bevington (1½) Andrew Gregory (2)
Terrey Sparks (3½) David Woolley (8) Chris van Essen (7)
Peter Ross (14) Richard Keighley (12) Fran Lambert (10)

Report & photo by Simon Hathrell
Click on images for an enlargement

Area League Play-Off for the Chairman's Cup


  1. The winning team from each Area will meet to determine the overall EACF AC leagues championship.
  2. The format will be normal 26pt AC games played to handicap rules, with doubles in the morning and singles in the afternoon. Singles games will be double-banked and the duration of each game will be 3¼ hours.

    am: A1,A3 v B2,B4 B1,B3 v C2,C4 C1,C3 v A2,A4
    pm: A1 v C2
    A3 v C4
    B1 v A2
    B3 v A4
    C1 v B2
    C3 v B4

    A draw will take place in the morning to determine which teams will be designated A, B or C.

  3. Teams will comprise four players with no handicap restrictions.
  4. The Team Captain is to list his team in handicap order before the start of play and hand it to the manager. If two or more players have the same handicap those players can be listed in any order.
  5. The winner will be the team winning the most games.
  6. If the winner is still undecided, then a further contest will take place in which all team members take part using the following two-ball tie-break to determine the winner.
    • The order of play will be decided between teams by lot, with each team playing one turn.
    • The team in play places its striker's ball on the Corner IV yard-line spot, and a second ball anywhere on the court in a position of their choosing. All other balls are removed from the court.
    • With each member of the team in play rotating in handicap order to play one stroke, that team will then make as many hoops as possible in one turn, starting with hoop 4 and proceeding in accordance with normal AC rules for running hoops 4, 5, 6, 1-back etc. in order. No bisques may be taken.
    • After this procedure, if one team has scored more hoops than the other two then they are the winners. Otherwise, any team scoring fewer hoops than the others drops out and the whole procedure is repeated until there is a winner.
  7. The overall winner of the play-off will be presented with the Chairman's Cup to be held for one year, and will go forward to represent the Eastern Region in the Secretary's Shield for the next year.

Simon Hathrell