St Albans beat Chester 5-2 in the final of the national Secretary’s Shield competition in Chester’s last competitive match of the season on Saturday, 19 October.
After a successful run of victories against Tyneside, Broadwas and Ashby in earlier rounds of the knock-out competition, Chester found themselves facing St Albans in the national final for the Secretary’s Shield having previously encountered St Albans two weeks previously in the 3rd/4th round play-offs for the Longman Cup. The match was played on ‘neutral ground’ at Kenilworth, the final having to be rearranged when the previous fixture had been rained off. For this final match of the season, Chester’s team was David Boyd (captain), John Dawson, Robin Tasker and Brian Walton.
In the morning session Brian Walton achieved a Croquet Association Silver Merit Award by taking his second ball through all 12 hoops without the use of bisques and winning his game but Chester lost the other singles game and the doubles game. With St Albans having a 2 – 1 lead at lunchtime, Chester faced an up-hill struggle in the four singles games in the afternoon. All the games were close, including one going to a golden hoop, but St Albans succeeded in winning three of the games giving them a final score of 5 – 2.
John Dawson, a member of the Croquet Association Council and Secretary of Chester Croquet Club, presented the trophy to Chris Frost, the St Albans captain.
As winners of the North West Federation weekend handicap league for 2019, Chester will have another opportunity to compete for the Secretary’s Shield next year.
Detailed results, St Albans names first:
Chris Frost (3.5) & Stuart Stafford (16) beat John Dawson (3) & Robin Tasker (5) 26-11
Heather Bennett (3.5) beat David Boyd (6) 26-22
Stephen Mills (11) lost to Brian Walton (8) 26-9
Chris Frost (3.5) beat John Dawson (3) 26-21
Heather Bennett (3.5) lost to Robin Tasker (5) 20-19T
Stephen Mills (11) beat David Boyd (6) 26-24
Stuart Stafford (16) beat Brian Walton (8) 26-17
After two strong victories in previous rounds of the national Longman Cup competition a team from Chester Croquet Club made the 440 mile round trip to play against Letchworth in the semi-finals and finals weekend at Surbiton on Saturday and Sunday, 5-6 October.
The Chester team of Robin Tasker (captain), David Boyd, James Thomas and Paul Watson found themselves facing unexpectedly strong competition from a Letchworth team that fielded a minus handicap golf croquet player with a generously high association croquet handicap. Perhaps unsurprisingly the player gained easy victories in his two games and the overall result was a 3 – 4 loss by Chester despite good performances in other games. Letchworth duly went on to beat Sussex 5 -2 in the final on Sunday.
On the Sunday after relentless overnight rain Chester played a fun game of water croquet with the other semi-finalist, St Albans, and drove back to Cheshire. The company was great, the venue, apart from the rain, quite superb and our hosts wonderfully hospitable. But the croquet was disheartening.
Another Chester Croquet Club player was successful in a national competition over the weekend of 28-29 September. James Thomas competed at the Open Short Lawn Tournament at York, which consisted of 24 entrants from all over the country ranging from handicaps of 10 to 2 peels. The weather held off, leaving the lawns running fast. There was a good spirit of friendly co-operative rivalry which made for a relaxed and enjoyable weekend. James took the trophy, winning 9 out of his 10 games and scoring 114 hoops.
Many of the internal competitions at Chester croquet club have had to be postponed or rescheduled due to poor weather, so finally the Hibiscus AC competition was played on Saturday 28th September. This is a tournament open to those with a handicap of 8-10 (‘high bisquers’) and there were 6 hopeful participants who entered the competition on a surprisingly warm morning. The format of the day was initially a 4 round Swiss but as everyone was so enthusiastic it ended up being a round robin where everyone plays each other. With two participants in joint first place the final round saw Sarah Andrew up against Peter Fey. In a closely thought out game and a flurry of bisques, Peter Fey, a beginner to the game, won the game and the tournament. Runner-up in the competition was Elaine Walton.
Chester croquet club held two of its internal competition finals on Wednesday 2nd October in warm sunshine. The Hermitage GC doubles is a handicap knock out competition where new partners are drawn every round. The eventual winners of the three way final were Liz Baskerville and Pat Wheeler, beating James Thomas and Janet Jackson by 6 hoops to 3.
The Hastings Wang GC singles competition was held on the same day, with the three finalists, Pauline Walters, James Thomas and Sally Slater playing each other. All matches were closely fought, but James Thomas beat Sally Slater 7-5 in the final game to take the trophy.
On a day that started with drizzle and ended with bright sunshine, Chester hosted Tattenhall in the North Wales & Cheshire Tournament Short Croquet competition on Sunday, 17 September. The Chester team of Robert Jones, Doreen Leece and Pat Wheeler (captain) won 3 games but Tattenhall won overall by 6 games to 3.
On the following Sunday, 22 September, Chester played an Advanced B league match away at Bowdon. The team of David Boyd, Brian Walton and Robin Tasker struggled against a strong Bowdon side who played some excellent croquet. The morning doubles match was hard fought but Bowdon pulled away at the end while in the singles Robin Tasker lost a scrappy game. The afternoon singles were all lost decisively although the Chester players all contributed fully and showed good form on Bowdon’s excellent lawns.
Then on Wednesday, 25 September, a Chester team of Jerry Guest (captain), John Dawson and James Thomas beat Pendle 4-1 in a further Advanced B league match. The match was played at Chester in excellent conditions after the lawns were mowed by the Council that morning.
Chester Croquet Club member Richard Smith was a semi-finalist at the South of England Croquet Championship at Eastbourne over the weekend of 20-22 September. Before the event, despite having an Association Croquet handicap of -1, he was ranked 20 out of the 22 entrants. The event was a seeded knock-out, with each match best of three games. After winning his first round match, Richard went on to beat Great Britain internationals in the next two rounds to progress to the semi-final. Here his opponent was another international and previous open champion, Mark Avery. In the semi-final, Mark beat Richard, and then went on to win the event in the final. As a result of this success, Richard’s world ranking has improved from 160 to 125.
After a successful day on Thursday, 21 March, setting out the lawns for the new season, the mop and mallet mob returned on Saturday, 23 March, and enjoyed some spring sunshine to finish the task and to spring clean the clubhouse. Thanks to our volunteers, all the lawns are now ready for play and a clean and tidy clubhouse is now open for business. We wish all our members, old and new, an enjoyable and successful season.
Chester representatives received two NW Federation league awards at the Federation’s AGM at Culcheth on Saturday, 17 November.
Alan Clare received the trophy on behalf of the Chester Centurions team which won this year’s level play golf croquet league and David Boyd received the trophy on behalf of the Chester team which won the weekend association croquet handicap league.
Chester Croquet Club marked the end of another successful season with a supper and trophy presentation at Chez Jules on Wednesday evening, 14 November. 2018 saw Chester achieving a double victory in two North West Federation leagues, the Weekend Handicap League and the Level Play Golf Croquet League. Other successes during the year were winning the short lawn section of the Southport Croquet Festival in June and coming second in the full lawn handicap section.
This year’s winners of the the club’s internal leagues and competitions were presented with their awards by club chairman, Sarah Andrew.
Christine Long Award
Hasting Wang Golf Singles
Hermitage Golf Doubles
Maureen Ivens & Sally Slater
Hasting Wang Short Lawn Bowl
Peter Bingham Award
Most improved player – AC
Most improved player – GC
Individual successes during the year were:
Jerry Guest was winner of the B section of the NWFCC Millennium advanced croquet tournament at Bowdon over the weekend of 14-15 April
Jayne Taylor was winner of the NWFCC Millennium short lawn tournament at Chester on Saturday, 12 May
John Dawson was winner of the C class title at the English Seniors Championship at Budleigh Salterton in July
Garry Greenwood was winner of the Maggie Cowman trophy and Trevor Farrell was runner-up in the final of the National Level Play golf croquet tournament at Chester on 5 August
Many thanks to Sally and Chris Slater for the photographs.
After many months of discussion with the Council about lawn maintenance, work finally started earlier today on Sunday, 4 November, when hollow tining was completed on all four lawns.
The photographs show the start of work on Lawn 4, the solid tining and soil core collector machines, the tining holes which have now been drilled across the whole site, and four piles of soil cores amounting to over eight tons awaiting removal.
Later this week or early next week, depending on the weather, the plan is to apply about 10 tons of top dressing and autumn fertiliser. This level of treatment is recommended every two or three years but has not been done for some years. It will complete the planned autumn maintenance work and the lawns will then be allowed to rest to avoid compaction and to enable the maximum penetration and absorbtion of moisture down to the roots of the turf which became dehydrated during the summer drought.
The annual programme includes further work in the spring at the start of the season followed by regular maintenance throughout the summer playing period. A key objective now is to ensure that the park’s watering system is repaired and made properly operational for next year so as to avoid the lawns drying out in the event of another spell of warm, dry weather. Hopefully this will mean that we can all look forward to the lawns being in a much improved condition next season.
Contributions by two Chester Croquet Club members were recognised at the recent Croquet Association AGM and Council meetings on Saturday, 20 October.
Club secretary John Dawson, who is the NW Federation’s representative on the CA Council, was elected as Vice-Chairman of the CA Council and Chairman of the CA Mangement Committee.
Former club chairman David Guyton was awarded a CA Diploma for services to croquet. David was Chairman of Chester Croquet Club from 2004 to 2015. During this time he oversaw major changes in the club, the lawns and the public park in which the club is situated. David has been an outstanding leading member of the club over many years. His notable achievements are:
Bringing a comprehensive management system to the club during a period of major expansion. Not only were roles managed to meet the needs of the club but he established a culture of willingness amongst members to do “their bit for the club”. As well as chairing the Committee for 11 years with all the normal duties that requires he initiated an annual planning evening where all members can raise issues and put forward ideas for the future of the club in a highly democratic manner. He continues to publish and manage a comprehensive annual calendar of matches and events.
New club house and 25-year lease. In 2008/09 we had a new clubhouse which made a huge difference to all the members and potential members. David was instrumental in persuading the outgoing Chester City Council to provide this clubhouse. He then painstakingly negotiated the long-term lease to secure tenure for the club.
Liaising with the local authority, a role he still performs for the club. This is probably the most thankless and frustrating task a club member can undertake. David has sent hundreds of emails to relevant council officials not just ensuring that the council fulfils its obligations to the club in lawn maintenance but driving officials to install a lengthy new fence. David tracks down the correct officials and councillors, organises meetings, explains the issues, and forces them into action by never giving up pestering. A prime example this year has been lawn watering. The lawns have been in grave danger from the drought without a sprinkler system. Over months officials have been stalling, giving excuses and doing nothing. David cut through all their objections, organised members to provide a working party to help the grounds-people and finally achieved daily watering of our lawns.
Club website. David taught himself the skills required to build a new website for the club. He has completely authored the club website and is still a major contributor to regular updates. This required many dozens, if not hundreds, of hours dedicated to the single task.
Contribution to the North West Federation and the CA. David has ensured that the club has played a full regional role. Under his encouragement the club hosts NW and National tournaments each year. David produced a new data protection policy for the club which was then taken up by others in the North West. He co-authored the note on roles within the CA to stimulate a more thorough approach to effective governance.
In their final North West weekend handicap league match of the 2018 season Chester ‘lost the battle but won the war’.
Representing Chester, David Boyd (captain), Robin Tasker, Brian Walton and Paul Watson played an away match against Crake Valley, Cumberland, last Monday, 1 October. The morning session of a doubles and two singles games saw Chester gain a lead of 2 games to 1, but Crake came back with a vengeance in the afternoon winning all four singles games to give them a 5 – 2 win for the day. However, by adding the two games won in the morning, Chester edged enough ahead in the league to beat second placed Bury Peelers to give Chester the league championship by a margin of just a single game.
Following an earlier victory in the North West level play golf croquet league, this latest result gives Chester two championships out of the North West Federation’s six leagues in 2018 – a brilliant success for the club.