Lawn renovation begins



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.

Autumn renovation work starting on Lawn 4
The hollow tining machine (left), the soil core collector (centre), and the lawn after tining and collection of soil cores (right)
The first stage completed – the lawns after solid tining and piles of soil cores awaiting removal

CA recognition for two Chester members

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.
David Guyton receiving his CA Diploma from CA President, Quiller Barrett, at the Croquet Association AGM at The Hurlingham Club in London on Saturday, 20 October

Second league championship for Chester

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.



2018 Hibiscus Tournament

Chester Croquet Club held its annual end-of-season Hibiscus Tournament on Saturday, 29 September, for players with relatively high handicaps. Nine members took part in the event which was blessed with glorious September sunshine. Playing conditions were good though the lawns were dry and still somewhat uneven after the summer drought making hoop approaches and judging the distance of shots particularly challenging. Overall winner of the competition was James Thomas of Penmaenmawr near Conway who won all five of his games. This was his second end-of season victory having won the Christine Long golf croquet competition earlier in the month. Runner-up was Val Sanders who won four of her five games. Last year’s winner, Doreen Leece, managed the competition and presented the winner’s trophy to James Thomas.

The 2018 Hibiscus Tournament in full swing
Tournament winner James Thomas receiving the trophy from last year’s winner and competition manager, Doreen Leece
Competitors in the 2018 Hibiscus Tournament

Chester lose to Watford in the Mary Rose semi-final

After beating the well-established clubs of Bowdon and Nottingham in previous rounds, Chester played against Watford on Tuesday, 18 September, in the semi-finals of the national Mary Rose advanced, level play association croquet competition on neutral ground at Edgbaston mid-way between the two clubs. The Chester team of Jerry Guest (captain), David Boyd, David Guyton and Mark Lloyd found themselves facing stiff competition from a stronger side who won the trophy in 2017 – Watford’s handicap ratings of 0, 1, 1 and 2 were significantly lower than Chester’s at 0, 2, 5 and 5. The weather and playing conditions were good and both teams enjoyed a cordial day’s play. However, Watford gained the upper hand in the morning winning the doubles and two singles games and their lead continued in the afternoon winning three of the four singles games. The final result was a 6 – 1 win for Watford who now go forward to face High Wycombe in the national final.   Detailed results

Christine Long and match result 15 September

Chester Croquet Club held their annual Christine Long handicap golf tournament on Saturday, 15 September. Eight members took part in a round robin format and enjoyed a full day’s competition.

There were many closely fought games with James Thomas emerging the outright winner with 6 wins out of a possible 7. Roger Haigh was runner up and Paul Taylor a close third. Taking part were, Mel Hagan, Pat Wheeler, Paul Taylor, James Thomas, Roger Haigh, Chris Thomas, Liz Subramanian, and Janet Jackson.

Participants in Chester’s annual Christine Long handicap golf croquet tournament with the winner, James Thomas, in the centre, the runner-up Roger Haigh, centre right back row, and in third place Paul Taylor, centre left.

On the same day, Chester played away against Bury in the NW full lawn handicap league. The Chester team of David Boyd (captain), David Guyton, Brian Walton and Paul Watson faced a meteorologically and metaphorically damp start to the day losing the doubles and both singles matches in the morning resulting in the team being 0 – 3 behind by lunchtime. The weather and performance brightened in the afternoon with Chester winning three of the four singles games giving a final 4 – 3 win to Bury.

Match reports 2, 3, 6, 7 & 8 September 2018

Chester Croquet Club members Helen Brophy and John Dawson competed in the All England Association handicap regional final held at Fylde over the weekend of 2nd and 3rd September. Both scored 3 wins out of 5 matches and narrowly missed qualifying for the national final.

Chester Centurions Level Play Golf croquet team were denied a clean sweep in the NW Federation’s 2018 LPG league. Having won all 5 of their previous encounters, the Centurions, represented by David Crawford, Trevor Farrell and David Boyd (captain), lost their final match of the season on Thursday 6th September away at Pendle, by 11 games to 6. However, despite this loss, the Centurions finished as the 2018 LPG league winners, which was helped partly by Chester’s other team the Chariots beating Bowdon, the rival team for the top spot, leaving Pendle in second place behind the Centurions.

On Friday 7th September, the finals of the Hermitage golf doubles took place. The internal competition took a different format this year with names being drawn out a hat each round. The final four were Maureen Ivens, Patti Evans, Sally Slater and competition organiser Pete Fey. Maureen and Sally were drawn together and played Pete and Patti in a best of three games. The first game was very close at 7-5 and the second game went to time with a win of 6-5 to Sally and Maureen giving them the overall title.

Maureen Ivens, Sally Slater, Patti Evans and Peter Fey

On a very wet day on Saturday 8th September, the short lawn team of Sally Slater (captain), Val Sanders, Barbara Jones and Roger Edwards played at home against Southport. By lunchtime the lawns were under a lot of water and the captains agreed to abandon the match. Southport conceded the match to Chester who were winning 6-2.

Visit by MENSA members

Chester croquet club often hosts community groups who want to try their hand at croquet and it was a MENSA group who came on Saturday 1st September. Dennis Holman, one of the club’s coaches, organised and led the day. The participants came from all over the country and two came over from Ireland. In the morning 12 people learnt about and played association croquet, and in the afternoon 22 others played progressive golf croquet. It was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

MENSA members playing croquet

Match Results 26 – 30 August 2018

The beautiful Levens Hall in the South Lakes was the venue for Chester’s NW Golf Croquet league match against Westmorland on Sunday 26th August, unfortunately the weather was both very wet and very cold, with only a gazebo for shelter!! The team of Mel Hagan, Pat Wheeler, Liz Subramanian and Jayne Taylor (captain) were beaten 12-6 by Westmorland. Pat was playing her first match for the club and did well to win both a doubles and a singles game.

After winning the short lawn competition at the Southport festival, Chester was entered into the new national competition and met Bowdon in the first round. Bowdon had control of the match from the start, winning the first set of 4 games 3-1. This continued in the second and third rounds with two more 3-1 wins. In the final round of four, Chester found some better form to share the round 2-2. The final result was 11-5. However, all the matches were played in great spirit, and each of the Chester team recorded a win.

On Thursday 30th August the Chester Chariots level play team of Paul Taylor (captain), Sally Slater and Chris Thomas played away at Bowdon in the NW level play league. It was a glorious day and the Chester team won convincingly 13-5.