April matches

On Saturday, 20 April, Chester hosted the reigning champions Crake Lakes for the first match of the 2024 North West Federation advanced association croquet season. Chester – represented by David Guyton, David Boyd and Robin Tasker – reached the lunch interval having lost the doubles 13-18 while David Guyton squeezed past his opponent 15-14 in the singles. The afternoon was equally tight with the first two singles shared leaving the match tied at 2-2 with the final game still in progress. As time was called Chester held a 2 hoop lead but conceding a lift, and the Crake Lakes player took advantage to draw level; and then win the game and therefore the overall match by peeling his second ball through the penultimate hoop for Golden Hoop victory 3-2. On such fine margins are matches won or lost…

On the following Sunday, 21 April, Chester Croquet Club held its annual taster sessions. There was a great turn out of 30 people who had come to try their hand at the sport. The sunshine helped them have a great day and many have gone on to join the club.

Last year Chester played Bowdon in the quarter final of the national Inter-Club golf croquet championship and managed to beat them 4-3. This year Chester drew them in the first round on 22 April; a tough draw with their team of four having handicaps of -3, -2, -1 and -1). The team we fielded was David Boyd, Mark Lloyd, Tom Grievson and John Hampson (+1,+1,+2 and +2); and this year we did not have home advantage. Bowdon got off to a terrific start in the morning winning both the doubles and the two singles matches to go 3-0 up. The afternoon was better for Chester with John Hampson and Mark Lloyd winning a game each, but the final score was Bowdon 5 Chester 2. Despite the defeat it was a very enjoyable day – lovely greens and friendly and hospitable opponents with only a few light rain showers, despite the weather forecast of torrential rain all day. Bowdon now go on to play High Wycombe in the second round.

On Thursday, 25 April, Chester played Chester! Having two level play teams – the Centurions and the Chariots – this is the first match of the season in the NW Federation golf croquet level play league. The two teams were David Boyd, Garry Greenwood and John Hampson for the Centurions, and Jude Wise, Kerry Dadson and Pat Clare for the Chariots. After evenly balanced sessions to start with, the Centurions raced ahead to win 16-2.

Chester’s Centurions and Chariots teams. Left to right: John Hampson, Jude Wise, Garry Greenwood, Pat Clare, Kerry Dadson and David Boyd

Then on Saturday, 27 April, Chester played at home against Bury in the first round of the national Longman Trophy association croquet handicap competition. The Chester team for the match were David Guyton (captain), David Boyd, Brian Walton and Andy Wilson-Chalon who had joined the club only a few weeks earlier after half a century’s absence from croquet! For late April it was a distinctly chilly day with only occasional glimpses of sunshine in the morning followed by light drizzle in the afternoon. Chester faced an experienced team from Bury who won the match 5 – 2 having won the doubles and two singles games in the morning and two of the four singles games in the afternoon. However, the match was much more closely balanced than indicated by the final result. In the doubles game in the morning David Guyton and Andy Wilson-Chalon lost by just one hoop after being one hoop ahead when time was called. And in the afternoon Andy Wilson-Chalon lost by just one hoop to Anne Alvey of Bury who won the All England AC handicap championship at Chester last year. Just a couple of hoops in  6½ hours of play made the difference between a 5 – 2 win for Bury and what might have been a 4 – 3 win for Chester.