In a hugely exciting match on Saturday, 29 April, Chester won the re-arranged 2022 Croquet Association Secretary’s Shield competition beating Newport, Essex, 4-3 on a warm and mostly sunny day. To reach the final Chester had defeated Middlesbrough, York and, in a gripping semi-final, Sheffield with the very last shot of the match.
The first attempt to play this game at a neutral venue in Nottingham had been washed out in October with Chester leading 2-1 at lunchtime. Although by the competition rules Chester could have claimed the trophy, the team felt a replayed match to be more appropriate, and Newport graciously agreed to the match being played at Chester.
The replayed final was hard fought. In the morning session Robin Tasker and David Boyd won the doubles, Richard Smith won his singles game and David Guyton lost his by just one hoop, giving Chester a 2 – 1 lead by lunchtime. The afternoon matches were shared 2-2 with Richard Smith and David Guyton winning their singles games but David Boyd and Robin Tasker losing theirs, Robin by just one hoop in the final golden hoop after a draw when time was called. The final result was a narrow 4 – 3 win for Chester, the first victory for the club in this national competition.
Detailed results were as follows:
Robin Tasker (4) and David Boyd (5) beat Fran Lambert (9)
and Andrew Gregory (1.5) +9 T
David Guyton (5) lost to John Richardson (16) -1 T
Richard Smith(-1) beat Dan Neale (0.5) +20
Richard beat Andrew +15 T
Robin lost to Dan -1 GH
David G beat Fran +14T
David B lost to John -16
But thanks must in addition be given to Brian Walton, Nigel Worthington and Paul Watson who played in some of the earlier rounds. And so this represents an all round team effort!
Many thanks are also due to the catering team who provided a splendid lunch which was enjoyed and appreciated by all.
As a postcript, the Secretary’s Shield has been retrieved and is now in the possession of the club’s secretary, Robin Tasker. Close inspection reveals that the club previously won the trophy in 1980 when a team of Bert Mason, Andrew Collin, George Collin and Hasting Wang beat Wallingford 5-1 at Edgbaston. So it has taken 43 years for Chester to regain the award!
Earlier in the week the club held the first golf and association croquet partnership day. This is designed to give golf croquet players the chance to experience and participate in association croquet games. Along with many other croquet clubs, the majority of members play golf croquet and association croquet is at risk of dying out. Brian Walton led the day where four association players partnered four golf players who played a series of games. The winners were Helen Brophy and Doreen Curtis. A second partnership day is planned at the end of May.