September 7 – Croquet Friendly against West Wittering

[Report by Martin Emmett]

It is early September, and Tony and the team are setting up for the arrival of West Wittering for a late season friendly. The temperature is touching 30 degrees, and we are experiencing the hottest day of the year so far, whilst regularly applying sun cream and drinking plenty of water – it is very warm indeed for this time of year. As the agreed start time approaches, only one of the Wittering team has arrived, as they are delayed, we later learn, by road closures and attempting to drive near Chichester on the first day as The Goodwood Revival meeting.

They did in fact arrive on time and, after a short practice by the visitors to familiarise themselves with the lawns, we were under way more or less punctually. Lynne and I started our matches in a doubles game against Andre and Roger. I think it’s fair to say we were inconsistent, but Lynne managed to run some good hoops and we found ourselves 6-4 up. Wittering won the next hoop, making the score 6-5, and bringing the 13th hoop into play (they had started on -1, due to combined handicaps). At which point there was some discussion on which should be the next hoop, but with some explanation from Tony we carried on in the suggested order. Our visitors were now on a winning streak, and despite CFCC having opportunities, we lost hoops 13 and 14 making it a 7-6 win for Wittering. Fortunately, Chris and Tony, who was back to top form after his enforced time away from the game, played well and managed to even the match score by winning their battle, also with a 7-6 scoreline.

In the singles round, Chris, Lynne and Tony all won their games comfortably, only conceding 9 hoops between them, but unfortunately, I could not get going in my game and at one point I was doubting whether I would reach 0, from my starting score of -1. I did manage that, but still lost 7-1. This brought the match score to 4-2. As we were playing two doubles games in the final round of matches, this meant we could do no worse than draw overall. The first game was lost by Chichester, bringing the match score to 4-3. It went down to the final game, which was another close one, decided at the fourteenth hoop. Fortunately, Chris was hooping like Michael Jordan, and we managed to win 7-6. This brought the final match score to 5-3.

It was a closely fought match with West Wittering coping well with the undulations (relatively small as they are) of the Fishbourne lawns. In fact, they praised their condition. After a tea and cakes (well of course) we said goodbye and look forward to another close match with a skilled West Wittering side.

From left: André Wright, Chris, Elizabeth Williams (capt), Tony, Nigel Patterson, Lynne, Martin & Roger Bird