September 19 – Golf Croquet Federations Shield 2023 Final

[Report by David Russell]

Our intrepid quartet of David Russell (h/cap 2) (Cap’t), Keith Burt (5), Martin Emmett (6) & coach Tony Elkin (7), played the National Final on Tuesday 19th Sept 2023 at Surbiton (a neutral venue) against Phyllis Court of Henley-on-Thames. 

Their team comprised Chris Roberts (-2) (Cap’t), Andy Jones (2), Patricia Mulcahy) (6), and Paul Franklin (7).  Phyllis Court are previous winners of this tournament and include 2 international players in Chris & Patricia!

It was a cold, blustery day, though croquet players are used to that!  The morning session featured one doubles match & 2 singles.  David & Tony played the doubles, and although extra strokes were being used, rather than Advantage Play, they lost 4-7, 5-7, as their opponents played exceptionally well as a team, with consistently superb clearances by Chris from long range and pin-point positioning by Paul. Martin & Keith’s singles were won by Phyllis Court as well, though Keith’s went to a close decider, but we ended the morning 3-0 down – not a great start!

But…there were 4 more singles matches to play, all best of 3 games, so everything to play for!  And we had members at home watching the live video stream cheering us on!!

Keith began the fightback with an inspired 7-6, 7-4 win over their No.2.  Then Captains, David & Chris, played the closest of matches, with David hitting his best form (including using extra turns effectively, and hooping from the boundary at the golden hoop!) to win 7-6, 7-6… against a -2 handicap Welsh international!  

So…3-2 overall….

Tony and Paul were drawing 1-1 in their match (5-7, 7-5) but in the 3rd game, without any extra turns, Tony raced ahead to 4-0, playing smoothly & confidently, and won 7-2 to take the match and equalise the overall score to 3-3!!!

All eyes were then on Martin, playing the Irish international Patricia! After losing the 1st game 3-7, he responded really well to take the 2nd 7-5, with just the decider to play..  Nail-biting stuff!  The Phyllis Court player stormed into a 5-1 lead, and we could hardly watch…  But Martin then expertly ran 3 hoops consecutively to claw back to 5-6, only for an attempted clearance to lodge the opponent’s ball in the jaws!  Game & match over!!  

So…we lost on the penultimate hoop of the whole Tournament!!  So, so close, but eventually beaten by the better team 3-4 overall.

Many congratulations to Phyllis Court, but a hugely proud effort from Chichester & Fishbourne, and thanks for all the home support during this exciting run to the final!! 

2nd place in England?  We’ll take that!

Exhausted but still smiling – our four with the winning team from Phyllis Court CC

Tired, wet, cold and windblown, Keith, Martin, David and Tony – but proud to have made the National final of the Federation Shield

Well done from all the members of C&FCC!