Croquet Handicap League…Birkdale v Bowdon St Mary’s

On what was forecast to be the warmest day in the North West so far this year, Birkdale Croquet Handicap team welcomed a strong representation from the region’s strongest club Bowdon. True to their reputation, Bowdon St Mary’s team included a County Class (-1½ handicap) player and three others with good competition handicaps.

The morning never quite met the anticipated weather forecast but the match results did.  Birkdale’s double’s pair Margaret Dalley and Captain Keith Roberts, never really looked like winning despite having 6½ bisques/advantage.  Bowdon’s senior player managed his partner to good effect, easily outscoring Keith’s contribution.

Meanwhile, Alan Farrell was put to the sword by their No.4 who had a great accuracy and range of shots that would have done credit to a player with half his handicap.

The morning rested on Birkdale’s Tony Thomas who was playing Bowdon’s No.2 and after a see-saw match where each fought hard for the lead, Tony eventually came through +1 on time
giving Bowdon St Mary’s a lunchtime lead of 2 : 1.

The teams re-emerged to a darkening sky and that eerie air quality that presages a storm. Tony was now matched against their ‘A Class’ Captain, and Keith, as No.2 was to play the opponent who gave Tony a hard time. Alan had made a slow start to the day and now conceded 4 bisques/advantage in his game, but he was finally in the groove and steadily accumulated hoop points to win by 12.

But it was Margaret’s turn to play Bowdon’s accurate hi-handicap player and struggled from the start. Despite a decent break in mid-game, Margaret never really had a chance to make an impact.

Keith, however, at long last showed some of his early season form and made a couple of breaks which put him well ahead of his dispirited opponent to win by 17 points, levelling the match at 3 – 3.

The end of play was under black skies, heavy rain and thunder, with an alarming drop in temperature. But none of this had any effect on our gutsy Birkdale team, least of all on Tony Thomas, who battled through for a good win, pegging out their excellent captain to claim a spectacular win +1 on time.

A magnificent effort all round – Birkdale 4 – Bowdon St Mary’s 3.


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Croquet Advanced League

Another great day on the wonderful Southport lawns in Victoria Park and the Southport Advanced team took on a very strong team from Fylde. Captain Barbara Haslam selected Don Williamson and Tony Thomas for this local derby. Three players per team and the match consists of one doubles and four singles.


In the morning play, Don Williamson showing excellent form secured a great win against the Fylde number one. Meanwhile the doubles pairing of Barbara and Tony just lost out in a closely fought encounter, to give a lunchtime score of 1-1.


After lunch, Don continued his excellent form to defeat the Fylde number two, putting Southport ahead by 2-1. However, the Fylde number one avenged his morning defeat with a victory over Barbara Haslam to level the match at 2-2. In the remaining match, Tony Thomas was having a close encounter with the Fylde number three and the lead kept changing between the players. But with time running out, Tony Thomas managed to get a winning break to take the game and secure the match for Southport. Final score, Southport 3 Fylde 2.


Picture Shows: Don Williamson at the peg.

Don Williamson at the peg

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Croquet Handicap League…Birkdale v Bury Peelers

The middle of August but it wasn’t warm and Southport croquet Handicap League team turned out for a home match against Bury Peelers, starting the match with an assortment of fleeces and windproof jackets, sometimes both!


Bury brought a strong quartet of players, but croquet is a Handicap game which means any equalities should work out close in the end and Southport’s lawns have never looked or played better.


On the show lawn in the morning doubles, captain Keith Roberts and Margaret Dalley used their bisques well to stay in touch with the game for a while, but their opponents’ senior player put an unassailable break together which proved the difference. Meanwhile on the second lawn, John Mawdesley and Alan Farrell also benefitted from the handicap rules and were able to play with confidence winning by 16 points and 9 points at the peg and giving a lunchtime score of 2-1 to Southport.


After lunch the sun made a welcome appearance and as befitted summer, outer layers were removed. But results were still very mixed. Keith Roberts was soundly beaten by Bury’s No.1, while on the same lawn Alan Farrell won by a large margin.


The real excitement was on the show lawn where with 15 minutes to go, Margaret Dalley appeared comfortably placed, and John Mawdsley was level but perhaps not confident. Perversely, at the end of game Margaret lost by a single hoop whilst John won by two, giving Southport the match,

Birkdale 4, Bury Peelers 3.

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Golf Croquet League…Bury v Southport

Southport Golf Croquet team consolidated their lead at the top of the North Western league this week, with a 15 – 3 win against Bury.

Although Bury have not moved up from the bottom of the league this year, Captain John Mawdsley was taking no chances and selected a powerful team: proven achiever Jennifer Mawdsley, accurate striker Derek Lunt and reliable player Chris Winnard, taking their challenge into Lancashire.

The morning doubles went all Southport’s way, as did many of the singles and as the rain began at lunchtime Southport found themselves 9 – 1 up on their Bury opponents.

Most of the Bury team carried high handicaps giving them a great bisque advantage, but this could not deter the Southport squad. Jennifer Mawdsley went on to win two of her games and Chis Winnard won a further three.

But stars of the match were Derek Lunt, demonstrating his powerful and accurate long shots in some long runs, to win all of his games and John Mawdsley who was also unbeaten, made some spectacular manoeuvres with jump shots to bypass colours occupying hoop space.

Southport returned home winners with the score Bury 3, Southport 15.

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Southport B & Super B level tournament



Two competitions were staged at Southport & Birkdale Croquet Club at the weekend open to players at B level standard.                                                                                                               it attracted players from all over the country, some travelling from as far as Edinburgh and Surbiton.

Competitions are always at the mercy of the weather and although Saturday was a pleasant day for play, Sunday dawned wet and presented the organisers with the problem of flooded lawns. But the members were prepared for anything and this was quickly sorted by giant squeegee mopping up the huge puddles.

Southport members Barbara Haslam Carol and Brian Lewis, Ray Lowe and Chairman Don Williamson rose to the challenge of the competition but failed to achieve success, as did last year’s winner Dennis Scarr from Middlesborough.

Trophies were presented by Club President prof Alan Pidcock

During the play Andy Brandwood of Bury achieved a special award for his first Triple peel in competition.( picture 1 )

Clive Goode from Nottingham won the B Level ( picture 2 )

Omied Hallam from Nottingham won the Super B Level ( picture 3 )

andy brandwoodclive goodeOmied Hallam

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Handicap Croquet League…Bowdon Firs v Southport

Southport Handicap League team went to play Bowdon Firs, the result was a massacre. Keith Roberts captained a team of Allen Farrell, David Key and Margaret Dalley to face a very strong Bowdon team.


In spite of every effort Southport were 3 – 0 down at lunch time and things were looking bleak. Bowdon were fielding a new but skilful player who matched accurate play with a high bisque advantage.


But at the last two games, Keith Roberts and Allan Farrell each managed to achieve a win to make the final score a more respectable

Bowden Firs 5, Southport 2.

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Handicap Croquet League….Southport v Bury Caesars

Bury won the festival cup last week when Southport hosted the North West Festival of Croquet and Bury Caesars, one of the Bury’s Handicap teams, returned this week to take on Southport Handicap League team. In a brilliant set of games where Southport conceded a nett total of 36 bisques, the honour of the club was restored as game after game fell to Southport.


Eileen Gallagher and Carol Lewis won the morning doubles game efficiently and Eileen went on to win a further game with some speed, showing an excellent return to form and playing very well. By lunch time the score was 3-0, although John Haslam, a low handicap player, was finding it an uphill struggle against his opponent’s large number of bisques.


Brian Lewis won both his games with a brilliant 3 ball break and when Eileen Gallagher speedily demolished her opposition to complete her game ahead of time it gave Southport the match.

Final score Southport 6, Bury Caesars 1.

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Handicap Croquet League….Southport v Birkdale

Rivalry and hot weather led to quite a needle match on Southport’s croquet lawns this week, as two of the club’s handicap teams played out a tough challenge on the sun baked lawns. Southport and Birkdale Croquet club run two Handicap teams – Southport and also Birkdale – and these two met in a dramatic local derby in Victoria Park. Carol Lewis captaining Southport team, fielding Don Williamson, Brian Lewis, and Eileen Rossiter, and Keith Roberts captained Birkdale, made up of Tony Thomas, Alan Farrell and Margaret Dalley, all determined to gain the upper hand maximising any advantage.


The match is played as one doubles and six singles. In the morning singles Don Williamson produced some good form to defeat Margaret Dalley, but Tony Thomas managed to beat Brian Lewis despite Brian starting the game with a scintillating all round break.


The whole series of games were handicapped by the need to seek any patch of shade available and rehydrate, and the lawns, cut very short for the weekend festival and well baked by the sun, played like glass, making the croquet balls travel unexpectedly faster and further.


With the match score at 1-1, the double match was going to be a critical score and this game proved a tactical struggle, Eileen Rossiter and Carol Lewis against Keith Roberts and Alan Farrell. It was low scoring with not many chances and the Birkdale pairing found themselves victorious by one point as time was called, giving a surprising lunchtime score of Southport 1 Birkdale 2.


After lunch, Brian Lewis regained some of his early form and defeated Alan Farrell, to level the match at 2-2. But Tony Thomas then re-established the Birkdale lead by defeating Don Williamson. However, this was short lived, as on the other lawns Carol Lewis secured an important win over Keith Roberts and levelled the match 3-3.


With time running out, everyone’s attention was drawn to the game between Eileen Rossiter and Margaret Dalley where the score was changing rapidly as each player gained and then lost the initiative. When time was called both players were level and the result was unpredictable, but Margaret Dalley managed a long roquet and was able to capitalise by running a hoop, to give Birkdale a match victory by the tightest of margins –

Southport 3 Birkdale 4.

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Advanced Coquet League…Pendle v Southport

The dark and misty skies over the Pennines looked forbidding as the Southport Advanced team travelled on Saturday for an Advanced Croquet match at Earby. Barbara Haslam captained the Southport team selecting renowned mallet maker Alan Pidcock and gave a debut at this level to Tony Thomas.


The match is played as one doubles and four singles games. The Southport doubles pairing of Barbara Haslam and Tony Thomas established an early lead, but then allowed Pendle back in. With time running out Southport fought back and drew level as time was called, leaving Tony Thomas with a long hoop to run, but agonisingly saw the ball hit the hoop stanchion, giving Pendle an easy run and a win.


Meanwhile Alan Pidcock battled in misty conditions but could not contain the Pendle number two, giving a lunchtime advantage of 2-0 to Pendle.


After lunch, with the sun shining in a brilliant blue sky, the Southport team took to the lawns with renewed vigour. Tony Thomas had a ‘ding-dong’ battle with the Pendle number three, a real tussle where the lead frequently changed, but as time was called a jubilant Tony Thomas emerged victorious by two points.


Barbara Haslam produced a solid tactical display against the Pendle number two which limited his chances and giving Barbara a good win. Unfortunately, the Pendle number one was on excellent form and overcame Alan Pidcock to secure a Pendle victory by 3-2.


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What a wonderful weekend it was, sunshine, close cut sweeping green lawns in the park and croquet with a gentle scent of the sea. Teams came from all over the North West to join in the 21st annual Festival of Croquet at Southport’s Victoria Park, playing on 10 full lawns and 6 short lawns; beautiful lawns, carefully mowed and cared for by the club members for weeks in advance. The sun shone throughout, and the lawns shimmered with the colour of bright tee-shirts in the various team’s colours.


Over 100 people were present each day as 30 teams battled it out in 286 games, playing Advanced, Handicap, Short and Golf Croquet in the joyful challenge to find Best of the North West. Teams came from Bowdon, Bury, Chester, Craig Y Don (Llandudno), Crake (Lake District), Fylde, Isle of Man, Southport and Westmorland to take part. This is one of the largest croquet gatherings in the world and a great experience for croquet players at all levels; a master-class in croquet and was enthusiastically attended by novice players from all teams. Playing in the Festival for the first time, were 6 from Southport, Terry Durrance, Brian Bostock, Chris Winnard, Gail Moors, Gordon Melville and Jan Mort.


John and Barbara Haslam, regular Advanced Team players flew in from America in time for the competition, whilst Gail Moors, a Southport member won two of her Short Croquet games, playing in her first Festival and was enthusiastic in her praise of the event, saying that it was a wonderful experience.


The challenge of the event was softened somewhat by the joys of meeting and greeting past friends and opponents, compensating for the hard work put in by Southport’s members, their groundsmanship and catering efforts. But when the final scores were totalled sadly Southport once again only achieved 3rd place for the Festival Cup. Advance Shield went to Fylde, Handicap Shield to Fylde, Short Shield to Bury, Golf Shield to Chester and overall winners of the Festival Cup were Bury. ( TEAM BURY SHOWN BELOW )

more pictures to follow later

Bury Win Croquet NW Fed Cup

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