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.