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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Don’t forget its the Friday evening BBQ this Friday ( 3rd July )

Starts at 6:30 pm

if you intent to go, get your name on the list in the clubhouse ASAP so enough food can be bought in

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Croquet Handicap League…Southport v Bowdon Firs

Another home match was played at Southport at the weekend, when Bowden Firs visited to take on Southport Handicap League team. Team Captain Carol Lewis selected husband Brian Lewis, with Don and Diana Williamson, a solid experienced team.


In the morning doubles Diana proved a useful partner to Carol, the pair taking their game by four hoops. Don also proved a good selection, showing great form against a Bowdon high bisquer, putting Southport 2-1 up at lunch.


Carol gave an excellent display of croquet in afternoon play, winning her match using only three balls to make a nine hoop break. But the deciding game fell to Brian, who, finding himself sitting out watching an opponent taking ten consecutive hoops, seized the opportunity given by a sudden error, progressed rapidly round the lawn to the applause of his team mates and determinedly won the critical game.


The match finished in bright sunshine, Southport 4, Bowdon Firs 3.

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Golf Croquet League…Southport v Culcheth

Team captain Maureen Broderick selected a novel lineup for the Southport and Birkdale Club’s Golf Croquet team greeting a visiting team from Culcheth at the weekend. Culcheth were fielding an experienced squad against the home team, whilst Southport’s hopes included rising star Derek Lunt and new kid on the block Tina Kelly, playing in her very first match. Giving new players a chance brings the asset of a higher bisque allocation and can bring real scoring opportunities.


Derek and Tina proved themselves worthy team members, bringing home an excellent win in the morning doubles and Southport was clearly enjoying a winning streak, taking a further four singles games before lunch.


Such luck rarely lasts however and during afternoon play Culcheth began to claw their way back into the game.  As the match progressed only two games remained and Southport needed to win one of these for a overall win. Tension mounted as Derek Lunt struck some of his long, accurate shots, but there was really no doubt, Derek has only lost one game since he has been in competitive play. Final score, Southport 10, Culcheth 8.

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Croquet Handicap League….Bury v Birkdale

Birkdale Croquet Handicap team travelled with confidence to Bury to face local team Bury Caesars in Coronation Park. Bury Council have worked with their club to secure substantial investment in these croquet lawns and have levelled several crown green bowling greens to create some wonderful playing surfaces. Situated in a secluded part of the park, high on a hill overlooking the town, the venue is a natural sun trap and perfect for a day’s croquet.


Southport’s Captain Keith Roberts selected a balanced team with Tony Thomas, Alan Farrell and David Key, giving both experienced players and improvers. Cheerfully, they commenced the match in a positive fashion and played good croquet, carving out leads in both the morning doubles game and two singles. With lunchtime approaching and Birkdale cruising, the Caesars suddenly turned the tables in the doubles as the Bury number one made a decisive winning breakout taking Keith Roberts and David Key by surprise. Disaster loomed again when the crunch spread to the Singles and the Bury number two came from behind to take the game from Tony Thomas. Fortunately, Alan Farrell dug in and secured a face saving victory by a small margin, to send the teams in at lunchtime with Birkdale surprisingly trailing 2-1.


The shock treatment continued after lunch when the Bury number one, now in outstanding form, completed two all round breaks in succession to dispose of Tony Thomas, and the Bury number two continued his fine run of form to defeat Keith Roberts. With Alan Farrell now struggling it was left to David Key to restore some pride as he battled away to obtain a very good win against his determined Bury opponent.


Not a day to remember, despite the wonderful venue and good sporting behaviour – final score – Bury Caesars 5, Birkdale 2.


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Short Croquet League…Pendle v Southport

Pendle 9 – Southport 7


Another Southport team travelled at the weekend, when Don Williamson took a team including an advanced player for a Short croquet match at Pendle, near Barnoldswick in Yorkshire. Don selected Diana Williamson and Ian Goulden, both experienced players, but also scratch player Ray Lowe, whose inclusion meant that special penalties were incurred. Ray was required to ‘peel’ at least 1 hoop during games in order to reduce his advantage. Although Ray was successful in 2 of his matches, the team could not sustain his lead and left Pendle defeated, Pendle 9, Southport 7.

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Longman Croquet Cup..Nottingham v Southport

Nottingham 4, Southport 3


Southport sent a team to Nottingham at the weekend to contest the first round of the Longman Cup. This is an annual challenge which begins with a regional knockout and the winners moving on to a national final. Southport has been aspiring to win this again since their success in 1992. 2014 saw them gain second place at Surbiton, but the title continues to elude them.


This year play took place in sunny but cold and windy conditions, against a beautiful background of huge rhododendron hedges in full flower and under the imposing gaze of the Nottingham University tower.


Team Captain Carol Lewis selected a repeat of the 2014 team for this year’s bid, Brian Lewis, Tony Thomas and Alan Farrell, all experienced Longman players.


At the start of play, Carol and Brian elected to play in the morning doubles, making a very strong duo in the challenge. But Nottingham put forward an equally powerful pairing and made full use of their superior bisque allowance, to reach peg and win in the very last moments of the game.


Elsewhere on the lawns Tony Thomas outclassed his Nottingham opponent and scored an easy win, but Alan Farrell struggled and could make no headway in his morning game, sending the team into lunch 2-1 down.


In the tussle of afternoon play, both teams managed to achieve two wins; Alan Farrell and Brian Lewis finding late form, steering their way through the bisques of their less experienced opponents to competent victories. Carol and Tony however, facing the top two ranking players of the Nottingham team, found no such success. Tony Thomas, from a promising lead, made a fatal error early in the game overestimating the power of his hit, the fine lawns carried his shot right off the green and ended his turn. His opponent made no such mistakes and Tony sat out the rest of the game without any further opening chance to play.


A disappointed Southport team made the long journey home, sadly defeated, Nottingham 4, Southport 3. But there is always next year.

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Handicap Croquet League..Pendle v Southport

Meanwhile, Southport Croquet Handicap Team were away to Pendle and Craven, and not enjoying any better success. Team Captain Carol Lewis selected a good team of Brian Lewis, Eileen Gallagher and Eileen Rositter to travel up onto the Pennines. It was a cold bright day on a picturesque ground close to the Pennine Way.


Carol Lewis and Eileen Rossitter played the morning doubles game, but lost to a determined Pendle pairing. As this was soon followed by Brian Lewis and Eileen Gallager winning one game each, the team took hope of a better score to come, a promise which seemed even stronger when Brian came close to winning a further game losing by only one point. But it was a false hope and Southport could make no further headway, returning home with the score Pendle and Craven 5, Southport 2.


Photo shows: David KeyDavid Key

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Handicap Croquet League..Birkdale v Crake Valley

Keith Roberts marshalled his croquet team on a forlorn hope this weekend, when Birkdale Croquet Handicap team were home to a very powerful team from Crake Valley. Tony Thomas, David Key and Margaret Dalley were selected for Birkdale and were unsurprised to find themselves down 3 – 0 at lunch – the visitors skill had not been exaggerated.


Afternoon play began in an atmosphere of gloom as Birkdale faced the prospect of a nil score blotting their record cards. But better success came in the last hour of play, when Margaret Dalley reached time with a draw, carrying it through to a win with a spectacular golden hoop.


Keith Roberts had been labouring hard through a long tough game, but in the wake of Margaret’s success suddenly found his form and gave Birkdale their second win in the last hour of play. David Key meanwhile, was well able to create an opening break against his Crake opponent and gave Birkdale their third success.


Not a great day for Birkdale, but a saving score of Birkdale 3, Crake Valley 4.

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