A Member of Croquet England
The Pavilion, Lammas Park, Culmington Road,
Ealing, London W5 5JH
The day after Easter Monday saw Ealing visiting High Wycombe for the eighth staging of our now-traditional early-season friendly for the Lloyd-Pratt Mallet, commemorating the period when Ealing hosted High Wycombe whilst their lawns were closed.
Unusually the contest features teams of four GC and four AC players on each side, with all matches played as doubles.
Whilst the weather was not as unseasonably warm as it had been over the Easter weekend, it remained dry, and shorts were braved by some competitors.
The morning GC and AC matches both ended with one win apiece, meaning that at 2-2 there was all to play for in the afternoon. As a curtain-raiser, over lunch High Wycombe Chair Richard Peperell regaled the assembled company with the colourful life (and death) story of Bryan Lloyd-Pratt.
In both afternoon AC games one HW player raced round to the peg early. Carole and Tony fought back valiantly in their game, but an error at hoop 11 by Tony at the end of a high-quality break left them with just too much to do as time expired.
Meanwhile Simon Tuke finally got an opportunity in the other game as time was running out, and managed an all-round break to peg one opposition ball out. Michael then showed great skill and composure to creep ahead, giving Ealing victory +2 On Time.
All of which meant that everything came down to the afternoon best-of-three GC matches, which were both locked at a game apiece. The AC players watching from the sidelines were enthralled by the mounting tension in the deciders.
Charlie and Bridget were staring down the barrel at 6-4 down, but demonstrated steely nerves and skill to claw it back to 6-6, having extracted all the opposition extra turns.
Meanwhile David Graham and Simon Turner (who had played AC in the morning, swapping over with Tony in the afternoon) were ahead 5-3, which then became 5-4. A tensely contested hoop 10 then ensued, with a great deal of discussion of the best line of play, and some tactical niceties. Finally Ealing prevailed at that hoop, to give us a 6-4 lead.
Meanwhile, after a prolonged wait for the other match to clear hoop 10, Bridget and Charlie’s game was able to contest the Golden Hoop. A superb shot by Charlie to run it from the boundary gave us the win.
So all now rested on the final match, and when David promoted Simon through hoop 11 it was a 7-4 victory for the visitors, clinching the Mallet for Ealing with a 5-3 overall score for the day.
Once again it was a thoroughly enjoyable battle with our friends from High Wycombe, who maintained another tradition by plying us with some excellent cake at the end of play.
The overall tally now stands at five wins for HW with three for Ealing. We look forward to defending our crown at home next spring.