The Verse’s Sports Editor Gerald O’Brien shares with us his thoughts whilst watching the Golf Croquet World Championship.
Sussex County Croquet Club and Compton’s Croquet Club. (Other venues used were Royal Tunbridge Wells and West Worthing).
Southwick at 9am. Continual rain promised a delay but no. At 9.30am, off they all went to practice and then to play in the merely irritating drizzle that kept any semblance of spectators well away. Reg Bamford, the current World Champion, started on Lawn One, named after another great, John Solomon. In a fast played yet lengthy match, Bamford showed his metronomic precision and a touch of audacity, a jump shot attempt from the Baulk line to Hoop 7. Alas, it failed but its memory lingered. Bamford won 6 and 4.
Compton’s in Eastbourne at 4pm. They were mostly wrapping up by then but managed to catch the end of an engaging match between England and Australia. Waltzing Matilda lost on the last hoop. The sparse audience made their satisfied meander home.
On the bus to Compton’s in Eastbourne. The quarter finals beckon. I look forward to see who has qualified. No Reg Bamford or John-Paul Moberly. Both perished in the block matches. England’s hope rests on the wise shoulders of Stephen Mulliner but he goes down 2-0 to the NZ tyro Joshua Freeth. No banners visible with the sponsors name. Maybe he has taken them home with him?
Richard Bilton, the other remaining Englishman is facing the American Ben Rothman who is either listening to motivational music on his ear phones or is getting direct coaching from the White House. America prevailed. Nervous Bilton went for a Burton. A very pleasant club Compton’s. It has 5 lawns, a licensed bar and kitchen and a very friendly and engaging ‘membership.
Onwards now to Sunday at Southwick and the finals at Sussex County Croquet Club.
Final: Karem vs Rothman. The Frenetic Pharoh vs The Calculating Colonist. Rothman won 3-2. A packed house of over 150 enjoyed a thrilling final that Karam had match point for but missed and allowed Rothman to claw his way back into a match winning position. The whole final is available on YouTube, as is much of the week’s proceeding play.
A special thanks must go to Linda Gavigan and her team at Sussex County Croquet Club for their amazing organisation in staging this World Final and for all the courtesy they showed myself.