All-England final: A regal performance by Charles the Fifth

Congratulations to Caversham’s Charles Briggs for finishing fifth in the All-England GC Championship final at Wrest Park, Bedfordshire, yesterday.

Charles — playing off +8 — won eight of his 13 games spread over the weekend and three of his defeats were at the ‘golden hoop’.

Our committee chairman survived a punishing schedule of two days of play from 9.30am to 7pm with just a 15-minute break for lunch.

He said: “The lowest handicap player, Jason Carley, was playing off -3 and I managed to defeat him 7-3. The highest handicapper played off +10 and I managed to lose to him 7-4! My handicap card briefly peaked at 1350, which is a trigger point, but finished at 1320.”

The All-England title was won for the second year in a row by the former Caversham member Roger Goldring, now representing Phyllis Court.

Who let the Dogs out? Not Pam and Jane!

Caversham brought their season of competitive fixtures to a close yesterday with a hard-fought 4-1 win over Dogmersfield in the SCF One Court Clubs League.

Pam Briggs (left) and Jane Probitts (below) battled to secure the victory for our ‘C’ team with two singles wins apiece after the visitors had taken the doubles.

This was a re-staging of the clash which was abandoned during the August heatwave when all four players realised that the roasting temperature was becoming a potential health hazard.

The League ordered a replay and, ironcially, just four weeks later the players were forced to scurry for shelter from a rainstorm during the doubles.

This time the Hampshire club had sent two different, lower-handicapped players and our ladies were forced to scrap for every point.

Teams boss Carol Jamieson said: “Jane played well, with lots of good blocking shots and clearances. Pam showed a lot grit, sticking to the task in hand.”

Their rewards were to have their handicaps cut, Pam to nine and Jane to 11.

Here’s the close-of-play scorecard…

The three wise monkeys go ape at Wycombe

No, this is not feeding time at the zoo — it’s the lunch break during Caversham’s GC friendly fixture at High Wycombe yesterday.

The image was rather unkindly dubbed ‘the three wise monkeys’ by team-mates in our visit to the excellent flat Hazelmere lawns.

But David Dibben, Jane Probitts and Liz Walker had the last laugh, winning all four of their doubles matches in Caversham’s 11-5 victory.

The pairings of Liz and David, as well as club GC champ Jane with her mentor Tim Small, boasted 100 per cent records on the day.

Anne Small and Charles Briggs chalked up two wins and there was also a success for Brian and Carol Jamieson — that’s Carol (left) clinching the deal with her blue ball despite being stung by a bee during this game.

The Wycombe club entertained us royally… so much so that we invited ourselves back for a return!

We are top of the league, said we are top of the league

Here’s one for the archive…. the Caversham B team which won the 2022 SCF One Court Clubs’ League championship with a 100 per cent record.

Our line-up (from left) was: Tim Small, David Dibben, Anne Small and Carol Jamieson.

Tim and David played in three of the matches while Anne and Carol represented the club in the other two. Carol was also an excellent team manager for all the fixtures.

The title was secured by Caversham for the fifth year in a row. To see how the table looks with just one match to play, go to https://southern-croquet.org.uk/blog/table/gc-one-court-clubs-advantage-league-2022/

Here’s looking forward to title No.6….

Croquet honours its faithful servant John Wakeford

Caversham’s committee secretary John Wakeford has received a Croquet Association diploma for “outstanding services” to the sport.

His citation also recognised “those who have been active in club or federation affairs over a long period.”

John was presented with his certificate by chairman Charles Briggs at the club’s Members’ Day on Saturday.

He had been put forward for the award in an expertly crafted submission which was a joint effort by Charles and club treasurer Brian Jamieson. Their submission read…

John Wakeford took up croquet in his late 50’s, whilst working at Lancaster University, on a half-sized irregular lawn on the edge of a cricket pitch. On relocating to Reading in 1998, John found Caversham Croquet Club, a small single-lawn club.  

At Caversham, he became the club’s unofficial AC coach, organising handicap cards for all five members, and was soon persuaded to join the committee as development officer. In 2005, thanks mostly to his efforts, fully paid-up membership had increased to eleven.

John has served continuously on the committee, in various roles, and has single-mindedly promoted the club, and the game, at every opportunity through the local press, TV and radio. Although primarily interested in playing AC, John oversaw the absorption into the club in 2011 of the Basildon Golf Croquet Club’s 20 GC players. 

During John’s time on the committee Caversham CC has grown in membership, and become more outward-looking, competing successfully in both AC and GC Southern Region leagues.

Currently secretary, John devotes much of his time to encouraging new members and GC players to take an interest in AC.  Largely as a consequence of his promotional work the club is now stronger than it has ever been with 60 members, of whom 15 are playing AC regularly and three of whom now have single figure handicaps.

John won his first competitive league match game, on the Isle of Wight, at the age of 83. He still cycles to the court every day, and is always available to help with mowing and general maintenance of the lawn and surrounds. He also holds a weekly session introducing AC basics for those members wanting to make a start in the game he loves so much.

The surprise arrival of John’s diploma came just a few minutes before the start of the Members’ Day festivities and put the icing on the cake of an extremely well-attended and successful event.

No calamities as Jane makes a splash to secure club salver

Jane Probitts is the new Caversham Croquet Club GC champion.

She took the title with a convincing 7-5 7-4 win over last year’s champion, David Dibben, in the best-of-three final.

In a match delayed for 90 minutes by heavy rain, Jane (+14) used her plethora of extra shots wisely on a soggy lawn (pictured below) and was never headed.

Wet! Wet! Wet! After the Albert Road deluge

David (+5) succumbed to a total of 17 extra shots over the two games completed.

A delighted Jane (left) — who beat another five-handicapper, Brian Jamieson, in the semi-final — said: “I’m singing in the rain.”

She received the winner’s salver from club chairman Charles Briggs — and a warm round of applause — at the annual Members’ Day presentations.

Gareth’s Cup runneth over… with plenty of bisques!

Gareth Hobby is Caversham’s new Association Croquet club champion.

He beat Brian Jamieson 12-6 in the Winslow Cup final.

Although good enough to thrash 2021 champ Chris Pegrum in the first round, Gareth still plays off a handicap of 18 and thus had the advantage of ten bisques in the final, with Brian playing off eight.

He used the extra shots to steadily build a handy lead on the very fast and tricky Albert Road lawn and the lower-handicapped player was unable to claw back that advantage. When Gareth finally ran out of bisques there was only 16 minutes of the three-hour match remaining — not enough time for a recovery.

Gareth is pictured receiving his trophy from club chairman Charles Briggs.

And we thought that our lawn was a bit rubbish!

Broken: John Wakeford with his damaged mallet

Despite the valiant efforts of a selfless few, the drought has rendered the Albert Road lawn close to unplayable in the last few weeks.

And we thought we had problems! The Caversham team which played in the SCF Short Croquet League match at Hamptworth on Wednesday came across something far worse.

“The lawns were dreadful,” said Carol Jamieson. “They were very dry with a few small tufts of grass, small daisies and lovely little wild yellow flowers.

“All this intermingled with deer or rabbit droppings!”

Poor Carol lost all four of her matches. But was she downhearted? Not a bit of it. “A very pleasant day, with good hospitality,” was her verdict.

The state of the Wiltshire club’s lawns wasn’t the only tail of woe for Caversham. John Wakeford — a last-minute replacement for the unavailable Chris Pegrum — managed to break his mallet, No, not by hitting an opponent, since you ask!

But John did achieve one win, as did Brian Jamieson, while Charles Briggs was our best player with two victories.

Caversham’s 12-4 defeat means that we finished third in the Short League… out of three.

Hello: Lionel’s truly the champion

Many congratulations to Lionel Williams and Carol Hill, winners of this season’s Walton Cup.

The pairing were clear champions of the T & F group’s GC doubles competition, although not all the planned round robin matches were completed because of illness and unavailability.

It’s the finals countdown! How they line up

Gareth Hobby has won through to set up a Winslow Cup final meeting with Brian Jamieson.

The pair will clash in a 26-point AC showdown on Sunday, August 21st, at 10am. It should be worth watching!

Gareth (left) qualified with a close-fought 9-7 victory over Jasmine Marsh in Sunday’s semi-final.

“It was nip and tuck, with Jasmine holding the lead until about five minutes before the end,” he said. “Then a rare error let me back in and I was able to take full advantage with a three-hoop break.”

The cup final place was some consolation to Gareth after his defeat in the GC Doubles Cup final.

“I owe my partner Jane Probitts many apologies for effectively leaving her playing on her own,” he said.

Jane (right) was left to concentrate to the GC Singles Cup final, where she will face David Dibben in a best-of-three decider on August 25th (9am) . As with the AC final, spectators will be very welcome.