Budleigh Croquet Club Alan Marsh Trophy success for Margaret Atwood

PUBLISHED: 10:34 23 September 2017

Croquet players at Budleigh Croquet Club who competed for the Alan Marsh Trophy

Croquet players at Budleigh Croquet Club who competed for the Alan Marsh Trophy

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Budleigh Croquet Club recently held a tournament for members to compete for the Alan Marsh Trophy.

In just its second year it is already a well-established favourite in the club’s calendar. Its popularity reflects the fact that it allows players of the two quite different croquet codes (Association and Golf Croquet) to enjoy each other’s company and appreciate the skills involved in both games. And although the games are keenly contested, the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly.

The early stages of the tournament saw four pairs emerge to play the semi-finals. In the first, Tim Liles and comparative newcomer Margaret Atwood took on the 2016 winners, John O’Gorman and Peter Quinn. Liles put a marker down by running the first hoop from a distance of six yards and he and Atwood quickly established a three hoop advantage as Quinn (quite uncharacteristically) missed both the first two hoops. He and O’Gorman then tried to pull the situation back by attacking the opponents rather than making hoops themselves. This strategy failed despite two brilliant long roquets by Quinn, and Atwood and Liles ran out the winners by 13 points to 10.

The second semi was between Norman and Hazel Upchurch and Maureen Smith partnered by Tom Pyne. This game saw the early lead established by Smith and Pyne quickly eroded as the Upchurches managed to catch up and go two hoops ahead. Their play was notable for making excellent use of croquet shots and the eventual result was a 13-11 win for the husband and wife team.

The final was a study in contrasts between the very steady play of Liles and Atwood and the more flamboyant style of the Upchurches. An early roquet by Atwood allowed her team to get away and they had made three hoops before the Upchurches had even started. However, tactical errors by the leading pair gave the initiative back to Norman and Hazel, who not only caught up, but went two hoops in front. A mistake by them reduced the lead to one hoop but the game still looked to be won as Norman Upchurch ran a long final hoop and took position ready to peg out in the next turn. But Margaret had other ideas and seized the initiative back by roqueting her opponents’ ball so that it could be despatched a long way from the peg. She and her partner still had two hoops to run but managed to do so despite the efforts of the Upchurches to stop them. It was only fitting that the peg out to win the trophy was achieved by Margaret – a reward for the hours of practice she has devoted to the game. She is a name to watch in future.

The event was expertly managed by club member Roger Mills and the nail-biting finish provided a suitable finale to a most enjoyable weekend of competition. Alan Marsh, a former club member who was himself a keen exponent of both croquet codes, would have been delighted.

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