Stephen Mulliner makes it five European Croquet Championship wins with 12 foot winning shot
PUBLISHED: 08:01 29 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:06 29 May 2019
The European Croquet Championships returned to Budleigh Salterton and were won by a now five time champion, writes Stephen Andrews.
The European Croquet Championship returned to Budleigh Salterton and was won by a now five time champion, writes Stephen Andrews.
The championship returned to Budleigh for its seventh visit and the weather could not have been kinder on the four-day event.
The winner of the tournament was Stephen Mulliner, who is the president of the European Croquet Federation and a four-times past winner of this event.
The tournament sees players from across Europe come together in the East Devon town.
Some of the countries represented at this tournament included Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland as well as home nations, England and Wales. The final, held on Sunday, was a splendid occasion, played in front of packed terraces.
In this form of croquet (golf croquet) the winner is the first to put the balls through seven hoops.
Mulliner won the first game 7-2 but his opponent (Richard Bilton, a young man from Nottingham) surged into an early lead in the second.
Eventually, they reached 6-6, which triggers croquet's equivalent of the tie-break - a one-hoop shoot-out.
Mulliner had a chance to seal the match with a 12-foot shot at a significant angle - quite missable even for these magnificent players.
However, he held his nerve to deliver the perfect coup-de-grace to to secure a 7-6 success, taking the match 7-2, 7-6.
In his winner's speech, Stephen Mulliner paid tribute to the warm welcome he and his fellow competitors had received in East Devon.
Mulliner said: "Budleigh just gets better in all ways, year by year."
Alison Maddaford, club chairman, pointed out what a real privilege it has been for Budleigh members to witness the excellence of the croquet being played by some of the finest players in Europe.
She has discussed with Stephen Mulliner the possibility of the championships being played in Budleigh again in 2020, which is the 150th anniversary of the club.
All the signs of that happening are positive and, as Maddaford said: "We would be delighted and very honoured to bring the Euros back to our very special club."
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