|Australia Day Golf Croquet Tournament|
26 Jan 2010
Maitland Croquet Club
A full field of 36 players began play at the recently refurbished Maitland lawns at 8:00 a.m. following a welcome by the club president (Lynn Dooley), an address and official opening by Maitlandís official Australia Day Ambassador, Milton Morris, an address by the Tournament referee (Bev Smith), the national anthem and Block photos being taken.
Milton Morris, Maitlandís Australia Day
Ambassador finds something funny in
Trev Blackís explanation of the game.
The pace of events then settled and players enjoyed the new surfaces which not only looked magnificent, but played very accurately as well.
Players came from Newcastle National Park, Wollongong, EDSACC, Branxton, Maitland, Mt Sugarloaf, Toronto, Blue Mountains and Sydney and were arranged in six blocks of six. Block A was composed of players with handicaps 4 and under and played level play while the other blocks were fairly homogenous (B-5s & 6s, C-7s, D-8s, E-9s and F-10s) and played under Handicap conditions.
A few heavy down-pours the night before ensured the atmosphere was very humid but the conditions early in the morning were very pleasant with bright sunlight helping play to progress at a good rate.
As the day progressed the temperature climbed and so did the humidity. Numerous breaks in play were organised and players took advantage of them to rehydrate and try to cool down. Play slowed as the day went on and by mid afternoon it was obvious that play would have to be called to an end at the completion of the 4th game.
From the start, John Levick quickly settled in to take control of Block A with Christine Pont making a great start against her frequent adversary Max Wiltshire when she managed to defeat him 7/3. Unfortunately Max was unable to show his usual great form to come back and finish on the podium. Stephen Dilley (Senior) made a determined effort to perform as well as his new lawns were, however he narrowly missed gaining those one or two vital points to win close games. John Edman and Bernie McAlary struggled with their new handicap ranking but certainly learnt many lessons which will see them advance up the ladder in future competition.
Block B saw the emergence of Stephen Dilley (Junior) as a new force in croquet as he established a great lead over his rivals. Bob Ogilvie used his cunning and guile to enter a challenge for Stephen and Dennis Shipp staked a claim too. Kevin Page kept smiling, as is his nature, but found winning a difficult task. Col Lynch struggled with ill health and was unfortunately unable to continue after only a few games and had to withdraw.. Chris Ogilvie missed winning by the proverbial one point in many of her games and was unlucky to have not posted a win.
Block C shaped up as the most closely fought of the day with all players showing determination and skill. It was to be fought doggedly to the end with only points separating Adolphe Parfait, Josephine McGrath, Shirley Page and Brian Manton. Bill Haines performed well until he was striken by the heat and forced to withdraw. Sylvia Shipp was a thorn in the side of most of her competitors but was only able to win one game.
Block D also settled into a torrid tussle with Bill Munns, Jill Manton and Wendy Roberts all posting a stake in the result. Albert Wine fought hard after hand surgery and doggedly continued to hassle all his opponents. Margaret Pedemont appeared to suffer from the heat and did not play to her usual high standard while Suzy Parfait also struggled to find that 1 or sometimes 2 vital points which would have reversed the result of close games.
Play in Block E was no less fierce with Sandra Jones dominating but not having everything go her way easily. Ron Bell, John Pace and Ruth Harden threw down the gauntlet and fought tenaciously to claw back Sandraís lead but were unsuccessful. Helen Haines could not get her mallet to work at all but kept on smiling despite the heat which unfortunately proved too much for Ruth Wine who had to withdraw.
Block F was fought in a very friendly manner between Michael Simmonds, Clare Clark, Brenda Wild (now settling down to the rhythm of competition), Nancy Ott(her first competition) and Tim Haines (also his first competition). Pat Martin succumbed to the heat and unfortunately had to withdraw from the competition.
Barb Piggot from Urunga dropped in and guess what?
Thanks Barb. We appreciated your help.
Referees were in charge or supervisory at all games and helped to maintain the standard and esteem of the event. Without the efforts of these dedicated people, croquet would be much poorer and our competitions much less meaningful. For the players, the day was trying. For the referees, on the lawn for up to 3 hours at a time, it must have been nightmare country. No murmur of discontent was forthcoming. No complaining was heard. Thank you wonderful people.
As is becoming the custom at this event, quite early in the day The Maitland Pipe Band marched into a shaded area of the grounds and played stirring Scottish songs while players tried to concentrate on their game. It appears that music (be it Oom-pah-Pah German polka music or Scottish bagpipe music) does not disturb our intrepid players.
Before competitors headed home at the end of a very interesting day, Maitlandís popular mayor, Peter Blakemore presented the winners and runners up in each block with their little envelops at a presentation in the shade of some of Maitland Parkís beautiful trees. In his address prior to the presentation, Peter pledged further support by Maitland City Council which values the contribution our croquet club makes to the community. Looks like we have an Australia Day Tournament in 2011.
Christine Pontís shorts were
very patriotic and the envy of all players.
Maitland club members once again provided a first class event to start the year off and are to be congratulated on their effort. Lawn, food, organization and hospitality were excellent. All that is needed next year is control of the weather.
Thank you everyone for a great tournament.