Bygrave members win - win - win!
Gabrielle Higgins won the prestigious Spencer Ell Trophy at Nottingham. This is part of the Croquet Association's "Eights Week" and is the competition for the 3rd best eight. Gabrielle is the first lady to have won this trophy since its inception in 1973 and the 4th Bygrave member to have won the trophy. Previous Bygrave winners were Keith Aiton (2002), David Kibble (1998 & 2012), Duncan Hector (1992 & 2004)
Peter Whiting has had an amazing season which he rounded off with two wins at the Hunstanton Autumn tournament. Peter started playing Garden Croquet at Bygrave 3 years ago. He started playing Association Croquet last year and has competed regularly in the East Anglian League and CA tournaments too. At Hunstanton he won the D class trophy and took Egyptian handicap trophy with an amazing 9 wins in 10 games.
Grandchildren say "Croquet is cool!"
Megan isn't three yet but here she is being encouraged by her big sister Chloe. At Bygrave Croquet Club we have a "Family Croquet Set" in addition to several Champonship sets. So children of any age can be introduced to this fascinating game.
At Megan's age it is a matter of just hitting balls through hoops rather than having a proper game. But her older sisters play a simplified version Garden Croquet and in time they will move on to the full blown game.
Every lawn deserves a croquet set and it is an investment that will provide enjoyment for all the family for many years to come.
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August and September were excellent months for the club with amazing weather virtually every week for our Friday afternoon sessions. Recently we have been concentrating on the skills required for break making and have started practising for the winter series of speed croquet events at Soham. We use special giant chess clocks which were kindly donated by Jeff Race. These are now used every week and are an excellent innovation.
Club session July 12th Stunning weather, red wine, white wine, chocolate almond cake and croquet - what could be better? The session started with some coaching on the swing and shooting. Everyone is improving. Break structures are appearing but the frustration is inaccuracies in the short shots. More interested villagers encountered in the evening at the annual church cleaners and flower arrangers party. This could increase our membership and venues.
Club session July 5th. A beautiful day. Some "in game" coaching was provided, concentrating on improving swing (longer backswing and follow through to target) as well as break creation using rolls and rushes. Well worthwhile and enjoyed by all.
Melgrave versus Wrest Park 2-2 In the East Anglian League, Meldreth and Bygrave Croquet Clubs have combined forces and play under the name "Melgrave". On 20th June Robert Skeen, Chris van Essen and Duncan Hector represented us. At lunch we were 2-0 up but in the afternoon our fortunes changed and we ended up with a draw. As Robert said - "not a defeat".
June sunshine! Our Friday club sessions have been going well and coaching is now aimed at better shooting, roll shots and break management.
Baldock 41 club had a great evening playing croquet at Bygrave on 10th June. We had four lawns in operation with 16 playing at any one time. Afterwards we all enjoyed a fish and chip supper in the lodge.
Hertfordshire maintain position in Division 1 The Inter County Championships took place at Southwick and Eastbourne over a four day period, May 25th to May 28th. The Hertfordshire team comprised seven players of whom three were Bygrave members; Nick Mounfield (Capt); Richard Smith and Duncan Hector. The team maintained our position in the 1st Division beating Middlesex, Glamorgan, Lancs and Oxon/Berks.
Bygrave's season started on Friday May 31st. We were blessed by fabulous weather and had a great afternoon. The bubbly flowed and cakes were consumed. Due to wet weather the grass was longer than usual and anticipating the affect of the nap brought a new dimension to the game. A great afternoon and an excellent start to our Garden Croquet season.
Gabrielle Higgins won the Surbiton Speed Doubles (May 11th and 12th) partnering Christian Carter. Apparently Gabrielle returned home with aching legs and says that the Bygrave training at Soham over the winter stood he in good stead. The tactics for speed croquet are quite different to those required for the normal game and experience on the indoor carpet against the clock is invaluable.
Peter Whiting is progressing well and his Association Croquet handicap has been reduced from 18 to 16 by handicapper Nick Mounfield.
Melgrave (Meldreth and Bygrave) had a good start in the East Anglian League with a 4-0 win against Northampton on 24th April. Peter Whiting was the Bygrave player in the team and won his singles against Mike Bowser +2 in the morning. In the afternoon he partenered Robert Skeen (Meldreth) and they won their doubles +21. Melgrave were beaten 5-1 in the league match against Enfield on 10th May. Duncan came up with the win in a very tight game against Brian Havill.
Jennie Bond plays Garden Croquet
Family connections mean that Jennie Bond is a regular visitor to Bygrave and an enthusiastic Garden Croquet player. The former Royal Correspondent is still very busy with her TV commitments and now lives in Devon. However she visits her mother and sisters on a regular basis. The three sisters Annette Hector, Susan Cannon and Jennie Bond have encouraged their 91 year old mother Pamela to play croquet. In her youth it was a popular garden game and she immediately adopts the side style technique that she learned more than 70 years ago. She has a Garden Croquet set at her home in Letchworth and it is always left set up on her small lawn. This means that she plays a lot of croquet and as a dementia sufferer it has brought both pleasure and physical activity that she otherwise would not experience. She showed no mercy when she played one of her carers, beating her 7-2.
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Useful croquet links
East Anglia Croquet Federation
Oxford Croquet lots of croquet info
Croquet Records World and UK rankings
Letchworth Croquet Club local club
Croquet Quest coaching by Cliff Jones
Brilliant Lawns for local lawn care
Click above to watch now
At Surbiton Croquet Club in September last year Duncan Hector filmed the 4 times World Champion Reg Bamford when he gave a talk about his approach to croquet. Everyone thought he would be talking about Sextuples but he didn't. Instead he delivered a master class in his mental approach to the game. The video is now available on-line by clicking any picture above and at Duncan Hector's You Tube channel here.
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