The 4th Inter Federation Challenge between Yorkshire Croquet and Croquet North was held at York Croquet Club on Saturday 5 October.
The Challenge, which brings together 8 players representing each Federation in a one-day croquet event comprising AC Handicap Doubles, GC level Play Doubles and AC 1 Ball, aims to encourage players who might focus most of their croquet playing time on one particular code to step into the world of the “other code”.
AC Handicap Doubles got the day started, playing 18-point games with all clips starting on hoop 5 and a 2-hour time limit.
Your correspondent got the first break and threw down the gauntlet by running a long-angled hoop one only to be reminded, to the backdrop of hoots of derision from fellow players, that “all clips start on hoop 5“. In the end each Federation won two matches leaving things all-square at lunch.
During lunch (provided by Yorkshire Croquet at the usual high standard of hospitality associated with Challenge matches) the order of play for the AC 1 Ball was agreed, with each team manager deciding the order of their own players. On the day, the majority of handicaps ended up mixed bringing different challenges to both lower and higher handicap players.
1-hour time limits were applied to 13-point games. No games went to time and when all matches were completed the score was still level at 4 wins each, so that the GC Level Play Doubles (best of 3 with 45 minutes time limit per game) would decide the outcome.
After two 2-0 wins to Croquet North things were looking good for us, but the remaining two matches went to the deciding game wo that one more win would see Croquet North winning overall, otherwise it would be a draw.
The first deciding game went to Yorkshire Croquet and all players then gravitated to the lawn hosting the final match. Yorkshire were up 6-5 but Croquet North seemed to be in control hoop 12. Eventually Yorkshire Croquet missed a clearance, the hoop went to Croquet North, and everything depended on hoop 13. Clearance followed clearance until Croquet North jawsed. After Yorkshire Croquet failed a long clearance from behind the hoop, Croquet North then failed a clearance on the remaining Yorkshire Croquet ball, leaving Yorkshire Manager Ted Flexman with a three-yard angled jump attempt to save both the game and the match. He made it!
At the end of the day the two sides could not be separated, so under the Ashes Cricket protocol, the “trophy” was retained by last year’s winners, Yorkshire Croquet.