This page gives the details of this years regional and national competitions that we are entering.  For 2021 this is

Longman Cup

This is a nationwide handicap inter-club tournament for teams of four with handicaps between 3.5 and 20. This is normally played with teams of four when one doubles and two singles are played in the morning and four singles in the afternoon.  In 2020 and 2021 teams of three are allowed.

St Albans won through to the final of the 2020 Longman Cup but for various reasons including Covid Lockdowns and bad weather on the finals day in October the final wasn't played until 2021 hence its inclusion below.

The draw for the 2021 tournament is here. We went out in the second round.

Second Round v High Wycombe  Lost 2-3 (14th July 2021 @ High Wycombe)

The team of Stephen, Roger and Stuart travelled to High Wycombe for the second round of the Longman Cup.  The fixture was a repeat of the 2020 Longman Cup final (which was actually played in 2021!) but at High Wycombe’s lawns rather than Surbiton.  High Wycombe’s lawns were fast and flat and also in much demand so the match started at 1pm making it an afternoon/evening match.

 

In the doubles Stephen and Stuart pulled out an early lead, but, despite using their half bisque to disrupt them, High Wycombe were regularly hitting in from across the lawn and managed to turn the game around.  Roger’s game with Robin was a repeat of the crucial match in the 2020 final, and went a similar way.  Roger managed to pull out a lead which Robin chipped away at, and still had an opportunity to make a break to take the lead on his final turn but failed to get in front of the hoop with an approach shot giving Roger his win.

 

In the afternoon Stephen’s game was another repeat of a match from the 2020 final, and despite the result being same, losing by 15 hoops was an improvement on the 26-0 thrashing that he received from Ed in the final.  In Roger’s game he pulled out an early lead and had both balls on penult before Raghu had really started, and went on to win making Stuart’s game the vital match.  Stuart pulled out an early lead using one of his two bisques to make a 9 hoop break, but towards the end of the match Robin’s form improved and he made a 10 hoop break and almost pegged out as time ran out to take the match.  High Wycombe won 3-2 overall and progress to the quarter finals.  

 

Stephen Mills (6) & Stuart Stafford (12) lost to Ed Olhausen (5) & Raghu Iyer (12) -8

Roger Bowman (12) beat Robin Morrison (10) +4(T) 15-11

 

Stephen Mills (6) lost to Ed Olhausen (5) -15

Roger Bowman (12) beat Raghu Iyer (12) +16

Stuart Stafford (12) lost to Robin Morrison (10) -9(T) 25-16

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First Round v Ealing  Won 3-2 (19th May 2021 @ Ealing)

We travelled to Ealing to play in the first round of the Longman Cup – a repeat of our first round match from last year and the start of the defence of our title!  The Ealing lawns were well presented and flat although not as fast as they had been in the same fixture last year, because of the amount of rain that had fallen.  It had rained heavily in the morning and was due to rain heavily in the afternoon, but with the exception of one very light shower, we stayed dry and indeed lots of the match was played in bright sunshine.

 

In the morning doubles, the Ealing pair failed to get started, Stephen quickly went round to rover, and Derek used St Albans' bisques well to follow and the match closed out +20 to St Albans.  The singles match between two Rogers was much more keenly fought, Ealing Roger put together a good break to build up a commanding lead. In his last go, St Albans Roger needed make a 6 hoop break (to peg) and peel his second ball through a hoop to draw level.  Roger made the 6 hoop break but failed to peel his second ball so Ealing won +1 on time, to leave the fixture level at lunch.

 

In Stephen’s match in the afternoon, after an exchange of multi-hoop breaks Stephen gradually drew ahead with what looked like a commanding lead, but a hampered shot after getting his second ball through rover, left a double target for Ealing and Simon duly hit in, executed a 8 hoop break, peeled his second ball through rover and pegged out to win +2.

 

In Derek’s match he used his bisques productively and achieved a 10-hoop break to pull ahead.  However, having gone through rover, his opponent was in a position to peg his ball out, and after a brief exchange of missed peg out shots, Ealing succeeded in pegging out Derek’s ball.  From this point Ealing were gradually eating into Derek’s lead.  However, using his three remaining bisques Derek got to peg with his second ball and as time ran out his opponent had only got through to penult so Derek won +2 on time, making the fixture level.

 

In Roger’s afternoon match he built an early lead but as the other two matches finished his opponent put in a long break to get round to rover.  However, as time run out his opponent wasn’t able to repeat this with the second ball, meaning, for the second year running, Roger clinched the point that put us through to the second round.

 

Our second round match is a repeat of last year’s final again High Wycombe.

 

Scores (St Albans names first)

Stephen Mills (7) & Derek Lambert (18) beat Simon Tuke (5) & Carol McLoughlin (8) +20

Roger Bowman (12) lost to Roger Mayhew -1(T) 17-16

Stephen Mills (7) lost to Simon Tuke (5) -2

Roger Bowman (12) beat Carol McLoughlin (8) +9(T) 23-14

Derek Lambert (18) beat Roger Mayhew +2(T) 25-23

2020 Final v High Wycombe  Won 3-2 (25th April 2021! @ Surbiton)

 

The Longman Final is traditionally held at Surbiton early in October together with the final of the Interclub Competition (in which some of the country's best players play), however, the 2020 final's day was called off because of torential rain.  The rescheduled final was been cancelled because of lockdown so it wasn't possible to play the final until 2021.

The final was against High Wycombe and played at Surbiton with teams of 3. The St Albans team was Stephen, Roger and Stuart. The morning games saw Roger playing singles and Stephen & Stuart playing doubles. Despite putting together a very good break Roger lost to Ed Olhausen, High Wycombe’s in form best player. In the doubles match the lead switch multiple times with Stephen & Stuart winning by one hoop as time ran out.

In the afternoon’s singles, Stephen rapidly lost to Ed (26-0!), meaning we needed to win both of the remaining matches. Both matches went to time. Stuart’s match was close throughout with Stuart making a 5 hoop break with time running out which proved decisive. In Roger’s match he used his bisques to pull out a 10 hoop lead, High Wycombe gradually ate into that lead, and both teams had 4 ball breaks set-up which if they converted them could have been decisive, however, High Wycombe were unable to close the deficit in their final turn after time had been called meaning that we won the Longman Cup trophy for the first time!

Scores (St Albans names first)

Stephen Mills (6) & Stuart Stafford (16) beat Robin Morrison (10) & Mark Higgins (20) +1 (T) (12-11)

Roger Bowman (14) lost to Ed Olhausen (9) -11

Stephen Mills (6) lost to Ed Olhausen (9) -26

Roger Bowman (14) beat Robin Morrison (10) +4(T) (17-13)

Stuart Stafford (16) beat Mark Higgins (20) +5(T) (22-17)

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The Secretary's Shield
This is a tournament for the winners of the previous year's regional federations' tournaments.   It is normally played with teams of four with one doubles and two singles in the morning and four singles in the afternoon.

We're in the 2021 Secretary's Shield competition because there was no federation tournament in 2020 and we won in 2019.
 
The draw for the 2021 tournament is here. We got a bye in the first round, won our first match against Tyneside, and our semi-finals against Church Stretton so we're in the final against Sheffield.
 
31st August 2021 vs Church Stretton @ Kenilworth Won 5-2

The team of Heather, Stephen, Roger and Stuart travelled to Kenilworth to play Church Stretton in the semi-final of the Secretary’s shield.  Heather and Stuart played the morning doubles; Heather made a good break to get round to rover to pull ahead and, despite blobbing 4 times at the same hoop, Stuart put together a number of 3-4 hoop breaks to get round to win the game.  Stephen and Roger played the two morning singles games.  Stephen put together a 11 hoop break with his first ball, and then followed up with a number of smaller breaks to win his game.  In Roger’s game he pulled out an initial lead, but his opponent successfully (and repeatedly) scored 1 or 2 hoops then split up Roger’s balls building up a lead as time ran out.  So, the match was well balanced at 2-1 to St Albans at lunch.

 

In the afternoon singles, Heather successfully put breaks together to quickly win her game leaving the score at 3-1 and meaning that St Albans only needed one more point.  However, at this point St Albans were behind (or level) in all the other three matches.  In Stephen’s game he pulled out an early lead, but multiple errors from both players meant that the lead switch multiple times, however, with time running out Stephen put together two breaks to peg out with two minutes left on the clock and score the winning point.  Roger also managed to pull ahead as time ran out leading to a 5-2 victory and a place in the final against Sheffield.  This will be the third year in a row that St Albans have played in the Secretary’s Shield final having won against Chester in 2019 (at Kenilworth) and lost against Hampstead Heath in 2020.

 

Heather Bennett (1) and Stuart Stafford (12) beat John Knowles (4) and George James (6) +10

Stephen Mills (5) beat Robin Trew (9) +19

Roger Bowman (11) lost to Joe Manifold (12) -7T (12-5)

Heather Bennett (1) beat John Knowles (4) +14

Stephen Mills (5) beat George James (6) +10

Roger Bowman (11) beat Robin Trew (9) +6T (17-11)

Stuart Stafford (12) lost to Joe Manifold (12) -4T (18-14)

 
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26th July 2021 vs Tyneside @ Nottingham Won 6-1

The team of Heather, Stephen, Roger and Derek travelled to Nottingham to play Tyneside in our first match in the Secretary’s Shied (having got a bye in the first round).  The morning consisted of a doubles game and two singles.  In the doubles Heather and Derek used their bisques to get to peg/rover and despite Tyneside cutting their lead, Derek managed to peg out Heather’s ball and a few shots later pegged out from distance.  In Stephen’s game, a couple of good breaks gave him an comfortable victory despite a delay in the match when his ball jumped the barriers and ended up in the ditch/stream at the back of the lawn.  In Roger’s game his opponent used her bisques to put together a several-hoop break, giving her a lead which she maintained steadily until Roger’s final turn in which he made three hoops to win by a single point. 

This gave us a 3-0 lead at lunch and meant we needed to win a single point in the afternoon to win the match.

Heather secured the vital point, easing the pressure on the others.  In Stephen’s game neither player could put together a decisive break but Stephen took the point as time ran out.  In Roger’s game he made an early 7-hoop break and saved 2 bisques to help his second ball round, enabling him to win by 18 points.  Derek’s game went the other way to Stephen's with neither player putting together a decisive break but Tyneside took the point as time ran out.

 

Overall a comfortable 6-1 victory leading to a semi-final against Church Stretton.

 

St Albans names first:

Doubles: Heather Bennett (2) and Derek Lambert (18) beat Phil Errington (1) and Terry Vernazza (3.5) +8

Singles:

Stephen Mills (6) beat Derek Johnson (8) +13

Roger Bowman (12) beat Nora Burridge (16) +1(T) (16-15)

Heather Bennett (2) beat Phil Errington (1) +7

Stephen Mills (6) beat Terry Vernazza (3.5) +4(T) (20-16)

Roger Bowman (12) beat Derek Johnson (8) +18

Derek Lambert (18) lost to Nora Burridge (16) -8 (T) (14-22)

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6th June 2021 v Northampton  Won 3-1

Our second match in the Herts & Beds League was at home against a strong Northampton side.  This was our first home match in over two years!  Our team was Jon, Stuart and Derek. 
 

In the morning singles, Lionel (-1) took the lead with an effortless 10 hoop break. Stuart took advantage of his forest of bisques, and a few mistakes from Lionel, to fight back to just 21-19 down, but Northampton took the match 26-19.

 

Progress in the doubles was slower, with defensive play and no significant breaks. Derek and Jon led from start to finish and won 22-13 on time, with half a bisque in hand, to leave the scores level at lunch.

 

Jon found his form in the afternoon singles, putting together a few good breaks and winning 26-8 with over an hour to spare, and secure at least a draw.

 

In the doubles, Stuart and Derek used their bisques to build a strong 23-7 lead, with a nine hoop break from Stuart, and Derek achieving the unusual feat of running two hoops from croquet strokes. However, Lionel struck back with another substantial break, this time from 4 to peg, and pegged out Derek. Northampton were then able to make a succession of wired leaves and single hoops to cut our lead further, before a missed roquet after penult. Stuart hit in and finished to claim the match for St Albans 26-23.

 

Scores (St Albans names first)

 

Stuart Stafford (12) lost to Lionel Tibble (-1) -7 (19-26)

Jon Palin (1½) & Derek Lambert (18) beat Nick Evans (1) and Jane Evans (12) +9(T) (22-13)

Jon Palin (1½) beat Nick Evans (1) +18 (26-8)

Derek Lambert (18) & Stuart Stafford (12) beat Lionel Tibble (-1) and Jane Evans (12) +3 (26-23)

Herts-Beds League

This is a team tournament for the croquet clubs within the Herts-Beds area, in 2021 there are six teams playing. Matches are played on handicap, a combination of singles and doubles, between teams of three or four players depending on whether the match is being played at a club with one or more lawns.

The draw and table for 2021 is here.  Our next match is at home against Watford.  We're currently second but on equal points with Wrest Park who are top of the table.

12th May 2021 v Letchworth  Won 4-2

Our first match in the Herts & Beds League was away against Letchworth.  Our team was Heather, Stephen, Roger and Derek playing in his first league match.  The morning matches consisted of two doubles; in Heather and Stephen’s game the handicaps matched precisely so neither side had bisques, neither side made major breaks and after initially being down Heather and Stephen pulled out a substantial lead only to see it clawed back to turn it into a finally balanced match.  Both sides had multiple opportunities to win the match but eventually Letchworth pegged out and won by 3 hoops.  In Roger and Derek’s match, Roger made a brilliant break only using 3 bisques to go round to rover, Derek made good use of his bisques to get round to peg and the St Albans pair won by 2 hoops as time ran out, leaving the match level 1-1 at lunch.

 

In the afternoon Roger used his bisques well making two good breaks which took him all the way round and quickly won his match.  Heather’s won her game next, leaving St Alban’s 3-1 up and unable to loose the overall match.  Stephen’s and Derek’s matches finished almost simultaneously.  Derek had used his bisques to pull out a significant lead, but his opponent overhauled him when the bisques ran out.  Stephen led from the start and put together a number of 4-5 hoops breaks after his opponent blobbed twice in hoop one, to win the game which meant St Albans won the match 4-2 overall.  Many thanks to Derek for acquitting himself well in his first match.

 

Heather Bennett (3) & Stephen Mills (7) lost to Jeremy Scott (3) & Colin Davies (7) -3

Roger Bowman (14) & Derek Lambert (18) beat Robert Skeen (4½) & John Noble (6) +2(T) 23-21

Heather Bennett (3) beat Jeremy Scott (3) +14

Stephen Mills (7) beat Robert Skeen (4½) +14

Roger Bowman (14) beat John Noble (6) +19

Derek Lambert (18) lost to Colin Davies (7) -12

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19th July 2021 v Wrest Park  Drew 2-2

We played our third match in the Beds and Herts League at home against Wrest Park.  It was played in glorious sunshine against a very strong team from Wrest Park – their three handicaps were -1, 0 and 1 against our 2, 6 and 12!  The morning matches were Heather and Stephen playing doubles and Roger playing singles.  In the doubles match, Stephen used two of our four bisques to go to rover, and after an exchanges of breaks Heather got to rover using the other two bisques.  As time ran out Wrest Park couldn’t get their ball all the way round and Stephen used the turn after time was called to peg out.  In Roger’s match, he got his first ball to rover but couldn’t get his second ball round before his bisques ran out.  Wrest Park’s scratch play duly went round, peeled Roger’s ball through (including the use of a jump shot!) and pegged it out before going onto win.  This left the match even at lunch.

 

In the afternoon, Stephen played the singles and used his bisques to get both balls round to rover, peeled them both through rover on the following go, but fouled on a croquet shot when both were on peg.  This let his opponent in, but when he broke down Stephen pegged out his first ball from beyond rover, leaving his opponent only 3 balls to try and go round and when that failed he pegged out his second ball from the edge of the lawn for a comfortable win.  In the doubles Roger went all the way to rover, and Heather got all the way round to rover before blobbing.  Wrest Park used the opportunity to take one ball round and peg out Roger’s ball, and with a lot of tactical play where Heather got through rover, Wrest Park got their second ball round before Heather could peg out from distance.  Overall a 2-2 draw but after 3 of the 5 rounds of the league this leaves Wrest Park and St Albans drawing on points at the top of the table.

 

Scores (St Albans names first)

Heather Bennett (2) and Stephen Mills (6) beat David Marsh (-1) and John Bevington (1) +7

Roger Bowman (12) lost to George Collin (0) -9

Heather Bennett (2) and Roger Bowman (12) lost to David Marsh (-1) and George Collin (0) -1

Stephen Mills (6) beat John Bevington (1) +18

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23rd August 2021 v Watford  Drew 2-2

We hosted Watford in the penultimate round of the Hearts and Beds League.  At the start of the day we were lying in second place in the league (level on points with Wrest Park but in second on game difference).  Heather, Stephen and Stuart faced a team of three from Watford with handicaps ranging from -1½ to 20.

 

In the morning Heather played singles and Stephen and Stuart played doubles.  Heather faced an opponent with 19 bisques, who used half of them to get her first ball round.  Heather replied by getting her own first ball round.  Her opponent then ran out of bisques at hoop 10 (four back) taking her second ball round, and Heather duly went all the way round and pegged out to win +5.  In the doubles, Stephen used bisques to get his first ball round to penult and stopped.  Watford’s minus player set-up a break with a view to pegging Stephen’s ball out, but after peeling it through penult broke down at hoop 8 (two back).  However, he got back in and continued his break to rover where he broke down again leaving all four balls at the hoop.  Stephen successfully peeled his opponents ball through rover and then pegged it out.  At this stage St Albans were feeling confident with 3 bisques left, and Watford only having one ball left, however, Watford managed a 10 hoop three ball break to peg out and win the game.  This left the match even at 1-1 at lunchtime.

 

In the afternoon singles Stephen was playing well and used his three bisques to take both balls round and win comfortably.  In the afternoon doubles Heather and Stuart were giving away 3 bisques despite facing a minus player.  Watford used their bisques wisely to get one ball round to hoop 8 (3 back) and the minus player duly caught up and peeled his partner ball through two hoops, and Watford went on to win comfortably.

 

Overall the match was drawn leaving St Albans second in the league.

 

Scores (St Albans names first)

Heather Bennett (1) beat Wendy Spencer-Smith (20) +5

Stephen Mills (6) and Stuart Stafford (12) lost to Simon Hathrell (-1½) and Geoff Johnson (3) -5

Stephen Mills (6) beat Geoff Johnson (3) +25

Heather Bennett (1) and Stuart Stafford (12) lost to Simon Hathrell (-1½) and Wendy Spencer-Smith (20) -23

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28th August 2021 v Enfield  Lost 2-4

The team of Heather, Roger, Stuart and Andrew travelled to Enfield for the final match in the league.  St Albans struggled to adjust to Enfield’s slow-speed lawns, and had difficulty in hitting a ball the length of the lawn! However, there were some very close games, with 3 games going to Golden Hoop.

The loss means that we'll end 3rd or 4th in the League depending on the result in other matches.

Scores (St Albans names first)

Heather Bennett (1) and Andrew Apps (18) lost to David Frost (4½) and Thomas Halliday (7) -1T (24-25)

Stuart Stafford (12) and Roger Bowman (12) beat John Street (8) and Michael Broadway (11) +16

Heather Bennett (1) lost to David Frost (4½) -16

Roger Bowman (12) beat Thomas Halliday (7) +1T (21-20)

Stuart Stafford (12) lost to John Street (8) -4 

Andrew Apps (18) lost to Michael Broadway (11) -1T (22-23)

Final Position - 3rd

With all matches now played we ended 3rd in the table.  We had the same points and game difference as Enfield, but because the beat us, they ended above us in the table.  The final table is below or on the EACF website here.

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