Steve Leonard wins the Alan Oldham Trophy
The players gathered at Sussex County ground at Southwick in Sussex for the GC Veterans Championship on 19th July with the weather forecasters predicting the highest temperatures in the UK ever. The entry had reduced to 20 from the maximum of 24 mainly due to the forecast high temperatures. However the rest of the competitors arrived at Southwick not knowing what the following three days would hold.
In the event the first day was the worst as far as temperatures were concerned. Being on the south coast they did not get up to the 40c seen in some parts of the country but they did reach a steamy 32c. The players had heeded all the warnings and were prepared with sunglasses, water bottles and sun cream to do battle against the elements and their opponents.
The lawns at Southwick were in excellent conditions as always having been well watered during the recent dry weather and plenty of iced drinks were available throughout the days. The programme also allowed them to take some fairly leisurely lunches.
Day 1 consisted of two blocks playing 6 rounds each with the remaining 3 rounds being completed the following morning. The top 4 from each block would go forward to the quarter finals. In the Red Block Don Beck was top with 8 wins followed by Richard Brooks and Helena Jansson on 6 wins each. The final place from this block was decided on net hoops and was taken by Andrew Fall. In the Blue Block Steve Leonard won all his nine games followed by Liz Farrow on 8 and Tony Butcher on 6. The last place was again decided on net hoops. It went to David Wise.
The quarter finals of the championship were played in the afternoon of Day 2 with matches consisting of best of three games. Temperatures had lowered a little making the conditions slightly more comfortable. There were some very close matches but the eventual semi-finalists were Don Beck to play Liz Farrow and Tony Butcher to play Steve Leonard. Day 2 also saw the start of the Plate for the remaining 12 players who took part in a cross-block with 6 rounds.
On Day 3 the semi-finals of the Championship were played first thing in the morning with the result that after three very close games all going to the 13th hoop, Liz Farrow beat Don Beck and with three games not quite as close Steve Leonard beat Tony Butcher. The losing quarter finalists played a knockout for the Shield with David Wise beating Helena Jansson and Richard Brooks beating Andrew Fall. The Plate competitors had also completed their cross-block.
So after lunch we were ready for the finals. In the Championship final Liz Farrow took the first game 7/6 but then lost the next two 2/7, 3/7, so Steve Leonard was our winner receiving the Alan Oldham Trophy from Croquet Association Vice-President Jonathan Isaacs. Richard Brooks beat David Wise to win the Shield and after a playoff Steiner Olsen from Norway beat Chris Sheen to take the Plate.
This year, for the first time, players over 75 could compete for the Brooks Vase which was to be presented to the player who gave the best performance in that age group. This year it went to Richard Brooks himself having reached the quarter finals.
22nd July 2022