Fensome & Chalfont new winners of SCF Solstice

Phyllis Court pair Helena Fensome & John Chalfont, bounced back from a block game disaster to win the SCF Solstice Cup for the first time. There was a huge surprise in the morning when the second seeds were white-washed 0-7 by Kate and David Crumpler (seeded seventh) in their block game, and Bransgore couple certainly had the psychological advantage over Fensome & Chalfont when they met again in the final. But before all that, 16 pairs representing 11 SCF Clubs had all enjoyed a fantastic day’s croquet, in unbroken sunshine on Hamptworth’s lovely fast courts. It is safe to say that the speed of the lawns and hoops that were tighter than many of the field were used to, certainly provided a challenge for all the competitors. Defending champions Roy Tillcock & Jim O’Keefe of Ryde (seeded 4) were the only pair to top their block ‘as per seedings’, and this threw up an unexpected line-up in the quarter finals. The champs went out to the other Phyllis Court pair Pam Mead & Raymond Wood and top seeds Roger Barnacle and Rupert Catt of Dogmersfield also fell in the first games of the knock-out after lunch. Meanwhile, those who had upset the seedings in the morning, The Crumplers, and Hamptworth’s David Cooper & Bob Channon duly progressed on to the semis where the former’s good shot choice and execution booked their place in the final. The other semi was a Phyllis Court show-down and what a game it was, with little between the pairs right up to the last few hoops. Fensome and Chalfont got a huge advantage when Wood dribbled through hoop 12 to tie the game at 6-6 but was hampered for the 13th. Fensome’s first shot from far towards the west boundary was overhit, and subsequently had to be used to clear Mead’s next well placed ball. Chalfont clanged hoop 6 with his long shot towards 13 and suddenly Mead and Wood had not only a life-line, but the advantage. Five or six rounds of exchange shots, kept those watching entertained before Mead’s attempted clearance, roqueted Chalfont’s ball into the hoop to sympathetic groans all round, as the game was lost. After getting their breath back, Fensome and Chalfont turned the tables on the Crumplers in the final and raced away to a 4-0 lead, which soon became 5-1 – no sign of the earlier drubbing that the Bransgore pair had inflicted. To their credit, the Crumplers, though looking forlorn, did make a good fight of it and got back to 5-3 and 6-4, but their task was too great after conceding the early lead, and Fensome scored the winning hoop at 7-4. Well done to bottom (16th) seeds Roger Goldring and Rosemary Noel-Clarke of Caversham who won two games to finish 12th.