News Items for 2021
Final tournament of the Season
The final tournament of the season, Crake Valley’s inaugural Ladies GC Open, was played in wet and windy conditions on Saturday 2nd October.
Eight players representing Auckland, Croquet Durham, Pendle, Ripon Spa and Crake Valley contested an “All Play All” block competition on lawns that were in superb condition considering the amount of rain that had fallen in the previous week or so.
After 4 rounds (lunchtime), everyone had been beaten at least once with 6 players on 2 or 3 wins each and, therefore, in with a chance of lifting the trophy. Two successful games later saw Betty Bates (Fylde) in the lead with 5 wins followed by Jane Pringle (Auckland) and Crake’s own Sandra Cornes on 4 wins each.
In the final round of matches Sandra beat Betty by 7-5 meaning it was all down to the outcome of Jane and Pendle’s Libby Dixon. Jane needed to win by 2 hoops to take the title but Libby had other ideas and came out on top 7-6. This meant that by one hoop difference Sandra (5 wins +11) was the Ladies Champion with Betty 2nd (5 wins +10).
A social drink in the clubhouse followed when Chair, Simon Robins, thanked everyone involved and presented Sandra win a keepsake glass trophy. All players agreed that the tournament was a success and should be repeated in September 2022.
On Sunday 26th September 2021 Crake Valley completed a memorable double league success in 2021. The team of Neil Adams, Jim Allcock, John Henderson and Steve Skelton took on Chester in the AC Handicap w/end League final hosted at the neutral Fylde Club.
Crake started the morning in good form by winning two of the three early games. Jim and John won the doubles playing Robin Tasker and Paul Watson and Neil won in his match against Brian Walton. Steve had a much harder match against an Sally Slater with a 13.5 bisques advantage and narrowly lost by 1.
After lunch in the singles Jim and John both played well beating Brian and Paul with Steve having a long battle against Robin, finally winning on time. Neil played Sally with a 11 bisque disadvantage and struggled as Sally played well to win by 22.
With Crake players each winning a singles match and with the doubles win the final result was a win of 5 – 2.
On the previous day, the GC Handicap team of Roger Coates (12), Sandra Cornes (6), Simon Robins (7) and Frank Sharps (5) took on a strong Southport side led by Terry Dunbar at Crake Valley.
The 2 doubles games were shared but Crake managed to win 3 of the first 4 singles to take a lead of 4-2 mid morning. Thereafter the games were fairly evenly shared with the scores 6-4 at lunch and 8.5 to 6.5 going into the last round of games. Simon and Roger held their nerve to complete the necessary wins needed to ensure a final scoreline of Crake Valley 10.5 and Southport 7.5.
Crake Valley, therefore, retain the shield that they won when it was last contested in 2019.
Earlier in the month, Neil Adams won the internal knockout GC competition beating Roger Coates in the final 7-5.
A mention should also be made of father and daughter, Frank Sharps and Sandra Cornes who finished 4th and 3rd respectively in the National C level finals in the Isle of Wight the weekend earlier. John Armer (Crake & Westmorland) also qualified for the finals finishing in a creditable mid-table position.
South Coast trip
On Thursday 2nd September, the National Federation Shield Semi-Final took place between Sussex County and Crake Valley. Our team of David Cornes, Frank Sharps and Sandra Cornes fought a close encounter before narrowly losing 3 rubbers to 2. In the end the small number of extra turns given to our opponents proved to be decisive. Good luck to Sussex in the final.
A short trip along the coast then saw David play in the National B level finals at Compton (Eastbourne) over the weekend of 4th & 5th September. Although hindered by an ongoing ankle injury David managed to win 9 out of 16 games. This total was only bettered by 2 players including Tony McCann (Croquet Durham) who deservedly won the title with 13 wins.
Following his return home, David has received a diagnosis that his ankle tendons are damaged and he has to use crutches to get around. This means he has had to withdraw from the forthcoming prestigious CA “Ascot Cup” finals tournament in Hunstanton next weekend – a big blow after qualifying against the odds.
August Bank Holiday at Crake
A very busy 3 days at the club with the main event being the “Crake Valley GC Invitational Tournament” on the Sunday. Sixteen players from 9 clubs (as far afield as Llanfairfechan and Durham) were paired dependent on handicaps to ensure the combined handicaps were marginal and that, on paper, any partnership could win the trophy.
A close tournament followed with John Henderson (Penrith & North Lakes) and Kerry Dadson (Chester) winning 5 out of 7 games to take first place. Frank Sharps (Crake Valley) and Sue Kendall (Llanfairfechan) were 2nd with Tony McCann (Croquet Durham) and Pat Lord (Bury) 3rd.
There was a prize for the most colourfully dressed pair (Bernard Lord – Bury and Helen Barbour – Croquet Durham) – see picture.
Many of the Invitational players came over a day earlier to play in the Social “Roll Up”. As well as normal play of singles and doubles there was a challenge to complete 18 hoops in as little number of shots possible. The 18 hoops were spread across all three lawns ensuring some “long” shots were necessary as well as skilled touches around the hoops. The best Gross Score was Tony McCann (Croquet Durham) with 43 shots and the best NET score was Kerry Dadson also with 43 shots (53 – 10 handicap).
On the Monday, the final of the Internal Block took place between Sandra Cornes (6), Simon Robins (7), Graham Jowett (9) and Sheila Edmondson (12). Using the new “Advantage Golf” scoring system (rather than traditional extra turns) some close games followed. By the final round the outcome was dependent on the result between Simon and Sandra. Simon took his chances and played some exceptional croquet to triumph 7-3. After the games 18 members enjoyed a buffet and a drink in front of the clubhouse.
The level play GC team had to forfeit 4 games at Llanfairfechan due to injury and lost the encounter 13-5. Their final match is against Culcheth on Tuesday 14th September.
The handicap GC team will play Southport in the NW League Final Play-off at Crake on Saturday 25th September, and the handicap AC team will play their NW League Final Play-off against Chester in Fylde on Sunday 26th September.
2021 Millenium Handicap Golf Croquet Tournament
Crake Valley hosted the North West Federation Millenium Handicap Golf Tournament which featured 12 players with handicaps ranging between 2 to 12 from seven different clubs – Bury, Chester, Crake Valley, Fylde, Pendle & Craven, Penrith and Westmorland.
Running the Tournament as 2 blocks of 6 allowed everybody to play 5 games, after which the semi-finalists (1st and 2nd in each block) were calculated from games won and, where necessary, hoop difference. The games were closely fought with a high standard of play, the placings being determined in some cases by a single hoop.
Howard Bowron (Penrith & North Lakes), despite giving many free shots as the lowest handicapped player, still managed to reach the semis where he succumbed to Chester’s Tom Grievson 4-7. In the other semi-final, David Carpenter, of Pendle & Craven, lost to Fylde’s Lou Pel also 4-7. Tom and Lou then contested the final, watched by all competitors, with Lou coming out the eventual winner 7-4.
Two trophies were awarded, one in slate presented each year and, as an innovation this year, another in glass (crafted by Sandra Cornes) that Lou will keep in perpetuity.
There was universal praise and appreciation for the efficient way in which Sandra Cornes had managed the tournament.
Team and Individual Successes in AC and GC
Having had a narrow win over Bury Caesars in the NW Fed Handicap AC League and winning the North Section of the League, Crake Valley now will play Chester, the winner of the South Section. This match is likely to be played in late September. Crake Valley also recently won a Cumbria Tankard match against Keswick, although this did not affect the overall competition result which was won by Penrith this year.
In the Handicap GC League, Crake Valley have also won all four of their matches and will play Chester or Southport in the north-south play-off sometime in September.
In the Level Play GC League, Crake Valley recently had a 14-4 win against Chester Chariots, with an impressive debut contribution by Neil Adams. Crake Valley currently lie third in the League.
Five Crake Valley members played in the NW Festival of Croquet at Southport with both teams narrowly losing out on the title in both the Handicap and Level Play GC tournaments.
Individual successes include an impressive win by David & Sandra Cornes of the National Doubles Plate at Budleigh Salterton. David was also a member of the Croquet Association Select Team that won Division 2 of the Inter Counties Shield in Cheltenham.
The Cavendish Clock 7th – 8th August
On a rather wet weekend, the eight players who had entered the competition started in surprisingly good conditions with only light rain and very good lawns.
All of the minus handicap players started by winning their games and continued throughout the weekend until they played each other. Play progressed until halfway through the third round when the heavens opened. Play was suspended for an hour until the water cleared from the lawns, assisted by players. By the end of the day all four rounds were completed.
On the second day, rain delayed play and the number of rounds was reduced. The final round started with Richard Harding, Paul Rigge and Lorna Dewar all in contention. Richard had already lost to Lorna who still had to play Paul, both having won four matches.
Against Lorna, Paul started well but then appeared to loose a little concentration. Lorna played a very steady game and eventually won plus eleven and was the only unbeaten player – congratulations to Lorna on winning the Cavendish Clock.
Crake Valley Teams Successes and Tournament Activities
July has to date been busy and largely successful for the Club. The weekend Handicap AC League team continues to do well with wins away at Bury and at home against Pendle. Crake Valley is currently heading the North section, unbeaten in 3 matches (League table). The Handicap GC League team is also doing well having won a home match against Fylde Coasters and an away fixture against Bury: the team is currently heading the North section of the League table. The Level Play GC team which has done well to win 2 of 3 matches, losing out only to a very strong Chester Centurions team (League table).
In addition 4 members travelled to Ashby in Leicestershire to play High Wycombe, the holders of the National GC Federations Shield defeating them by 4.5 to 2.5 (see report).
On an individual basis, David Cornes excelled at reaching the semi-final of the Lancashire International Open at Pendle where he was beaten 2-1 by the eventual winner, Jack Good (Bowdon) (see report).
Frank Sharps Wins Hunstanton GC C-Level
Four players from Crake Valley recently played at Hunstanton in the GC National Series Qualifiers over 2 days.
On Saturday 6th June, David Cornes was beaten 7-6 in the final by Mark Buckley (Leicester) who now joins David in the National B level Final in Compton (Eastbourne)
The Sunday saw 8 players compete “all play all” with Frank Sharps beating all opponents to take the title and his place in the C level Final in Ryde, Isle of Wight, in September.
Earlier in the week the Level Play GC team played well to beat Pendle 15-3.
AC at Crake Valley in June
The internal Block AC competition is now progressing, but in external competitions our teams have had mixed fortunes. On Thursday 10 June, a team of Jim Allcock, Simon Robins and Dave Williamson lost a Cumbria Tankard match 3 – 0 at home to Westmorland. On Saturday 26 June, our first Weekend Handicap League fixture was against Bury Peelers and Jim Allcock, Neil Adams, John Henderson and Simon Robins travelled to Coronation Park in Bury. Their team included a talented young player who had only recently taken up the game and was involved in gaining two points for his team. Most of the singles games, however, went Crake Valley’s way and the match was won 5 – 2. Crake Valley is grateful to to the Bury team for their friendly hospitality and for providing such good lawns for play.
GC National Tournaments at Crake Valley
From 17th to 20th June, Crake Valley hosted for the first time, 4 days of GC National tournaments, with lawns in great condition and a marquee erected should players need to shelter from the Lake District unpredictable weather. In the end there was 4 days of back to back sunshine to help competitors produce their best croquet.
In the C level, 12 players took part with many games finishing 7-6. In the end John Armer (Westmorland) beat Crake Valley’s Frank Sharps 10-9 in a thrilling final. Sue I’Anson (Ripon Spa) took 3rd place from Tom Grievson (Chester). John is now eligible to play in the National Finals in September at Ryde, Isle of Wight.
The B level saw Tony McCann (Croquet Durham) unbeaten in his 7 games win the tournament with Mark Buckley (Leicester) runner-up. Tony is now eligible to play in the National Finals in September in Compton (Eastbourne)
The A level was 2 days of all play all twice for the 8 players. In the end Paul Durkin (Long Eaton Park) won with 12 wins followed by Charles Sale (Ealing), David Cornes (Crake Valley and Jane Pringle (Auckland).
The lawns and general conditions were greatly praised by all players who promised to return next year.
Cumbria Cup 2021
On the weekend of 12th and 13th June, Crake Valley hosted the Cumbria Cup, an Advanced Rules AC Tournament organised and managed by Jim Allcock. With two late entries, 8 players contested the event run as all-play-all so that each player could have 7 games. Congratulations to Paul Rigge on winning the competition without losing a game, beating Lee Hartley in the final. Steve Skelton took third place beating Richard Harding in the play-off.
Level Play Golf Team Start with a Win
In their first NW League fixture of the season, the Level Play Golf Team of David Cornes, Steve Skelton and Peter Wardle beat the visitors from Bury 13 – 5, with David and Steve each winning 5 games. The drizzly and overcast weather was brightened by the competitive but friendly spirit in which all the games were played.
More GC Success
Having spent many hours travelling to play at Ryde and the East Dorset Club in Poole, David Cornes has triumphed again winning the East Dorset B-Level GC Tournament held on 22-23 May, returning with another cup for the clubhouse cabinet. Well done David!
Meanwhile, the exterior surface of the clubhouse has received several coats of varnish and is looking good.
Success in the GC B-Level National Qualifier
Congratulations to David Cornes on winning the National GC B-level Qualifier held at the Pendle & Craven Club on 15 May. On a rather wet day, David competed with players from Leicester, Bury, Ripon Spa and the home club, finishing first by winning 7 of 9 matches.
In addition to receiving the Tankard, the win gives David a place in the National Final to be held in Cheltenham at the end of the season.
Social Croquet Expands and a Return to Competition
In addition to social games between members, the Club has seen a sharp rise recently in the number of groups enjoying croquet sessions, and many thanks to the members who give their time to organise and manage these events.
Competitive croquet has also returned and Golf Captain David Cornes travelled to play in the CA Open Series at Cheltenham mid April featuring some top players. The highlight was to play England number 2, Stephen Mulliner, who needed 50 minutes to beat David 7-3. Ranked 24th out of 28 David won enough games to end up 23rd overall. David enjoyed Cheltenham lawns and has been accepted into the National Open Championship series there at the end of May when he will be 31st ranked of 32. We wish him well for this event.
New Initiatives for Encouraging Croquet
Now that lockdown is starting to be relaxed, many people are looking for new outside activities and, as reported below, there is a resurgence of interest in playing croquet. The Crake Valley Club is helping to satisfy the anticipated increase in demand by welcoming players to a series of Pay and Play sessions during the summer. The cost for these 1.5h sessions is just £6, including an administrative charge by Eventbrite, but they must be booked in advance. Our site on Eventbrite is now live and can be viewed here.
A second initiative being promoted by Crake Valley member, David Cornes, the newly-elected NW Croquet Federation Development Officer, is to utilise Active Cumbria to publicise croquet as a game to promote both mental and physical health in all age groups. Active Cumbria now includes croquet as one of their promoted Activities & Sports and the Club’s entry can be viewed here.
Resurgence of Interest in Croquet
The Croquet Association has highlighted a BBC News report that Croquet clubs have been in ‘inundated’ during lockdown (click here for the report and video). As commented in the report, “Forget tea on the lawn, pressed slacks and the genteel clacking of balls, croquet is enjoying a modern comeback.”
Lawns are Looking Good
A lot of work has been done recently getting the lawns into shape and they have now had their first cut of the season. Many thanks to all those who have been involved. The Club is fortunate to have the lawns in such good shape this early in the season and, as the pictures show, both members and visitors are taking advantage.
Playing Croquet Again After Lockdown
Although the weather lacked the bright sunshine we had hoped would herald the resumption of playing croquet, spirits were lifted by the simple fact that play was possible on Monday 29th March. Pictured are a few socially-distanced players, well wrapped up against the stiff breeze enjoying a game. Let’s hope that the timetable for 2021 can progress as currently planned and that we can all enjoy an almost complete season of croquet.
Crake Valley Wins the Apps Heley Award
The Club is delighted to announce that Crake Valley has won the Apps Heley Award for 2021. This prestigious Croquet Association award is given every two years to the club with three or four courts that has made most progress at a national or local level over the previous two years. The major progress at the Club recognised by this award includes bringing a third lawn into operation with improvements in the quality of all lawns, as well as construction of the new clubhouse. Before (left) and after (right) pictures are shown below for the clubhouse and a newly-created parking area.
Much of the funding for these projects was obtained locally and was seen to be providing a local community facility attempting to provide croquet for all. Many members have worked tirelessly to gain this award but special thanks are due to David Cornes who has led the team with enthusiasm and determination. This is the result of a lot of hard work, not least of which was filling in a quite extensive award application! There is, of course, always more to do and the Club looks forward to continued progress in future years.
Crake Valley Member Elected to NW Federation Post
Congratulations to David Cornes who was elected as Development Officer for the North West Federation of Croquet Clubs. He replaces Sarah Andrew who is taking up a newly-created post heading a Croquet Association Funding Committee. We wish David well in his new role.
Changes Announced at the NW Federation Spring Meeting
At it meeting held on Saturday 6th March attended by Zoom and You Tube, several changes to the fixtures for 2021 were announced. These were of course driven by Covid-19 restrictions and the uncertainties over whether the phased timetable for lifting restrictions would be maintained. To give added confidence that the Festival of Croquet in Southport, the date of this event has been changed to the 14th and 15th August. The Cavendish Clock Tournament initially set to be played at Crake Valley on those dates will now be played one week earlier on 7th/8th August.
League Manager, Ivan Wheatley, proposed changes to the structure of all 5 NW Fed. Leagues involving splitting each league into north- and south- mini-leagues, mainly to avoid excessive shared travel to matches. The proposal was accepted but Clubs have until 21st March to confirm their participation before fixture dates will be announced. It’s planned that play in the leagues will start on 17th May.
Back on the Lawns
With a timetable now in place for releasing Covid-19 restrictions, we are all looking forward to playing again, starting on Monday 29th March. Please remember, however, that restrictions will still be in force, particularly for the first two weeks after resuming play. The details have been circulated by our Secretary, Sheila Edmondson, and can be viewed here. Enjoy your croquet!
Members were shocked recently to learn of the death of David Lloyd. David was undergoing surgery for a ruptured aneurysm on Sunday 14th February and tragically did not survive. Our deepest sympathy goes to his family and those close to him at this very sad time.
David was passionate about playing croquet with a great determination to succeed. He was a valued team member in all forms of the game, representing the Club at both league and national events. The picture shows David receiving the Winners Trophy in the 2016 AC Handicap Millennium Tournament.
David was also instrumental in pushing forward several projects to improve facilities at the Club. He will be sadly missed.
Lockdown Success at Crake Valley
Although the Club is closed in January with no possibility of playing croquet, some members have been working in shifts within social bubbles and Covid rules to improve drainage of the lawns.
Using a diagram from 2012 when some drainage work was undertaken, the members set about identifying, rodding and hosing out each outlet. There were 20 outlets (some buried) and all bar 4 of them had some level of blockage.
The beneficial effects of the drainage work was demonstrated recently following the deluge deposited by storm Christoph on Thursday 21st January. The lawn pictures below (left) were taken at lunchtime on that date and then again just 24 hours later (right). Whilst the Club will always suffer from a high water table owing to its location next to the river Crake, the pictorial evidence shows that standing water now drains much faster than before.
This work involved the Sandra and David Cornes bubble, ably assisted by (socially-distanced) Graham Jowett, and the Club is extremely grateful for all their efforts in bringing about this highly successful outcome.
Latest Restrictions dated 5th January 2021
In view of the most recent guidance from the Croquet Association:
The latest national lockdown guidance for England states that “Outdoor sports venues, including tennis courts, golf courses and swimming pools, must close.” The CA therefore advises croquet clubs to close until the restrictions are lifted.
the Club must now be closed for play until the situation changes.