GB hosted Ireland in the annual test match for the Maugham salver in Hamptworth Golf and County club on the 5-6th of September 2015. A very strong GB team were once again favourites against an Irish team of mixed form and inferior world ranking. The previous month's rain had slowed down the courts from their normal quick pace, but the promise of sunshine over the weekend gave us hope of challenging conditions in the picturesque club near Salisbury and the New Forest. Photos: Deep South Media
The GB team was:
David Maugham (Captain)
The Irish Team was:
Danny Johnston (Captain)
Charlie von Schmieder
The match began with doubles played on the three newest courts of the five Hamptworth boasts, and things were looking good for the Irish pairs after about an hours play.
The top pair of Simon and Patsy took game 1 against David Maugham and Jack Wicks with a well finished TP from the former, and the second pair of Danny and Charlie took their first game against Samir and James after a bit of a tussle. From here on the Irish fortunes took a turn and Patsy and Simon ultimately paid the price for some errors which crept in and failing to hit in at critical times. Similarly Danny failed hoop 3 on a standard triple peel and the pair were subsequently TPO'ed. The 3 ball game was close, but the Brits prevailed to take the game and peg down the match to allow the crossed round of singles to begin.
Evan was unlucky enough to face in-form Chris Williams, fresh from Narrowly losing the Northerns Final to Dave Maugham and ranked 30th in the World coming in to the event. Playing at 6, he was ranked 15 places higher than the Irish number 1: an indicator of the strength of the team Ireland were facing. Evan played smoothly and gave himself chances, but ultimately his few mistakes versus an absence of errors from Chris were his undoing. At the other end of the order, Simon fared similarly against David. Playing super-advanced rules (with an additional lift hoop and extra rules in the opening), there was much interactivity generated but once again errors Simon down. Patsy had a very good match against Jack Wicks the TPO trend began in the double continued: Jack took game one, and TPO'ed Patsy in game 2 before accidentally pegging his own ball off in the same croquet stroke leaving a 2 ball finish. Patsy played the 2 ball game very patiently, and seized upon his chance at 2-back and finished from there with a tidy 2 ball break. Sadly in game 3 Jack completed his TPO more neatly and Patsy's squeeze was not good enough to finish from. Jack Clingan sought to retain some of his Irish Championships form in this match and he got going several times against the James. Once again errors and inexperience were our undoing in this match, although James played well winning the first with a TP and taking the second soon after. GB team debutant Jeff Dawson played extremely well in his opening singles match, dispatching Charlie with two quick TPs in an excellent display. Indeed Charlie did well to hit and get a ball round such was Jeff's quality in that match. So with day 1 drawing to a close and Ireland yet to register a point, the match between Danny and Samir took on slightly more significance. Samir got the first ball around in game 1 before Danny hit and decided to TPO Samir as he seemed to be hitting well. Having completed the turn, Samir generated a squeeze. Danny ran away with his hoop 1 ball and Samir ran 1, hit the ball in corner 2 and finished! Things looked increasingly grim for Ireland when Danny then managed to fail hoop 3 on a triple in game 2. Samir then TPO'ed him and popped him to hoop 4 to avoid a squeeze. When Samir went trough 1-back, he split up having conceded the lift. Danny hit and finished from here with a couple of big strokes. Game 3 was a neat enough affair thereafter, a quick 6th turn triple from Danny sparing some Irish blushes.
That evening we were treated to a wonderful dinner in the club, yet another courtesy extended to us in addition to the generous members and lunches at the CA's expense. A few pints were had, shots that hilled off were cursed by all and the Irish left knowing they had a mountain to climb to gain a result the next day.
Day 2 began with sunshine and another good start for the Irish. Charlie took an early lead in his match with Jack and took game 1 after a tussle. Evan had some of the early play against James in their match played under super advanced rules and was looking good for his first game win. Simon and Samir also played under super advanced rules on court 3, and had to remove some sample deer droppings from the court as their games progressed: a day to day reality of playing near the New Forest! Danny faced Dave Maugham, and took game 1 with a quadruple peel, stopping at 3-back to avoid being pegged out again. There was more fight in the Irish performance from here on in, Simon battled back and took advantage of some errors from Samir to win his match, doubling Ireland's points tally in the process. Evan was disgusted when James displayed some skill to finish a TP off contact, but this is to be expected from quality opposition. Patsy was left ruing missed chances in his match with Jeff, and an equipment failure which saw his loose mallet head rob him of a 2 yard roquet. Jeff continued to play neatly and won with minimal errors, a very tricky customer indeed. In game 2 of Danny and David's match, David hit on turn 4 and had a ball around to 4-back. Danny subsequently hit and decided to go to 1-back, hope David missed his cross court shot and then TPO him next turn giving him a 6/7 hoop advantage in the end game. This duly went to plan, Danny getting an early peel on his own ball before hoop 1. He intentionally pegged 2 balls off, leaving David on 1 versus Danny on 2-back. It quickly became apparent that 7 hoops is not much of a lead when you are playing a player in the top 10, and very quickly Danny was for penult versus David's 3-back, before David hit Danny's ball in front of penult and finished! Game 3 was a strange one, no missed shots in the game but two errors for Danny leaving David to finish with a neat TP and another point falling from reach for Ireland. Jack was left in the remaining match after lunch. Game down, he made a great effort to get back and was on his second break to the peg before coming a cropper at 2-back. Chris quickly finished the match from here, but it was a close run thing.
Once again Ireland were left in English sunshine thinking of what might have been. Tired of our annual return to the drawing board, Patsy suggested we throw it out and get a new one. In truth it is currently difficult for us to compete with the depth of quality present in the UK, and only through a nurturing of the current players we possess to maximise their talent (at all levels), and the acquisition of additional players in Ireland will we be able to be truly competitive in this fixture.
Huge thanks must be given to the Hamptworth club and all it's members who made the trip so easy for us as a visiting team. Lifts to and from Southampton airport, comfortable and well prepared lawns with fresh painted hoops all make for a great experience. I look forward to returning to Hamptworth and seeing these generous people again in the near future. Special thanks must go to Carrickmines regulars Richard and Diana Stephens who did so much of the work and coordination to make the event run so smoothly. It was a huge effort on their part and we greatly appreciate it. Full results at https://croquetscores.com/2015/ac/maugham-salver-gb-v-ireland/great-bri….
Danny Johnston. Irish Captain.