Since 2003, each season the Club has
arranged a 5-day tour of the South West region with matches
against different clubs in the region each day, and with 4
nights staying at Butcombe
Farm, a local B&B.
Tour organiser: Mark Homan.
The 2006 tour started as usual at Swindon, where this year the hosts had combined forces with the neighbouring club at Kington Langley. Watford had never won at Swindon in previous tours, and after going down 1-3 in the morning the prospects of changing that record did not look very bright. But in the end four close games in the afternoon all went Watford's way, and Watford emerged with their first match win.
Bristol and Nailsea both fielded teams which matched the Watford teams quite
closely on handicaps, so several of the games at both venues were played Level
Advanced rather than Handicap. Both clubs had fast lawns after a long dry
summer, the lawns at Bristol being especially fast making it difficult to
control hoop approaches and shots near the boundaries. As a result all the games
at Bristol and nearly all at Nailsea went to time, with both matches being
closely contested at 4-6 and 6-4 respectively. Simon Hathrell had a particularly
tense finish against Pat Long at Nailsea, where he was 6 hoops down when time
was called. Having hit a long roquet he then managed to make 6 hoops on a 3-ball
break, falling just short on a long approach to the 7th hoop and so leaving his
ball in the jaws instead for a sudden-death finish. Pat then twice made
twenty-yard roquets in the rain to extract victory from - literally - the jaws
of defeat, nearly thirty minutes after time had been called.
At Taunton Deane the morning went Watford's way, with Simon Hathrell managing a shaky double peel, and two other games going to Watford +1 on time. In the afternoon, however, the fortunes were reversed somewhat with the opponents managing to make better use of their bisques than in the morning, and two other close finishes on time both went Taunton Deane's way leaving Watford once again with a close 6-4 match victory.
At Dyffryn the lawns were still delightfully green and evenly paced. Simon Hathrell and Mark Homan played a doubles game against Sue Mackay and Chris Williams, giving away half a bisque in spite of Chris Williams's formidable -1½ handicap. After starting well and getting one ball round to 4-back, they laid down the challenge to Chris Williams to demonstrate a tpo which he duly rose to (in spite of a false start in which he wasted the half bisque on a missed roquet). In the afternoon Ian Parkinson then captured a notable +26 victory in the singles against Chris Williams without using any of his 4 bisques, a win which turned out to be the only one of the day for Watford who struggled against in-form opponents using their bisques to good effect when they had them.
In addition to the enjoyable croquet games (and the enjoyable Croquet aperitif served at lunchtime at each venue), the tourists continued to use the evenings to develop their encyclopaedic knowledge of the best pubs in the vicinity of Butcombe Farm, and a great time was had by all.
|Tour results by year:
Tour photos by year:
|Date||Opponents||Venue||Results (Watford names first)|
|Thu 27 Jul||Away||
WON 5-3(Net index points: +20)
|Fri 28 Jul||Bristol||Away||
LOST 4-6(Net index points: -19)
Handicap change: Simon Hathrell 3 to 2½
|Sat 29 Jul||Nailsea||Away||
WON 6-4(Net index points: +17)
|Sun 30 Jul||Taunton Deane||Away||
WON 6-4(Net index points: +20)
|Mon 31 Jul||Dyffryn||Away||
LOST 1-7(Net index points: -40)