St Albans Croquet Club beaten in first of two national finals

St Albans Croquet Club missed out on the victory in the first of two national finals after defeat prior to the latest government restrictions in the Secretary’s Shield.

The Clarence Park club were the reigning champions and were up against Hampstead at the neutral venue in High Wycombe.

Having beaten Nottingham in the semi-final on a golden hoop, the St Albans team of Heather Bennett, Stephen Mills, Roger Bowman and Stuart Stafford were in confident mood but Hampstead too were in fine form, and able to field one of the country’s leading players.

The morning’s singles games were split but crucially Hampstead got the win in the doubles.

Bennett and Stafford pulled out an early lead but the match swung when Hampstead were able to peg out one of St Albans’ balls leaving them with a single ball and Hampstead with two, and a huge advantage.

The four singles games in the afternoon saw Stafford and Bowman win in relative comfort but in the crucial decider Hampstead were able to peg out again and claim a 4-3 success.

Their second final for the Longman Cup was postponed because of rain and is now unlikely to played until the new year.