Return of Gilsenan to the croquet court

Mike Gilsenan made his return to competition croquet on Thursday 8 May. Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS. 241964_09

By John Thomson

Last weekend the Australian doubles championships were held at the Victorian Croquet headquarters at Cairnlea over four days, so there is no Monday Level Play report for this week.

In the Thursday Handicap competition, Lilydale played host to Mornington.

This week’s team consisted of Alan Jones, Mick Crawley, Liz Stewart and Mike Gilsenan, making a long awaited return to the team.

Mick Crawley played in the first singles. Because the Mornington player was on a much lower handicap than his Mornington opponent, Mick had a two hoop start and his opponent had a two hoop deficit. Mick ran the first hoop so straight away he was on three hoops, this put his opponent under all sorts of pressure and he had to try and make up ground by going for hoops that he would normally not do. Mick kept playing his steady game and went on to win 7 hoops to Mornington 1 hoop.

In the first of the doubles Alan Jones and Mike Gilsenan teamed up. The Mornington team were starting just one hoop behind Lilydale this time. Mornington ran the first hoop, so from then on it was just like a level play game. This game turned out to be an epic affair that went for about two hours. Each side was playing some really good croquet by clearing their opposition balls away, so when a player eventually had a hoop shot they had to make the most of it. In the end Lilydale won 7 hoops to Mornington 6 hoops.

In the next singles Alan Jones was playing. The Mornington player was starting one hoop behind Alan. The Mornington player made up his one hoop deficit at the first hoop, so from then on it was again like playing a level play game. This game went hoop for hoop and both players were on six hoops each so they had to play the thirteenth to decide the winner. The Mornington player was able to set up better and then run the hoop to give Mornington the game, 7 hoops to Lilydale 6 hoops.

Liz Stewart and Mick Crawley played in the next doubles. Lilydale were starting two hoops in front and the Mornington pair were 1 hoop behind. The more experienced Mornington team soon took control of the game, they worked their way into the lead and then controlled the rest of the game to win 7 hoops to Lilydale 4 hoops.

Because the first doubles game took so long there was no lunch break, everyone just had to grab a bite to eat and something to drink when they could. At this point the scores were Lilydale 2 games 24 hoops Mornington 2 games 21 hoops. With only three hoops separating the two teams, and two games to play, Lilydale were wondering if it was going to be another drawn game again as it was last week.

In the last singles game Mike Gilsenan was playing, Mike had a one hoop advantage on his Mornington opponent. The Mornington player started well and was soon two hoops up, but Mike fought back and got within one hoop of his opponent, but an errant shot by Mike put his opponent’s ball through the hoop giving the game to Mornington. Mornington 7 hoops Lilydale 5 hoops.

With the last doubles game to be played, Lilydale had to win this game to win the day. Alan Jones and Liz Stewart were playing. Lilydale were starting one hoop in front and the Mornington team two hoops in arrears. Lilydale started well and did not let the Mornington pair make up any ground. Lilydale 7 hoops to Mornington 3 hoops.

This win by Lilydale evened up the games so it was again down to the hoop count.

The final scores Lilydale 3 games 36 hoops to Mornington 3 games 31 hoops.