“And The Winner Is…” A Roundup Of The 2023 Season

Perfect conditions during one of the last rollups of October.

Let’s face it.  Ultimately, the weather was the overall winner!

Having significantly delayed the start of the 2023 season, torrential precipitation (it sounds nicer than frog-strangler) inevitably ended our croquet activities earlier than all of us would have liked.

But overall, it was a great season at Broadwas Croquet Club. We held our heads high in external tournaments and enjoyed keenly fought and well-supported competitions at home, while Tuesday and Friday rollups continued to attract healthy numbers of participants from May right through to October.

As we approach the club’s annual lunch and presentations event, we highlight some of the best moments, news and achievements of the 2023 Broadwas season.


Whilst most of us were sharpening our mallets or refining their onboard guidance systems in anticipation of the club opening, there were pre-season changes in the committee room (aka the room where  Club Captain John Guy normally sits and curses players who haven’t filled in their handicap cards correctly).

In April, Stuart Smith stepped down as Club Chairman after a decade at the helm, with Fran Wall being elected as new Chairman.

John Guy said “Stuart became captain of the Club in 2010 serving for three years.  He then took over as chairman from Douglas Whittaker.  In this time, Stuart has promoted the Club and made us more competitive, while maintaining the great social and friendly atmosphere. 

John went on “During this time, the Club has won two national tournaments (Murphy Shield), several South West Federation titles at Golf Croquet and Association Croquet, eight West Midlands GC titles, three WM GC teams and two WM AC titles. Members have gone on to compete and win in national tournaments at all levels.”

During Stuart’s chairmanship, three lawns went to four and then five while membership numbers rose from about 30 to currently approaching 80. 

John added “From play on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons only, play has  become any day of the week – mornings, afternoons and evenings.  We now host Croquet Association B and C Golf Croquet tournaments and the club now has qualified coaches and referees.  Only AC playing numbers are down, but that is the case nationally.”

“The club is thriving and is well known in and around Worcester by the community. The club is financially sound, well equipped and we have more lawns than any other of the local clubs.”

Stuart, who stays on as club treasurer and committee member  thanked John Guy and Club President John Steel for all their support and dedication that they had given him, during his tenure as chairman.

Also stepping down from many years of work on the committee was Janet Bedford. John thanked Janet for her ‘massive contribution’ to the club. Despite stepping back from committee work, Janet organised a few of the popular club tournaments during the season, with Josie Watson.

On accepting the nomination for the vacancy, new Chairman Fran Wall thanked John Guy for all his work and enthusiasm as Club Captain and Secretary over the years. Jean Faulkner was elected as the new Secretary at the April committee meeting.


After what felt like an interminable croquet-free break, we were back in rollup action. Croft-cakes were plentiful and Barry Kirby’s legs were once again set free for a summer airing after suffering an extended and much resented spring hibernation.

Out of hibernation.

Meanwhile in the Federation League, the Broadwas Association team kicked off the 2023 season with a 4-3 home win over Kington Langley.  In the only other external match of May, the Broadwas team, captained by John Guy found stiff competition in the West Midlands Level Play (GC) competition however, losing 6-12 to a very strong Kenilworth side.  


Another good month for Friday afternoon cake, June saw Nick Reed’s High Handicap GC team entertain the Moreton-in-Marsh A team at Stoney Ley. The Broadwas squad had several players new to external competitions so it was perhaps not so disappointing that Moreton-in-Marsh won the match  13-7.

The Broadwas High Handicap team after their match against Moreton-in-Marsh A

After their flying start to the season, Stuart Smith’s Federation League Association team suffered a minor setback when they lost  2-3 against Cheltenham at Stoney Ley.

During the heat of mid-June, John Guy’s West Midlands Croquet Association team grabbed a well-deserved four points by beating a strong Shrewsbury team away. The team, comprising of John, Gill Brooks and Stuart Smith, were starting their defence of their league title. After a tightly-fought battle, Broadwas clinched a 4-3 match victory when Gill won the final game of the match 14-12.

Meanwhile, the Broadwas High Handicap team earned a keenly-fought draw in their second game of the season away at Kington Langley, 10-10.

On Midsummer’s Day, Eileen Holt’s South West Federation GC team kicked off their season with a flourish when they beat Cheltenham at Stoney Ley, by 13-7. The squad followed up this with another convincing win just a week later when they beat Worcester Norton 14-6 at Broadwas.

The Federation team weren’t so fortunate when they were beaten 1-4 by a strong Kington Langley home side.

Faring better, the Broadwas West Midlands Level Play GC team, comprising Billy Nicholson, Stuart Smith, John Guy, and Barry Kirby (who was making his debut in the squad)  chalked up a superb 13-5 win away at Eardisley near the end of the month.


A fantastic month for cake, July brought quite a bit of the moistness we all dread – even the mallets could be heard muttering oaths about the weather if you listened very carefully over the sound of Chris and Barry apologising – “Sorry, you’re going to have to use secondary’s.”

But despite being the 10th wettest recorded July on record, the club still managed to sidestep the raindrops and hold its annual competitions.

On July 4th, the overcast and damp weather failed to stop members enthusiastically competing for the Ryland Trophy, the club’s high-speed one ball singles competition. The winner of the trophy was Stuart Smith (of course), closely followed by the runner-up  Janet Bedford and third-placed Billy Nicholson.

Fran Wall congratulates Ryland Trophy winner, Stuart Smith.

Later in the month, despite a massive mid-match downpour, the club’s annual High Bisque 2023 tournament resulted in a great final between Janet Barber, Broadwas Croquet Club’s longest serving member and Billy Cooke, one of the club’s newest members. At the time of the tournament Billy had only played in  three rollups previously. Despite that,  he won all of his group stage games to eventually beat ten handicap Janet in the final.

Billy Cooke received the High Bisque trophy from Janet Bedford (left), who organised the tournament with Josie Watson, pictured with runner-up, Janet Barber.

In the external competitions, on July 6th, Cheltenham narrowly beat the High Handicap team at Broadwas, 11-9.

Also early in the month, the Broadwas AC team beat Bury in the Secretary’s Shield by an impressive six points to one, while the club’s West Midlands Level Play GC team beat Himley with an equally splendid 15-3 score line. Not only did Stuart Smith win all of his matches,  Jon Carrington also beat all of his opponents on his debut for the team as well as achieving a reduction in his handicap down to two.  

Late in the month Swindon suffered two defeats at the hands of Broadwas at Stoney Ley. Firstly, Eileen Holt’s South West Federation GC team beat the Wiltshire club 12-8, closely followed by the club’s Federation League AC team’s 4-1 win.

The Club rounded off July with its annual pig roast.  The well-attended event was blessed with glorious sunshine. Members enjoyed a splendid roast, followed by delicious deserts. The event also  celebrated the 100th birthday of the club’s  oldest member, Will Drake. Stuart Smith, the club’s former  chairman, presented Will with his own bench which has taken pride of place outside the club pavilion. After the presentation members took advantage of the ideal playing conditions and club captain John Guy introduced members to John Guy’s…erm…‘One Ball…Thing.’  (Well John seemed to know the rules he’d  made up and he was enjoying himself, so why spoil it).

Will is seen with (from left) Stuart Smith, Will’s daughter Jill, great grandchildren Bay Barnett and sister Margot, with Will’s granddaughter Laura.


Mercifully, the cake (or the lawns) didn’t suffer too badly from the downpours of July and the reasonable August weather  enabled the club to accommodate a very busy schedule.  

The month commenced with the club hosting the Broadwas heats of the B and C Level GC Tournaments, at Stoney Ley. The  heats attracted entries from many parts of the country and came from as far away as  East Anglia, the South coast and the London area, as well as attracting Broadwas players. One competitor had travelled from Switzerland to compete in the tournament.  

Broadwas triumphed in the B Level heat with Fran Wall beating our own Jon Carrington 7-5 in the final.

The following day, Broadwas’s Jeff Faulkner won the C Level heat by beating Peter Martell (from Cheltenham), 7-5.

Competitors in the C-Level tournament held at Broadwas, organised by Jon Carrington. (Inset: Fran Wall, B-Level winner and Jeff Faulkner, C-Level winner.

A few days later, John Guy’s AC team of Stuart Smith, Ian Dampney and Gill Brooks entertained Eardisley in the West Midlands Association Croquet League, winning  6-1 at a gloriously sunny Stoney Ley, maintaining their undefeated run in the league.

Action from Broadwas’s win against Eardisley.

Meanwhile, the South West Federation GC team suffered a rare defeat of 8-12 at Nailsea, while the High Handicap team snatched a 10-10 draw away to Moreton-in-Marsh B.

As we all know, Broadwas players are fiercely competitive and on August 17th the clubs annual doubles competition, the John Barber Trophy attracted a sizeable number of competitors.  The trophy is named in honour of John  who was a founder member of the croquet club and did huge amounts of work over two decades, helping to lift the club from a small village gathering to a club that won national trophies.

After a gruelling day’s play, the winning team of Chloe Ballard and Jon Carrington triumphed, beating runners-up Catherine Lane and Stuart Smith 7-5 in the final. It was the second year in a row that Chloe had been on the winning team.

Jon Carrington and Chloe Ballard received the trophy from Janet Barber.

Late in August, the phenomenal Jon Carrington, who only took up croquet in August 2021 qualified for the national finals of the Golf Croquet B-Level (3+) competition by winning regional finals at Ashby and Nailsea. Jon’s  four wins in regional tournaments made him the highest rated player  in the competition at the time of his qualification. At the time of his qualification, Jon had reduced his GC handicap to one.

Jon is seen hooping a long-range jump shot during the Barber doubles final.

The end of the month, unfortunately,  didn’t bring the desired results for club teams, with the Federation League AC team losing 1-4 away to a very strong Cheltenham side.   

Meanwhile West Midlands Association AC team succumbed away at Kenilworth, 3-4, after a hard-fought battle. Kenilworth’s win robbed Broadwas of a hat-trick of league titles., while the club’s South West Federation GC team lost its final game of the season, 8-12 away at Moreton-in-Marsh.

The final club tournament of the season was held at the end of the month when the over-80’s showed everyone how it’s done in the Annual Veteran’s Trophy, organised by Janet Bedford and Josie Watson. The tournament was finally won by Eileen Holt, who beat Gerry Stevens in the final. Gill Brooks clinched third place from club President John Steel.

Veterans competitors congratulated trophy winner Eileen Holt, pictured with runner-up Gerry Stevens and organisers Janet Bedford and Josie Watson.


Despite the approach of autumn, the enthusiasm of members didn’t dim during September, with some of the rollup sessions attracting large numbers and double-banking was the order of the day. More importantly, the cake kept coming.

The start of the month saw Fran Wall and Jon Carrington do the club proud with their performances in the National B-Level Croquet finals held during the first weekend of September. Fran and Jon both travelled to Eastbourne where they cometed with the remaining 16 who reached the finals following fierce competition in thirty heats held nationally during the season. The competition was open to players with 3-plus handicaps.

Jon finished the two-day finals weekend in third position overall, only losing one game (to the eventual tournament winner, while winning six games.

Fran ended the weekend by taking 12th positon in the national competition overall.

Jon and Fran, pictured during a doubles game in a recent tournament.

Mid-September saw the club’s West Midlands Federation’s Golf Croquet team end the tournament season in style when they won the Robertshaw Cup at Stoney Ley.

The tournament was fought between the top four clubs competing in the West Midlands Golf Croquet league in 2022. The final had to be postponed from May, due to the exceptionally wet weather at the start of the season.

Played by three player teams, Broadwas entertained the visitors from Himley, Eardisley and Kenilworth.  The Broadwas team was comprised of captain Stuart Smith, Fran Wall and Jon Carrington. The tournament was organised by Club Captain John Guy.

In the first round of the tournament, Broadwas beat Kenilworth by four games to two and in the second round beat Himley narrowly by the number of hoops scored in the game after a 3-3 draw. Broadwas scored 23 points against Himley’s 19. In the third round, Broadwas beat Eardisley 5-1.

Stuart Smith, Jon Carrington and Fran Wall pictured with competitors in the Robertshaw Cup.

September also saw the Croquet Association honour Club President John Steel a Diploma For Services To Croquet.

Presenting John with the award, former Club Chairman Stuart Smith said “John Steel is the sort of person that any croquet club would be very keen to have as a member!”

Stuart told club members “Broadwas has been fortunate to have had him for over 20 years. His contribution over that time has been immense. When he joined in the early days of the club, we only had one lawn cut into the outfield of the village cricket ground. Now, there are five lawns all with their individual eccentricities and 80 playing members.”

The first month of autumn also saw the conclusion of the club’s first in-house competition run under Advantage Play rules.   Twenty-four members took part in the knockout competition in which marbles are shunned in favour of players starting the game with scores which depend on their starting handicap.  Players with low handicaps could find themselves having to start the game with a negative score if playing opponents with higher handicaps. Players still aimed to achieve a score of +7.

Organised by John Guy, the Advantage Golf Croquet Open Championship was won by six handicap Rod Ellis, who beat nine handicap Jackie Guy in a tight game, 7-6, 5-7,   7-6.

Rod and Jackie.

The season had a brief interlude at the end of September to allow essential lawn maintenance work to be carried out.  

After a battle with the elements and frustrating equipment breakdowns, Jon Carrington completed the mammoth clean-up operation after the lawns were  hollow tined. Tining is the physical remove of turf cores from a playing surface to allow compacted turf to expand and allow air and moisture to be absorbed more readily.

Jon fought heavy rain, winds and several breakdowns of mowers and tractors over the six days but completed the task after a decent day of fine weather and two trips to a mower retailer to source spare parts (three critical bolts sheared during operations), to effect another repair.


As the season approached its premature end,  rollup fans thanked Chris Croft and his wife Glynis for their Friday afternoon cake treats throughout the season.  The dedication of members who selflessly munched their way through Glynis’s sumptuous cakes raised over £400 for the Macmillan Cancer Support Charity, topping the £217 raised during the 2022 season. As a token of appreciation, Gerry Stevens presented Glynis with a £50 gift voucher from members.

Gerry Stevens presented Glynis with a token of appreciation on behalf of club members.

On  24th October members received the unwelcome news that the 2023 Broadwas croquet season was officially at an end as a result of several days of torrential rain. If it’s any consolation, the lawns looked magnificent on the day that the committee reluctantly took the decision to close the lawns, especially since some deranged optimist had white-lined the day before.

The lawns, on the day they were rested for the winter.

And That, Is That, Apart From…

Just a few things to mention that weren’t highlighted above.

Of course, throughout the season, there were loads of games that didn’t receive coverage – and those were the fiercely-fought battles played out as part of Jeff Faulkner’s blocks competition. Thanks to Jeff for organising the blocks once again and for your coaching throughout the season.

And then there were members of the lawn and club maintenance teams, who weekly kept our five lawns in superb condition throughout the season and kept them watered during the brief hot periods. David Holt deserves a special mention, for his speed and proficiency in carrying out many of the repairs that need attending to during the year. Many thanks to all of them.

Of course, the members on the cleaning rota, organised by Gill Richardson, deserve our gratitude, as well as the members (mainly ladies) who help in the clubhouse when we entertain other clubs during tournaments and league matches. Thank you to all and for keeping the fridge well-stocked!

And then of course there are the rollup maestros, Barry Kirby and Chris Croft, without whom, members would perish of thirst and have to access calculators in order to figure out how to assemble into groups of four. Thank you.

And there would be no competition without organisers, so special thanks should be given to Janet Bedford, Josie Watson and John Guy. Thank you.

And then we should give thanks to those on the committee who organise functions like the pig roast and annual presentation lunch. Special mention should be given to Chairman Fran Wall and Paula Armstrong. Thank you.

Stuart Smith should also be applauded for his ten year tenure as chairman of the club (see above), which saw both the membership and lawn capacity grow. And as treasurer, Stuart has ensured the club has a sound financial base. Thank you.

And thanks should also be given to Eileen Holt and Nick Reed, who are both stepping down from their respective captaincy’s of the South West Federation GC Team and High Handicap Team. Thank you both.

And thank you, Roy Schofield, for your work for the club over the years and your work in setting up the club website. Roy has stepped down this year from his role as webmaster. Many thanks Roy.

Club President John Steel should also be thanked for his tireless work behind the scenes in fund-raising for a club defibrillator  and lawn maintenance amongst his many other club activities. We are also grateful for his organisation of the much anticipated winter club breakfasts, which keep us in contact during the winter months. Thank you John.

Members of the club committee, led by Fran Wall, also do a tremendous amount of work during the year to ensure that the club is properly maintained and complies with legal requirements. Thanks should also be given to members of the Broadwas Sports Association for all their work in supporting the club. Thank you.

That’s it. That was our year. I don’t think I’ve left anyone out…OOOH!

JOHN GUY. What a…GUY. He has an incredible workrate and we probably don’t appreciate all the stuff he has to do on behalf of the club. As well as organise tournaments, captain teams, coach, referee and shout at people who don’t fill their handicap cards in correctly or erroneously write on the front, John has to deal with most of the paperwork involved with competitions and the Croquet Association. The work he has to do is staggering. Just don’t mention the Golden Hoop, and you’ll be fine. Thank you John.

See you all at the November breakfast and annual lunch.