We were honoured to be one of the four clubs supporting this event in July/August 2019, with 80 competitors from 19 countries taking part. The other clubs were the main host Sussex County together with Compton and West Worthing.
A 24-player Qualifying Tournament in testing conditions took place at Guildford & Godalming with Simon Carter, Chris Roberts, Liz Farrow, Stephen Leonard, Helen Reeves and Richard Brooks (after a play-off) all qualifying and the final place won by David Wise in a play-off against Raouf Alim. Detailed results for this, as well as the Main Tournament are all on croquetscores.com.
Much planning and publicity took place locally, with banners and flags put up around Tunbridge Wells, in addition to Radio and TV interviews and (mostly local) press coverage.
The Opening Ceremony was performed by the Duke of Gloucester (shown here with the Presidents of the WCF and the CA) at Southwick.
The first day (Saturday) started catastrophically for us, with 50mm of rain, so we were unable to host any play until after lunch and the planned opening by the Mayor (plus media?) had to be cancelled. Luckily this was the only major weather intervention throughout the event and things proceeded well with the completion of the eight Blocks on the Wednesday.
Simon Carter as the main sponsor had a stonking result winning his block with an unbeaten record. Apart from this there were no major surprises in the Knock-Out qualifiers.
Simon’s comeback at hoop 12 to level the scores with a jump shot against Fathy Farouk in the decider with his starring hat:
and the finish:
However the first round of this was “carnage” with all four previous GC World Champions had been eliminated. First to go was Ahmed Nasr, losing 4-7, 5-7 to the solid Jonathan Powe. Next, it was reigning champion, Reg Bamford losing 4-7, 4-7 to Nick Archer. Third out was Mohamed Nasr losing 7-6 in the third against Josh Freeth, so less of an upset. Finally, 2015 champion Ahmed El Mahdi lost 6-7, 3-7 to Fathy Farouk. The final surprise first round result was the English Captain, J-P Moberly losing 7-6 in the third, having led 6-4 against Hamish McIntosh.
Crowds gradually built day by day, without any exceptional surprises, until about 300 were watching the gripping Final at Southwick between Ben Rothman from the USA and Mohamed Karem from Egypt, with more than 500 around the world watching the livestreaming.
In general both players were deadly at clearing balls from 13-20 yards, so use very different tactics to most players, and with very different styles in grips and mallets. Rothman uses a variation of the Solomon grip, with both hands hinged at the top of the mallet. Karem uses a variation of the Egyptian style, beginning by setting up the shot with hands at the top of the mallet which he moves down to the middle of the mallet on hard hitting shots to make the stroke (the top hand only grips the mallet between the thumb and first finger).
Mohamed got two games to one up (5-7, 7-2, 7-3) and was leading 6-3. Everyone was beginning to engrave his name on the trophy, but Ben fought back tremendously. Mohamed didn’t really have a chance to win at hoops 10, 11 and 12, but had an opportunity at hoop 13 to win by running it from the boundary (7 yards). Sadly for him it clanged against the wire; he then had another opportunity for a jump shot from the boundary, but missed, and Ben took his 6½ yarder to level the match.
In the end Ben’s nerves stood up to the tension better than Mohammed’s and missed fewer hoop attempts, so ran out as the winner in the final game 7-5 to become the first American World Champion after a gruelling match – starting at 11am and finishing up at 5:15pm
Bronze medal winners were Hamy Erian and Josh Freeth. 5th to 8th were respectively Roger Bilton, Mostafa Nezar, Stephen Mulliner and Jose Alvarez-Sala.
In parallel with the Knock-Outs there were also competitions for the losers – the Plate for those who didn’t qualify for the Knock-Out, the Bowl for losers in the first round of the Knock-Out and the Shield for second round losers. The Plate was won by Euan Burridge (England) beating Lionel Tibble (England), the Bowl by George Coulter (New Zealand) beating Harry Fisher (England) and the Shield by Duncan Dixon (New Zealand) beating Tobi Savage (England).
We had locally a great success with three sponsors contributing (AV Trinity, Wells Associates and Thompson, Snell, Passmore plus a grant from Royal Tunbridge Wells Together) and many spectators, in addition to some filming from Escape to the Perfect Town. The postings we made on this website can be accessed via this page.