The Moreton Shield
‘Vitality’, ‘well recognized potential’, ‘exuberant youth’, ‘antithesis of arrogance’, ‘quite high toned’, ageing potential’. Some of these describe participants in the Moreton Shield well, some do not. They have actually been lifted from the wine selection brochure of tournament sponsor, Mark Savage. Some actually describe his own stellar performance rather well and some …
Play for 7 boxes started early on Friday and the quarter-finalists lined up after midday on Sunday. Harry Walsh’s supporters’ club arrived in force to cheer him on against Dr. John Murphy who had earlier scraped past Bernie Spratt 5/4. He managed the same score line as Harry fluffed some good opportunities. His fan club returned from whence they came. John Franklin, who had knocked out Tony Branfield, was unfortunate that James Richardson was already at the club having been late for every other session – usual problems- surprising traffic jams in Moreton-in-Marsh and Stow-on-the Wold on Armistice Day, roadworks in place since July, cycle rallies, slow moving tractors – driving in this country really is a bitch these days! I digress. Another 5/4 score as James, unflustered, squeaked through. The Fire Brigade had to be called as the sponsor was truly on fire. Having destroyed a hapless Mark Maclure 5/0, he meted out the same treatment to George K. who had put pay to the Chairman’s weekend with, yes, a 5/4 victory. The last quarter was between the young bucks – the ‘exuberant youth’ of Jon Lambdon and Jonny Miller who had defeated Keith Beechener and Peter Lewis respectively. Miller got off to a rip roaring start hitting the ball powerfully and crisply but Jonny Lambdon, quick and determined, clawed his way back into the match proceeding from 3/3 to win the next two games as Miller started to make unforced errors often caused by a propensity to play half volleys.
The first semi was an excellent affair between Murphy and ‘Bibury Plasterer’ Richardson who at a crucial point managed to leave the ball at the service end when playing a hazard chase. Murphy capitalized and muttered his strategy at 4/4 which was to ‘keep serve’ which he promptly lost, but from the hazard end bashed two successful forces to take the match, unsurprisingly, 5/4.
In the other semi, Lambdon was faced by 67 handicapper Savage whose game has improved immeasurably despite being beaten regularly at Oxford by aspiring newcomers to the game. He cruised into a 3/1 lead but Lambdon crawled back to 3/3 and took a 4/3 lead which he promptly lost. Once again it was 4/4 and Mark forced to the dedans to go 40 owe 30 up. Lambdon’s ‘vitality’ and ‘well recognized potential’ dissipated like a punctured balloon … Needless to say it was an insurmountable mountain to climb.
And so to the Final which was a fascinating culmination to proceedings which see sawed its way to its denouement. At 3/3 Murphy poked his head in front, only for Savage displaying his ‘ageing potential’ to haul himself back to 4/4. Spurred on by King Edward VII’s comment from the dedans that Mark had borrowed the Chairman’s legs (they seem to be doing better than yours Norman was the instant reply- from the Chairman) he went 5/4 up only for Murphy to reveal a ‘quite high toned’ response to go to 5/5 and in the final game revealed great concentration, control and ‘vitality’ in the face of a challenging handicap, to finish as a worthy winner of the Moreton Shield, although there is no longer enough space on the trophy which means the problem is now firmly in the Committee’s court!
So it was a weekend for those whose handicaps seem miraculously to remain static or rise upwards (‘I really don’t understand why my handicap keeps going up’) and bemoaners of having to give huge handicaps (welcome to others’ world!) They dominated the stage like colossi in the 2018 Moreton Shield!