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How Fulford Beat Maugham to Reach the Finals
by Hartley Slater
Posted November 16, 1997

Until someone invents radio play-by-play broadcasting for major croquet matches, Hartley Slater is unlikely to be surpassed in reporting to the croquet world what really happened in "the big game." Slater lives in Perth, does philosophy at the University of Western Australia, plays croquet often, and coaches for the state association. This is his next-to-last play-by-play from the 1997 World Croquet Championship in Bunbury, Australia.

Semi-Finals, WCF Championships, Bunbury, Australia, Saturday, Saturday, November 15, 1997, Robert Fulford v David Maugham:

First Game is a Classic One-Ball Duel

Fulford lays a Duffer tice from A baulk.

Maugham goes just out from corner II.

Fulford shoots at Maugham and hits. He brings both balls into the green, rushes the tice to A baulk, then stops it forward, getting position at 1. After 3-back on the three balls he puts Maugham out in a croquet shot, in the middle of the west boundary; his two balls being still near 5.

Maugham hits one of Fulford's balls from A baulk, putting that ball to 2 while going to his partner on the boundary. A take-off back gives him a rush on Fulford's other ball, to 1. He goes for a TPO, hitting the wire in his attempt at penult after 6, and the same happens after 1-back. He gets the ball in the jaws after 2-back, then runs 3-back so hard he ends near B baulk. He hits the pioneer for 4-back, which is displaced, but it enables him to rush-peel the ball in penult, and he comes down to 4-back, in the end, with the previous pilot ball at 3-back. His approach to 4-back, however, is well short, and he has to try for long and angled hoop. He makes it!

After making and peeling rover, Maugham pegs out both balls on the stick. It's therefore a two-ball game, with both remaining balls still on hoop 1.

Fulford starts with a contact lift on Maugham's ball near 4, and puts it to 2, subsequently moving into position at 1.

Maugham plays into corner IV. Fulford makes 1 and goes for position at 2.

Maugham goes to position a 1.

Fulford makes 2, but over-runs the approach to 3.

Maugham fails at 1.

Fulford takes position at 3.

Maugham makes1 and gets perfect position at 2.

Fulford makes 3 and approaches 4.

M makes 2, but over-runs the approach to 3.

Fulford makes 4 and gets an angled position at 5.

Maugham gets position at 3.

Fulford fails at 5.

Maugham runs 3, but is seemingly wired from Fulford! He attempts 4 from a long distance, hitting the hoop, and staying nearby.

Fulford turns round and hits Maugham, in the croquet shot putting Maugham behind 6, but not getting his own ball close to 5. Will he set up before 5, open to Maugham, or try the long hoop? He goes back, towards A baulk.

Maugham hits his ball to the normal tice position on the west boundary.

Fulford tries his hoop, but hits the wire and stays nearby.

Maugham fires at Fulford, hitting the hoop, and ending down towards 4-back.

Fulford goes to position. Is he open to Maugham?

Yes, and so Maugham hits him! Maugham rolls for his point, 4, but the hoop is angled and Fulford is behind it. He goes for the hoop, but glances off it, going to the boundary behind Fulford.

Fulford roquets Maugham and splits to 5, with a long hoop to make. He makes it, and the peg stops the ball travelling too far after it. With Maugham's ball at 6 he makes that point, but a short take-off from Maugham behind 1-back leaves him with no hoop, and he retires to corner II.

Maugham aims for position at his point, 4, but hits the stick, and stays there. Fulford over-runs the approach to 1-back.

Maugham, hampered, can only get to near 5.

Fulford corrects his position.

Maugham goes in front of 4.

Fulford makes his hoop, leaving himself still a long one, at 2-back.

Maugham makes 4 and roquets Fulford, splitting to 5, and proceeds to 2-back on the two balls, where his long roll approach goes wide, and he withdraws to the middle of the east boundary.

Fulford gets position at 2-back.

Maugham shoots at him, hitting, but fails an angled hoop with Fulford nearby.

Fulford hits him, makes this point, and the next, but does not get a rush to 4-back. He carefully puts Maugham on the boundary beside 3-back (so that he is hampered by 3-back from getting too close to 2-back?) and takes off, failing at the next hoop, but staying by it.

Maugham approaches 2-back.

Fulford sets up in front of 4-back.

Maugham makes his point, and gets good position at 3- back.

Fulford makes 4-back and approaches penult.

Maugham runs 3-back but past Fulford and almost to B baulk. Nevertheless, he aims for Fulford, missing.

Fulford runs penult, but past rover, to A baulk. He just puts his ball a few yards into the green.

Maugham puts his ball in the tice position, again.

Fulford goes almost into corner I.

Maugham goes for position at 4-back, but he is a distance from the hoop.

Fulford shoots for position at rover; he is much closer.

Maugham has a considerable think, then he just moves closer to his hoop.

Fulford tries his hoop, but fails, staying just in front.

Maugham makes his 4-back hoop and gets perfect position at penult.

Fulford makes his hoop, and then goes opposite the peg on the east boundary.

Maugham makes penult, getting good position at rover in that shot. He makes the hoop, going through to A baulk. After some thought he goes for the peg, missing, ending on B baulk.

Fulford fires at the peg, missing.

Maugham comes in to the peg, maybe three yards from it.

Fulford misses the ball.

Maugham wins the first game.

Fulford Evens the Score in More Normal Game Two

Fulford puts out a Duffer's tice, from A baulk.

Maugham goes just out of corner II.

Fulford shoots at Maugham, missing, and leaving a double.

Maugham gets a cannon, going to 4-back with a 2-4 leave.

There is a double from corner I which Fulford considers, and then takes with his ball at 2, missing.

Maugham lays the green, then takes Fulford's ball at 4 across to his point. But he fails at the hoop.

Fulford takes over, going to 4-back. He starts to peel Maugham's backward ball through1 after 4, finishing the job after 5; then trying to peel it through 2 after 1-back, succeeding after 2-back. The leave has Maugham's forward ball just out from corner IV, his other ball at the stick, with Fulford's balls in the middle of the west boundary with a rush into the green.

Maugham takes the ball at the peg to A baulk and fires on Fulford, going into corner II.

Fulford rushes over to the east boundary, getting behind the ball near corner IV, and rushing into corner II, making a cannon! He triples out.

Second game to Fulford. Match score: 1-1.

Game Three: Fulford Triples Out Again

Maugham sets the Duffer tice from A baulk.

Fulford goes to the boundary behind 3-back.

Maugham shoots at him, missing.

Fulford shoots at the tice, missing.

Maugham, therefore, is in. After 3-back he sets a 2-4 leave again, this time with no double from A baulk.

Fulford takes the ball at 4 and fires on Maugham from B baulk, hitting. He leaves the hit ball in corner IV, obtaining a rush on Maugham's other ball to 2, but does not get a good rush to 1 on the ball there, ending well over towards corner IV, and having to roll to his point. He makes the hoop, but cannot get the ball on the other side easily. Nevertheless he roquets it, wielding his mallet horizontally, and proceeds to 4-back with a 2-4 kind of leave (the ball at 2 is well out, the ball at 4 has gone a bit into the hoop).

Fulford's balls are open from the middle of the south boundary, and Maugham takes that shot with his ball at 2, missing.

Fulford puts a ball near 4 while getting a rush to 1, coming back after the hoop, in a rush, then stopping that ball to 3, clearing the ball from the hoop and getting a rush on the other ball there to his point at hoop 2. He triples out again.

Fulford's game. Match score, 2-1 in Fulford's favor.

Maugham See-Saws to a Win in Game Four

Maugham sets a Duffer tice from A baulk.

Fulford goes behind 3-back.

Maugham hits, putting Fulford's ball to 2, with a rush on the Duffer tice to 1. He is in a reasonable position, but fails at the hoop.

Fulford hits him from A baulk, with the fourth ball, and proceeds to 4-back with the standard leave.

Maugham takes the ball at 2, and fires from B baulk at Fulford, hitting. He leaves the hit ball behind in corner IV, getting a rush into the green on Fulford's other ball. After a split to 2, he has a rush on the ball at the peg to 1, but he gives himself a long hoop to make, and fails.

Fulford might have fired on the two balls at 1 with his ball at 2, but F's backward ball is the one in corner IV, so he fires that ball at Maugham, missing.

Maugham shoots at this ball on the boundary first, before going for 1, and then proceeds to 4-back with a 2-4 leave (the 'new standard' leave, to some).

Fulford takes the ball at 2 and fires on Maugham from B baulk, hitting. He croquets the hit ball to 2, getting a rush southwards on Maugham's other ball, then rushes across to 1 with the ball at 4.

The game looks finished, but there are problems. Fulford peels 4-back at 3, but the rush after 4 hits the leg of 4-back, staying right there. This proves a bit of a difficulty, and after 5 there are still two balls near 4-back, though both are clear of the hoop, and both are in the game by 6. But several attempts at the penult peel fail, and it does not come about until Fulford is at penult itself, when, in the croquet stroke which does the job, Fulford's other ball hits the wire and goes to one side.

Fulford had looked to have the game and therefore the match, but the situation changed dramatically at this point. For, although Fulford does a saving shot, Maugham's ball for 1 remains near the peelee. Maugham takes the shot, and adjusts the green, getting in front of 1. Surely it is now to be Maugham's game. But he fails in the hoop shot, and Fulford's backward ball is the pilot at 1.

So Fulford hits in, and makes penult. But he does not peel, or make rover, since the peel bounces off the leg, first of all, and the attempt to half-jump it through glances the playing ball off the wire, too.

All the balls are now around rover. Maugham plays his ball for 1 again, and triples out. Fourth game to Maugham, match score 2-2.

Fulford Puts it Away in Game Five

Fulford lays the Duffer tice from A baulk.

Maugham goes just out of corner II.

Fulford hits Maugham and, as in game one, goes to 4-back on the third turn. This time he sets a more controlled leave, however, putting Maugham midway down, near the west boundary, with his balls near, and on either side, pretty much all in line with the peg.

Maughamfires from B baulk and hits, going to 4-back with a 2-4 leave.

Fulford takes the ball at 2 and plays on Maugham from B baulk, missing and going into corner IV.

Maugham touches his backward ball, goes to the ball in the corner putting it forward to 2, and getting a rush on the ball at 4 to his point, 1. All very standard. Maugham should triple out.

But Maugham jaws in 6 with all the balls nearby.

Fulford hits in with his backward ball. He does the rover peel partly before and partly after 3-back.

Game to Fulford. Match to Fulford, 3-2. Time elapsed, eight and a half hours.

A fine performance by all parties. Croquet as it should be played. A gripping drama all day, setting the stage for the final contest.

[Come back for Hartley Slater's play-by-play reportage of the finals between Robert Fulford and Stephen Mulliner.]

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