16th – 19th September 2016 in Hayling Island
The pétanque group was invited to join in a weekend involving U3A pétanque groups nationwide. Forty-four groups were invited to take part, sending as many teams as they wished. There was to be a competition for those feeling competitive, and a leisure group for those just wanting a friendly game of pétanque. In the end fourteen U3A organisations attended, sending forty-two competitive teams consisting of three players per team, and eight leisure teams.
Sandbach elected to play one team in each section. We originally had eight players, four per team, but one of our members fell the week before the competition, breaking her hip, and so was out of action.
We arrived at 2pm for a meeting to understand the rules for the weekend, and then went on to practise and receive advice from the organisers. It was at this point that we discovered how good the terrain in Congleton actually is, that we complain about weekly ! We were to play on narrow terrains separated from our neighbours by a cord ! They sloped in every conceivable direction, all different, making play even more of a challenge for those of us already basically challenged by skill level !
At 4pm we were able to check in to the accomodation – hi-di-hi !! Yes, we were to stay in the ACTUAL holiday camp where Hi-di-Hi was filmed ! And most of us found that the rooms had not been updated since the filming. However, the dining room was light and cheerful, and the food excellent, as was the evening entertainment. Shame we didn’t have time to try out some of the activities on offer – axe throwing ?
Saturday morning dawned very cold and very windy, but we were out on the terrain at 9 :30 sharp, ready to get stuck in. To give some idea of the opposition, some teams had been out practising at 07 :30.
The competition teams had been put into seven leagues of six teams.
Our first game was against Droitwich Spa 4. They were a friendly team and it was close up to 9-9, but final result 13-9. Then came Bournemouth 2 – they were very professional, and knew all the rules, but we held our own to 4-4, final result 13-4. Islington1 knew just what they were doing and the result was 13-2.
Break for lunch and then the sun came out and we came up against Stanford-le-Hope 6. They were such good fun we could hardly play for laughing, and it was quite close – up to 10-10, with final result 13-10. Fairford were very good, and knew it, but we held them to 13-12, with the last point very very close, and were very proud of ourselves !
It may seem (and would be true) from the above that we really weren’t doing very well – but many of the teams we played don’t just confine themselves to once a week with the U3A, they belong to leagues in their areas, and have played several times a week for years ! The team most like us were Stanford-le-Hope 6.
Meanwhile our leisure team were playing a starring role in the leisure league ! They played Stanford-le-Hope 2 and won 13-6, Droitwich Spa, winning 13-11, Evesham 1, winning 13-5 and finally lost to Elmbridge, 2-13. What style !
Sunday morning was much better weather-wise – hot and sunny.
Competition teams had now been split into Gold (the top two teams from each league), Silver (the middle two) and Bronze (us). The morning took the form of a mini league, each team had a bye for one game, and played two.
It soon became very clear that we had recovered from the jet lag of the day before ! We played Fairford 5, who were a great sporting team, fun to play, and won 13-3, then Stanford-le-Hope 6, our favourites from the day before, and won 13-3. We decided with them that one game each constituted a draw in real terms !
After lunch the competition became a knock-out. In the quarter finals we played Islington 2, winning 13-6, in the semi finals we met Hillingdon, winning again 13-6, but then came up against Malmesbury (who play in the Cotswolds league !) in the finals, bowing out at 13-4.
Meanwhile our leisure team was not having such a successful day as Saturday, playing Richmond (13-10), Evesham (13-10), both close games, and finally Elmbridge (13-1).
We were mentioned twice in the presentation – first for coming runners-up in the bronze, and secondly for having travelled the furthest to join in !
All in all it was a really fun weekend, and we certainly learnt a lot !