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Images: Philippa Grafton
Being fashionably late is the way to make an entrance at a croquet match. While Student Union Presidents Tim Ngwena and Robbie Pickles arrived early to set up the hoops for the game, the Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors appeared half an hour later, driving through campus to arrive at the Heslington Hall lawn.
All involved - except Lancaster University Vice-Chancellor Prof. Paul Wellings - removed their formal ties in preparation for the game, whilst notorious croquet player (and York's own Vice-Chancellor) Brian Cantor quite literally rolled up his sleeves. The game was set to be competitive from the start although BC the VC looked particularly confident in spite of the continual drizzle.
At the forefront of 2011 croquet fashion trends, University of York Chancellor, Greg Dyke, upheld the decorum of the event in a dark navy suit and pink shirt. All three Lancaster players were sporting an item of red, to various degrees of stylistic success.
After Cantor adamantly making sure each of the six players understood the rules, Ngwena took the first shot. Cantor went on to run the first hoop, letting York streak ahead of their opponents for the first three of the game's six hoops. Croquet-novice, Pickles, tried to make light of the situation, yet could not ignore the fact that Lancaster were trailing far behind.
A stroke of luck saw two balls knocked into the fountain pond next to the green, causing an onslaught of cheers from both sides. Dyke gave Ngwena a helping hand to fish them out, but team mate Cantor looked on with eyes eager and impatient to continue game play.
As Lancaster finally reached the fourth hoop, the York team had already managed to send one of their balls towards the peg. The powerful shot from Cantor meant York then used a number of volleys to hold up their chances of winning until the other three balls in the game caught up.
Although the match did not contribute to the overall Roses score, tension started to build as a fortunate shot from Lancaster's Chancellor, Sir Christian Bonington, allowed his team to catch up at the both the rover hoop and the peg.
Wellings - the only player with a tie left on - narrowly missed knocking York's first ball out of winning alignment. York could not afford to take any playful chances, so Dyke swiftly sent York's first ball to the peg. As Lancaster's game began to improve at the rover hoop and managed to reach the peg in record time, Cantor took a tactical shot to send their ball backwards. Both Ngwena and Dyke overhit shots to take York's second ball to the peg, but it was expert player Cantor who sealed the victory for York.
Cantor and Ngwena may have had a brief practice on Tuesday, yet the University's Chancellor revealed to Nouse that the key to croquet is having a competitive edge, describing it as "quite a nasty sport". Well - maybe when player-of-the-match Cantor is your opponent.