Champion rollers lose their marbles

The British Marbles Championships went ahead yesterday despite losing the "tools of the trade".

A consignment of 300 new tournament marbles vanished en route from the Devon manufacturers to a village in West Sussex where the annual championships were being held.

But organisers and players managed to scrape together enough old marbles to play.

Tournament spokeswoman Julia McCarthy-Fox said: "We managed to find enough old marbles from people's homes and it was agreed that since everyone was playing with them, no one would have a disadvantage. We even tried Maltesers at one point, but it was a hot day and they didn't last long."

More than 100 players competed in the tournament at the Greyhound pub at Tinsley Green, near Gatwick.

Reigning champions the Black Dog Boozers, from Crawley, were defeated by the Barrel Scrapers from South Norwood, south London. The individual winner was Paul Smith, from Charlwood, near Gatwick, and the best woman player was Jeannette Le Bon, captain of the Barrel Scrapers.

Players had to knock 49 target marbles out of a 6ft sand-filled ring.

Ms McCarthy-Fox said the tournament marbles had been sent by Parcelforce delivery on Monday. A Parcelforce spokes- man said: "We are extremely sorry this particular parcel seems to have gone astray." An inquiry was under way, he added.

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