I hope you have enjoyed sharing fellow members' stories and reflections on good things that croquet has given us. Here are the last of the set, all on two themes -- 'achievements' and 'people'
Alan Clark gets us started:
"One for the AC player---during lockdown Sharon can't do a 2 ball break against me."
A best moment for Jean Douglas-Withers:
"Having been a golfer I found playing Croquet a big challenge. My best moment was a 'Hoop in One'.
Also it was a good way to meet other members, we were all beginners and helped each other understand the rules of the game, always with a smile on our face."
Julian Webster on people who helped get him started:
"A friend in Norfolk took me to the Hunstanton Croquet Club on their club afternoon. He explained that it was a different game, Club Croquet, from the Garden (Association) Croquet we used to play at home. He lent me his wife's mallet, the first square one I had ever seen. I played with him as my tutor all afternoon. Having found everyone so friendly I "Googled" 'Croquet Buckinghamshire' on my return home, found HWCC and joined in 2013 when they played at Missenden Abbey. I ventured up to the Hazlemere Recreation Ground and found a very flat piece of newly seeded earth.
Subsequently I learned that Duncan Reeve started his croquet career at Hunstanton CC.
Finally, Ralph made me my own square mallet!"
Mike Porter takes us further afield:
"One of my most amazing croquet experiences came when I was still a student. Our university team went on a tour of the North-Eastern United States, from Delaware up to Boston, for about ten days. Croquet in that part of the US was, from what we could tell, a rich person’s pastime … and many of the rich people were keen to be hospitable. Most notably we stayed overnight in a mansion in downtown Philadelphia where one of the paintings on the wall was a genuine Van Gogh! In Newport, Rhode Island, we stayed in another mansion overlooking the Atlantic. Not only that, but we played croquet in Central Park.
An incredible trip!"
(Editor's note -- I did promise you Van Gogh, all those weeks ago!)
Here are some moments of dedication to the sport from Pam Mead:
"Getting soaking wet after playing all day in the rain and still managing to be cheerful. Was I supposed to be enjoying this!
Breaking down on the M25 on the way to a league match at Southwick. Standing behind the barrier whist waiting for the AA to come with cars and lorries hurtling past. We eventually arrived three hour late and played the match."
An illuminating croquet tale from Geoff Youd:
"Many years ago when the club was at Bassetsbury Manor, a final of the doubles competition saw Pam Darvill and me up against Ruth Youd and Peter Meyers. It took place in the evening, and play went on in gathering darkness. Eventually, we even had a car's headlights turned on in the car park to give some (dim!) light.
Peter and Ruth were in the lead. Then, I asked Pam to send the ball over to me at hoop 3 back. She made a perfect shot landing in front of the hoop. Peter and Ruth could do nothing more than join up, I was able to run the hoop and thus my partner and I won the trophy."
Jennian Geddes makes a comment that we can all relate to:
"One of the nicest things about croquet is that you can be as thrilled and pleased over a great shot by an opponent as you can by your own master strokes. No word in English for that feeling, but I’ve been told that Norwegians recognise it and have an appropriate word: now I only have to find out what it is..."
Duncan Catterall reports progress in a tricky year:
"Normally I live in London, working full time in a job that demands a lot of my time. However for lockdown I decided to head back to my parents' house, conveniently located 20mins from the club. Temporarily moving back and working from home has allowed me to play far more croquet than ever! Last year I only played 4 times; this year - a lot! And the extra practice has paid off, as I have gone from an 8 handicap last year, to a 4 now.
I have also had the delight of meeting many more HWCC members this year."
As Jane Gloster relates, sometimes other things take priority:
"I was playing in a friendly, away match. Halfway through the game, my opponent suddenly --- and without a word -- walked off the lawn. I was concerned that she might be feeling unwell, so I asked her when she returned whether she was feeling okay. "Oh yes, I'm fine thanks," she replied. "I just remembered that I had forgotten to put the cucumber sandwiches in the fridge to be fresh for tea."
How very English, I mused, as our game resumed.
And finally, Don Rutherford takes us to two very good moments of croquet:
"The first occurred at Bassetsbury a few years ago. I was playing Roy Josh. He played first and absolutely amazingly his shot went up to Hoop 1, made a right-angled turn and went right through the hoop. We went up to the hoop to see what obstruction had caused the deviation but there was no sign of anything! As he was a spiritualist we put it down to a friendly intervention. He was highly chuffed.
But more was to follow - he went on to a score of six hoops with one to me. And then our fortunes changed. I went on to take the next six hoops!
I do wonder whether that event was what caused him to drop out of croquet ...
The second event occurred much more recently. I had just had a special lesson from Cliff Jones, which was really about keeping my head down, something that had always eluded me. The next day I played at Roehampton with Alan Clark as a partner. We played against some strong opposition. But I went on to play a near perfect game (much helped by Roehampton's billiard table smooth lawns ). Any shot I made, no matter how far, I hit the opponent's ball. I finally made a shot at a ball from about fifteen yards from beyond hoop eight. The opponent's ball was about two yards from hoop nine at an angle of 45 degrees. I hit it, my ball deflected and then nurdled right into hoop nine. At that point the opponents gave up.
Alas, that performance was never to be repeated."
Thank you, Don and everyone for sharing your 'one good thing from croquet'. Chris Webbley