G e r a l d t o n C r o q u e t C l u b
History of Croquet in Western Australia
Croquet came from France, but the idea for the game comes from elsewhere. In fact Croquet has a common ancestor with Golf, in the Roman game of Paganica. A player of this game walked across fields and hit a small leather ball with a curved stick, aiming to strike certain trees. The sport developed in two ways. In country areas the target became a hole, and the game of golf evolved. In towns the game of Pall Mall (originally the French 'Paille Maille', i.e. 'Ball-Mallet') became popular. In this game the ball was played down an alley, passing through a number of small arches on the way. This was the forerunner of croquet, and was particularly popular in France. Pall Mall was introduced into Great Britain from France in the 17th century. There it gave its name to the London streets of Pall Mall, and The Mall.
Photograph by Maureen Nanson
In time, many versions of the game were invented, and the version most akin to today's croquet, with four balls in four separate colours, was introduced to England from Ireland in 1852, and quickly became popular.
In 1868 Walter Whitmore set out to organise the game properly, and he convened a meeting that resulted in the All England Croquet Club, with its headquarters at Wimbledon. The invention of, and subsequent enthusiasm for lawn tennis led to an extension of the title to the one better known today: 'The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club'. But a revival of interest in Croquet in 1897 led to the setting up of the English Croquet Association, and three years later it moved its headquarters from Wimbledon to Hurlingham.
It was shortly after this that Croquet made its public appearance in Western Australia, with the founding of various clubs. Many of these were centred on private courts in the grounds of houses, so it can be presumed that Croquet had been played for some time before, well back into the late 19th century. Indeed, a photograph in the Battye Library shows croquet being played in the grounds of Government House in 1860. The first club to be established in W.A. was at Fremantle (1900), although there are records suggesting there was already plenty of play at Kalgoorlie, also, in that year. Fremantle was followed by Subiaco, Busselton, and Bunbury Moorabinda (1904), East Fremantle (1906), North Perth, Leederville and Geraldton (1908), and York (1909). The origins of other clubs may also date from this period, but records are not always available. In the records that remain, mention is made of 57 clubs, or playing greens, that were in existence at one time or another.
Currently there are 21 clubs active around the state, some of which, like Augusta, Dunsborough, Halls Head, Mandurah and Sorrento were founded only within the last 25 years.
Excerpts from a paper by Hartley Slater, former historian and member of the management committee of croquetwest
Geraldton Coquet Club members have represented Western Australia as follows:
ASSOCIATION CROQUET STATE TEAM REPRESENTATION
Lionel Taylor 1974, 75, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82, 83
Olga Linden 1983 – 1996 inclusive and 2001
Bill Barnes 1985, 1986
Diana McCready 1992 - 1997 inclusive
Martin Clarke 1995, 1996, 1997 ( as a Geraldton Club member)
Kay Chynoweth 2015 (as a Geraldton Club member)
GOLF CROQUET STATE TEAM REPRESENTATION
Kay Chynoweth 2014 ,2015 (as a Geraldton Club member)
GCC thanks Martin Clarke (current Croquetwest historian) for providing this information and Kay Chynoweth for bringing it to our attention.
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