Sidmouth Herald published 14 June 2018
Photo: Julie Sorrell, Andrew Thomas and Jon Ball of Sidmouth Croquet Club
There’s something quintessentially English about croquet on the lawn. And there can be few places better to play it than in Sidmouth near the seafront on a sunny day. “It’s like snooker on grass,” said Richard Thurlow, only half joking. Sidmouth Croquet Club chairman Peter Nelson described the game as “fun and dangerously addictive.”
With the exception of the war years, croquet has been played at Sidmouth since 1902 and the Fortfield lawns have become a popular venue for open and national tournaments. The home club flourishes with over 120 players.
“Most games are either the traditional association croquet where all balls must run each hoop in order or ‘golf croquet’ which has a simplified format and is also very popular,” said Peter.
Current club champion is former England international Dave Mundy but the club caters for all skill levels and new members are predominantly beginners who receive suitable coaching. All equipment is provided and the only requirement is that players have flat-soled shoes.
Sidmouth’s most celebrated player was Humphrey Hicks who dominated the sport in the 1930s and 40s winning 46 national titles. These days the club fields seven teams in various South West leagues as well as running a number of internal and open competitions.
Andrew Thomas was the Greek Open winner in 2016, though he admits the field was limited.
Members of Sidmouth Croquet Club enjoyed their annual short croquet competiton at the Fortfield lawns last week. Short croquet is one of a number of variations of the game and played on a half-size lawn.
Branching out further afield, a team was sent to play Dublin last year and later this season a team is going to Vienna. In recent years, individual members, who value winter sun, have also travelled to Australia, Greece, New Zealand and South Africa to play.
The club which is integrated with the cricket and tennis activities at the Fortfield also enjoys a very strong social element.