Nowra Croquet Club celebrates 100 years of ‘the mind sport’, a dirty game for nice people

Those who play croquet say it’s 15 percent skill and 85 percent psychology, an aggressive game played by nice people with smiles on their faces.

The nice folks at Nowra Croquet Club are celebrating a century of play this year and are today launching a book celebrating 100 years since the club’s founding.

Nowra Croquet Club secretary Karen James has initiated the production of the book.

It proudly highlights a unique feature of the club – largely women-only throughout most of its history.

Mrs. James is holding a photo
Karen James holds a photo depicting women from the last century. ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss

But it’s not a women’s club anymore.

“Our first male, as can be seen in the book, only joined in 1982, so that was a long time ago [only for] ladies, and of course they played in long skirts.”

“Ladies played sideways with their hammer because it was inappropriate for a woman to push a hammer between her legs.”

Patience, perseverance and a playful spirit are required for this hard hitting game.

“It’s been called ‘the mind sport’ and that’s especially important for us older people,” said 82-year-old player David Knott.

The Nowra Crochet Club and members play a big part in the life of Mr Knott, who joined the club five years ago and plays regularly.

“You’re trying to outsmart your opponent. You’re looking for the position of their balls versus the position of your own. You have to estimate what stroke you’re going to make to score that hoop.”

“The trick is to move the opponent’s balls as far away as possible.”

“You have to think and you’re practicing all the time. That’s the most important thing – you keep moving.”

People playing croquet
Members of the Nowra Croquet Club play in all weather conditions. ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss

Pam Harrison started crocheting when she was 89.

She is now 91 and not only does she love it, according to club members she is also quite good.

“You can still play croquet with a walker, you just have to leave it there for a while while you grab your mallet and hit the ball, then get back to your walker,” Ms Harrison said.

‘I love it. Anyone who has a walker and thinks they should come, just come, because you are very welcome.’

Margaret, Pam and Brian on the field
At the age of 91, Pam Harrison manages to play croquet almost every day and he highly recommends it. ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss

A dirty game

Doug Cornish, vice captain and grounds coordinator at the club, agrees that the game uses something similar to war tactics.

Three men.
Brian Rosen, Doug Cornish and David Knott at Nowra Croquet ClubABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss

On the lawn you have four options.

“It’s about deciding whether you can run a hoop, whether to clear an opponent or block an opponent, whether to promote your partner ball,” he said.

But Mr Cornish said patience was an important ingredient of a good game.

“Quick in. See what your options are, and if you really want to get technical, look at the percentage that executes a particular shot,” he said.

The importance of sports

A group of people hanging out in the clubhouse
Club members enjoy time together on and off the lawns. ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss

Karen James believes that players at their club, which supports more than 60 members, understand the importance of sport.

†[It is important] to continue and stay active not only physically but socially, so you are interacting as well.

“This game is perfect for people who can no longer run a marathon, swing a golf club or even bend down to bowl.”

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