Club celebrates a game that’s accessible to all

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Members of the Queanbeyan Croquet Club, from left, Kem Hazelton, Geff Lawrence, Maggie Gerbich, Ann Clifton, Mary Hearn, Kevin Sutton and Trevor Sharkie. Photo: Nick Overall.

FROM international competitors to a 91-year-old who still plays three days a week, the Queanbeyan Croquet Club proudly continues to celebrate the obscure, yet deeply historic game with an event on “World Croquet Day” (May 1).

Following the formation of the Canberra Club in 1928, croquet rolled on into Queanbeyan by 1934, charting its way from as far back as 13th Century France where the game is believed to have originated.

The first “court” on which the sport would be enjoyed in Queanbeyan was part of an old police paddock when the population of the town was still only a few thousand.

As for the club house, a savvy purchase of a shelter from Duntroon for three pounds and 10 shillings would do the trick, extended in 1956 to include a kitchen and change rooms.

Nearing a century after its creation, a passionate crew of croquet enthusiasts continue to play and promote the game throughout the region, and on World Croquet Day (May 1) they’re encouraging anyone interested to come swing a mallet.

“I think there’s a common perception that croquet is an older person’s game but it’s much more than that,” says Judy Pearson, the assistant secretary of the Queanbeyan Club.

“It’s all how you play the game, there’s more intense tactics and skills that actually appeal to a lot of younger people and competitive players as well.”

The Queanbeyan Club indeed has had its fair share of competitive success throughout its history. 

Perhaps most famous is the achievements of Jose M. Sanz-Tonnelier, who learned to play croquet at Queanbeyan and became member of the Australian international team who visited America in 1984.

An early photo of court and clubhouse. Photo: Queanbeyan Croquet Club.

However, Judy says the club aims to make the sport accessible to anybody – regardless of age, skill, or experience – wanting to play.

No more is this found than in the prowess of Mary Hearn, a 91-year-old with a walker who still gets out to the court three days a week.

“Mary’s been with us for a number of years and she still really gets a kick out of it,” says Judy.

“Many older people think that past a certain age they can’t do much anymore, but croquet makes them feel like they can.”

For Judy, it’s this accomodating social aspect of croquet that she thinks is most special and what she encourages people to come experience.

“My husband and I moved back to Canberra in 2008 after 17 years in Sydney, and we saw there was an open day for the Queanbeyan Croquet Club the same weekend we were back,” she says. 

“We decided to give it a go and we were welcomed immediately. That welcoming element is something that’ll no doubt be on display for the World Croquet Day.”

“Come and try croquet”, at the Queanbeyan Croquet Club, 28 Farrer Place, Queanbeyan, 10am-2pm, Saturday, May 1. 

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