“Despite having been established for 25 years in Eynsham, people so often tell us ‘we never knew there was a croquet club here,’” laments Roger Booth, a long-time club and committee member. Not only is it well-established, the Club is popular: there are almost 50 members from around the local area who play on professionally-laid courts multiple times each week.
Roger was recently involved in building a brand-new Clubhouse for the group to host social events and store their equipment. One key piece of equipment – the rotary mower – was damaged irreparably by flood waters in the winter. Fortunately, the Club successfully applied for a Parish Council grant and the £400 they received recently has enabled them to replace it – just in time for the summer season.
Anything that contributes to the continued running of such a well-loved club is crucial for our community. Roger is one of the many who extols the virtues of croquet and encourages anyone who hasn’t tried it to have a go. “It provides light exercise in the fresh air and is great for keeping your brain active,” he explains. “It’s really affordable – we provide mallets for newcomers – and is a sociable activity. If you’re competitive you can take part in tournaments, but there are also many people who just play in Eynsham for fun.”
The Croquet Club belongs to the Croquet Association (the national governing body) and the Eynsham group plays two versions of the sport: Golf Croquet and Association Croquet. Association Croquet is the more traditional form of the game and is played once a week (Thursday evenings). Golf Croquet, often seen as a more sociable version of the game, is played three times per week.
Both versions of croquet are fun, challenging and can be highly competitive. That said, there is a handicap system (similar to golf) to allow a beginner to play someone more expert and still have a chance of success. The club also has a coach to help everyone improve their game.
“We have started running team-building events for some of the local organisations or companies and everyone who comes along tells us how much they enjoy it,” says Roger. “It’s great for anyone at any age – and we organise great social events, so it’s a lot of fun. If you haven’t tried it before, I’d encourage you to come and join us.”
With eight new members having recently joined, the Club is hopeful that they will continue to grow and gain the local recognition they surely deserve. More details, including who to contact and the dates/times for play, are available on the Croquet Club website or on their Facebook page.