We are croquet hoop with great new lawn’
CROQUET players are hoping a new lawn in Golders Hill Park proves a big hit. Last weekend the City of London Corporation, which manages the park and the Heath, marked out a new croquet lawn to the delight of the fledgling Hampstead Heath Croquet Club
CROQUET players are hoping a new lawn in Golders Hill Park proves a big hit.
Last weekend the City of London Corporation, which manages the park and the Heath, marked out a new croquet lawn to the delight of the fledgling Hampstead Heath Croquet Club.
The club is keen for budding players to sign up and for any experienced players to join and pass on their invaluable knowledge of bisques and half-bisques, continuation strokes, backward and forward balls, double taps and pegging out.
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Ian Harrison, one of the organisers of the newly-formed Hampstead Heath Croquet Club, said: "We want a whole range of people to sign up.
"Hopefully this will include at least a few serious players who can give lessons to novices. Apart from that it's a case of the more the merrier.
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"The proof of the pudding will be when we get into action in a month's time. It should be open for public use after we have our open day."
The lawn has been set up where the old putting green was in the park, next to the tennis courts.
At the moment there will be no "double banking" - two games at one time - on the Golders Hill Park lawn, as it is just 20 by 16 yards rather than the full size 35 by 28 yards.
The Corporation wants to see if the game proves popular over a trial period of two years, and if successful will look at upgrading it to a full size lawn.
On May 18 at 2pm there will be an open day for the public, to mark the launch of the lawn.
The Corporation is buying the new croquet equipment, which will be available for hire from the tennis hut.
Gabrielle Higgins from Tufnell Park played croquet for Oxford University, and is helping Mr Harrison organise the club. She will be on hand with some top tips for budding players.
Mr Harrison said: "Croquet is a very tactical game.
"It is like snooker, in that you plan your breaks several shots ahead, but it is not as difficult as snooker.
"After just two or three weeks playing you will be thinking about the tactics of how to build breaks.
"Any age can play. It is not just for elderly people. Indeed if you go to the major clubs like the Hurlingham Club, you will see many players in their late 20s or early 30s."
Anyone interested in joining the club should call the Heath superintendents' Office on 020-7332 3322 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The origins of modern-day croquet are much-disputed, particularly its links to the French game Pall Mall.
The name certainly came to England from the Irish game Crookey.
In 1864 John Jaques published the first codes of play for croquet and in 1868 the All England Croquet Club unified all the rules.
In the 1860s garden parties became croquet parties with the game proving popular among women, as it allowed them to compete on an equal footing with men.
"Tight croquet" was where young men would kick a ball into the bushes in the hope of disappearing for some privacy with a female competitor.
Lewis Carroll featured a surreal version of the game in Alice in Wonderland, with a hedgehog as the ball and a flamingo as the mallet.
Edouard Manet produced his painting The Croquet Game in 1873.
Croquet enjoyed a brief spell of fame as an Olympic sport in the 1900 and 1904 games.
The game went into dec-line, largely because of tennis which was becoming increasingly popular.
The 1989 film Heathers brought croquet to a new audience as it was the game of choice played by four American high school bullies, all called Heather.
Croquet is played competitively in 20 countries - the main ones are the UK, USA, New Zealand and Australia, where there are 7,000 players.
In Austria there is a variation of the game called bicycle croquet - which of course would not be allowed on Hampstead Heath.