Nowra Croquet Club celebrates 100 years of playing ‘the sport of thought’, an unpleasant game for nice people

Those who play croquet say it’s 15% skill and 85% psychology, an aggressive game played by nice people with a smile on their face.

Nowra Croquet Club’s friendly team celebrates a century of play this year and today launches a book that recognizes and celebrates the 100th anniversary of the club’s founding.

Nowra Croquet Club secretary Karen James instigated the production of the book.

It proudly highlights a unique feature of the club – being largely female-only for most of its history.

Ms James holds a photograph
Karen James holds a photograph depicting women from the last century. (ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss)

But it is no longer a ladies’ club.

“Our first male, as shown in the book, didn’t become a member until 1982, so it’s been a long time. [only for] ladies, and of course they played in long skirts.”

“Ladies played to the side with the hammer because it was unseemly for a woman to push a hammer between her legs.”

Patience, persistence and a playful spirit are necessary for this hard-hitting game.

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

The Nowra Croquet Club and its members play a huge role in the life of Knott, who joined the club five years ago and plays frequently.

“You’re looking to outsmart your opponent. You’re looking for the position of your balls versus the position of your own balls. You have to assess which shot is going to make for the benefit of scoring that rim.

“The art is to move opponents’ balls as far as possible.”

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

People playing croquette
Nowra Croquet Club members play in any weather. (ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss)

Pam Harrison started playing croquet at age 89.

She is now 91 years old and not only loves it, according to club members, she is also very good.

“You can still play croquet with a walker, just leave it there for a moment while you pick up your hammer and hit the ball, then go back to the walker,” Harrison said.

“I loved it. Anyone who has a walker and thinks they should come, come, because they will be very welcome.”

Margaret, Pam and Brian on the court
At 91, Pam Harrison can play croquet almost every day and recommends it. (ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss)

an unpleasant game

Doug Cornish, the club’s vice captain and field coordinator, agrees that the game employs something akin to war tactics.

Three man.
Brian Rosen, Doug Cornish and David Knott at Nowra Croquet Club(ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss)

On the lawn, you have four options.

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

However, Cornish said a key ingredient to a good game is patience.

“Take your time. See what your options are, and then, if you want to be really technical, see what percentage of execution a particular shot is,” he said.

The importance of sport

A group of people hanging out at the club house
Club members enjoy time together on and off the pitch. (ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss)

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

“[It is important] to continue and keep not just physically active, but socially active, then you are interacting too.

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

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