Jamberoo Croquet Championship, Kiama Bugle, 8 April, 2024

They call it “The Nasty Game for Nice People”. 

And Jamberoo is playing host to some of the fiercest competitors in the game, with the Jamberoo Croquet Club Championship kicking off today and running until the weekend. 

Thirty two competitors have assembled from clubs around the state, coming from Wagga, Nowra and as far north as Port Macquarie to play on the finely kept croquet lawns of Jamberoo, three of them tucked in behind the oval, one of the many largely undiscovered jewels of the area. 

“It is addictive, it is a mind game,” says Geoff Evans, mild mannered, like so many other players, until the moment he steps across that thin white line. 

“I started in 2019 after a lifetime of aversion. And I find it utterly fascinating. 

“Ïn Rugby Union you have to win the right to get the ball out to the backs. Here you have to earn the right to get your ball through the hoop. 

“It is very much a tactical game. Played with the utmost courtesy and etiquette.”

Tournament Manager Steve Milton said the Jamberoo Croquet Club was some 25 years old, and the lawns had been built specifically for the game. 

“We decided to put on the tournament and have 32 participants from all over NSW,” he said. “We have a waiting list of 17 players. There are four different styles of croquet, and the one we’re playing is called golf croquet. It is like snooker on grass. The same coloured ball.

“Wimbledon was originally a croquet club. It is not just a matter of hitting a ball through the hoops, you are fighting over the hoops. It is addictive. The people are enjoyable. It becomes a pleasurable mental exercise.”

Nor is croquet purely a game for retired folk. 

Ben Bowen, 13, who won a local championship last year, says he became interested in the game five years ago when his granddad started playing. 

“People who say it is an old person’s game, they don’t know what they are talking about,” he says. “My brothers always say it is like watching grass grow. I just ignore them. 

“I am aiming to go bigger. I don’t think I will be in the state team, I know I will be.”

The Championship begins on Wednesday and runs through until Saturday. 

For more information ring the tournament manager Steve Milton on 0417 885 301.

Croquet’s origins are said to date back to antiquity. The modern game of croquet took England by storm in the 1860s, from which it spread around the world, and all the way to Jamberoo. 

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