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    Gary Devlin, playing golf croquet at Horsham Croquet Club.

Wimmera Croquet Association closes in on a century

Wimmera Croquet Association is keen to use a major milestone year to encourage more people to play the unique lawn game.

The association is celebrating its 90th year and members are reflecting on how the sport started in the region.

The association’s first meeting was at Dimboola on April 4, 1930 and play started in the same year with seven clubs – Horsham, Natimuk, Warracknabeal, Nhill, Dimboola, Murtoa and Minyip.

By 1938, the number had increased to 14 clubs before competition went into recess during the Second World War.

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Wimmera Croquet Association resumed in 1946 but the number of clubs has since slowly decreased and now features only four clubs with about 100 members.

Publicity officer Betty Etherton said the association played two different styles of croquet – association and golf croquet.

“Unfortunately, our clubs and members are slowly decreasing. Many people residing in the Wimmera don’t even know of our existence or think it’s only for the aged,” she said.

“Croquet is a very strategic, non-contact, challenging and rewarding game with minimal cost involved. 

“Junior croquet is becoming very popular with juniors, especially overseas.”

Originally all clubs played association croquet before golf croquet joined the schedule in 1996.

A challenge match, involving both association and golf croquet, between Wimmera and Ballarat, started in 2006.

Pennant competition features teams from each club and there are also singles and doubles championships.

“Regional Golf Singles Championships are at Cairnlea in Melbourne and Regional Association Country Championships are at different regional association areas each year. We also play other social functions within our association,” Mrs Etherton said.

Wimmera Croquet Association is affiliated with Victorian Croquet Association.

“We have had a lot of success with our members winning Wimmera Sports Star of the Year, medals for country week and regionals,” Mrs Etherton said.

“Ken Bald, Anna Miller, Fay Pearson, Neville Pope and Ian Rees have all represented the Wimmera, in either or both, the Victorian state team in Australia, and Australia in a world croquet competition overseas.”

The entire December 2, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!