Sidmouth Croquet Club history - Part IV - From 1969 to the present day

PUBLISHED: 08:39 23 May 2020 | UPDATED: 08:39 23 May 2020

Players taking part in the Sidmouth June CA Tournament this week. Ref shsp 8947-23-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Players taking part in the Sidmouth June CA Tournament this week. Ref shsp 8947-23-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn


Here we complete what has been a four-part history of Sidmouth Croquet Club.

Graham Harford with the Seagull Trophy. Picture SCCGraham Harford with the Seagull Trophy. Picture SCC

The report of the 1969 annual general meeting is most worthy of being shown in full as it really does underline just how great the spread of interest in all things the Croquet Club was at that time, writes Chris Donovan.

The reports reads: ‘A happy season was enjoyed by all members and visitors and the lawn played well throughout. The American Handicap competitions proved highly successful and cups were presented to the winners by Dr RG Michelmore at the end of season club meeting. The singles competition was won by Mrs Tunmer and the doubles by the pairing of Mrs Waterfield and Mr Tunmer. The cup for the most improved high-bisquer was presented to Mr Duerden. It was good to welcome visitors from some six other recognised Croquet Clubs during the season, and two of our own members entered for competitions away from home. The Club enjoyed a happy visit to the Budleigh Salterton Club for a friendly game with a team of their players of a comparable bisquing. We do hope that we welcome many more playing members to the croquet section in the coming season. Equipment is available for members’ use, and we are continuing with the availability of the second lawn in the express hope that more players will be forthcoming to justify the use of it. The Committee (Messrs Glover, Hodgson and Tunmer) will be very pleased to assist any interested potential player in an introduction to the game’.

If I can embellish little bits of the above ‘ ‘bisques’ is the handicap system – difference in handicap equals number of bisques given / received. One bisque enables a player to play on in a new turn when otherwise the turn would have ended. The ‘friendly’ versus Budleigh Salterton is still played to this day. There is a trophy for this fixture and it is the ‘Seagull Trophy’ while the losing side receives the ‘Norwegian Blue’ parrot! The fixture is played each year on a home and away basis with one meeting taking place in April and the second meeting happens each September.

It is also worth mentioning that the 1969 croquet subscription was £5 5s (£83.67 in today’s money).

The Sidmouth Croquet Club winners of 2019. Picture SCCThe Sidmouth Croquet Club winners of 2019. Picture SCC

From 1967 the croquet section had its own committee and maintained its own records of committee meetings; the minutes thereof being held in the section archives.

They show a gradual increase in membership - for instance, in 1975 there were 50 members with two playing lawns and a practice lawn. The growth of the section had already pointed the need for better playing surfaces and in 1978 relevelling work was carried out on what is now Lawn Three – this at a cost of £1,000 [c£5,775], the entire cost being met from within the section; four members being generous enough to provide interest-free loans of £100 each.

In 1980; in spite of an alarming number of resignations at the start of the season because the subscription had risen from £13 [c£66] to £20 [c£86], the membership finished the season at 63.

[Again underlining the need to keep subscriptions increasing year on year to cover costs in year, planned costs later and unforeseen ‘disaster’ costs!]

Sidmouth croquet players in Austria.Sidmouth croquet players in Austria.

The section has been fortunate in having many dedicated workers, but special mention should be made of Pat Tunmer, a Sidmouth bank manager, who, as secretary, and later as chairman, worked tirelessly to rejuvenate the section from 1967 onwards.

It was Sidmouth’s misfortune, that, on retirement, he moved to Budleigh Salterton.

Another secretary whose enthusiasm was boundless was Robert Case, a one-time railway engineer in India. His agenda for committee meetings were so detailed and gave so many of the anticipated answers to problems to be discussed that subsequent minutes were hardly necessary.

He designed and introduced a competition of stroke play which was featured in the Croquet Gazette and is now used by a number of clubs including our own.

The 'Blue Parrot' is presented to defeated Budleigh team captain Jack Thompson. Picture SCCThe 'Blue Parrot' is presented to defeated Budleigh team captain Jack Thompson. Picture SCC

The name, however, which must head our ‘Roll of Honour’ is that of Iris Dwerryhouse.

Her name is listed as among those who attended the first meeting of the revived section in February 1967.

Since that time, she has worked tirelessly for the betterment of the section, not only to improve individual standards of play, but to get Sidmouth recognised as an important club within the Croquet Association.

Under her leadership, Sidmouth was a founder-member of the South West Federation, and it was also in one of her periods as chairman that Sidmouth was, in 1989, given the Croquet Association’s Apps-Healey Award ‘for excellence’.

Enjoying tea during a Seagull Trophy success for Sidmouth against Budleigh. Picture SCCEnjoying tea during a Seagull Trophy success for Sidmouth against Budleigh. Picture SCC

Exceptionally, this Award was being given for the second time, the first having been in 1972.

Her many years of service, ably supported at all times by her husband Philip, have been invaluable to the club as well as the section.

The section is now into a new century, with a steady membership of over 100, playing on four lawns. May the success story of the 20th century be maintained.

The membership subscription for 2020 is £178 and the club has a current membership of around 125. Teams from the club compete in 10 South West Federation leagues and regularly throughout the season in tournaments around the country and as far afield as New Zealand, South Africa and Corfu. In house, there over 30 trophies to be won. Handicaps range from the maximum 24 in Association Croquet (AC) down to minus-one-half, and Golf Croquet (GC) handicaps from 20 to minus-three.

Sidmouth and Carrickmines match teams. Picture CONTRIBUTEDSidmouth and Carrickmines match teams. Picture CONTRIBUTED

Whichever code you play, Association or Golf there is much serious or relaxed and social play to be had.

Opportunities range from two or three informal roll-ups a week for AC and GC, Charity. There are also one-day and two-day ‘in-house’ tournaments as well as self-scheduled matches for season-long club competitions and participation in Croquet Association listed tournaments and league matches galore for team players.

That’s a busy schedule, but there is still plenty of time for, self-booked play between friends old and new. Throw in the occasional social event and it is true to say that Sidmouth Croquet Club is truly a thriving concern!

The Sea Gull Trophy that is contested by Sidmouth and Budleigh croquet clubs. Picture SCCThe Sea Gull Trophy that is contested by Sidmouth and Budleigh croquet clubs. Picture SCC

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