Nailsea & District Croquet Club strive to get more youngsters into their sport

PUBLISHED: 15:00 27 June 2019

National Junior Champion 18- year old James Galpin in action for Nailsea and District Croquet

National Junior Champion 18- year old James Galpin in action for Nailsea and District Croquet

Archant

In North Somerset, in a town with a population of 15,630, a sport that preceeded tennis and came over to England from Ireland in 1851 is being played on a regular basis.

Pete Dyke, who set up the club in 1981, in action for Nailsea and District CroquetPete Dyke, who set up the club in 1981, in action for Nailsea and District Croquet

Set up in 1981 by Pete Dyke, Nailsea & District Croquet Club now has over 80 members, ranging from the age of 10 to 86 and has two main forms of croquet - Association and Golf.

On a hot summer day at the club, just over a mile away from Nailsea Community Park, Dyke explained to me how it all began.

"Well, I've always enjoyed croquet, I learned croquet as a teenager at school and I have always enjoyed the game," said Dyke.

"When I moved to Nailsea I thought I'd like to start my own club. I'd played it on occasions when I've been on holiday but I thought I would like to start my own club and that's what I did.

Josh Thomas playing Croquet for the first time in action for Nailsea and District Croquet ClubJosh Thomas playing Croquet for the first time in action for Nailsea and District Croquet Club

"Originally we just had two lawns sloping and the grass was a lot longer than it is at the moment.

"We didn't have any equipment to start with, but we got a set of equipment from the croquet association and one of our members had a set of her own so she donated it to the club."

When asked why does he like the sport, Dyke is clear.

"The reason I enjoy croquet is because it's a game of skill and tactics, particularly association croquet," he added.

"From that point of view it's very similar to snooker. As well as being a skilful game it's a tactical game, you've got to to decide what shot you're going for, whether you are going to hit a ball into a pocket, similar in croquet.

"You have to decide whether it's better to attack or to defend, to go for the hoop or if it's too risky, if it's giving the opposition too much if you fail and you decide to play defensively the two sports are very similar in that respect."

League fixture secretary Dyke says how encouraged he has been with the club and the youngsters coming through nowadays.

He added: "We are very good at encouraging youngsters which is one of the reasons why I feel the club is doing so well.

"It's good to encourage youngsters in particular. A lot of croquet clubs have a fairly elderly population, retired people.

"I think it's good to get people in while they are still young because they will improve rapidly and they are the next generation, next year's croquet players.

"This is one of the reasons why we have been relatively successful over the years."

The 75-year-old Dyke ended by explaining why he thinks people should take up the sport.

"It gives you moderate exercise, it's good for fitness, it's healthy, gets you out in the open air and as I say it's a game of skill and tactics. It's a good game to play in my opinion."

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