The All England Croquet Club was formed at Wimbledon in 1868, but earlier forms of the game were played in England in the 17th century. Croquet was included in the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris, where women made their first appearance in the modern Games. As France provided all but one of the competitors, they took all the medals.
The Queen of Hearts hosted a surrealistic form of the game in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, where flamingos were used as mallets and hedgehogs as balls.
More traditional forms of croquet have been played in people's gardens for generations and today, the Croquet Association has around 200 affiliated member clubs in England & Wales.
The sport is now becoming more popular in the north of England, with a number of new clubs opening up in Derbyshire and Yorkshire in the last few years.
How to Play
A game is played by two sides, either singles or doubles, on a grass court 35 yards by 28 yards, with six hoops. One side plays blue and black balls, the other red and yellow.
There are two official codes of croquet:
1. Golf Croquet: Each player plays one stroke per turn in colour sequence (blue, red, black, yellow). The first to score a given hoop earns the point, then all balls challenge for the next hoop in turn. After the six hoops have been contested, the game continues playing the hoops in the opposite direction until one side scores seven points.
England is well represented among the world's top players; seven of the top twenty are Egyptian players, who are renowned for hitting the ball extremely hard and scoring hoops from seemingly impossible distances and angles.
2. Association Croquet: The objective is to make all hoops twice (once in each direction) per ball, then hit the centre peg. The side completing this with both their balls first is the winner. One stroke per turn normally, with additional strokes achieved by going through (running) the next hoop in turn, or hitting any other ball in that turn (a roquet) which gains two extra strokes. These strokes are known as the
croquet stroke, where you place your ball in contact with the other ball you have hit, and strike your ball so as to move both balls simultaneously,
the continuation stroke, which is a single ball stroke.
By using these extra strokes, it is possible to build up a break (in a similar way to snooker) to make progress through multiple hoops in one turn.
The world's top players are from England, Australia and New Zealand; the current World Champion is Paddy Chapman, a Kiwi player based in Nottingham. His wife Miranda is the reigning Women's World Champion!
There are many croquet videos on the internet. Check out these on YouTube (it's not as easy as it looks !):
Golf Croquet Videos: Reg Bamford / Ahmed Nasr 2008 WCF Golf Croquet Final
Association Croquet Video: Reg Bamford / Peter Trimmer 2004 WCF Association Croquet Final - part 1
You can watch parts 2 - 4 of the match from the same site.
Visit other Croquet web sites by going to the Links section