A Brief History of Worcester Norton Croquet Club
(by its founder Don Clay)
In 1974, I invited five friends with lawns of suitable size to take a partner each, in order to play croquet doubles on home lawns. The lawns were of varying shapes and sizes, and much fun was had negotiating these irregularities.
The teams comprised, Don Clay partnered by Frank Brennan; Cecil Duckworth partnered by Dr David Cairns; John Wurmli partnered by George Rall; Brian Holliday partnered by Ben Horner; Robin Knowles partnered by Nigel Collis; and Don Everton partnered by Dr. Paul Cope.
Each season, we played ten matches, home and away, on Sundays, and our ladies joined us at lunchtime for a jar (or tincture, as you will).
Towards 1980, some of us felt that we needed to play a more formal game on a regular 35 x 28 yard lawn. To this end, we hired a disused bowling green at Perdiswell, owned by Worcester City Council. This gave us one full sized lawn, plus a strip for practice. Unfortunately, the City charged us £47 per week to mow it, so an alternate site was sought.
In 1982, we won the national competition, The Longman Cup. In the same year, Cecil and Robin discovered a piece of land at Norton Sports Club. It was sloping and had a telegraph pole in its centre. Having negotiated its lease, we removed the redundant telegraph pole and hired contractors to level the ground, provide drainage, add suitable top soil and seed the whole area. Thus, by 1986 we were able to play on our new lawns. By this time, we had admitted ladies and were about 18 strong. We all played Association Croquet as Golf Croquet had yet to be developed.
In 1984, the SW Croquet Federation was formed, comprising 40 Clubs including our own, with the idea of playing inter-club matches. The Federation was divided into three areas (in order to avoid excessive travel) and we became the most northerly Club in the Northern Section.
The Club thrived over the following years and, in 2010, Cecil Duckworth gave us a Portacabin (which had been used as a site office at the Rugby Club) for use as a Club House. And what a boon this has been, providing social and kitchen facilities.
The Club has developed over the ensuing years, and we have introduced Golf Croquet, not only as an introduction to Association Croquet but as a game in its own right. And it is fair to say that we have gained many members through this.
We now have 36 members, and the Club is really flourishing thanks to enthusiastic volunteers, led by a vibrant committee, who maintain the excellent quality of the lawns, provide excellent catering and the pleasant surroundings of the Club, offering a warm welcome to both old and new members.Don Clay – September 2020