Media Moves In on Croquet

From veteran sports broadcaster Alec Bollini.
The Canadian Open Golf Croquet Championship is being held at the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club. Not a jazzy opening sentence, but for this ageing ex radio commentator it’s the basis for a chance to actually compete in a World Championship. Okay, it’s not the Stanley Cup or the World Series, but a championship it is and it brings together the best croquet players in Canada.
Believe me this is not your back yard game with the kids.
Patrick Little is a jovial, loquacious gentleman, a top flight competitor who also happens to be President of Croquet Canada, the governing body of the sport in Canada. As he explains it, “We have just over 130 members, based mostly in Ontario. There are four croquet games, the one we played as kids in the backyard, golf croquet, the English and the American game.”
Little points out that Croquet was born in England and was first called Wimbledon. The famous tennis venue’s official name is the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet club. The Americans, of course, had to invent their own game, but it differs only slightly from Wimbledon.
According to Little, croquet became popular in the 1970s and ’80s with a decrease in popularity of lawn bowling, and as a way to preserve the manicured lawns. “Golf croquet,” says Little, “was taken up by golfers who began to have physical problems and found golf too hard to continue. Obviously, the croquet pitch is much smaller than a golf course!”
Not that all croquet players are receiving old age pension cheques. The reigning world champion is all of 23 years old and Canada’s top player is just 19. Simon Gagnon of Montreal isn’t competing in Toronto, he’s at the big Under 20 tournament in Britain. Gagnon learned the game as a student in New Zealand.
So how well will your chronicler fare? Place no bets on this darkest of dark horses.