Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 48, September 2004
MEMORIES of the PAEROA CROQUET CLUB SITUATED on the BEAUTIFUL PAEROA DOMAIN
By Flo Roberts
I joined the Paeroa Croquet Club in 1950. In those days the Club had a closed membership of forty members and I had to wait until there was a vacancy before I could become a member, and then I had to wait until the Committee held a ballot to decide if I was a suitable person to join the Club.
There were four playing lawns plus a strip mowed between the lawns and the band rotunda, where new members played and learnt. When their handicaps came down to ten, they were allowed to play on the big lawns.
With a membership of forty, each grade had certain days on which they could use the lawns. "C" players played all day on a Tuesday, while "A", "Intermediate" and "B" players played on Wednesday. All grades played on Saturday. The draw was at 1 30pm and, if you were late, you had to just wait for a vacancy as, in the early days, there was no double banking on the lawns.
Paeroa Tournaments became popular and entries were so large that the Paeroa Club decided to try double banking with different coloured balls. It was so successful that all Tournaments now use that method of play.
In the early days there were no Club Competitions, just a ladder to get your gradings. You would challenge the player one or two above you, and play within seven days. Now there are many competitions, Handicap games and Championship games.
When the Thames Valley Croquet Association was formed, Interclub games between clubs were started and were very popular. Transport was not easy as not many members had cars and not many women drove in those days. The bus service was good to some clubs. When I was a "B" grade player, we would catch the 9 50am train to Morrinsville, play our Interclub game and travel home on the late afternoon train, arriving back in Paeroa at 7 30pm. Then we had to walk home, but after an enjoyable day, that did not worry us. The Host Club always provided lunch - cold meat and salads, with a sweet to follow. It was a very friendly time around the meal table and many good friendships were formed.
The Paeroa Tournaments were very popular and entries were very big and so we approached the Borough Council for the use of the Men's Bowling Green, as they had moved over by the Tennis Courts. There was a lot of work to get the lawns into good order. There were many Working Bees and our husbands all came and helped us with the weeding and topdressing and the lawns were re-sown. Paeroa lawns, when completed, were some of the best lawns in the Thames Valley Association.
A Paeroa Tournament was held in the first week of November and we had many good Tournament Managers who ran the Tournaments, which lasted up to two weeks. The Managers, to mind, were: Grace Wylde and Margaret Shaw, Thelma Crimmins and Mona Townshend, Flo Roberts and Gladys Blair, Joan Button and Eve Spinks.
We played many friendly games with Coromandel, Katikati and Hikutaia. When the Thames Valley Association was formed in 1951 we then played Interclub with Thames, Waihi, Morrinsville, Te Aroha, Katikati, Hikutaia and Waitoa. There were no men players then, but in 1960 the men decided that it was a good game to learn and our first gentleman player was Mr Buchanan who, with his wife, had learnt croquet in England, and they were both very good players. They owned the Wine and Spirits Business in Mackay Street.
As I remember how welcome new players were, I think of the people who gave of their time, gave us lessons and coached us any morning that we were able to come to the lawns. Mrs Margaret Shaw was Captain of the Club and she was very good with beginners and always made them feel welcome. Mrs Fielding was the Handicapper and she also gave a lot of encouragement to beginners and she always took a junior player for her partner when playing in Tournaments.
The Club House became too small and so we had to raise some money and, with the help of the Borough Council, it was enlarged. Six shelters were also built, one on each lawn, to enable the players to sit between their playing turns. Men began to want to join the Club and there are many men playing Croquet now. They bring many changes to the game, and many challenges in matches.
The Paeroa Croquet Club will be one hundred years old this year, 2004, and it is through the interest, encouragement and time given by some of the older identities of Paeroa, that the Paeroa Club has become such a friendly and successful Club. The following players have all helped in some way to make the Club so successful. These are the Past Presidents, Secretaries and Club Committee Members whose help and interest have created a really friendly, as well as competitive, Club.
Committee Members, Secretaries and Treasurers
Many of these players have donated Silver Cups or Plates for competitions in Club Events.
Paeroa has been represented at the National Councils President's Invitation Event at different venues, in both the North and South Islands by:
Many things have changed in latter years, with new rules and special members' events. Golf Croquet is now a very competitive game which creates a lot of interest. There are a lot of men playing now. The New Zealand Team that played recently overseas, was a team of six men.
I am sure that the Paeroa Club will enjoy its 100th Birthday this year, and I hope that a lot of new members will be wanting to join and learn this most skilful and fascinating game.