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February 26, 2021

Alstonville Croquet Club gets a welcome boost

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Tamara Smith MP, Member for Ballina (R), with Alstonville Croquet Club President Bob Jemison (L) and Daphne Fulloon, Club Captain. Photo supplied.

Alstonville Croquet Club is the proud owner of a new clubhouse, thanks to a Community Building Partnership Grant of $20,000. The Member for Ballina, Tamara Smith, had a tour of the new facilities on Friday, and says it was a great morning.

Echonetdaily spoke to Club President Bob Jemison, who was very grateful for the support. ‘We’ve been waiting since 1991!’

Mr Jemison said the building isn’t finished yet, but is well on the way. ‘It’ll be very nice. We need something a bit comfortable, because our players range from 75 to 96, so they’re not the most nimble people in the world.’

‘In croquet you can only get twelve players on the lawn at once,’ he explained. ‘It’s a bit like tennis, if you’ve only got one court. There will be a number of people waiting their turn to play, and you need to provide a bit of comfort for them.’

Mr Jemison says the club started ‘zonks ago’, and went broke just after the war, which is a lesson. ‘You’ve got to have a cross section in ages. If it’s all geriatrics there, they just die out, so we’re trying to get a balance of younger and older people and men too. There’s a bit of hard lifting occasionally!’

Croquet is a 60/40 game

The club president is hoping the new clubhouse will help attract new members. ‘In croquet, you have to go and chase people. People are shy. You really need to go and say, “this is a wonderful game”, and once they come out, they join.’

Mr Jemison said the best part of croquet is the social interaction. ‘The game’s only 40% of what goes on. 60% is socialising and people looking after each other. With the distribution in ages, you’ve got to look after people, especially if they don’t show up. Where’s Fred? He might be in hospital!’

Mr Jemison said some members don’t even play, but they’re always there and always helpful. ‘It beats watching re-runs of Gilligans Island or Days of Our Lives, and you don’t have to be good. The competition is a handicap event, like golf. You can just show up and enjoy yourself. You don’t have to be very fit.’

New members welcome

Better facilities are important for attracting new members, said Mr Jemison. ‘We need to encourage people to get out. That’s what the government’s trying to do. Older people want to get out and enjoy life, but you’ve got to have something to enjoy. Our oldest player is 96 and she comes twice a week! We’ve got 25 players, and I would rank her in the top ten. I say, “Play your game Dorothy, you’ve got to help us get new members!”‘

According to the NSW government, the Community Building Partnership program awards grants ‘for community infrastructure projects that deliver social, environment and recreational outcomes, while promoting community participation, inclusion and cohesion.’

Sounds like croquet ticks all the boxes.

If you’d like to find out what all the fuss is about, the Alstonville Croquet Club is at Gap Road, Alstonville, tel (02) 6686 4328.

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