Celebrating 100 years of croquet

Centennial . . . Gore Croquet Club life member Shirley McIntosh (left) and the club’s longest living affiliated member Heather Shields cut the club’s 100th anniversary cake at a lunch, on Saturday. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

It may look like a genteel sort of game but appearances can be deceiving, Gore Croquet Club president David Frame says.

At the weekend, the club celebrated its centennial with a lunch and a game of golf croquet, which is a shortened form of the game.

The aim of the game was to be the first to hit the ball through the series of hoops within the playing area, Frame said.

However, in order to do that, sometimes a player needed to use their ball to hit away an opponent’s ball.

‘‘It is a ruthless game,’’ he said.

‘‘It looks genteel when you’re playing it.’’

The club was in good heart and had about 50 members, Frame said.

The club was indebted to the Mataura Licensing Trust, Gore and Districts Memorial RSA and Community Trust South for funding, he said.

The club was started in about 1919 by a group of the town’s leading women, which included Mrs Bowler, Mrs MacGibbon and Mrs McAra.

‘‘They formed a committee at a private meeting.’’

Croquet was very popular in those days.

According to The Mataura Ensign articles from around the time, the club was first given some land near the Hokonui Bowling Club and the Gore Tennis Club.

However, it was going to cost too much to develop the area into a green.

The club then approached the Gore Borough Council for the land on the corner of Ardwick St and Civic Ave where the club is sited today, but was initially refused.

‘‘The then council head of parks and reserves had earmarked this area here for a rose garden.’’

It turned out the soil was unsuitable for roses and the women sent their husbands to the council to ask again.

The club was granted the piece of land, which later became known as Shelton Green after former mayor Wilfrid Shelton.

The club’s meeting minutes start from June 1921.

Games started on the green in the 1921-22 season.