Croquet: the last amateur sport?

It is Sunday, July 28th and the 4 gentlemen pictured here are about to play the deciding match of Shrewsbury Croquet Club's Advanced Doubles Tournament. Just over 2 hours later, Eddy Knapton and Robert Parsons (on the right) will have triumphed convincingly over Robbie Dodds and Alan Smith by 26 points to 5, or +21, as croquet's unique scoring system has it.

Now, looking at these fine gentlemen, it occurs to me that the problem that croquet has in attracting young players is the very fact that these four are indeed gentlemen - but in the old cricketing sense of amateur sportsmen. No-one has ever made a living out of playing croquet and while riches beyond the dreams of avarice are commonplace now in most sports, there will never be money in croquet. And therefore nothing to give the game that golden aura that makes young people dream of riding a bicycle round and round a velodrome, hitting golf balls into overgrown patches of grass, bashing balls across nets while grunting unpleasantly or kicking a football for a total of about 60 seconds  - which is, apparently, how long any one of the 22 players in a soccer match gets actual contact with the ball.

Croquet cannot compete with such glamorous sports. Perhaps we could invent a drug problem.......
So, if any true gentleman - or lady, this is not a golf club - would like to take part in the last great amateur sport, ring 01939233196 and talk to Graham.

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Pete White Pete White

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