EARLY CROQUET IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Croquet was brought to our state with the early English gentry. They wanted to keep the lifestyle and interests that they had in England.
Many of these people were able to build substantial homes in the Fitzroy, St. Peters, Medindie and Walkerville areas, just north of Adelaide. A lot of these homes had their own courts, so the game was a social event.
Some of the larger families moved and bought pastoral leases in the fertile Angaston and Kapunda areas. Crops, wine and mining were very profitable.
The earliest photos we have are of a group of players in a paddock on a hill at Angaston on New Year’s Day 1867, photo below.
Recent research has revealed that it was Angaston that had the first club in S.A. Croquet has been recorded as being played in the town as early as 1850.
Angaston club was officially formed in early 1867 and was played at various venues until land for a Sports Park was given to the town by Mr George Fife Angus, after whom the area was named. This was in late 1867. The club membership was by ballot. The club celebrated its Centenary in 1967 and due to the drop in membership, closed in 1970 after 103 years.
Kapunda was the second club formed in 1868.
This was closely followed by The North Adelaide Club. The membership list of this club was the who’s who of society at that time. Other than a list of the founding members and rules there is no more information about this club and it is said that when the president returned to England the club folded after one year.
1890 saw two courts set up behind the main grandstand at the Adelaide Oval. This is where the games between clubs were played and plans were made to form our Association. These courts were used up to late 1925.
Mr T.N. Stephens was the instigator in the formation of the South Australian Croquet Association in 1917. He approached the City of Adelaide Council and obtained a part lease of Park 17 in the South Parklands edging onto Hutt Rd. South Terrace Club had previously, in 1911, been allotted their area on the East side of the park. This also was obtained by Mr T.N.Stephens.
1926 saw the first four courts set up and also the clubhouse which was named “CROQUET HOUSE”. The opening was held in July that year.
In 1926 there were 47 registered clubs and the number was still growing.
A newspaper cutting records that in 1934 there were 1,300 players, six of whom were men. These were the first men to join the Association.
Both women and men have excelled in the game over the years. The Association and Golf Croquet interstate competitions are held annually and are in South Australia every few years. South Australia has a team of men and women representing our state in both Association and Golf croquet every year. South Australian players have also represented Australia in overseas tournaments. The McRobertson Shield is one of those.
In April 2012 we were honoured to host The 13th World Croquet Federation Association Croquet World Championships in Adelaide, they were a great success, and many local and interstate players and members of the community came to watch the best players in action.
Although our membership is not what it was in 1934 and some clubs have closed, we are still a very active Association. Below is a photo of the clubhouse on Hutt Road as it was before renovations.