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Croquet battlelines drawn

Ballina Croquet Club members (from left) Lorraine Whiteman, Pearl Slender, Jean Hill, Gwen Spencer, Joan Murphy, Val Martin and Mary Hughes voice their concerns over the new croquet club to Ballina Shire Councillor Jeff Johnson (centre).
Ballina Croquet Club members (from left) Lorraine Whiteman, Pearl Slender, Jean Hill, Gwen Spencer, Joan Murphy, Val Martin and Mary Hughes voice their concerns over the new croquet club to Ballina Shire Councillor Jeff Johnson (centre). Jay Cronan

BALLINA Croquet Club members will today protest the formation of a new croquet club, saying it is an attempt by the Ballina Bowling and Recreation Club to ‘destroy’ them.

The protest – which could be a tea party on the croquet lawns – will take place on the first day of access for members of the new Ballina Cherry Street Croquet Club.

But Ballina Croquet Club president, Mary Hughes, said their members ‘just want to play croquet’.

“That’s our focus,” she said.

“We have 75 members and we are one of the largest clubs in New South Wales.

“Our committee has voted to continue the struggle – we’ve voted to persevere. We are a close-knit club.

“But these tactics by the bowling club are really upsetting to our members. They are taking friends away from each other.

“We feel this (the establishment of a new croquet club) is only the beginning of a full take-over.”

But Ballina Bowling and Recreation Club spokesman Ken Clarke yesterday denied those claims. “We are not trying to take over,” he said.

“The second club was created because there was discontent from some members of the original club.

“The old club has still not paid any money for the use of the facilities, and the new club will be paying, so that’s another reason why we are facilitating the creation of a new club.

“It’s disappointing. All we want is for croquet to be a success.

“We have tried to meet with the croquet club many times – we have begged them to meet with us.”

As well as support from Greens MLC Ian Cohen, the Ballina Croquet Club has the support of Ballina Shire councillor Jeff Johnson.

Cr Johnson said the situation was ‘disappointing’.

“The bowling club appears to be taking a ‘divide and conquer’ approach,” he said.

“This club has been here for almost 75 years, so I think that forming a new croquet club is not the way to deal with this.”

Ballina Croquet Club captain Julie O’Brien said the club desperately wanted its independence from the bowling club.

“This will allow us to continue to play, which is all we want,” she said.

“The last thing we want is to be swallowed up.”



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