Croquet turf war leads to new club
A LONG running dispute between Ballina’s bowlers and croquet players has led to the formation of a new croquet club.
Ballina Cherry Street Croquet Club will come under the umbrella of the Ballina Bowling and Recreation Club.
Bowling club chairman, Dac Cameron, and president of the new croquet club, Leonie Oliver, made the announcement yesterday.
“We have had numerous requests from croquet players over the past few months to create a new club and it has finally come to fruition,” Mr Cameron said.
The lease of the croquet club on Hampton Park was formally given to the bowling club in October last year.
But members of the existing croquet club, Ballina Croquet Club, want full independence from the bowling club by having its name on the Crown land lease.
However the bowling club says it has invested more than $300,000 in the croquet club facilities and therefore wants its name to remain on the lease.
The issue is currently being reviewed by Lands Minister Tony Kelly.
Despite the controversy, Mr Cameron said playing days would be allocated to both the new and the existing croquet clubs.
And Mrs Oliver said she was looking forward to a ‘happy and harmonious’ croquet club.
“There are a lot of people that have stopped playing croquet altogether or moved to other clubs in the last few months and we want to see them back playing croquet here in Ballina,” she said.
But spokeswoman for the Ballina Croquet Club, Mary Hughes, said the bowling club’s decision to form a new croquet club was a ‘bullying tactic’.
“Everybody has a right to go to whatever club they want,” she said.
“But the bowling club has been calling up our members and trying to get them to switch over.
“It’s unfair that elderly people are being used in this way.
“It’s a very nasty situation.
“The Minister hasn’t yet made his decision about the lease, but the bowling club is trying to undermine our club and push us into the ground.
“This is just corporate bullying. It’s another ploy.”
Mrs Hughes said many of their members were staying away from the courts because they felt ‘intimidated’ and ‘fearful’.
“We are continually worried about the welfare of our members,” she said.
“What I’m sad about is that we have very good community members here, a lot of people who do extra work in the community, yet they are being bullied when they come to play croquet.
“It’s not right.”
But Mr Cameron said he hoped the two croquet clubs could work together in the future.
“They (Ballina Croquet Club) will still have their days, and the new club can have the other days,” he said.
“This isn’t about aggression. We want to co-exist.”