CROQUET CHAMPION: Ballina croquet player, Mike Gidding, wins Victorian State Croquet Championship, Here, Mike holds the trophy, with Victorian player and runner-up Greg Hill and referee Mike Cohn.
CROQUET CHAMPION: Ballina croquet player, Mike Gidding, wins Victorian State Croquet Championship, Here, Mike holds the trophy, with Victorian player and runner-up Greg Hill and referee Mike Cohn.

Hoop dreams: ‘Hit and giggle’ to state title win

Four years ago Mike Gidding decided to give the sport of association croquet a whack and now he’s the 2021 Victorian Open Champion.

Gidding, 57, who plays with Ballina Croquet Club, said he was thrilled to take the title held by the Victorian Croquet Association on January 2, 2021,

Throughout the tournament Gidding lost only two games and beat Greg Hill (Brunswick) 22-21, 12-13, 16-4, with both players displaying what the VCA reported as a “very impressive fighting spirit.”

“I had a lot of luck and a cool head,” Gidding said.

Gidding’s sporting background includes volleyball, tennis and cycling, “but I was never very good”.

He said his main activity was rock-climbing until a non-sporting shoulder injury caused him to look around for an alternative activity.

Gidding said he was initially drawn to the sport while living in the UK.

“Around 2000, we were renting a farmhouse in the East Midlands and it had a grass tennis court,” he said.

“My wife didn't play tennis and the property came with a croquet set, so we had a hit and a giggle then we moved here in 2015 and in 2016 I joined the croquet club.”

Gidding who has won the Northern River title several times said until his win in Victoria on Saturday, his best efforts to date has been runner-up in the Queensland State Titles.

“I think I played better in the Victorian doubles which was held before the singles, we came third,” he said.

“My doubles partner Lachlan Berryman was amazing, he played despite having both knees operated on the week before.”

But the game’s rapidly increasing popularity in the region, particularly in the less complex and more social version known as golf croquet, means it can difficult to get enough green time.

“I practice and or play three times a week at least and this can be a two or three hour session,” he said.

“The state average is 22 people per croquet club lawn but we have over 130 in Ballina.

“We have been waiting for two years for Ballina Council to complete the submission for a new facility.”

Meanwhile, Gidding said the game which requires “a lot of tactics a bit of patience,” will see him prepare for state and national tournaments ahead, depending on pandemic travel restrictions.



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