FRIENDLY COMPETITION: Having fun at Ballina Croquet Inc are players (from left): Jenny Johnston, David Humphrey and Julie O’Brien.
FRIENDLY COMPETITION: Having fun at Ballina Croquet Inc are players (from left): Jenny Johnston, David Humphrey and Julie O’Brien. Stuart Turner

Strike up a social pastime with croquet

FROM the lush lawns of England's 'Downton Abbeys' to the small but comfy surrounds of Ballina's very own club, David Humphrey has always carried his croquet mallet with pride.

The 69-year-old is the current president of Ballina Croquet Inc and is hoping to introduce more people to the sport.

"It's a fantastic game," he said. "It really is a great test of your intellectual strategy.

"I look at it as a combination of snooker and chess. It's not easy - but that is the challenge.

"I love it."

Humphrey, who is originally from England's north-west, is one of about 30 members involved in the Cherry St club.

The club hosts regular social play in the lawn-based sport, which sees competitors try to hit balls through hoops with their mallets.

Humphrey was introduced to the sport while working up to the rank of sub-lieutenant in the Royal Navy.

"We used to play croquet on the lawns of these big country houses all across southern England," he said. "It was great fun."

Although he left the sport for a while, he picked up his mallet once again after retiring and moving to Ballina about eight years ago.

"I think you have to have about six lessons minimum to learn the fundamentals," he said. "It is a game that you can enjoy from the outset (though).

"You have to work out what your opponent will do and have an understanding of the physics of the collisions of the two balls. Otherwise, you just go and hammer a ball around.

"That may sound complicated, but it's not. It's a great sport."

Humphrey said croquet was something all ages could enjoy.

"It is seen as an older person's game, but the current best player in Australia is a teenager," he said.

"It's enjoyable, you have good company and it's very social.

"You do lots of walking around the lawn, so you get good exercise in the fresh air as well.

"I would say to anyone, 'come down and join us'.



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