by Ed Owen
A common misconception about University Sport in general is its intensive nature. Any sport, from rowing to table tennis, requires rigorous and exhausting bouts of daily training in order to stay at a level of competence, leaving the participant shattered and broken. Not so for Croquet.
Of course, that’s not to say croquet isn’t hard. I myself attempted the game at an open day on Palace Green. With a large croquet mallet in hand, I attempted to wield the beast in such a way as to smash a ball through six hoops in a circuit.
Needless to say, I failed, having had my game spoiled by other more competent players ‘making roquet’ on my ball, meaning they get a free hit if they struck it, thus making them able to complete the circuit faster.
The open day was put on by Durham University Croquet Club, a new and ever-expanding branch of Team Durham. The club was set up by current president Jack Percival, with a view to challenging the stereotype of herringbone jackets, aristocracy, and, above all, exclusivity.
“We’re a very inclusive society, encouraging a diverse range of people to come along and give it a go. For instance, we had over 200 people sign up at the fresher’s fair.”
Percival was quick to point out the origins of their club captain, an East-Londoner called Adam Thomas with a cockney drawl that belongs far from the trimmed hedges and manicured lawns of the sport’s genteel origins.
“Croquet is a summer sport, so we’re preparing for competitions during the Easter Term. In the meantime we’re really pushing the social aspect. It’s good fun,” said Thomas.
Thomas has planned fixtures between Durham and other Universities, such as Newcastle, Oxford and Cambridge. Until then, there will be more open days on Palace Green within the next few weeks to help define a team, along with plenty of socials.
Croquet is a sport which fits well into the Durham experience and it seems only right that the university has its own club.
It will be interesting to see how the university compares against its rivals in the summer matches.