On a warm sunny day at Southwick in West Sussex twenty four Horners including partners, who had travelled from all over south and west England, as well as being the happy Horners also became the croquet learning Horners and then the croquet playing Horners.
There was a wide variety of experience amongst those attending including from those who thought a mallet was just for banging in tent pegs, to those who had played association croquet a little while ago to two who had recently become members of croquet clubs.
After a very welcome drink and snack Jonathan Isaacs, a member of Sussex County Croquet Club, a Glovers’ liveryman and most importantly a very knowledgeable croquet player, told us a little about the history of the 100 plus year old club and the eleven perfectly prepared lawns on some of which we were to play and then explained the croquet extravagancy he had prepared for the Horners’ day.
He said that we were a very convenient number enabling him to split us into four blocks of six in which we would initially all play each other and then have play-offs including semi-finals and a final to find the winning Horner.
We were then split into two groups, the larger group of Horners who had not previously played croquet went off with their mallets to find out about the basics of the game whilst the smaller group who had actually played the game were given a quarter of an hour of tactical advice.
Having learnt a bit about the game everyone was sent off to their appointed lawn with their opponent from the block to put their new found knowledge to good use and play their games of seven hoops for a maximum of half an hour. It was not long before players were not only going for the hoops but also trying to make sure their opponents didn’t do so by hitting their balls in various directions around the lawns. We knew the Horners were taking this seriously when a cheer was soon heard followed by laughter when a player unexpectedly made a hoop.
We were all ready to be treated to an excellent outside lunch prepared by Jonathan Isaacs’ wife Chrissy helped by Horners’ wives Margaret and Judith. There were several who thought alcohol might help their afternoon games.
After one more block game it was time for a break whilst Jonathan Isaacs had the tricky job of working out who was to play who in the play-offs for positions. After removing the wet towel from his head, it was announced that our clerk Jonathan would play Alan P in one semi-final and Denis Cruse would play Tim Firth in the other. Jonathan and Denis quickly disposed of Alan and Tim to meet in the final when after quite long day on the lawns Denis was victorious with Tim sailing into third place.
Deputy Master David Giachardi kindly presented the fine new Horn trophy to Court Assistant Denis Cruse and thanked all at Sussex County Croquet Club for their support and in particular John and Chrissy for all the work they had done to ensure the success of the day.
Everyone agreed this was an excellent opportunity not just to learn some new skills and perhaps be tempted to take up a new sport but also to meet other Horners and partners in a relaxed convivial atmosphere with plenty of time to chat both on and off the lawns, very much helped by having such fine weather. All the Horners and their partners were pleased to meet up perhaps for the first time and certainly for the first time in person for far too long.
When Jonathan Isaacs asked if we would like to book again for next year, as we would have to do so early, we unanimously said “yes please”. Since confirmed as 9 July 2022 – a date for your diaries!
There are more photos of the event under GALLERY click here to view them.