Canterbury Croquet Association formed – This week in History 31 July – 6 August

The Canterbury Croquet Association (New Zealand’s first such regional association) formed on the third of August in 1910. The founding clubs were Ashburton, Kaiapoi, Rangiora, St. Albans, Sumner, Temuka, Timaru and United Clubs. Templeton also joined in September that first year. The Association formed to organise more inter-club tournaments and to raise the profile of the sport. Croquet had gained a large following in the 1860s because it allowed women in their restrictive Victorian gowns as well as men to play.

Canterbury Croquet Association Tournament, Press, Volume LXVI, Issue 13914, 13 December 1910
Canterbury Croquet Association Tournament, Press, Volume LXVI, Issue 13914, 13 December 1910

Their first major tournament was organised for Christmas week at the grounds of the United Club at Hagley Park. It was claimed to be the most important Croquet event in the Dominion to that point. One of the world’s greatest players, Mr Keith Izard, would also be in attendance and was charged with raising the profile and standard of the game.

Players at Junior Croquet Tournament
Players at Junior Croquet Tournament. A snapshot Taken at the United Club's grounds yesterday, when play commenced in the junior tournament of the Canterbury Croquet Association. Press, Volume LXXI, Issue 21391, 6 February 1935.

Mr G.M. Butterworth (the Ashburton delegate for the Association) wrote articles for the Press leading up to the tournament to raise awareness for the game called “Croquet, and how to play it”. These included his reminiscences of being taught to play by his father in 1868 along with his 7 siblings in Gloucestershire, and how the sport had been kicked out of their own grounds in Wimbledon for 15 years. What started as the "All England Croquet Club" in 1868, grew to include Lawn Tennis 9 years later. This led to Tennis overtaking the clubs founding reason.

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