#41 Take up a Sport

Retirement doesn’t mean giving up all the fun sporting activities of your youth like tennis, athletics, cycling or netball. By all means keep on playing them, as much as your dodgy joints, crumbling neck and overall lack of flexibility allows.

The good news for the remaining 95% of us though, is that it’s still possible to

#41 Take up a Sport

at any age, no matter your level of skill and fitness. It all depends on the game you choose.

So welcome to the latest trend sweeping the world, and my most recent conquest:

Gentle sport

The Arthur Mee Children’s encyclopaedia goes on to discuss it in more detail:Croquet summary A Mee

but these statements are wrong on so many levels.  (In fact, I now wonder in what other ways Arthur misled me during my childhood.)

The most important thing to know about croquet is that it is NOT a ‘Gentle Game’.

If you thought it involved taking turns to accurately hit a heavy ball through a narrow hoop with a thick mallet, you are so, so, wrong.

Getting your ball through the hoop is a secondary consideration. Bordering on irrelevant. Croquet really revolves around putting your opponents’ balls in the MOST UNFAVOURABLE, MOST UNPLAYABLE POSITION possible. A bit like snooker but executed on the ground instead of a table. (In fact, I don’t quite understand why the term ‘I’m snookered’ took hold in popular culture, rather than ‘I’m croqueted’.)

Once the purpose of croquet is clear in your mind, you’ll go a long way in the game. It’s TACTICAL, it’s STRATEGIC, it’s VICIOUS in a seemingly polite way. So it’s a lot of fun.

But sedate? Not on your life. Croquet is not for sissies and neither is it for people wearing crinoline petticoats.

Yes, Arthur Mee may be correct in saying the lawns are green, (although early morning frost can give them a whitish tinge):

Croquet lawn…the peg colours remind forgetful players whose turn it is

and yes, when looking at this tense moment of exhilarating play (below) you may think ‘well that looks a mite leisurely’

Pondering

but looks are deceptive.

Believe me, the decision that the player of the Red Ball has to make here as to whether to take out Black Ball or Blue Ball, or try and take out BOTH BALLS with the one shot makes for intense excitement. And she only has one minute to make up her mind and take her shot. You’d hardly call that leisurely.

Not only that, but in the six weeks I’ve been playing the game, there’s been neither sight nor sound of a garden party. Arthur Mee has it quite wrong.

He’s wrong to say that ‘croquet has lost much of its popularity’, too.

A recent article by the travel writer Lee Tulloch spoke about the resurgence of croquet and its perfectly manicured lawns at several top hotels around the world, no less.

Lee Tulloch

It just goes to show that it takes a croquet player to know what’s on trend.

The beauty of croquet is that it’s the only game where men and women play on equal footing. No men’s comp, no women’s comp, we’re all in it together.

And there’s another benefit, too. As a family member – who knows I’ve taken up croquet and has knowledge of my sporting prowess – was heard to say, ‘So, Croquet for the Disabled would be a tautology, then?’

Perhaps the last word should come from the clever team at The Shovel, who seem to understand where we croquet players are coming from:

Croquet Shovel 2

 …and let me tell you, a double tap is a real no-no 

 

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