Croquet is believed to have been first played by thirteenth century French peasants who used crudely fashioned mallets to whack wooden balls through hoops made of willow branches.
The origins of the modern game have been traced back to 1852 when a game called "crooky" was introduced to England from Ireland where it had been played since the 1830's. Widespread popularity came when a London sporting goods manufacturer by the name of John Jaques began selling complete croquet sets (John Jaques & Sons remain the foremost manufacturer of croquet equipment today). With the availability of equipment, croquet flourished and soon became one of the primary social and recreational activities of the British leisure class.
By 1870 croquet had reached virtually all of the British Colonies where it continued to gain recognition through the turn of the century. Given the nature of Victorian courting codes, it is not surprising that young people-particularly women-relished the game, which gave them the opportunity to socialize out of earshot of chaperons!
With the introduction of lawn tennis and the onset of World War I, the growth of croquet began to wane. But during the 1930's and 1940's croquet enjoyed a resurgence, particularly with the "literati" on the east coast and the "glitterati" on the west coast of North America. After World War II, toy makers miniaturized the standard croquet set, simplified the rules and marketed croquet as a backyard "children's game." Croquet began its revitalization as a competitive sport in the late 1970's and has continued to grow in popularity throughout the U.S. and Canada since that time.
by Ross Robinson, Former Canadian Champion
The sport of croquet is now played competitively in over twenty countries. The growth of the sport can be largely attributed to the efforts of international and national croquet organizations such as Croquet Canada and the United States Croquet Association. Since the early 1980's the number of competitive players in North America has risen from 50 to over 8,000.
Many Canadians are familiar with the informal backyard version of croquet. This version, usually played with nine wickets and two stakes, is often played between friends and family under "house rules" on bumpy back lawns. The nine-wicket game continues to be hugely popular. One retailer estimates that over 100,000 backyard croquet sets are sold in Canada each year.
But it is the competitive version of croquet which is now experiencing a dramatic revival. This game is played with six wickets and one stake in the centre of the court. The "six-wicket" game offers the player the opportunity to learn more advanced shot-making techniques and strategies than the backyard game. Six-wicket croquet is a fascinating, competitive and social game. The equipment is very different from the "backyard' variety. Flimsy wire hoops are replaced by iron or steel wickets. The balls weigh one pound apiece and have only an eighth of an inch clearance through the uprights. Mallets are often made of fine wood and are weighted depending on the needs of the player.
Who Plays Croquet?
Croquet can be played by EVERYONE
Croquet attracts players of ALL AGES who compete together. It is a sport where players can continually improve their game as they get older and become more experienced. Men and women compete on an equal playing level without separate divisions. Because croquet can be played by everyone, it is a very social game. Divisions exist only among skill levels and most tournaments offer competition for beginners and seasoned players alike.
No matter when one takes it up, as a youngster or older adult, croquet provides years of challenge, learning and fun!
Croquet in Canada
Croquet is in its infancy here in Canada. Croquet Canada was established in 1987 to promote the development of the sport across the country. Affiliated member croquet clubs have been established from coast to coast. Croquet is now played in Nova Scotia, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Barrie, St. Catharines, Vancouver, Victoria and many other cities and towns.
Croquet Canada is a non-profit organization run by volunteers dedicated to the growth and popularity of the sport. The organization provides many benefits to its membership, including:
a subscription to "The Mallet' the official newsletter of Croquet Canada
a copy of the official croquet rule book
opportunities to participate in Croquet Canada instructional schools, tournaments and special events
access to /handicapping and ranking programs
Croquet Canada emblemed merchandise and clothing ... and more!
"Today's beginners are tomorrow's champions!" - Ross Robinson, Former Canadian Champion