Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Croquet? Is It Just a Posh Game for Toffs? Well, We Thrashed the Geordies 6-1

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Croquet? Is It Just a Posh Game for Toffs? Well, We Thrashed the Geordies 6-1

Article excerpt

Byline: Barbara Argument Chief Writer

It's a game we all imagined was played only by toffs ( until John Prescott was caught at it.

So what's croquet got to do with down-to-earth Boro? Well, quite a lot, it seems.

Last year's most exciting fixture on the circuit was Middlesbrough Croquet Club's 6-1 thrashing of its Geordie rivals.

Now that's a score to set them Pig-bagging down at the Riverside.

It turns out that John Prescott has done the game a favour by setting it in the spotlight.

Croquet is on the march and not just across the traditional manicured lawns of stately piles.

Here on Teesside, the local club welcomes newcomers with open arms and for pounds 3 a session they can have a go with some tuition thrown in. Even when you are hooked, the annual fee is a mere pounds 75.

All you need to get going are flat-soled rubber shoes and whites or light-coloured clothing is encouraged.

Charles Waterfield, a stalwart of the 20-year-old Middlesbrough Club, chuckles at Prezza's antics on the lawn of his grace and favour mansion.

But the ex-ICI manager believes all publicity is good publicity.

He is one of six in the Yorkshire county team and a good player with a zero handicap.

Peter McDermott (with a handicap of 2 1/2), who loves the game with such a passion that he spends the winter playing in Australia, is not amused, though.

"John Prescott's held the game up to ridicule with his silly little mallet and wire hoops," rages the 70-year-old.

Which just shows how seriously Middlesbrough's 35 members take this gentlemanly game.

Peter is about to do battle with club chairman John Norris (handicap 9), who lives in Richmond, at the club's Prissick ground in Marton Road.

They try hard to explain the rules and how to do it, but it's a losing battle.

"It's like snooker," says Peter, throwing out words like 'baulk' and 'rush' and 'peg'. If you are clever, you can control the break.

The game may not be too physical, but it is skilful and complex enough to test the brain. …

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