The first game took place at Old Auchans View in July 2002. Present at the first
meeting were (from left) Ronnie Zorget, Jamie Shedden and Steven Easton (pictured
here at the 2007 Singles Cup).
I have a cunning plan
It was on a warm summer’s evening in July 2002 that the founding members of Dundonald
Croquet Club first played croquet together.
Having arranged to meet for a barbeque in Old Auchans View, Jamie Shedden decided
to introduce the game to his friends and brought along an antique croquet set that
had belonged to his family for decades. This first game was played in the back garden
with a format similar to golf croquet but using a random pin layout. Known to be
at this first meeting were Ronnie Zorget, Jamie Shedden and Steven Easton.
At first playing croquet seemed like a bit of a joke - something to do whilst enjoying
a few drinks with friends. But this was just the beginning.
Over the course of the summer this small group of friends continued to meet with
the traditional barbeque and beers in mind. The old croquet set always made an appearance
at some point in the proceedings and throughout the summer they continued to play
in their back gardens. At one meeting the idea of forming a club was first mentioned
and, like the original suggestion of playing croquet, this was laughed at - the idea
of being the ‘Dundonald Croquet Club’ became a running joke amongst the group.
Like the summer before, the group would meet regularly and play croquet in some back
garden or other - the novelty never seemed to wear off. Although the games did not
follow strict Golf Croquet rules, they were becoming more and more competitive, often
lasting late into the night.
In February 2004, the four founding members (Jamie Shedden, Ronald Zorget, John Shedden
and Steven Easton) found themselves back-packing in Australia. As is tradition with
most ‘lads’ holidays, the boys wanted to have shirts printed to commemorate their
experience down under, and so on Phillip Island in Victoria State that the first
club shirts were made. These were gold coloured polo shirts costing just $2 (84 pence!)
and had the words ‘Aussie Tour 04’ embroidered on the right breast. A newly designed
Dundonald Croquet Club emblem was embroidered on the left breast - this is the same
emblem that is still used today.On passing Phillip Island Croquet Club the boys stopped
off for a photo opportunity, standing by the sign and proudly wearing their new shirts.
On their return home from Australia, the boys again found themselves playing croquet
whenever the opportunity arose. The ‘Aussie Tour’ shirts were worn religiously and
generated at lot of interest wherever they went.
A visit to the Dundonald Farmers Society Annual Charity Croquet Evening in Loans
saw the boys compete against other keen croquet players, however this time on a purpose
build lawn. It was here that the group realised the potential of their own ambitions
in forming a club. Throughout the remainder of the summer there were further discussions
on forming a club with someone even suggesting building a lawn - another ‘ridiculous
idea’ that was laughed at by most.
The summer of 2005 came and went with the usual outdoor social gatherings, the odd
game of croquet and more chatter about starting a club. It was during one of these
evenings that the group realised they needed somewhere central to meet, as up until
now they had only played in their back gardens or wherever else they could get away
with knocking in a few hoops. To form a proper club they needed somewhere of their
own where anyone would be welcome.
Of course, the idea of actually creating a purpose built lawn to play on seemed ridiculous
to most – where would it be built? After all, a regulation croquet lawn is 84 FT
by 105 FT (8,818 SQ FT) – not a small area!
Jamie, who lived at Newfield Mains Farm just outside the village, put forward the
idea that his father might allow the boys the use of a plot on which a lawn could
be built. Having earmarked an overgrown area of land near the old farmhouse, the
boys went about raising funds to help them realise their dream.
It was at this point that the club opened its doors to new members and, having created
a lot of interest, the boys had no problem in finding newcomers. In return for a
modest fee, each member received a new club polo-shirt. These shirts were of a similar
style to the original Aussie Tour shirts, but were lime green in colour and had the
words ‘Season 2006’ embroidered on the right breast. The original Dundonald Croquet
Club emblem was reproduced and embroidered on the left breast. In 2006 the club membership
grew four-fold to sixteen members.
And so what began as a small bunch of local croquet enthusiasts had now become a
vibrant group set with the task of building a croquet lawn from scratch.