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Lawn Drainage Project photos

Open Day photos

Part 3

To infinity and beyond

Mr John Shedden Snr pictured with his grandson and founding member, Jamie, strikes the first ball to commence play (June 2007).

Club progression


Inaugural Open Day - 2 June 2007

On the 2nd of June 2007 the lawn was officially opened. Over 120 people of all ages came from the village and surrounding areas to see for themselves what was later branded the ‘best party the village had ever seen’.

Mr Douglas Shedden cut the ribbon to declare the the lawn officially open, and Mr John Shedden Snr (91 years old at the time) struck the first ball to commence play. John Shedden Snr came to Newfield Mains Farm in 1931 and had worked the land over many decades. Having seen the farm change over many years, and being one of the oldest members of the local community, he was the ideal candidate to set the club in motion.

Unfortunately previous efforts to invite the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, to open the club had failed after a letter of response was finally received from his office declaring that he would be out of the country on the date in question.

The very first tournament struck off with over 64 pairs entering. The competition ran close to midnight and was eventually won by Jamie and Douglas Shedden – an early sign of their future dominance of the sport.

The night was a huge success and the club managed to raise over £160 through donations and a raffle. In the event, the raffle tickets ran out – a lesson quickly learned and never forgotten at all subsequent events. The money was invested in a 24” cylinder lawn mower and some other tools for maintaining the lawn.


July - August 2007

During the summer months of 2007 a series of weekend tournaments were held with the main events being the Singles Cup and the Pairs Shield. The first season was deemed a major success - more so than anyone had first imagined. By the close of the season club membership had expanded to 53 members.


Spring 2008

The spring months in 2008 were spent upgrading what had been built the previous year. Additional fencing was erected to keep spectators from straying onto the lawn and the patio was extended by more than double its size to accommodate the increasing numbers. A new super-sized barbeque was kindly donated by Ian Shedden and Jarad Boyd, and a new equipment shed was erected to provide additional storage for the equipment.


April 2008

Season 2008 kicked off in April with a full season of events and competitions scheduled for the summer, including a series of medal tournaments together with the highly competitive Singles Cup and Pairs Shield. The Open Day was held in June and hailed as another great success, introducing fresh faces to the club and helping to raise more funds. Again the club membership grew considerably on the previous year, with 69 fully paid members.


Summer 2008

As a result of the inclement weather over the summer of 2008, most of the planned events were cancelled. Unfortunately the lawn, which was built at minimal cost, had insufficient drainage. With a layer of heavy clay just below the topsoil, it took days for the grass to dry out even after the rain had stopped. Just cutting the grass was proving extremely difficult, and the weight of the mowers on the wet ground was damaging the playing surface. Something had to be done!


December 2008

The frustration and disappointment of having to cancel numerous events during the summer inspired the original founding members to go about improving what they had built over the previous two years. Not wanting to give up after their initial success, the boys went to a local green keeper for advice. After a few heated debates amongst the group, the decision was made to dig up the lawn and install filter drains.

Having priced up the materials to do the job, they quickly realised that this was going to be an expensive project and out with the means of the club. Never ones to give up easily, the boys set about organising a fund raising event that came in the form of the ‘Croquet Christmas Cracker’ – a themed fancy dress party to take place between Christmas and New Year with all the usual festive shenanigans. After much hype for the cause, over 150 revelers squeezed into the Old Castle Bar & Restaurant for a night to remember. The event raised £1,011 - just enough to get what they needed for the drainage project.


January 2009

It was agreed that the works must be finished by the end of February in order to allow the lawn to recover for play in the summer. A tight programme of works was drafted and the work eventually began in late January.

Parallel channels were dug and a series of filter drains installed diagonally across the lawn that would allow rainwater to drain away from the playing surface. In all, over 100 tonnes of wet clay was removed from the lawn by wheel barrow with 80 tonnes of washed gravel and 20 tonnes of top-soil barrowed in. This was the club’s most expensive investment to date, with materials costing over £1,000. However, expenditure was kept to the bare minimum and most of the labour was carried out voluntarily by club members. The entire project was completed in early March - just one week later than planned. The grass recovered in time for the first event in April.


March 2009

With the club now established in the local community, a constitution was written to formalise the nature and purpose of the club to its members. The Constitution of Dundonald Croquet Club was formerly adopted on 7th March 2009. The founding members continued in their existing roles to manage the club with additional input and ideas from the growing membership. The constitution requires a Club Captain to be nominated each year and Douglas Shedden was voted in to take the first honour.


Summer 2009

The time and money invested in the lawn drainage proved to be worthwhile as only one event had to be cancelled due to bad weather during Season 2009.  Some additional events were also played on the warmer afternoons. The total membership soared to new peak of 83, with an average regular medal attendance of 40. The 2009 Open Day proved to be the busiest event to date attracting over 150 members and guests, with the tournament final again being played past the midnight hour.


April 2010

Prior to the start of season, some minor improvements were carried out including coring the lawn and the addition of a children’s play area. By chance, Troon Tennis Club were in the process of a major redevelopment programme, including renewing their astro turf courts, and kindly donated their old playing surface to the club. This was laid adjacent to the lawn and fenced off to create a self enclosed area where children could play with toys donated by the members.

During 2009 the club had been in contact with the Scottish Croquet Association (SCA) with a view to forging closer links within the Scottish croquet community, and on 10th April the SCA sent a delegation to take part in a pairs medal. The group was made up of Glasgow and Edinburgh club members and headed by SCA Match Secretary and Head Coaching Officer, Alan Wilson, who submitted a very favourable report to the SCA Executive Committee. It was also confirmed by the SCA that Dundonald had grown to become the largest croquet club in Scotland by membership - all within just 8 years of being founded in a back garden!!!


Summer 2010

The summer continued to be very successful with all fixtures being played without cancellation. In May, Dundonald invited local rivals, Auchincruive and Loans, to play in a new All Ayrshire Cup. This proved to be very popular and after much fierce competition Dundonald founding members, Steven Easton and Ronnie Zorget, came out top.

In June the entire club was split into two teams (Natives and Interlopers) and played for a new Co-operative Funeralcare Trophy; the Open Day was again very popular attracting many new faces; and a new Crolf day was added to the fixture list.

At the end of season the membership had greatly surpassed all previous years having now reached the heavens at 112. To mark the end of a very successful year a Prize Giving Dinner was held in November followed in December by the, now traditional, Croquet Christmas Cracker.


Season 2011

2011 proved to be another very successful year for us as we continued to play most weeks during the summer months. Membership remained above 100, and again we brought together local rivals Auchincruive and Loans to compete in the All Ayrshire Cup. Unfortunately we were beaten in the final by Loans CC (we’ll get them next year!).

We introduced more competitions to our busy schedule including many sponsored events. Additionally we brought in the Masters and the Club Championship competitions to draw out the cream of the croquet players from our midst.

In July, we linked up with Dundonald Bowling Club to compete for a new Dundonald Derby Cup: a morning of croquet followed by an afternoon of bowling - with lots of socialising in between. Although croquet and bowling aren’t really compatible, we did manage to break the games down so that we were competing equally. Both clubs played well throughout the day, but we managed to take an early lead from which the bowlers never recovered from, that allowed us to go on and claim the inaugural victory.

Throughout 2011, we also welcomed visitors from across the globe including Robert Taylor of Vancouver Croquet Club (Canada) and Paul and Sally Barton of Stourbridge Croquet Club (England). Towards the end of the year we were approached by Phillip Island Croquet Club (Australia) to enter a twin club agreement; which was subsequently signed in March 2012 and is now in effect.

Finally, during the season we began talks with the Scottish Croquet Association (SCA) with a view to forging closer links within the Scottish croquet community, and were thereafter invited to join the SCA as an affiliate member club; which we have now done.


Season 2012

Throughout 2012 we continued to play regularly and maintained our links with other clubs and organisations. During the summer, some of our members made the journey through to Edinburgh and competed in the annual SCA competition, East vs West. We even managed to bring home some silverware!

Probably the most exciting development in 2012 was an approach by the BBC to make a short film about our club. Directed by BAFTA award winner, Folko Boermans, and presented by Sarah Mack, the film was first broadcast on 25th May 2012 on BBC2 Scotland’s rural affairs programme, Landward. Famous at last! Click here to watch.



Watch this space . . . . . . .

How to find us

A group photo from the 2007 Singles Cup (June 2007).

Inaugural Open Day

(2 June 2007)

Inaugural Open Day

(2 June 2007)

Medal competition winners: (from left) Ian Shedden & Sam Townsend (2008).

The John Prescott files

Inaugural Open Day

(2 June 2007)

Inaugural Open Day

(2 June 2007)

Inaugural Open Day

(2 June 2007)

Croquet Christmas Cracker fundraising party (December 2008).

Croquet Christmas Cracker fundraising party (December 2008).

The Lawn Drainage Project underway (January 2009).

Billy Smith (second from right) led the team and coordinated the project (January 2009).

Each channel had drainage pipes installed before being re-filled with filter gravel (February  2009).

Douglas Shedden (left) was the first club captain during the 2009 season.

(from left) SCA Match Secretary & Head Coaching Officer with 2010 Dundonald CC Captain Dave Farrow (10 April 2010).

The first All Ayrshire Cup was won by Dundonald CC members (from left) Steven Easton & Ronnie Zorget (2 May 2010).

Natives vs. Interlopers at the Co-operative Funeralcare Cup (5 June 2010).

The thin red line: bowling vs croquet at the Dundonald Derby (2 July 2011).

Operation Desert Lawn

Paul & Sally Barton of Stourbridge CC (far left) with Robert Taylor of Vancouver CC (far right) with Dundonald CC members (centre) (18 September 2011).

Sarah Mack records footage for BBC Landward (16 May 2012)

BAFTA award winning director, Folko Boermans (left), BBC Landward presenter, Sarah Mack (centre), and 2012 Dundonald CC Captain, George Steele (right) (16 May 2012)