Wednesday, May 2, 2012

AC World Championhsip in full flow

Reports back from the AC World Championship, underway in Adelaide at the moment, are all pretty positive, though it seems several of the seeds have struggled in the first round of the Knock Out.  The event organisers have done a good job of getting the many lawns spread across a lot of small venues to as similar playing standard as possible - we just need a dry spell now to get the kind of testing conditions the best players like.

When Charles Jones, our President, was murdered last August, we wanted to do something special to commemorate him.  So we've set up a page where anyone from the world croquet playing family can donate to the "Chares Jones Memorial Trophy" which will be first contested this October for the Women's AC World Championship at Cairnlea in Australia.  If you, your club or association would like to help commemorate Charles, please make a contribution in his memory.

Speaking of trophies, David Openshaw has kindly offered to donate the trophy for the new GC World Team Championship, which is being contested in two divisions, in Jo'burg and Cairo, this November/ December.  I hope over time, the "Openshaw Shield" will become as famous and important as the MacRobertson Shield is for the AC World Team Championship.

Having made good progress firming up details of a number of future events, I updated and published the latest WCF 10 Year Schedule (see  However, almost immediately after publishing it, it now looks unlikely that the 2013 GC World Championship will now go ahead on the West Coast of the USA.  We have a possible back-up host, so I'll update the schedule once we have some news on that.

If you knew Charles and would like to commemorate the man and what he contributed to world croquet, please make a donation now.  Thanks.

Martin French

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Surfacing after the winter

My apologies for not posting for so long.  Things got very busy in early Winter and then by January, I was completely preoccupied with a project to move my home croquet club from a public park to a nearby golf course.  This was all-consuming - for a month, a group of 5 of us even built, painted and fitted out the new pavilion.  Our website gives you an idea:

Back to the WCF.  Well as you know by now, Amir Ramsis became our new President, the Council approved the new Statutes which means decision-making is now by email rather than a slow postal vote process between occasional meetings, and Garth Beresford became the 6th Member of the GC Rules Committee.  Unfortunately, Garth has now had to stand aside for health reasons, so we're going to have to re-run an election for that position.

The new decision-making process seems, so far, to be running fairly well.  I got a few complaints about the volume of emails when I circulated 3 or 4 new threads in a week - these had all been stored up since before 1st January.  It's now settled down to about 3 a month which should be manageable.  Decided so far: to move the administration of the MacRoberston Shield to the WCF, a number of new versions of our regulations were ratified (Admin, Finance and Equipment) and Portugal was admitted as a new Member.  There was also shown to be insufficient demand to run an U21 AC World Championship.

Then James Hawkins more or less finished our new web site, after a number of unplanned delays.  As it's more of a toolkit to let a number of us maintain different areas in a new framework, than a totally finished, polished product, we thought we should really have an proper assessment first to ensure it was a sound basis to cut across to, before we invested the large amount of time required to do that.  Sadly, the person who first offered to undertake the assessment was then struck with a number of family bereavements, so we are currently planning an assessment by the end of April by a former colleague of mine and internet expert.  One day, I hope to have to have nothing to say about our website, because it just works and has nothing wrong with it.  One day soon, I very much hope!

In a week's time, the AC World Championship starts in Adelaide.  I wish all 80 entrants well and hope they have a good time and the event runs smoothly.  I'd also like to recognise the huge amount of work which has gone in over many, many months to make this event happen.  These big events require so much organisation to make them run smoothly, and that doesn't happen by accident.  I'd like to particularly thank Greg Diprose, the Tournament Director, Wendy King and Rose News (Tournament Manager and Plate Manager respectively) and Liz Fleming the Tournament Referee - plus Stephen Meatheringham, the WCF Event Lead who has acted as the "point man" between the WCF Management Committee and the Host and the Organising Committee for over a year.  Twelve months ago, Stephen visited all the venues and took speed measurments of the lawns, then discussed targets for what speed they should be aiming at for the Worlds, and how they might reach them.    With a large event spread over several venues, I am particularly impressed by the effort that has gone into making the lawns as similar as could be achieved, and the latest reports from the venues show care still being lavished on this.  My thanks to all involved.

Best wishes to everyone in Adelaide - or on their way to Adelaide. 

Martin French

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Suddenly we've gone voting mad!

It seems votes, like buses, come along in groups.  In the 11 months since I became S-G, we've only had any voting by the WCF Members at the July Council meeting.  We've done a number of consultation exercises though, on issues such as the 10 Year Schedule of events, our new decision-making process, and so on.

By chance, a number of things have now all coincided to mean we have 3 votes all running through November, on different topics:

> our Presidential election is underway, with votes from all WCF Full Members due by 24th November.
> we also have been polling our Full Members about the draft 11th Edition Statutes, which incorporate the new decision-making process.  That vote runs until 11th December.
> and we are about to poll about half our Full Members about a seat on the WCF GC Rules Committee.

You might wonder why the last one is "about half".  It's because Australia, Egypt, England, NZ and USA all get to appoint a rep directly on the GC Rules Committee - while the other 6 Full Members (South Africa, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Scotland) are asked to elect the 6th member of the committee.

By chance, all these have come at once.  If the new Statutes are approved, then in future at least some of these would be simpler, quicker email ballots.

We avoided a fourth vote: luckily, we had exactly 4 nominations for the 4 vacancies on the Management Commitee, so all candidates are appointed without an election.  Keith Aiton and Gordon Smith retired by rotation (MC members have a 4 year term) but were prepared to stand again.  We are joined on the MC by Mike Orgill from USA and by Chris Wakeham from South Africa - welcome to Mike and Chris.

Our two Presidential hopefuls are Amir Ramsis and Stephen Mulliner - both well-known figures in the croquet world and also both current members of the MC.

The President and MC roles all commence from 1st January - so we'll have a new-look MC for the New Year.  We've started including Mike and Chris in our email debates so that, by January, they have some idea how we operate and what the current topics are - should make it less of a shock in January!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Where did September go?

I finally found how much croquet is 'too much' - playing every weekend for a couple of months - I did get to the point of arriving at an event thinking "I'd rather be at home catching up with xyz".  Not an ideal frame of mind!  Still, the season ended on a high - I played for Colchester in the CA's Interclub Championship final and we won.  Fellow MC-member, Ian Burridge was also on the team.  Bizarrely, this "last day of the season" was also the hottest weather I'd played in all year!

After Charles Jones' murder, we rallied and asked Amir Ramsis (MC member and Vice-President of Egyptian Croquet Fed) to take the role of Acting President, which he kindly accepted.  We've started the process for the annual elections in December and called for nominations for President and MC posts.

Our new website is getting closer, and our website committee has been looking at a partly complete new site prepared by James Hawkins.  It should be more attractive and easier to use and update, so I'm looking forward to it going live.  I continue to find it hard to keep the existing site current, as it can be a bit scarey to edit!

We've consulted with our Members on the changes to our Statutes necessary to implement the new email-based decision-making process, approved by Council in July.  We'll shortly take a revised copy of the Statutes to a vote (under the old 60 day postal vote scheme of course), and if passed, we'll then be into the 21st Century and able to work electronically!

We polled all the players in this July's championships (Golf Croquet at Hurlingham & Surbiton, and Under 21s at Hunstanton) and got feedback from about a third.  This has been shared in full with the organisers and host, and summarised on our website.  Generally, the events were both well-liked, though there are things to note for next time.

We're currently working on the detail to implement a decision of the "4 Governing Bodies" that control and play in the MacRobertson Shield - to pass the administration over to the WCF and make the Mac clearly Tier 1 of the Association Croquet World Team Championship.  This is how it was staged in August 2010 but we need now to cement that structure.  I hope we'll have a draft set of changes to our Statutes and Regs ready for the 4 Governing Bodies to consider very soon.

Finally, we're getting well-advanced now with preparations for the 4th Women's GC World Championship this November, in Bay of Plenty region, New Zealand, and 13th ACWC next April/ May in Adelaide, as well as making some initial progress too on the 1st Women's AC World Championship, which is likely to be next October. 

There always seems to be so much to do!

Martin French

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What happens next….

After Charles Jones’ horrific murder in Thailand, his body was repatriated to New Zealand and his funeral was last Saturday.  My sympathies to his family and friends.

After some thought, the Management Committee has decided to ask Amir Ramsis – who has been on the MC since 2003 – to take the role of Acting President for the next 4 months.  Amir is also Vice-President of the Egyptian Croquet Federation and frequently travels to GC events round the world.

The WCF Statutes envisage routine elections every November/ December for any roles on the MC that have become vacant through rotation and retirement – so we will include the election for the next President in this timetable.

In the next 4 months, we have just one event, the Women’s GCWC in New Zealand in November.  Amir was already planning to accompany the Egyptian women’s squad there, so will be able to present the prizes and speak on behalf of the WCF too.

Apart from that, the MC has been working through all the actions from the July Council Meeting.  We have been drafting revised Statutes to embody all the processes required by the decision to start a 2 year trial in January of the new email-based discussion and decision process of Council.  These are almost ready now to go to the Members for a consultation cycle prior to a formal postal vote (under the existing 60 day postal process, of course).

We’ve also been working on finalising the 10 Year Schedule of events and the format descriptions for each of the 8 approved event types, and these are again just about ready to go out to the Members along with a call for bids for events through to the end of 2014.  This will allow us to have a clear forward programme of events in place, for some years ahead.

Personally I’ve also been busy with several croquet tournaments (a late-season flourish, playing every weekend for the next 4 weeks), and also being very involved in the negotiations and planning to move my local croquet club (Ipswich CC) from its position in a local park, to a golf club a couple of miles out of town.  The improved facilities will make it much easier, we hope, to recruit and retain new members.   So a busy early Spring next year in prospect, with a hut to build and everything to arrange.

In the meantime, may your swing be straight and your aim true.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

In the thick of it

(...but without all the swearing, for those of you who followed the TV series of this title!)

So we're pretty much ready for the Council Meeting on Sunday 17th July now.  We've received postal votes from all those Members I was expecting to vote by email rather than in person, and we have 25 delegates registered to attend in person.

All last week I was playing in the British Opens at Surbiton, which gave me a chance to check out the facilities we'll be using for the Council Meeting.  I have to say, Surbiton has done wonders.  I think I last played there a bit over 20 years ago, when the lawns were quite ordinary and the club hut almost finished.  Now the 7 lawns are some of the flatest I've played on (lovely being able to approach close to a hoop without having to worry about your ball falling to one side at the last minute) - George Noble and team are to be congratulated.  The rest of the club's facilities are also now very good indeed, and there is a great team spirit amongst the many helpers who look after the bar, catering, BBQ, clearing and setting out the lawns and all the rest of it.  Well done Surbiton!  And to Samir for great management of the Opens.

So, the Council Meeting is there on the 17th at 1pm - preceded by a Management Committee meeting (the only time we ever get to meet face to face!) and lunch for all Council members.

Between now and then, I'm off to Hunstanton for much of next week, as the Under 21 GC World Championship starts there on Tuesday.  Monday afternoon, I'm helping to set up the safety fencing and flags, and looking after a practice session and player registration.  Ian Burridge is the Tournament Manager and Charles Jones the Tournament Ref - so a high input from the MC on this one!

Straight after the Council meeting, things start revving up for the main GC Worlds, which run from 18th to 24th July.  Stephen Mulliner is the MC lead on this one (thanks Stephen), so I'm just going to drop in once or twice during the week.  And anyway, I've got a graduation to go to in Swansea at the end of the week.

Hopefully, after that week, things will calm down.  Then there is all the follow-up to do from Council (writing minutes, circulating any further papers, identifying all the follow-up actions....) and then the large heap of topics we've put to one side to look at after Council is done.  A couple of these will be urgent - especially tryng to move the bids for the first GC World Team Championship forward.  We want to stage the event in about 15 months time, and have a lot to do to be ready for then.

Next blog will probably be after the Council meeting, giving my first-time impressions of this annual fest.

Martin French

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Where did June go?

My last post was about getting the main batch of papers out for the WCF Council meeting scheduled for the 17th July.  That was in May - the second (and final) batch had to go out by 17th June and took a lot of effort to finalise.

There were no formally-submitted amendments to the Management Committee's proposals and resolutions send in the first batch, but there were a number of extra papers and some whoppers from the new Croquet Federation of India and Latvian Croquet Federation, supporting their membership applications.  These are all to be found at

One disappointment was that we didn't receive a finalised information pack from the Pakistan Croquet Federation - hopefully things will be sorted out there before too long.

I had some fun drafting for the MC our MC Report and a new Business Plan.  The first gave me a chance to reflect on all the stuff that's going on and to survey wat we've achieved in the past year.  The second was an opportunity to think further about where we should be going.  Our last Business Plan was very thorough - tying everything back to many objectives stated in our Statutes - but as a result was 25 pages long and not very readable.  I did my best to write our new plan in 4 pages - but subsequent edits took it up to 5.  Still I'm very pleased with this straightforward top level plan (both available at the link above).

The bit of the plan that looks tricky is getting Development rolling.  Indeed, reading some past Reports and Business Plans reveals this has been continuing lament for many years - so we need to really ask ourselves how can we make more Development progress.  Once the Council meeting is done, we'll turn more attention to this topic and see if we can make some decent progress.

Of course, we're also in the thick of the UK croquet season now, so July for me consists of:
> playing in the British Opens 3rd - 10th
> helping at the Under 21 GCWC 11th-15th
> Council Meeting 17th
> attend a bit of the GCWC say 19th or 20th
> son's graduation in Swansea 21st/22nd
> Compton tournament 30th/ 31st. my apologies now if I don't get much time to post anything in July!

I hope you have the chance to play in, spectate or help with any of the WCF events in July - hope to see you there.

Martin French