David Prichard

Hall of Fame
David Prichard

Born: 1912
Died: 1986
Inducted: 2009

David Matthew Caradoc Prichard was born and brought up in Glamorgan on the Prichard family estate.  He was educated at Wellington College, where he played in the 1st XI cricket for two years as a spin bowler, and at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.  He was then commissioned into The Royal Welch Fusiliers, in which he served for 25 years in various parts of the British Empire and throughout the Second World War.  He was only the second officer ever to pass both Staff College and Technical Staff College.  He played cricket for the Army and enjoyed polo, hunting and riding in point-to-points.

When David was invalided out of the Army, he moved to Monmouthshire.  He soon discovered croquet and was immediately bitten.  He joined Cheltenham and built his own lawn at his home at Gobion Manor near Abergavenny.  His rise to the A-Class was rapid, winning the D, C, B and A classes in consecutive years at the annual Cheltenham Tournament.  In 1960, he was the first winner of the Apps Bowl, then for the most improved player, and also won his CA Silver Medal.  In 1961, he was selected for the Surrey Cup which he promptly won.  He played in this selection event nine times, winning a record three times, and also played in the Chairman's Salver three times.  He was the runner-up in 1962 Men's Championship to John Solomon and was on the fringe of selection for the 1963 MacRobertson Shield team.

Often accompanied by his wife, Betty, David played widely on the tournament circuit at Budleigh Salterton, Cheltenham, Devonshire Park, Hunstanton, Hurlingham, Nottingham, Roehampton and Southwick.  He played in both the Open Championship and the Men's Championships on about a dozen occasions.  He won many A-Class events, handicap singles and doubles and mixed and open doubles in his career and reached a handicap of -2.5.  This was all achieved despite suffering from a rigid neck caused by spondylitis.  As one of the most experienced referees, he never allowed his condition to interfere with his duties and thought nothing of lying down on his back to judge a wiring decision between his toes!

David undoubtedly put far more back into croquet than he took out through his administrative and other work for the Croquet Association where his orderly mind and wide knowledge proved extremely useful.  He served on the CA Council for over 20 years and as its Chairman from 1968-70.  During that time, he served on the Laws Committee and was its chairman for eight years in two separate terms.  He was also a selector for many years and Chairman of Selectors.  He was chairman of the CA Special Appeals Committee which, unusually, had to meet for three different special appeals during his term.  He was elected a Vice-President of the Croquet Association in 1982.

As chairman of the Laws Committee, David was responsible for the 1972 rewrite of the Laws.  This took months of meetings and copious proof reading and amending.  He introduced the idea of a Commentary on the Laws and wrote four editions of this work. Not content with this, he also rewrote the CA Council rules for conducting meetings and compiled a summary of all important CA Council decisions back to its formation in 1897.

David wrote many technical, legal and administrative articles for the Croquet Gazette, the house magazine of the Croquet Association. However, his final and arguably greatest contribution to croquet was the writing and publication of The History of Croquet in 1981.  This took a couple of years to research and write, entailing many trips to the British Library in Colindale and supported by the erudite assistance of Betty.  It is a very readable account and remains widely accepted as the definitive history of the game in England.  All the proceeds of the sale of the book were donated to the CA.

Not the least of his contributions to croquet came in the form of four A-Class players that he introduced to the game - namely Betty and his three sons!

David Prichard always stood up for the rights of the individual and hated any sort of undercover plot.  As a backbench member of Council, he discovered and nipped in the bud certain underhand or unwise dealings on more than one occasion.  He carefully researched his arguments on most issues and was an unswerving campaigner to maintain Croquet as an amateur sport.  He abhorred any possible misuse or waste of CA funds but gave freely of his time and effort to the CA throughout his time on the croquet scene.  

Although David could appear to be a little intimidating, partly due to his stooped posture from spondylitis and because of a certain gruffness of manner, he had an excellent sense of humour.  Shortly before his death, the Council had decided to allow croquet players to win up to £2,000 per annum in prize money without losing their amateur status.  Despite his well-known opposition to this change, he cheerfully informed another arch-proponent of amateurism at the Cheltenham Club that he had decided to turn professional!

Tom Howat

Hall of Fame
Tom Howat

Born: 1912
Died: 1995
Inducted: 2009

Thomas William (“Tom”) Howat was arguably the best Australian croquet player of his generation.  He won nine Australian Championships between 1955 and 1968, a total which still remains unmatched by a substantial margin.  He was also an excellent coach who freely passed on his knowledge of the game to others.

Tom Howat was a member of Brunswick and Coburg Croquet Clubs in Melbourne. He took up croquet when a pennant standard lawn bowls player.  His wife, Isobel, was a member of Brunswick Croquet Club and, when waiting for her after Bowls, he became intrigued by the techniques, tactics and challenges of the game of Croquet.  Tom was a natural player and quickly progressed through the handicap ranges to become one of Victoria and Australia’s leading players.

Tom also became Croquet Victoria’s first Director of Coaching and was instrumental in organising both the Practical and Theoretical components of its first accreditation course. He also made a major contribution to the development of a coaching video featuring the leading players Allan Cleland and John Tyrell for distribution to clubs.

Tom and Isobel invented the game of King Ball.  This is a single ball game with a croquet stroke after a ball ran the rover hoop that could be used to croquet opposition balls out of play. King Ball was the forerunner of Aussie Croquet, a single ball modified version of Association Croquet, which is now used in schools and clubs throughout Australia to introduce community groups and new club members to croquet.

Tom was noted for his great generosity in passing on his expertise to players throughout Australia. In particular, Tom’s coaching and support of John Tyrell, Alan Cleland, Owen Morgan and George Latham played a significant part in their national and international successes. George and Owen succeeded Tom as Victoria’s Directors of Coaching and his example continues to influence croquet in Victoria and Australia through those whom he coached.

Tom Howat left an outstanding legacy for croquet in Victoria and Australia.

Titles Won by Thomas William Howat:

Australian Singles Championship (The Wall Cup)

1955, 1959, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968

Australian Doubles Championship (with Mrs. T.Howat)

1959 and 1965

Australian Men’s Singles Championship


ACC Gold Medal

1956-7, 1963-64, 1965-66, 1968-9, 1970-71, 1972-73, 1975-76, 1979-80

British Silver Medal

1964, 1966, 1967

English Bronze Medal

1957, 1969, 1971, 1976, 1980

Victorian State Singles Championship

1954-5, 1956-7, 1957-8, 1962-3, 1965-6, 1966-7, 1968-9, 1972-3, 1975-6, 1976-7, 1977-8, 1979-80.

Victorian Doubles Championship (with Len Mason)

1971-2, 1972-3

Victorian Interstate TeamMember

1955, 1956, 1957, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1973, 1976 (Captain), 1977 (Captain), 1979, 1980

MacRobertson International Shield (played between Australia, England and New Zealand)


Victorian Wren Memorials – Singles

1973-4, 1976-7

Victorian Wren Memorials – Doubles

1969-70, 1976-7 (with Mrs T Howat); 1979-80 (with A. Ford).


Patrick Cotter

Hall of Fame
Edmond Patrick Charles Cotter

Born: 1905
Died: 1995
Inducted: 2009

Pat Cotter (front row, second from right) in the 1963 MacRobertson Shield Test Series

Pat Cotter graduated from Trinity College, Dublin with a degree in classics and soon joined the teaching staff at St. Paul’s school, Hammersmith, teaching Latin and Greek. .  During the second World War he was in the R.A.F. in the Intelligence division with the rank of Squadron Leader.  After the war he returned to St. Paul’s as head of classics where he remained until his retirement.

He was an international bridge player, playing regularly at Crockfords and the Devonshire and in 1938 won the World Bridge Championship.  He wrote a weekly article on bridge for the Financial Times and a monthly one for Country Life until shortly before his death. He was also a regular compiler of crosswords for the Times.

Pat Cotter was a scratch golfer and in 1947 was due to play in a competition at the Roehampton club but had sprained his ankle and wandered over to the croquet courts.  He had played a little croquet at university and after a little practice he entered a competition and his handicap was soon down to scratch. Remarkably in 1949, only having played for 2 years he was invited to play in the Presidents Cup and won it, and  went  on to win it another 3 times in the next 4 years. Thus he was the winner on 4 of his first 5 years and in 21 years won it 6 times and was runner-up 5 times.

 He was regarded by Maurice Reckitt as one of the Big Three with Hicks and Solomon and was captain of the winning Great Britain team for the MacRobertson Trophy in England in 1956 and in New Zealand in 1963.  Surprisingly his number of wins in other major events was relatively few, winning the Open Singles only 3 times between 1955 and 1962, 4 Men’s titles between 1952 and 1969, and 2 Mixed doubles, though he did not play in this event very often.   He won the Open Doubles 9 times with John Solomon.

As a player he was extremely accurate with a very light touch and played with a mallet of only 2 lbs 12 ozs, which allowed him to play superb stop shots.  His rushes and split shots were very accurate. He was not a particularly good long shot, probably because he rarely hit the ball hard and even on good courts the ball would veer off line.  He was an excellent tactician and would rarely take a risky shot, preferring to bide his time until his opponent presented him with an opportunity.  He adopted the ploy of peeling his partner ball through the first hoop in his first break, thereby enabling him in his next turn to send the forward ball straight to hoop 3 ready for the triple peel which then became relatively easy and this was soon adopted by many of the better players.  His ball control on hoop running was such that he invariably achieved the rush to wherever he wanted.  He probably created a world record at the time by finishing a best of three doubles in less than one and a half hours, including a stop for morning tea, in a test match at Whangarei in 1963 with his partner Solomon.

He was also instrumental in making relationships between players much more relaxed as he called them by their first names instead of the formal Mr., Mrs, or Miss which was the norm at that time.  His book “Tackle Croquet This Way” was published by Stanley Paul in 1960 in their series on various sports and is a very concise and readable explanation of the basics of the game.