Walter Jones Whitmore

Hall of Fame
Walter Jones Whitmore

Born: 1831
Died: 1872
Inducted: 2013

Walter Thomas Jones Whitmore was a founder of the All England Croquet Club and the first to develop croquet laws which would be consistently and widely used.

Jones Whitmore discovered Croquet in 1860 and this became a consuming passion.  He laid lawns at Chastleton House and realizing that there were no standard rules (croquet set makers produced their own), he set about creating both rules and tactics.  In conjunction with The Field magazine, he took the major role in compiling the rules and these were published in 1866, and were known as ‘The Field Rules’.  The croquet historian Arthur Lillie noted his success in ‘transforming the game from the silliest of open-air games to the most intellectual one’.  He continued to write articles on the game for The Field, which then formed the basis of his book ‘The Science of Croquet’ published in 1866.

Jones Whitmore organized the first croquet tournament at Evesham in 1867 which he won and from then on styled himself as the champion of croquet.  His zeal with regard to the laws of the game remained unabated and in 1868, the rules were revised by a committee of three, of which Jones Whitmore was the most influential member.  In that year, Jones Whitmore was instrumental in the founding of the All England Croquet Club (AECC), of which he became secretary.  The Club, however, did not have a ground and Jones Whitmore started to search for one. The search drew a blank and in 1869 he was dismissed as secretary in 1869 but refused to go down without a fight.  He created another All England Croquet Club, later called the National Croquet Club (NCC).  The original All England Croquet Club continued to develop and in 1869 found a ground at Worple Road in Wimbledon which remained the Club’s headquarters, and that of lawn tennis, until 1922 when the Club moved to Church Road, where the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (“Wimbledon”) is situated today.

Although the AECC and NCC were separate entities, they co-operated on revising the laws in 1870 with Jones Whitmore in the Chair.   In 1872 Jones Whitmore refused to become involved in further revision of the laws and confined himself to the role of elder statesman.

Born Walter Thomas Whitmore Jones on 13 March 1831 at Chastleton House, Oxfordshire, Jones Whitmore was educated at Bridgnorth Grammar School and in 1850  attended St John’s College, Oxford University.  He left two years later without taking his degree and joined the civil service. Jones Whitmore was critical of both the civil service in general and of his superiors in particular, remarking: ‘he is so supremely ignorant on the subject that I consider him as under me’.  He left the War Office to try his hand as an inventor of games and other inventions such as The Railway Carriage Signal (1864 Patent No 1969), and the Bootlace Winder ( 1864 Patent No 619).  He had a marked tendency to tell others what to do: he drew up treatises on reform of the Civil Service, how to fortify the country and even told his sister Louisa how to improve her complexion, when to wash her face and how to brush her hair.  He persuaded Longmans to publish two volumes of his poetry which, like his games and inventions, was not enthusiastically received.

In 1867 he changed his name from Whitmore Jones to Jones Whitmore, tired of his friend Willie Dickins regularly pointing out on their walks down Regent Street the name Dickins & Jones above a drapery.

In early 1872 he became unwell with what appeared to be a chest infection but was in fact cancer and he died on 27 July 1872.  Walter Jones Whitmore was unmarried.  Chastleton House is now owned by the National Trust and the croquet lawns are still in use.

Walter Peel

Hall of Fame
Walter Peel

Born: 1847
Died: 1897
Inducted: 2013

Walter Peel was involved in the early development of croquet as an organised sport in the late 1860s and early 1870s.  As a young man, he was a leading player and something of a prodigy, winning the Open Championship in 1868, 1870 and 1871.  Peel was partial to the practice of croqueting his partner ball through its next hoop and this became known as “peeling”, a term which is now a fundamental part of modern Croquet.

Croquet had been governed by the All England Croquet Club since 1871 following its merger with the National Croquet Club.  The AECC had occupied grounds in Wimbledon since 1869 and allowed the introduction of Lawn Tennis in the early 1870s.  The new game became popular and led to the AECC changing its name to the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club in 1877.  Interest in croquet declined as the interest in and profitability of Lawn Tennis rose and croquet was finally expelled from the All-England Club in 1885.  This led to a very marked reduction in the level of tournament croquet in England until 1895 and, at this point in the game’s history, Peel made a second and ultimately much more significant contribution to croquet.

Peel had succeeded to his grandfather’s estate in Gloucestershire in the early 1870s and his appearances in tournaments then became rather spasmodic.  Nonetheless, he retained a nostalgic interest in the game and, encouraged by the success of a tournament held at Maidstone in 1894 and a modest revival of interest in croquet at Wimbledon, he decided to attempt to band together all croquet players in England in a single body to be called the United All England Croquet Association.  In June 1896, he circulated all the leading players of past and present with his idea and received an enthusiastic response.  In August 1896, a committee was elected and Peel became the first secretary of the new body which was renamed the Croquet Association in 1900 and has remained the governing body for English croquet ever since.

Sadly, Peel died on 27 October 1897 when aged only fifty and so did not live to see the dramatic revival in croquet’s fortunes in the Edwardian era.  However, his brief second contribution to croquet was greatly appreciated and, following his death, he was honoured by the inauguration in 1898 of the Peel Memorials which are separate handicap tournaments for men and women.

Brice Jones


Hall of Fame
Brice Jones

Born: 1940
Inducted: 2013

Brice Cutrer Jones served in the United States Air Force in the Vietnam War in the 1960s.  After leaving military service, he went to Harvard Business School and emerged with an ambition to become an entrepreneur in the wine business.  He founded the Sonoma Cutrer Winery near Santa Rose, California in 1973 and built it up into one of California’s best-known Chardonnay producers.

The winery was a state-of-the-art construction and included two manicured grass areas suitable for four tennis courts.  Jones was already thinking about hosting charity events at the winery based on the opportunity for patrons to watch a sporting event which featured top players.

In the mid-1980s, he met John McCullough, an English croquet player, who was travelling through California.  Having listened to John, Brice decided to turn his grass areas into two first-class full-size croquet courts.  In August 1986, the first international croquet singles event in the history of Association Croquet took place at Sonoma-Cutrer and represented a landmark in the development of the sport.  The highlight of the week was Saturday which used the final as the backdrop for a lunch and charity auction.  The auction was extraordinarily successful and, by the late 1990s, was regularly raising $1 million for the Make-A-Wish children's charity.

Players were offered lavish hospitality, accommodation and transport from all over the world in return for a modest entry fee and Sonoma-Cutrer almost immediately became a must-do event for all top croquet players.  The opportunity to meet fellow players from all over the world was enormously attractive and the new tournament played a significant role in boosting Association Croquet as a genuinely international sport and in developing the growth of Association Croquet in the United States.

There can be no doubt that Brice’s early and continued efforts for many years on behalf of Association Croquet encouraged the emergence of a cadre of international quality United States players who could begin to challenge England, Australia and New Zealand.  The annual Sonoma-Cutrer championship represented international singles competition at the highest level and was the only chance for many US players to gain this type of experience.  It was undoubtedly a powerful factor which supported the admission of the United States to the MacRobertson Shield competition in 1993.

Brice remained firm in his commitment to the event and Association Croquet even after he sold a majority stake in the winery in 1999 to a major drinks company.  The Sonoma-Cutrer event continued until 2004 when the new owners decided to discontinue it.

Graeme Roberts

 Hall of Fame
Dr. Graeme John Roberts

Born: 1949
Inducted: 2013

Graeme Roberts began playing croquet at the Montecillo Club in Dunedin in 1970.  His first experience of the Kelburn Club was in November 1973, when he competed in the Junior Invitation Event at the club and recalls that it blew a gale for all five days of the competition, varying only in direction.  After working (and playing croquet) in England for six years, Graeme joined Kelburn in 1981.  The following January he won the New Zealand Men’s Championship Singles and was selected as a member of the New Zealand MacRobertson Shield team for the competition to be played in Australia the following November.  In 1984 he won the New Zealand Men’s Championship Singles for a second time and also the New Zealand Open Championship Doubles, partnering Richard Clarke of Gisborne.  Graeme represented New Zealand at the Sonoma-Cutrer world singles competition in California in 1990, and at the World Croquet Federation (WCF) World Association Championships twice, in 1990 and 2005, both times in the UK.  He played in two New Zealand representative teams in 1990 in matches against the Great Britain and Ireland team visiting New Zealand for the MacRobertson Shield.  He has won the Kelburn A / Senior A Championship Singles 12 times.

Graeme was appointed one of the founding members of the NZCC Laws Committee in 1986 when it was re-established by Ashley Heenan and Jean Corry after a lapse of many years.  He took over as Chair of the Committee when Jean retired in 1990 and has served on the Committee continuously since then.  He served as the Wellington Association Referee from 1984 to 1990.  He has been Referee of the Tournament for the MacRobertson Shield contest, for the WCF World Association Championships three times (once in France) and for Trans-Tasman test series three times.  He has also refereed at international level at the MacRobertson Shield twice (once in Australia) and the inaugural WCF Women’s World Association Championships in Melbourne in 2012. He has been asked to be the Referee of the tournament for the MacRobertson Shield challenge in New Zealand later in 2013.   He was elected a Life Member of the NZCC in 2000.

As part of his duties on the NZCC, Graeme was involved in the mid-1990s with the attempt to understand the Egyptian rules of Golf Croquet (recently translated from Arabic) and to apply them to the new version of the game then rapidly gaining ground internationally.  Some of the rules proved problematic:  for example “It is forbidden to wear a complete suit.”  However, the following sentence – “The shoes should be without heels.” – survived.

Refereeing Qualifications:

•           1980     Qualified as referee at Cheltenham, UK

•           1981 (October)  Returned to New Zealand

•           1982     NZ Senior Referee qualification

•           1986     Member & recording secretary, 1st Meeting of reinstituted Laws Committee initiated by Ashley Heenan OBE and Mrs Jean Corry.

•           Has remained been a member of that Committee ever since

•           1990     Test match referee for MacRobertson Shield Great Britain and Ireland (GBI) test in Auckland and the GBI/New Zealand test in Christchurch

•           Promoted to leadership of the NZ Laws committee on the retirement of Mrs Jean Corry

•           1990     Referee of the Tournament, Trans Tasman Women’s Test Match in Wanganui

•           1994     Referee of the Tournament, Trans-Tasman Women’s Test Match in Wellington

•           1994     Referee of the Tournament, Trans-Tasman Open Test Match in Christchurch

•           1995     Referee of the Tournament, WCF World Association Championships in Fontenay le Comte, France

•           2000     Referee of the Tournament, MacRobertson Shield quadrangular series, Christchurch, New Zealand

•           2002     Referee of the Tournament, WCF World Association Championship in Wellington, New Zealand

•           2006     Test match referee, MacRobertson Shield, Rich River, Australia

•           2008     Referee of the Tournament, WCF World Association Championship in Christchurch, New Zealand

•           2012     Test match referee, Inaugural World Women’s Association Championship, Melbourne Australia (special request for inter-country referee)

•           1990 to date      Referee of Tournament at NZ Open Championships

Member of International Laws committee from late 1990s when formed, to date

Full member committee responsible for the revision of the Laws of Association Croquet 2000 (ORLC 2001-2002

Writer and Editor of the Umpire’s Handbook (NZ) and the Referees’ Handbook (NZ)

Compiler of Umpires, Referees and Senior Referees examinations since 1992 for New Zealand.

1990 - 95          Councillor, New Zealand Croquet Council

2000     Life Member of NZ Croquet Council for services to refereeing of croquet

Wellington Region Association Referee 1984 to 1990

Significant national and international playing achievements:

1979-81 Winner Plate Event, The British Open Championship

1981     Runner-up, British Men’s Championship

1982     Winner, New Zealand Men’s Championship

1982     Member NZ MacRobertson Shield Team in Australia

1984     Winner, New Zealand Men's Championship

1984     Winner, New Zealand Open Doubles (with Richard Clarke)

1990     Member, New Zealand representative teams versus the Great Britain and Ireland MacRobertson Shield team, Hamilton and Napier

1990 & 2005      NZ Representative at WCF Association Croquet World Championship

1990     NZ Representative at Sonoma Cutrer World Championship

David Openshaw

Hall of Fame
David Openshaw

Inducted: 2013

David Openshaw had a distinguished playing career spanning more than twenty years; his first appearance in the President’s Cup was in 1977, and he played in the MacRobertson Shield in 2000.      He won the Open Championship three times, in1979, 1981 and 1985, and also the Men’s Championship in 1981, 1991 and 1995. He was runner-up in the World Championship in 1991, and made a total of thirteen appearances in the President’s Cup, achieving second place three times.

He played in the MacRobertson Shield five times consecutively, from 1979-1993, and also finally in 2000. Four of these contests were won by Great Britain, a success rate of 66% matched by his personal record of 49 wins out of 72 in singles and doubles. He captained the team four times, and proved to be an inspirational leader, with three successes. A particular contribution was his recognition of the importance of the doubles rubbers, and the selection of the optimum pairings.     By the 1980s the MacRobertson Shield contests had become too long, and he  supported Stephen Mulliner in proposing what is now the current format of a single Test Match between each nation comprising 12 singles and 9 doubles.

As a player he was noted for his skill in winning closely-contested matches, and this created the myth of the ‘Openshaw stopping bisque’.

He served on the CA Council from 1982-1986 and also 1999 -2010, but his most important contribution to croquet administration was as World Croquet Federation President from 2003 to 2009.  He came to the post at a pivotal moment in WCF history because, with the exception of the holding of WCF Association and Golf Croquet World Championships it was generally believed that the WCF had not managed to encourage the development of the sport world-wide to any significant extent.

David provided strong leadership and during his tenure six more events were added to the International Calendar, namely:

  • AC European Team Championship;
  • AC World Women's Championship;
  • GC World Women's Championship;
  • GC World Under 21 Championship;
  • GC World Over 50 Championship;
  • AC World Team Championship.

It is the establishment of the AC World Team Championship that should mark his place in croquet history.  With divergent views of how such an event could be achieved and some reservations among a sceptical membership, a patient but energetic policy of persuasion and diplomacy led to the incorporation of the highly-esteemed MacRobertson Shield event within the framework of an extended competition with different divisions.  This allowed all member countries the opportunity to play team croquet in a format commensurate with their relevant croquet skill base.

The WCF and its Management Committee had a reputation for being a rather impenetrable organisation which made little attempt to advise the wider croquet membership of what was happening.  During David’s presidency, he encouraged the establishment of a 1,000 page web-site with archive material including the minutes of all the meetings held since the WCF’s foundation, a wide range of discussion papers and consultations and a full record of the WCF’s accounts.  In addition, two of the founding principles and objectives of the WCF were awakened from a dormant state, by:

  • the inception of the WCF Development Programme to fund by loan or grant various croquet projects around the world; and
  • the creation of a WCF Hall of Fame to recognise great players and also those who have contributed to the WCF aims.

Last but not least, David continued the globetrotting role of the WCF President established by Tony Hall and made it his business to attend as many WCF events as possible.  He made a special effort to ensure that Egypt, the leading Golf Croquet country, continued to feel fully welcomed into the WCF family and made regular trips to Cairo to play in the International GC Open.

Without David’s tireless work on the many issues that faced the WCF in those days many of those achievements would not have been realised.