Reg Bamford

Hall of Fame
Reg Bamford

Born: 1967
Inducted: 2011

Reg Bamford is one of the most accomplished players in croquet history.  He is a three-time WCF Association Croquet World Champion and twice the WCF Golf Croquet World Champion (in 2013 and 2017) and held both titles simultaneously from April to August 2013.  He has won the British Association Croquet Open Championship eleven times since 1992 and the British Golf Croquet Open Championship ten times since 2002 and is the holder of more than 50 individual championship titles.

Beginning the game at age nine in South Africa, Reg began competing at the highest level almost immediately.  Since 1986, his end-of-year playing grade has only dipped below 2,600 on two occasions.  He has achieved the year-end Number One world ranking eight times and has been consistently ranked among the top five players in the world for nearly a quarter of a century.

Reg is also one of the most likeable individuals in the game, a great ambassador for the sport and his native country. Despite living in the UK since the early 1990s, Reg has consistently maintained his South African nationality in world croquet competitions.  This devotion has surely kept him from competing for Great Britain in the prestigious MacRobertson Shield, as his residency in London and an Irish grandfather would allow.

Reg is also the only known individual to have ever played croquet at the North Pole.  This occurred in April 2005, when Reg trekked to the Pole with, among much needed survival provisions, a croquet mallet and a ball.

Reg’s adventurous spirit is amplified by his intense determination and dedication  to croquet.  He is known among players for his rigorous training exercises, spending hours alone on the court after matches are completed, perfecting his swing and technique.

Reg’s dedication reaches well beyond croquet.  He is a qualified Chartered Accountant and founder and CEO of Sable Group (formerly 1st Contact) —a recruitment enterprise which provides financial and migration solutions to South African and other professionals living in the UK and Europe.

Reg and his wife, Adrienne, currently reside in London and have two children, Alex and Oliver.

Updated August 2017

Tom McDonnell

Hall of Fame
Tom McDonnell

Inducted: 2011

Tom McDowell and son (Author:Croquet World)

Tom McDonnell played croquet in the company of the Hollywood elite on his  home court in Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles.  Actors, including David Niven, Louie Jordan, Gig Young, George Saunders and Diana Hyland would always be at the house to play.

Tom was introduced to the game while working in the television industry in the late 1950s by movie producer Sam Goldwyn.

He ultimately was inducted into the U.S. Croquet Hall of Fame and was responsible for the development of tournament croquet on the West Coast, starting croquet clubs in Beverly Hills, San Francisco and at Sonoma-Cutrer winery in Santa Rosa.

It was at the family's home court in the hills west of St. Helena that he introduced the game of croquet to Meadowood Founding Partner H. William (Bill) Harlan.

At that time, in 1986, Harlan and his partners had owned Meadowood for approximately seven years and with some gentle persuasion decided to include croquet as an activity at the retreat.

To ensure the courts would satisfy world-ranking croquet players, Harlan engaged McDonnell to collaborate on the development of the competition lawns.  They opened in 1986 and that same year, Meadowood co-hosted the U.S. Croquet Championships, the first time they had been held outside of the state of New York.

Tom had also been responsible for the laying of world-class courts at Sonoma-Cutrer.  Those courts were awarded the 1986 USCA championships jointly with Meadowood.

As a direct result of the tireless work put in by Tom, Australian players Damon Bidencope and Neil Spooner attended those championships and in the following year became the resident professionals at Meadowood and Sonoma-Cutrer respectively.

Without the wonderful dedication of Tom Mc Donnell, the sport of croquet in the USA would not have reached the level it currently maintains.

Chris Williams

Hall of Fame
Chris Williams

Inducted: 2011


Chris  learnt how to play croquet whilst studying for a physics degree at Oxford University.  In 1986, he became a founder member of the Dyffryn Croquet Club near Cardiff, Wales.  As a player he has won the Welsh Championship on three occasions and the Spencer Ell Cup. He has been a regular in the Wales Home International team since 1992 and captained Wales to their WCF World 14pt Team Championship triumph in 2000. 

However it is for his role as the WCF Association Croquet Ranking Officer that the sport owes him recognition.  Since taking over the maintenance of the Association Croquet rankings from Stephen Mulliner in 1997, he has worked tirelessly to maintain and improve the service offered.  In 2004, the service was updated to the interactive version that we know today but even since then Chris has continuously sought to improve the service offered by the site and the statistics that can be accessed.

Results of games are entered as soon as they are received meaning that the ranking list is always as up to date as possible.  As well as the site being of general interest to players, it serves as an invaluable tool to managers looking to seed events and to selectors, not just from the point of view of the grading information supplied but also by making accessible the huge database of results on which the system relies.

Since 1997, Chris has entered the results of more than 180,000 games into the system, but, as if this were not enough, Chris is now going back through old records with the aim of creating ranking lists back to 1918.  His role of CA Archivist helps to provide access to the historical information for this latest project.  Through his tireless efforts and by constantly seeking to provide another angle for the user to view the information in the vast database, Chris has made the rankings so much more than a list of numbers. It is through his efforts alone that the resource of the interactive ranking database is available to us all, a resource without which the sport would be much the poorer.  

Ian Wright

Hall of Fame
Ian Howard Wright

Born 1924.
Died 2016.
Inducted: 2012

Ian Howard Wright was one of Scotland's top players at his peak and the most influential of the pioneers that helped the formation of the Scottish Croquet Association in 1974.

As croquet in Scotland expanded after the CA Centenary in 1967, Ian was one of the prime movers in the setting-up of the Scottish Croquet Committee as part of the Croquet Association.  This organised competitive croquet in Scotland, from whose numbers came the next three winners of the All-England Handicap, and included setting up the Edinburgh Week Tournament in 1969, which has been run annually during the Edinburgh Festival since 1972.

When it became apparent that the Scottish Sports Council (now sportScotland) would support sports only with autonomous National Governing Bodies, Ian used his contacts and influence in the CA to initiate the amicable secession of the Scottish Croquet Committee and its rebirth as the independent Scottish Croquet Association.  He was also a key figure in getting the 1974 New Zealand MacRobertson Shield team to play a warm-up match against Scotland, an event which further stimulated Scottish competitive croquet.  While Ian did not do all of this alone, he has continued to be involved with Scottish croquet for 45 years and, particularly in the East of Scotland, he has been known as the "Father of Scottish Croquet".

Ian was awarded Life Membership of the Scottish Croquet Assocaiation in November 2011 in recognition of his contributions to Scottish Croquet. These contributions, in turn, have furthered the WCFs objectives, and therefore the Scottish Croquet Association nominated Ian for induction into the WCF Hall of Fame.


Garth Eliassen

Hall of Fame
Garth Eliassen

Inducted: 2012

Garth Eliassen is an American writer and newsletter editor who founded and edited the National Croquet Calendar, the first independent croquet publication in the USA.  The Calendar was a newsletter that was published from 1985 to 2012 and devoted itself to comprehensive coverage of the American and international croquet scene.

Before the advent of the internet, the Calendar was the publication of record for American croquet which knitted together the far-flung world of American croquet. The Calendar ceased publication in 2012 because Eliassen wished to retire from his one-man show and because the internet had taken over much the immediacy of his coverage.

Garth Eliassen also invented the most revolutionary tactic in American USCA rules, the "Chernoybl opening".  Before the "Chernoybl" appeared, American players brought all balls into the game on the first four turns.  Eliassen realized that by keeping the yellow ball (the fourth ball) out the game would be transformed, and it was. Today the majority of high-level USCA rules games see the "Chernoybl" employed, and the tactic has evolved into numerous permutations.

Charles Jones

Hall of Fame
Charles Edmund Jones

Born: 1953
Died: 2011
Inducted: 2013

Charles started playing croquet at the Rangimarie Croquet Club here in Westport when he was nine or ten  He was a regular competitor at the national level from the mid-seventies to early 2000.

However, Charles’ greatest contribution to croquet was on the administration and support side.  Charles was the preferred team manager for Trans-Tasman and Mac Robertson Shield teams.  Charles’ team management skills were impressive.  He was chief cook and bottle washer, mentor and organiser.  NZ teams’ success over the last sixteen years owe a great deal to Charles’ commitment and support.

Charles convened the association croquet selectors’ panel for many years.  He had a good eye for talent and many young players have acknowledged,  in recent days, the important role Charles played in their development as elite players.  Charles gave the same attention to encouraging and supporting recreational players.  He also held senior leadership positions in the Wellington and Canterbury Associations and was a regular attender at Croquet NZ AGMs.  Charles was elected CNZ President in 1999 serving for four years and his tenure saw the start of CNZ’s moves to establish a strong national office supporting the game throughout the country.  Golf Croquet was becoming popular and Charles’ efforts made sure that the game became an important part of NZ croquet scene. He played a pivotal role in putting the game’s administration on a more professional basis.  Charles’ contribution was acknowledged when he joined the small band of life members of the CNZ in 2010.  

Charles’ contribution to international croquet was not limited to managing NZ teams.  He played at both golf and association world championships.  He refereed and managed at a number of international events from 2002 to earlier this year.  He joined the World Croquet Federation’s management committee in 2004 and was elected WCF President in 2010, becoming the second New Zealander to take this role since the establishment of the WCF in 1989. 

Charles contribution to international croquet administration is summarised perfectly by Martin French, the WCF Secretary General.

Charles’ forthright, honest and often colourful contributions to these discussions and to the vigorous e-mail traffic generated by his Management Committee colleagues played a significant part in energising the work of the committee.  He deserves much of the credit for the significant improvement in the relationship between the Management Committee and the larger WCF member countries over the last year.

It didn’t matter whether Charles was in Cairo, Cheltenham or Christchurch; the room lit up when he came in and the stories started.  Charles was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for public services.  It could equally have been awarded for services to the community. Not all of us have an opportunity to contribute in as many areas as did Charles.  Charles seized all his opportunities and gave it his best.  It is not just the croquet world that is better for 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

Dorothy Steel

Miss Dorothy Dyne Steel

Born: 1884
Died: 1965
Inducted: 2011

Author: Lt Col Leahy

D.D, as she was always known, dominated the game between the two world wars, and was perhaps the first to prove that women could play on equal terms with men.

In the British Open Championship she competed in ten finals, winning four times, and also collected five Doubles Championships and seven Mixed Doubles Championships, in both cases with three different partners.

D.D played in the President’s Cup for 17 consecutive years, recording six wins, and was also involved in a quadruple tie for first place. She won the Women’s Championship 15 times between the two world wars. 

Unsurprisingly, she was a member of three of the four MacRobertson Shield teams in this period, missing only the trip to Australia in 1935 for family reasons.

She was probably the most dominant player between the two wars of either sex.

George Latham

Hall of Fame
George Frederick Latham

Born: 1941
Died: 2010
Inducted: 2012

George Latham was a devotee of croquet and a stalwart of the sport in Victoria and Australia as a player, coach, administrator, innovator and visionary.

George, who was an accomplished sportsman in other areas including hockey, cricket, Australian football, orienteering and marathon running, came to croquet in 1975 when he joined the Essendon (Victoria) club, of which he was later made a Life Member.

As a player, George developed to the point that he held:
. many Victorian titles and team memberships from 1984-2000
. Australian Men's Singles Championship in 1983,1984,1987, 1988, and 1990;
. Australian Open Singles Championship title in 1984 and 1985;
. Australian Open Doubles Championship in 1987, 1988, 1990 and 1991
. Australian Golf Croquet Open Singles Championship in 2002;
. Australian Golf Croquet Handicap Doubles Championship in 2000;
. the British Bronze Medal in 1984 and the Silver Medal in 1986; and
. represented Australia in the MacRobertson Shield in 1986 and 1990, at the WCF World Championships 1989 and 1990, and as a  member of the 1991 Trans-Tasman Team.
George was the coach of the 1996, 2003 and 2006 MacRobertson Shield teams, coached the Victorian teams during 2000-2004 and was appointed National Development Squad Coach 2000-06.  At his death, he was the Victorian Director of Coaching and had just completed sessions to reaccredit coaches in eastern Victoria.

George also contributed to the sport as a referee and as an Australian selector in 1992, 1993 and 2000-2004, and as a Victorian selector 2008-2009.

As an administrator, George had a fine record, being:
. President of Essendon Croquet Club in 1984-85 and 2006-07, as well as periods as Secretary, Club Captain, Club Coach, Handicapper and Greenkeeper;
. Secretary of Brunswick Croquet Club 1993-96, President 1997-99
. Senior Vice-President of Victorian Croquet Association 1996-1998, President 1998-2001 and Secretary 2004-2010;
. Vice-President of the Australian Croquet Association in  2001-04

George developed Aussie Croquet as a simplified form of the game for schools and instigated the Croquet Victoria schools program and the Croquet Victoria Schools Championships.

George's vision made him the driving force behind the sale of the previous Croquet Victoria headquarters at Warleigh Grove, Brighton and the construction and development of the current Victorian Croquet Centre with its 12 courts at Cairnlea.

His epitaph, as voiced by his widow, Marion, is "croquet nut".

Bernard Neal

Hall of Fame
Bernard George Neal

Born: 29 March 1922
Died: 26 March 2016
Inducted: 2012

Bernard Neal joined the Croquet Association (England) in 1963.  In just four years he had scaled the heights by being selected for the Surrey Cup (the second ‘Eight’ at that time) in 1965, the first Chairman’s Salver in 1966 and the President’s Cup in 1967 – an event in which he eventually played eleven times.  He won the Men’s Championship in 1967, the Open Championship twice, in 1972 and 1973, the Ranelagh Gold Cup at Roehampton on three occasions, the Hurlingham Cup twice and the Veterans.  He also represented Great Britain in three MacRobertson Shield series - in 1969, 1974 and 1979.

But his prowess on the croquet court was more than matched by his contributions to the game off it.  He was elected to the CA Council in 1966 and in the following year he was appointed Chairman of the Publicity Committee.  In those days words like ‘development’ and ‘coaching’ were not part of the CA’s vocabulary – although ‘survival’ was.  Within a year Bernard made sure that they became central to the CA’s discussions: a coaching scheme was mooted and he explored the possibilities of obtaining government funding (for both the CA and its clubs).  The latter bore fruit almost immediately in the form of a grant towards the costs of the 1969 Test Tour to Australia.  He then led discussions with the Central Council for Physical Recreation and the newly-formed Sports Council which resulted in the first of the latter’s annual grants to the CA, eventually spanning twenty-eight years and making a huge contribution to the CA’s finances and activity.  The first grant aid, in 1970, was for both administration and development: it enabled the CA to give more than a pittance of an honorarium to its Secretary, but more significantly it provided financial support for the CA to initiate a development programme.  The scheme was initially a modest affair but was not without its detractors, who feared radical change in the ethos of the game.  (This even caused some notoriety in the national press and led to the forced resignation of the Gazette Editor!).  Seminars for coaches were held and two volunteers, Barbara Meachem and Liz Neal, acted as development officers in the North and South respectively.  Armed only with some basic croquet equipment and publicity materials, they were expected to support existing weak clubs, explore the potential for new clubs and even to try to set up clubs where circumstances seemed favourable.  The momentum they generated eventually led to the appointment of Chris Hudson as the CA’s National Development Officer and the establishment of the CA’s Coaching and Development Committees which now manage comprehensive schemes to help and support both individual players and clubs, all funded from the CA’s own resources.

Bernard’s balanced judgement and tact made him the obvious choice to replace Dudley Hamilton-Miller as Manager of the 1969 Test Team when the latter had to withdraw, literally at the last minute, due to ill-health.  He won universal praise from the Australians and New Zealanders during the tour and, since then, he became a highly respected unofficial ambassador for the CA on the world Croquet stage.  His advice and guidance were key elements in the CA’s leading role in the period preceding the establishment of the World Croquet Federation in 1989, and Bernard’s influence was significant in the CA hosting several World Championships. About 1990 Bernard and Liz went to Japan and managed to persuade the Japanese to take up Association Croquet.

Following three years as Publicity Chairman, Bernard was elected Vice-Chairman of Council from 1970 to 1972 and Chairman from 1972 to 1974, achieving the unique distinction of winning the Open Championship in both his years at the helm.  He then served on numerous Council committees, many as chairman.  When he was Chairman of the Laws Committee he wrote ‘The Basic Laws’ – just one example of his tireless efforts to improve the CA’s provision for its members.

He often acted in a discreet, but effective, way to help the Association. Thus in 2001-2, when the CA was searching for a new location for its headquarters, Cheltenham, his home club, became one of the three contenders – Bernard had worked his magic!  Whilst the outcome was in doubt Bernard, of course, took a back seat in Council discussions, but when the decision to move to Cheltenham had been made, he (with other Cheltenham club members) did their utmost to make the transition as smooth, and the welcome as warm, as possible.  In 2004, Bernard was the obvious and unanimous choice to succeed John Solomon as the President of the Croquet Association, a position he decided to relinquish at the 2009 AGM.

It might be thought that Bernard had little time for anything but Croquet.  But he had distinguished professional and sporting careers in the world beyond, and brought benefits from both to our more modest domain.  As an internationally respected civil engineer, he was instrumental in making the CA see the need for, and the benefits arising from, standard specifications for croquet equipment.  He led from the front in devising ball-testing equipment and chairing the Equipment Committee which has now established a set of standards recognised worldwide and tests new equipment on a regular basis.

Bernard was a highly competitive county tennis player. His prowess included being Captain of Lawn Tennis at Cambridge University around 1945 and that offered him membership of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club where he became long-standing member, serving on its main committee for many years and winning more Wimbledon (croquet) championship titles (38) than any other person – a good pub quiz question!  He was one of a small group of members who effectively resurrected croquet at Wimbledon in the post-war era, and it is largely due to Bernard’s influence that it now has a much closer relationship with the CA.  The Croquet Exhibition at Wimbledon during the CA’s centenary year, the gift of the Wimbledon Cup for the Association Croquet World Championship, and several notable CA functions held at Wimbledon would never have happened but for his behind-the-scenes work.

Bernard preferred quiet diplomacy and was modest about his achievements.  This citation is thus inevitably deficient in not recognising many of the benefits he brought to Croquet, particularly at a personal level.  Thus it is impossible to chronicle how generous and supportive he, and Liz, were to many (especially younger) players - they were even known to accommodate whole test teams on occasions!  But what has been noted here gives ample evidence that the CA, and the whole croquet world, owe an enormous debt of gratitude to someone who worked ceaselessly for Croquet for well over forty years and who, by setting the highest standards in all that he did, was a worthy recipient of the prestigious CA Council Medal.