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.

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.