Croquet England Logo
Croquet England Logo

Lifetime Coaching Award

Croquet England occasionally recognises a coach who has, in the opinion of its Coaching Committee, provided outstanding service over a prolonged period. This award is called the 'Lifetime Coaching Award'. Please pass nominations to the Chair of the Coaching Committee.

Lifetime Coaching Award 2018 - Dr Ian Plummer - Oxford University

Ian Plummer, coach at Oxford University, has never tired of coaching Oxford players since the 80s when he did his DPhil at Oxford. Many of his students had never played croquet before and their later successes in croquet were facilitated for a large part by the training they received from Ian as students.

Students he has coached have gone on to great heights within croquet, with at least a dozen of his 'alumni' playing in the world championships at some point. Recent protegees of his in the world Championship include Jenny Clarke, Samir Patel, Gabrielle Higgins and Rob Wilkinson.

His contributions stretch beyond Oxford: besides being a highly regarded referee, who has refereed matches in world championships, he has also disseminated a very comprehensive collection of coaching materials to a wider audience through his website, Another major service he has performed is in getting Wylie publicly available online for a wider audience to use.

The material on his website stretches beyond coaching guides, covering technical croquet questions as well, such as trying to understand the effects of pull properly (e.g. do balls go off at different angles immediately or do they curve inwards?), even using drone footage to track balls after a croquet stroke.

In summary: Ian has coached generations of Oxford students to very high standards, and has made many of his personal coaching materials publicly and freely available on his website.

The Coaching Committee warmly congratulate Ian on his many achievements and thank him for his enormous contribution over the years. This award goes some way to recognise his continuing hard work.

Finally - a few words from Dr Plummer:

Coaching is easy when you are given the best material to work with. I have had the luxury of coaching fit young people with well-tuned minds and seemingly huge amounts of free time. This recognition by my peers is most touching. Ian

Lifetime Coaching Award 2015: Keith Aiton - Nottingham Croquet Club

Having proactively offered coaching to players aspiring to top-level Association Croquet for many years, Keith has demonstrated that he is good at identifying and resolving problems, both mental and physical, as opposed to just reciting textbook material. He has been an active Grade 3 AC Coach since the qualification was introduced. He is a highly competent coach, with many years experience of playing and coaching at an international level.

In the 1980s Keith coached beginners at Nottingham and Southwell, wrote the original Grade 3 course, and led the under-21 GB squad, bringing on promising young players such as Robert Fulford, Chris Clarke and David Maugham.

Keith was GB coach to the 1990, 1993 and 1996 winning MacRobertson Shield teams.

As the century turned, Keith focussed upon coaching and mentoring individuals aspiring to reach the top level, including the application of his knowledge as an NLP practitioner to sports psychology on the croquet field. He wrote a manual for aspiring A-class players in 2003.

It is particularly appropriate to make the award this year because he coached both of the finalists for the Women's World Championship who acknowledged Keith's very significant part in their achievement, as have other women who enjoyed great success in the event.

Lifetime Coaching Award 2014: Peter Dyke - Nailsea Croquet Club

After being introduced to croquet in his youth, Peter took it up more seriously in 1981 when he was instrumental in the formation, from scratch, of the Nailsea & District Croquet Club.

He was the club's first Chairman and has remained a member of the committee ever since. In addition to these responsibilities, he has been a central figure in the club's coaching programme for all this time, running open days, beginners' courses, improvers' courses, assisting with Croquet England coaching courses, and of course being the main driving force behind Nailsea's long-running and highly successful junior coaching. Until taking early retirement in the late 90s, Peter was a maths teacher at Nailsea Comprehensive School, and always encouraged his pupils to come along and try croquet.

This led to successes in the National Schools' Croquet Championship, and produced several players who went on to international standard, most notably Kriss Chambers, Marcus Evans, Ryan Cabble, and Harry Dodge. All those players, and many more, owe their success to Peter's enthusiasm and patient coaching, which he continues to provide to this day. His tireless and selfless commitment to passing on his knowledge via coaching has benefited many hundreds of croquet players over the years and his contribution to croquet coaching at Nailsea and in the South West Federation is incalculable.

There can be no more fitting recipient of the Lifetime Coaching Award.

Gazette 355

Lifetime Coaching Award 2013: Daphne Gaitley

Daphne Gaitley started playing croquet at Southwick in 1992, swiftly becoming an accomplished player in both Association & Golf Croquet. She became a club coach in 1995 and was a valuable asset to the Summer School. In 1998 she gained her Grade 1 AC coaches award and subsequently gained her grade 2 AC award as well as her GC coaches qualification. She is both an AC & GC referee. Daphne became a leading coach at the Summer School and helped create The Croquet Academy. She became Federation Coaching Officer for the SECF and served a number of years as a respected member of the Coaching Committee.

Daphne's greatest work has been achieved in the field. She has and still organises numerous coaching sessions for clubs throughout the SECF and further afield. She is the senior Golf Croquet Coach on the Academy and the huge growth of attendees on Academy Golf Croquet courses is a true measure of her success.

Gazette 350

Lifetime Coaching Award 2012: Ken Cooper

Ken has only been the NW Federations Coaching Officer for the last three years and in that time he has totally revolutionised the "Thinking and active involvement" of all our Clubs and individual players into the benefits of good progressive, croquet coaching. Prior to his appointment in 2010 the Federation only ever received a nominal number of requests for coaching. Ken was therefore charged with the job of changing players' attitudes towards competitive play and thereby helping develop the quality of our League Games throughout the NWFCC Region. He set about this in earnest by gathering together several of the Federation's other coaches and getting their support to assist him in running courses at the various levels required.

He followed the North West programme of "Flying Coaches", a small group of peripatetic coaches who could deliver high-quality coaching to new or distant clubs with little homespun coaching capability. To further his own expertise during this period, he also began attending the Croquet England coaching Meetings and also succeeded in being awarded his Grade 2 Coaching Badge in November 2010. Ken has a quiet but assured way of addressing people, which soon gains their respect and confidence. He has the knack of allowing people to express their concerns and then puts them at ease with clear concise replies, delivered with his cheeky pleasant smile. Ken's own Official Reports to the NWFCC AGM show quite clearly the impact and progressive success that his coaching and initiatives have had on all the Clubs in the North West. The skill levels and demand for coaching from Clubs have risen enormously. The number of teams in each of the Federation Croquet Leagues has increased in number in both Association and Golf Croquet.

Whilst doing all this work for the NW Federation it should also be noted that he has continued his long-standing commitment to Bowdon Croquet Club. He has been the Clubs' Coaching Officer for the last 6 years following two earlier periods; approximately 12 years at a Club that is renowned for producing some of the best Association players in the county. Sadly Ken suffered some serious health problems during 2012 that resulted in him having to "slow down" and, for medical reasons, he had to resign from his position as The Federation's Coaching Officer at the end of the season. The NW Federation Minutes state "The AGM thanked Ken for his Report and all his past efforts with a heartfelt round of applause."

Gazette 343

Lifetime Coaching Award 2011: Ian Lines

A member of Bowdon Croquet Club, Ian Lines is not only an A-Class player but is also a Grade 3 Coach. Although he works, he spends most of his spare time at the club and is always enthusiastic and willing to help anyone to improve their croquet. Ian helped to run the Beginners' Course at the club every year for about 15 years, including taking the lead role on a number of occasions. His patience and friendly approach over the 6-week period encourages newcomers to look forward to the following week's lesson. This is one of the most successful beginners' courses in the country and often leads to up to about 20 new members each year.

Ian has led Croquet England coaching courses at Gold level and below, around the North West of England as part of the NW Federation's "Flying Circus" programme of regional coaching. In 2011, despite playing in tournaments most weekends of the year, he still found time to travel to Southport to lead a group of 16 players through a Silver course, assisted by four other experienced coaches. Ian coached and provided individual tuition to a number of players at Bowdon, most significantly in 2011 to the 14-year-old Adam Swinton who went on to win the National Final of the All-England Handicap Championship.

Gazette 337

Lifetime Coaching Award 2008: Cliff Jones

Having studied sports psychology and coached rugby and cycling, Cliff took up croquet coaching and has been associated with a number of clubs in Bedfordshire, Dorset and Devon. He has run many coaching courses for the South West Federation (SWF) and actively helped start-up croquet in Cornwall, by running training and qualification courses for coaches. Appointed Chairman of the SWF in 2004 and representing it on Council, Cliff chaired the Coaching Committee. Although ill health curtailed his activities in 2007, he took a keen interest in the Croquet Academy, running the Academy's inaugural Gold and Silver Gilt courses, and developing some excellent course manuals. Appointed SWF Coaching Officer in 2008, Cliff runs courses from novice to advanced and he has recently set up a coaching programme for The Croquet Association of Ireland. Cliff's commitment to coaching has been an excellent example of the level of dedication that many Croquet England Associates give to our sport.

Gazette 323

Outstanding Service Award 2007: Brian Teague

Brian Teague was a member of the Sussex County Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club.

Lifetime Coaching Award 2007: Don Mears

Don Mears of the Sussex County Croquet Club at Southwick is the first recipient of Croquet England's new Life Time Coaching Award for long and meritorious service to coaching. He was originally trained and assessed as a Grade 1 coach in 1989 by Ron Welch and immediately joined Bryan Teague coaching on his formal club courses. Don soon also qualified as a Grade 2 coach. Since then he has had an unbroken involvement as a coach in the annual Croquet England Silver Courses and SECF Improvers and Bronze courses run by Bryan as well as giving his unstinted time and effort to his club's internal coaching program. He has been a leading member of the coaching team at the SECF Summer School through the reigns of David Collins and currently Daphne Gaitley. Along with other coaches at Southwick, he has coached at local clubs including Ringmer, Rottingdean and Preston Park.

He has coached literally hundreds of players with patience and good humour and drawing on his detailed knowledge of stroke play and tactics. He has an impressive reputation both for the quantity and quality of his coaching, his dedication to the sport and the energy and time he has devoted to others. Such a record makes him truly worthy of having the honour of receiving from Croquet England its first Life Time Coaching Award.

Gazette 311