The AGM will be held in the Mulgrave Room at the Hurlingham Club at 11.00am on Saturday October 15. It will be followed by a lunch to celebrate (?) Nigel's retirement from his secretaryship of the CA at 1.00pm in the Quadrangle Room. The Council meeting will follow lunch soon after 2.00pm in the Mulgrave Room.
Council met three times during the year. The concerns that had been raised about the structure of its committees were debated in December, but it was decided to retain the Management Committee with only minor modifications. These were enacted in March along with changes to reflect the fact that a number of committees do much of their work by electronic discussion, rather than in physical meetings. Three committees, Marketing, Tournament, and Development, gave presentations about their areas of activity.
Nigel Graves retired as Secretary of the Association at the end of March and was co-opted to the vacancy on Council. Klim Seabright was appointed to succeed him. His assistant, Nicole Zymelka, resigned shortly afterwards and Elizabeth Budworth took up the post on 1st August.
There was no significant change in the level of individual or club membership, but Council was represented at the opening of the Fowey Club and the new lawns and pavilion of the Pendle and Craven Club.
The office computers were replaced over the summer and the dial-up connection was replaced by broadband, with a wireless router to provide communication facilities for managers and players during tournaments. The bespoke membership database was re-implemented in current versions of Microsoft Access and Visual Basic with broadly the existing functionality, but with a view to enhancing it to meet current requirements. Financial software has still to be procured.
The role of the Administration committee is likely to be reviewed as IT becomes more integral to the working of the Association.
Advice was circulated to clubs about the Licensing Act, 2003.
The courses run were better supported this year.
Grants totalling some £18,000 have been given to the Bury, Eynsham, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Surbiton, Blewbury, Cheltenham and Letchworth clubs. In addition, basic equipment was provided from the newly established New Club Fund to Fowey, Penright, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Ringmer and Lytes Cary.
The Millennium Award was made to Cheltenham, the Apps-Heley to Bowdon and Townsend to Ashby.
Topics for discussion at club conferences were solicited.
An investigation into possible damage to balls by metal-faced mallets concluded that they were unlikely to be responsible. Colours of currently available balls have been accurately measured and recommended specifications will be sent soon to all the main manufacturers. Surface temperatures of balls left in the sun have been measured to provide a basis for laboratory measurements of effects on diameters and resilience.
The Golf Croquet Laws Committee played an active part in the revision of the World Croquet Federation Golf Croquet Rules, but time did not permit the complete unification (of the Rules/Laws, as opposed to what we consider should be Regulations) that was desired. Considerable effort was put into training referees and players in the new Laws.
Reports from around the country indicate that Golf Croquet (GC) is providing a very positive stimulus to recruitment to croquet generally and the additional subscription income that it is providing is stabilising the financial position of many clubs. Whilst a large proportion of new members are playing only social croquet and enter few tournaments outside their clubs, the popularity of tournament Golf Croquet is however growing rapidly, with entrants being drawn from both new players and existing Association Croquet (AC) players. In this last season the GC Inter Counties Championship increased from six to ten teams, the GC Inter Club from five entries to nine, the National Championships for both single and doubles were changed from one to two day events and a series of events for the higher handicappers were taken into the CA Calendar. As well as CA sponsored events, a number of club events are also well established and indications are that there will be three new major club competitions next season. Experience also indicates that many new players who start with Golf Croquet only are also taking up Association Croquet.
A well attended and successful handicap conference was held for handicappers from clubs in the South West. The Apps-Memorial Bowl was awarded to Jack Wicks and the Steel Bowl to Gina Lewis.
The Mitsubishi World Croquet Championship staged at Cheltenham, Bristol, Edgbaston, and Nailsea was a tremendous success, which reflected the considerable effort of the clubs and individuals involved. The transport, food, lawn conditions and overall management were appreciated by the players and a good number of spectators were entertained, both locally and, in the later stages, remotely with a break-by-break commentary on the web site.
The examiner's handbook was published and used for the spring courses. Several Examining Referees were appointed.
A modest amount of sponsorship was obtained from Holiday Property Bond. A potential sponsor for restarting the Garden Classic competition has been found.
Promotional effort was focussed on the World Championship, and significant coverage obtained.
A legacy strategy was launched in articles in the Gazette.
A handbook entitled "Get them and keep them" was sent to clubs.
Commercial sales have again increased.
At the end of 2004 James Hawkins gave notice of resigning as Editor of the Croquet Gazette the following April, after three and a half years. The position was advertised on-line in January and in the February Gazette, but elicited an underwhelming response. Happily, Gail Curry came to the rescue and was appointed for a second term in April. The short time-scale of this editorial changeover and technical problems meant that there were delays with the June and August issues.
The Reader Survey report, covering magazine and website, appeared in December. 'Alternative Croquet' by Don Gaunt has been published. This is a 90-page compendium of Fun Games, Variations on Standard Croquet and Fringe Croquet.
As well as carrying an increased amount of news and an interactive fixtures calendar, the website has been developed to allow data to be submitted. Online membership application and payment was introduced earlier this year and a members' area established with a simple login procedure. The first application enabled players to register availability for selection events and this will be extended to allow personal details to be updated.
The CA Fixtures Calendar was again published on schedule due to the sterling efforts of Nigel Graves.
The British Men's and Women's Championships returned to Cheltenham. The Men's had a good entry; however, although the Women's entry was stronger than the previous year, its size remains a concern.
The Open Championships had a successful return to Hurlingham after two years at Cheltenham, with Parsons Green providing two lawns for much of the week. The entry was considerably up on the last time it was held in London, despite the expectation that entries might be adversely affected by the World Championships.
In general, CA tournaments are being well supported; however, Ladies' Week was again cancelled due to lack of support, The Veterans' Championship entry was considerably down on the previous years with no firm reason being established.
The Inter-County Championship continues to be a popular event. However, the qualifications for playing in it are still being reviewed in order to encourage the optimum number of 22 counties entering without the need for special teams to make up the number and also to stress that participants should have a close allegiance to the county they are representing. This review was not completed in time for the 2005 event.
Bids have been invited for the allocation of CA Tournament events to venues for 2007 and 2008. The procedure has been changed slightly in that bids will be invited annually on a rolling two year basis.
Ian Vincent, Chairman of Council