The Annual General Meeting of the Association was again held in the Terrace Room at Hurlingham, but with the platform party facing one of the internal walls rather than the lawns, which reportedly improved the acoustics.
Council's report was delivered by its retiring Chairman, Tim King. Starting with highlights of the playing season, he congratulated Vice-President Stephen Mulliner on his stamina while winning the AC World Championship in Florida; the England team and the clubs that hosted the GC World Team Championship; and those selected to play in the MacRobertson Shield, the AC World Team Championship, in California next April. Domestically, the main change was the introduction of a new handicapping system for Golf Croquet, with an expanded range to accommodate the top players without distorting the system for the majority.
Off the court, the focus of planned activity has been implementation of the membership changes agreed at the SGM held in March last year, both at a practical level and in terms of how the organisation must change to accommodate a larger membership. We have been unable to deliver a new membership database in time to make the change in January 2017 but, next season, members of clubs will already be allowed to play in all tournaments that appear in the CA Fixtures Calendar without having to join as Tournament Members.
Council also had to consider two matters about which members of the Association felt strongly, which related to disciplinary action and team selection. Both raised issues fundamental to good sports governance, such as natural justice and avoidance of conflicts of interest, and were resolved by reference to existing policies or development of new ones.
Liz Larsson and her colleagues in the Office had a busy year, making arrangements for members to attend the Patron's Lunch and for National Croquet Day.
Turning to personal matters, Tim noted that the death of past president Bernard Neal was a very sad loss for croquet during the past year and mentioned the passing of Ian Parkinson and illness of Richard Hoskyns. He thanked Alan Pidcock, who was retiring from Council after 18 years, and Jonathan Isaacs, Ian Lines and Strat Liddiard, as they move on from chairing principal committees.
He concluded his report by encouraging more women to join Council.
After reporting on his first full year as Hon. Treasurer, Peter Death noted that the development budget had been significantly underspent and encouraged clubs to approach their Federation's Development Officer to discuss possible projects. Shop profits were impacted by fluctuations in currency values. He was asked about a capital loss recorded on the redemption of government stock; the amount we had in cash or on deposit; and the availability of grants for playing equipment.
The two amendments to the constitution proved to be uncontroversial and were adopted nem con. Proposals to change voting arrangements to reflect an enlarged membership were likely to be brought forward.
Those nominated to serve on Council were elected unopposed. The new members, Beatrice McGlen and Dave Trimmer, stood to be recognised, along with three new Federation Representatives: John Dawson (North West), Mick Haytack (East Midlands), and Klim Seabright (South West).
Jonathan Powe, Alison Girdlestone and Peter Dowd were presented with the most improved player awards, but neither Keith Aiton nor Ian Burridge were able to collect their coaching awards. Diplomas were awarded to Philip Bass (Fylde), Richard Brooks (Sussex County), Penny Crowe (Cheltenham), Lorna Frost (Bowdon), Richard Jenkins (Hamptworth), Betty King (Norwich), Arthur Lindley (Guildford & Godalming), Eileen Prodger (Sussex County), Walter Sanders (Middlesbrough) and Mike Tracey (Nailsea).
Unfortunately, Rob Fulford was prevented at short notice from attending to receive the Council Medal, but the President read the citation which paid tribute to his contribution in transforming the tactics of the game.
In closing the meeting, Quiller Barrett asked Council to obtain some reliable data about the amount of Association Croquet being played at clubs and reconsider, in the light of it, the initiatives proposed a few years ago.
The subsequent Council meeting opened with a period of silence in memory of Bernard Neal. Brian Shorney was elected Chairman of Council and John Bowcott Vice-Chairman (and to chair the Management Committee). Several new committee chairmen were elected: Roger Staples (Development), Tim King (International and GC Tournaments) and Jeff Dawson (Publishing), with others resuming former roles.
The issue raised by the President in his closing remarks to the AGM was considered, in a discussion that extended to a wider debate about governance, focusing on how Council could ensure that its policies were acted upon given the limited voluntary effort available. Returning to the specific topic of AC regeneration. Anna Giraud offered to look at the recommendations of the working parties that reported a few years ago and ask appropriate committees to follow them up. Federation Representatives were asked to investigate progress in their regions and committee chairmen to review the strategy document produced during Barry Keen's Chairmanship.
Strat Liddiard reported on the first meeting of the Governance Working Party, appealing to members of Council to let him have their views. Brian Shorney re-iterated the request to clubs and individual members to respond to the recent Gazette article.
The only questions to the new Chairman came from his predecessor, who took the opportunity to inform him, and the meeting, about a possible development opportunity and news that the University of Sheffield will host a national GC Championship for university students in April 2017.
Despite a short break caused by a fire alarm, the meeting finished at 15:40.