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History of Croquet

Victorian croquetThe game of hitting balls through hoops can be traced back to 14th century France. There, peasants fashioned hoops from willow branches and used shepherds crooks to hit the balls. It showed up again in 17th century Ireland where a British toy maker saw it being played. He then took the concept back to England, equipment was produced and it quickly became the sport of the elite class.

A governing body was established around 1870 in England. By mid the 1880's, its luster was tarnished by gambling and other social concerns of the Victorian era. Even the first known club The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, at Wimbledon,  ejected the sport and dropped its context from the club's name. Croquet's survival was in the immense popularity as a backyard game. With the influence of the British Empire, croquet found its way to most of the Commonwealth countries.

Groucho Marx playing croquetThe English players, not to be banished to their gardens forever, formed the Croquet Association (CA) in 1897. On the other side of the Atlantic, croquet's popularity grew in the 1930's and 40's. It was taken to especially by the rich and famous of the United States. Many of Hollywood stars found croquet the sport to be playing.

This short resurgence in the United States plateaued until the mid-sixties when a group of players on Long Island and another in Florida started playing again. From these beginnings, the US Croquet Association was formed, and along with it, formal, American-style rules and regulations governing play.

The 80's saw explosive growth in the sport, with the formation of over 350 clubs in North America. With the founding of the World Croquet Federation, over a dozen countries' national associations joined to organize international events. It is responsible for unifying the sport and promoting international competition. Many of the world's  top players now target the world championships as their sport’s pinnacle.