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Letters & Opinion
Croquet World's photo contest
ranks 100 finalists
by Bob Alman and James Hawkins
layout by Reuben Edwards
Posted April 2, 2006


Related links
How to Shoot Croquet Players, by Deborah Latham
Photo Contest Images of all 100 finalists (expect long download)


Whatever were we thinking? Soon after James Hawkins signed on as Croquet World's co-editor, somebody had the bright idea of following up a recent article on croquet photography with a worldwide contest. The response was gratifying - almost 300 photographs of every type - but the amount of work entailed in gathering, identifying, organizing, posting, categorizing and judging all these entries was truly appalling, especially if we intend to this every year - which we do! We didn't get what we expected, but we liked what we got. The pictures constitute a near book-length photo essay on our favorite sport - the same everywhere on the globe, and everywhere different in ways only "serious croquet players" would recognize. Given the delightful variety, awarding a "First Place" would be a foolish exercise. But that's okay, because winning a single category in this contest yields exactly the same reward you get from winning most croquet tournaments: no money, but lots of glory...and in this case, worldwide recognition. Our judges are Croquet World co-editors James Hawkins and Bob Alman, and Croquet World designer and layout artist Reuben Edwards. And now: the envelopes, please!

All about the contest and the judging

All the photos in this contest and article belong to the photographers and are published here by permission. Most of them are reproduced here in low-resolution form suitable for the web but are available in higher density from the photographer. If you wish permission to reprint, contact the photographer directly. Click to "Photo Contest Images" to view all the approximately 100 "finalist" photos.

The judges thank the contributors to this display, commending photographers in many categories. Bob Alman chose the 100 best images, which Reuben Edwards organized into nine broad divisions. James and Bob created further categories and ranked the photos to produce winners and placers. Reuben as layout editor determined which images to highlight in the article and which to merely link to in the large online display of "Photo Contest Images".

Many excellent photos were received after the close of the contest. We ask those photographers to please re-submit next year!

Click on the images for a larger view. A new window will open.


SPECTATORS

First Place
"Mafiosi in white?"
This beautifully balanced composition by Stefan Runne communicates such intensity that seeing what's happening on the lawns would surely be anticlimax.

Second Place Third Place
"Wake me when it's over"

Stefan Runne scores again with this photo of former WCF President Tony Hall courtside at a sponsored event. Now we know how this globe-trotting croquet promoter conserves his energy.
"Not much happens in the Crake Valley"

Photographer Gail Curry comments, "I just thought they made such a good gallery. They turn up without fail to watch on finals day, whatever the weather."

THE CHAMPIONS

First Place Second Place Third Place
"Back-to-back Canadian Champions"

Photographer Don Oakley achieved the impressionistic texture of this appealing photo of Leo McBride and Brian Cumming by using a shallow depth of field. The two had been conferring on the court about a particular shot in the finals of the Canadian nationals. This image was captured as they ended the conversation with a parting joke.
"Robert Fulford Swings"

John Wall snapped the unmistakably characteristic swing of one of croquet's greatest champs at the 2005 New Zealand Opens in Wanganui.
"The Image Maker"

Adrian Wadley captured "the bad boy" in characteristic baseball garb posed on the shoulder of a croquet-badged Rolls Royce at the Sonoma-Cutrer World Championship, 2000.

CROQUET ART

First Place Second Place
"Dawn over the Croquet Lawn"

Don Oakley, owner/manager of the equipment site www.OakleyWoods.com, photographed this sunrise at Belvoir - venue for Canada's major tournament for three years, the CroqCan: "I was offered accommodation on site as equipment manager of the tournament. Rising at five am, I could see the sun coming up through the morning mist, with a heavy dew on the lawn. I think of great photographic images as a combination of luck and opportunity. Carrying the camera around with you allows more chances of making that special moment happen."
"Croquet is Art"

Stefan Runne pays close attention to focus and composition in this striking ensemble of croquet equipment around the stake, with softly focused bands of green, white and blue as the backdrop.

THE VENUE

First Place Second Place Third Place
"Double-play at Hurlingham"

Russell Bretherton captured the essence of Hurlingham with simultaneous swings on two lawns and the stately facade of the clubhouse in the background. That's Charles Wilkinson in the foreground during Hurlingham Week, August 1999
"The annual games at Chartwell"

Every year, members of the nearby Tunbridge Wells Croquet Club are invited to play on the shaggy lawn of Chartwell, Winston Churchill's home. Photo by Jon Dimond.
"After the Games"

Russell Bretherton captured the welcoming calm of the wooden bar at Cheltenham during the Easter Handicap, 2000. The winner must pay, naturally.

CROQUET CUISINE

First (and only) Place
"Cucumber Sandwich"

Liz Wilson sent us this photo by Mike Hammelev taken at Budleigh Salterton Croquet Club a few years ago. This terribly proper English gentleman - Peter Wilson of Fylde Croquet Club - is about to bite off more than he can chew.

MACHO CROQUET

First Place Second Place
“A game between two beasts”

“A game between two beasts”
Quiller Barrett sent in this photo by Samir Patel. He writes, "The red ball was distinctly jumpy after being hit by a mallet wielded by a gorilla." Chris Farthing and Chris Patmore are impersonating the beasts in this picture, taken at Surbiton in May of 2005.
"A gorilla becomes confused"

Photo by Samir Patel submitted by Chris Farthing, art director, and posed by Chris Farthing and Chris Patmore, taken at Surbiton in May of 2005.

NAKED CROQUET

First Place
"The Nudist Croquet Championships at Ealing Croquet Club"
Quiller Barrett snapped this picture in August of 2002 at the Ealing Croquet Club on a warm day in August of 2002. He explains, "A well-known breakfast food manufacturer was doing a test for a new TV ad, which never saw the light of day. But that rather spoils the story..."

Second Place Third Place
"Tan Line"

The photographer is Don Oakley, and the model, who is not wearing regulation tournament footgear, is unknown. Many elegant women in Florida with otherwise impeccable taste wear flip-flops in their games because, they say, they don't want to be seen at a ball in two-strap high-heels with albino feet; perhaps the same kind of excuse applies to a man in sandals.
"What dress code?"

Russell Bretherton snapped this skin-pic of Stuart Romeril at the Oxford Open, July 2003.

SMARTASS GAMESMANSHIP

First (and only) Place

"Penalty Point"


John Wall recorded this moment of history at the NZCC Veterans tournament in January, 2006. Don Reyland of Hawkes Bay, one of New Zealand's World Golf Croquet refs, demonstrates a (legal?) golf croquet shot made from the half-way penalty point.

SPIRIT OF THE GAME

First Place

"If enough people meditate very hard on the yellow ball simultaneously, we can save the world"


Photo by Dave Kibble. Keith Aiton is the devotee.

Second Place

"Patriots in the Rain"


American team member Erv Peterson from California snapped this pic at the Solomon Trophy matches at Bowdon. Jacques Fournier, wet behind the ears, wears the American flag while Don Gaunt keeps dry beneath the colors of England.

THE BALLET OF CROQUET

First Place Second Place
"Creative Follow-through"

Max Murray snapped this photo of Julian Owen at a coaching practice session in his native Narooma, NSW, Australia. He explains, "Julian is a retired actor and believes that croquet could do with some embellishment. Here he is trying to will the ball to score a roquet. For the record, it didn't work. He carries on like this most of the time but is actually quite a handy croquet player."
"The four-clips prize"

Gail Curry, past and present editor of The Croquet Gazette, took this photo of Dave Nick of the three-lawn Crake Valley Club in the Lake District of England. She writes, "They hold an advanced tournament each summer and if I play nowhere else I like to go there because it is so friendly and the ‘craic’ [Irish for gossip or chat] is so good. Dave was celebrating getting all four clips, as he had put up a bottle of wine at the tournament for anyone who could earn them in a game. I thought about using this on a front cover, but haven't got round to it yet."

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

First Place

"Size does matter!"


Kenster Rosenberry was a member of the American 2003 MacRobertson Shield team when he took this picture at the National Croquet Center in West Palm Beach. David Maugham of the British team carries the big stick.

REACTIONS

First Place Second Place Third Place
"Kicking the mallet might help"

Tim King caught the moment: right after Don Beck banged into the post, glanced heavenward, and appeared to kick his mallet as three-times World Champion Khaled Younis approached to take advantage in the Yorkshire Golf Croquet Open, Ripon, September 2002.
"The truth must never be revealed"

Alexander Kirsten submitted this photo by Stefan Runne. Sam Curry is shooting, and the figure in the background seems to suggest that something terribly wrong is happening. Could it be the wrong hoop?
"Beats the hell out of me"

Tim King's photograph indicates that Sam Curry (left) and Salah Saad might need to call a referee at the Yorkshire Golf Croquet Open at Ripon Spa in September 2001.

THE WEATHER

First Place Second Place
"Pegged down game under water"

Once again, the shimmering, richly patterned surface of Don Oakley's canvas compels admiration. This photo might also have been the first place winner in the “art” category.
"Aqua Croquet"

Adrian Wadley photographed the 2000 Prentis Trophy at the Wilmington [Delaware] Country Club, commenting, "The stronger players had the advantage; playing the width of the court with a single ball stroke was quite an achievement.

A PIECE OF THE ACTION

First Place

“Sand blaster”
Johnny Mitchell should be rightly proud of this well-timed image of Simon Hockey at the 2003 MacRobertson Shield. The plume of “smoke” results from the sand used to pack Florida hoops.


Second Place
“Angle of attack”
There’s a trick of perspective here in Gail Curry’s picture of Robert Fulford in the semi-finals of the World Championship [2005] against James Death. The hoop (Cheltenham, Lawn 7) is side on to the spectators, with Fulford standing to its left, not the right. The trajectory of the red ball shows the acuteness of the angle, in a masterful shot from a champion.

Third Place
“Balls in flight”
Another cleverly timed shot from Johnny Mitchell, capturing both balls mid-air in Matthew Burrow’s roll shot.

DOWN ON THE GROUND

First Place Second Place Third Place
“Looking to the distance”

A good case of less-is-more. Without the reference points of balls or hoops, this clever framing forces us to guess what’s happening here. Johnny Osborn checks a possible wire in the final of the 2000 World Croquet Championship at Sonoma Cutrer. Photo by Adrian Wadley.
“The jaws of rover”

It’s not immediately apparent who this is, or what he’s doing, in this shot from Don Oakley. Brian Cumming, the Canadian Champion, is lining up a very thin peel, captured intimately with a telephoto lens
“Mild curiosity”

Another Adrian Wadley photo of Johnny Osborn in the 2000 Sonoma Cutrer final. Here he calls a referee to watch what looks like a very difficult hampered shot at hoop 2. Notice the background figures, who’ve been facing away and have turned to watch the spectacle.

REFEREE ON CALL

First Place
“It wasn’t pretty, but it was legal”
One to make the referees wince. Matt Winn-Smith is caught off balance while Denis Cross referees, in the Hurlingham Handicap tournament, August 2004. A beautiful kinetic shot by Russell Bretherton

Second Place Third Place
“Refereed jump shot”

The finals of the 2003 Tri-Club Invitational (Championship flight). Photographer Ben Morehead says, ”I can't recall the name of the shooter, but I think it was either Art Parsells or Tony Mayo. I remember he went on to win the match by one wicket, so it could be said his jump shot made the difference.”
“The final point”

Gail Curry’s image captures Reg Bamford’s final hoop for victory in the 2005 World Championship. Bernard Neal, President of both the Croquet Association and Cheltenham CC (the host venue), is the referee.

SOLITUDE

First Place

“Heroic deeds of ordinary mortals”


Motion blur and a skewed angle give this one a sense of urgency. It shows Russell Bretherton’s attempt to document Toby Jessel's valiant, but ultimately futile, pursuit of a straight quadruple peel on his opponent. Sadly, this photo seems to be the only evidence; the spectators’ tent at Hurlingham remains empty.

Second Place

“Out on the lawn I stand alone”


Erv Peterson achieves an almost abstract image here, in a picture whose emptiness emphasises the player’s solitary position. Tremaine Arkley is watched by fellow competitors (Robert Fulford and Reg Bamford among them) at the 1992 World Championship in Rhode Island.

Third Place

“Countryside idyll”


An ordinary picture of Jerry Stark is elevated by Johnny Mitchell, who places him in the middle distance, framed by trees in the foreground and background, and the complementary colours of the picturesque church. An evocative scene from the 2004 Croquet Fever in Lanai, Hawaii

DOUBLE TAKE

First Place Second Place Third Place
“Sheer disbelief”

From Max Murray, Narooma, NSW, Australia. “Tony Hall could not believe that the ball had stuck - it was a short straight in front hoop shot.” He seems to be barely resisting the temptation to collect the clip.
“Yes!…No?…Yes?…No!”

It’s hard to read David Hopkins’ face in this image from Tim King, taken at the Yorkshire Golf Croquet Open in 2001. The viewer must judge whether he’s just narrowly hit, or narrowly missed.
“Staring into the void”

Another reaction shot from Tim King. Mike O’Brien executes a jump shot at Southport in 2005, but Ray Mounfield’s expression says it all.

BACKYARD CROQUET

First (and only) Place

“Fun for everyone”


A sadly under-represented category, but this picture by Barbara Koostra of Missoula, Montana would win hands down in any case. A scene of suburban utopia in this makeshift roadside croquet court. The game seems as much a novelty to the unscheduled dog-walker as to the toddler. The photo was provided by John Wall of New Zealand, who – as unlikely as it may seem – has made two coaching visits to Missoula, resulting in the formation of a USCA club there.

MEN WITH BEARDS

First Place Second Place
“A most impressive beard”

A surprisingly large entry of images of bearded men is crowned by this submission from John Wall of New Zealand. John McInnes of Wellington tries to overlook his beard as he prepares for a shot at the Palmerston North Combined Croquet Clubs tournament.
“Evening jump shot”

Charlie Smith shows how to score a tough hoop with a jump shot in the Calzona match in San Francisco between California and Arizona, November 1999. Photo by Adrian Wadley.


 
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