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New Zealand's oldest club sells ground

by Anthony Clearwater
Posted April 6, 2001


On April 5, 2001, the following story appeared on www.stuff.co.nz, which bills itself as "New Zealand's leading news and information website." Local player Gary Littler gave Croquet World some background on a poignant story that could happen in your club or mine - if we don't pay attention to recruiting new members. Says Gary, "I've been playing 25 years, all of it in Timaru, but not at the Timaru Croquet Club. Timaru is a town of 27,000, with 4 croquet clubs, all of which have a membership between 20 and 30. In fact, there are 93 registered players for 16 lawns (6 players per lawn.) The Timaru Croquet Club is the only club to own their own land, the other clubs leasing their grounds from the local Council. The average age of players in Timaru would be 65-70. As for the proceeds, no one is saying at this stage, but I assume that some will end up with the South Canterbury Association, which administers 11 clubs in the South Canterbury area. I would prefer to set up a simple trust to invest the money and use the proceeds purely for promotion of croquet. NZ$4,000-5,000 every year could do a lot of good." And it might help to keep some other dying clubs alive.
Moves are under way to close the club for good.

One of three tenders for the 104-year-old Timaru Croquet Club was accepted at a club meeting on Saturday. Tenders closed on Friday.

Club president Brian Maxwell said details of the purchaser and the sale price were confidential and he was unsure what was to happen to the grounds.

He would not say whether the grounds, which the club owned freehold, had been sold to a property developer or business. He would also not confirm what the property had been sold for but said the club was "happy" with the price. The settlement was due to take pace by June 30.

The rating valuation for the Le Cren Street grounds was $72,000. The club had recently spent $10,000 on a new computerised watering system, which required a new pipe from the road and a new $2000 pressure valve.

Mr. Maxwell said the club would not look to re-establish somewhere else. "The members are proceeding to complete formalities to wind up the club. It is a shame. It is disappointing that it has come to this but that is the way of society at the moment.

"It is a lovely site but our advantage was our disadvantage in that we were tucked away in a quiet place. No-one else could see what we were doing so no-one came."

He said it was yet to be decided what to do with the proceeds of the sale. "We will deal with the money in accordance with the constitution. That says that the money must be distributed to bodies with similar objects and the promotion of mallet and ball sports."

Membership had slowly dwindled from about 60 at its peak to just 14 now, he said. After making its beginnings on the front lawn of a Wai-iti Road address, the club members began playing at the site in 1897. The club entered into a formal lease in 1911. The club purchased part of the land in 1920 and the rest of the property in 1927.

Croquet New Zealand executive director Matthew Brown said it was the end of an era. "It is always distressing to lose a club, it is a shame. But we have to be realistic about these things. People have less leisure time and sporting clubs are facing these problems. We are grateful it is not members we are losing.

"My understanding is that the dozen or so members left will join other clubs in Timaru and the money from the sale will be held in trust for the benefit of South Canterbury croquet through the South Canterbury Croquet Association."

[Permission for one-time reprinting pending from www.stuff.co.nz.]


 
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