The last outing of the Season took place at the end of August – but only after Sophie Graham had defied all odds set against her, with a broken-down car, wild fires in the South of France and Covid tests to overcome. But in true Sirmoor fashion she came through with style. Her father Jon Aslett, David Santa-Ollala and Christopher Lavender made up the ‘Four’.

After our traditional `Terrace Lunch’ – taken in the Conservatory because of a chill breeze – we decamped to Lawn 6 equipped with the tools of the trade – mallets liberated from the Croquet Store. The lawns at Hurlingham were in excellent state as usual – and there was an unusual combination tasked with the rolling – see ‘Skeleton Manning’ below!

Play commenced with two rounds of Golf Croquet, with Jon and Sophie displaying much cunning, always seeming to be lined up for the hoop when their turn arrived. David played with a cricketer’s fine judgement, no doubt buoyed by the news that England were 323 for 3 at Headingley, in reply to India being all out for 78 the previous day! The first round saw Sophie and David competing to ‘post out’, with Sophie taking the honours on the second attempt. The second round saw the Aslett’s competing to ‘post out’ and once again Sophie triumphed.

David and Jon then took on Sophie and Christopher in Association Croquet. Given Sophie’s earlier performance this was probably a rather unfair pairing, and after a near faultless start and Sophie neatly ‘peeling’ her partner through the fourth hoop they were soon three hoops to the better and lined up to post out. But as so often the dice can turn, and with some exquisite ‘marauding’ by David, some delicate play around the hoops by Jon, and some terrible misses by Sophie and Christopher there was only one hoop in it! Fittingly, however, it was Sophie who delivered the coup de grace and posted out.

Tea and scones were taken in the Conservatory, and this appropriate indulgence brought the Sirmoor Croquet Society’s 2021 season to a close. Jai Sirmoor!

David and Jon discuss the subtleties of running a hoop.


Sophie ‘peeling’ her partner through the ‘Fourth’.


‘Skeleton Manning’ in action!

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Meeting ‘Jackers’ at the Main Gate of the Hurlingham Club has become a very pleasant habit this Summer – and so it was at the end of July that a select band of Sirmoorees gathered again at the High Altar of croquet to grace the hallowed lawns. Bruce made the trek from Bristol, Peter and Annie Duffell journeyed from Britford, Christopher and Griselda Lavender from Old Woking, and Mark Pettigrew from south of the River.

We were blessed with good weather for the only day that week and as we consumed our lunch on the Terrace, Peter happily recalled the time he had attended a Ball at Hurlingham as a rather younger man. Sadly, the tale was unaccompanied by any racy anecdotes – perhaps by intent given Annie’s presence! Mark joined us from the tennis courts and in the eye of this observer he must be in line for the Victor Ludorum, as only the week before we had met on the Sirmoor Golf circuit, on his challenging course at Royal Wimbledon.

Having selected our mallets in the croquet store we set up camp adjacent to Lawn 1, suitably decked out with a Sirmoor flag and umbrellas. Play commenced with a game of Golf Croquet, with Mark as the Directing Staff. Mark and Bruce played each other in a private tourney, while Griselda teamed up with Peter, and Annie with Christopher for major event . With each player playing just one ball, and no complicated roquets or croquets, this is a fast moving, fun way to get the measure of the lawn. While Mark triumphed narrowly over Bruce in the Elite Division, there was a dramatic finale in the Premiership – with Griselda and Peter 3-1 to the better as we approached the penultimate hoop. There was even some defeatist talk from Christopher about conceding! But after he had negotiated the fifth hoop, Annie took the game by the scruff of the neck and calmy ran the final Hoop. So it was now 3-3 and the winner would be the first to hit the post. Griselda, Peter and Christopher all failed the test – and it was left to Annie to rather elegantly run her ball through the others to take the match!

With trepidation on the part of some we then decide to try the rather more complicated and Machiavellian code of Association Croquet. The pairings remained the same and after some adroit play around the first hoop Bruce and Mark (who had teamed up together) took a one hoop lead. With Annie and Christopher ‘marauding’ the front pair on the third hoop (Annie’s first ‘maraud’was particularly effective), it seemed that Peter and Griselda were being left behind – but they were merely biding their time! With a late surge (a Duffell speciality it seems) Peter and Griselda swept through the second and third hoops and were threatening to take control of the game. Happily for Mark and Bruce the game was concluded at this point as the attraction of clotted cream and jam scones prevailed. And so Mark and Bruce were crowned the victors and we repaired to the Terrace.

Thus, a most enjoyable day was capped with an indulgent English Tea – before most of us wrestled with the evening traffic heading west out of London; apart from Griselda and Mark – with Griselda following Mark to Wandsworth Bridge and through the back streets to Trinity Road. Mark drove like a ‘bat out of hell, she later recounted!! Jai Sirmoor!

Discussions and deliberations!


The memsahebs line up their shots


Sirmooris – with ‘Brollies Rampant’!




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