NSW club history

Sawtell Croquet Club
(from the CNSW Newsletter, September 2016)


Iris Frazer was awarded Life membership of the Sawtell croquet Club at the A.G.M. in the year 2000. In 2001 she undertook to record the history of the club. She spent many hours reading through the Minutes of meetings held at the club and sorting through a pile of photographs. The first page reads as follows

"Croquet in Sawtell was originally played in the backyard of Mrs Kerr's home on the corner of 1st Avenue and 11th Avenue. This was not very satisfactory; the block was very small and on sloping land.

After negotiating with the shire of the day, half of the present No. 1 lawn was obtained, the other half being a swamp. History tells us that on New Year's Eve in the year of 1947 Mr Chris McRae, a resident of Sawtell was walking home from a party and fell into the swamp and drowned.

Many local men volunteered to fill the swamp. One must remember that this was 1947, World War 2 had just finished and petrol was still rationed. The volunteers had access to a horse and dray and made many, many trips to the beach for sand to fill the swamp.

There were three Norfolk Pines on the half playing lawn, and the volunteers were told unofficially, that if the pines were removed at night it would be OK. Such a furore ensued. Remember, only three pines existed, but before peace was restored at least fifteen different people claimed their fathers had planted the trees.

At a C.W.A. meeting in 1948 a Mrs. Butler asked if anyone was interested in playing croquet. Three ladies responded Mesdames Kerr, Everingham and Faichney. These ladies were the foundation members of the Sawtell Croquet Club."
  • During the 1950's the lawn was cared for by volunteers.
  • Visits were organized between Victoria and West Park Clubs in Grafton and Port Macquarie Club. These visits were reciprocal with Sawtell.
  • The Sawtell Reserve Committee had a large input into what the Croquet Club was allowed to do e.g. to install a sink in the clubhouse; paint the clubhouses done by the Reserve Committee; when town water was connected the club had to pay the princely sum of 2.0.0 ($4.00) for the piping. In return the Reserve Committee made available the use of a pump.
  • The members gave very generously of items to help the club in its infancy, some of which are still in use. The donated items included Quoits, a Bell to keep order during meetings, a Bagatelle, a Hoe, Wash Basin and Stand, First Aid Kit, Refrigerator and an Official Measure.
  • Subscriptions were 2.2.0 ($4.20) Affiliation Fees were 1.1.0 ($2.10), a set of balls was 9.7.6 ($17.75) and the Croquet Gazette 10/6 ($1.05). Such was life in the 1950's.
Some excerpts from the 1960's, 70's 80's and 90's.
  • Purchases in the 1960's included a refrigerator, curtains, folding chairs, mower, padlock for the storeroom, and new lino.
  • 1968: After 18 years as President Mrs Hutton resigned from that position
  • John Smith, who was later to become Mayor of Coffs Harbour, donated a set of hoops.
  • Mrs Faichney resigned as Treasurer after 5 years.
  • The bank balance was $72.00 and the club had a membership of 16.
  • 1972 Correspondence between the club and the Shire council regarding the construction of a toilet began. The toilets situated approximately 70 meters away were only open during the summer holiday period. Alternative toilets were approximately 200 metres away.
  • 1973 Council advised the Croquet Club that it was to be relocated.
  • In 1974 the club was notified by Parks and Reserve Committee that plans for toilets were passed, as had the application for sewerage and drainage.
  • In 1978 Shire of Coffs Harbour advised that they would convert the adjacent shower block and for all Croquet members. Council also advised that they would provide paint for exterior walls of the clubhouse and would deliver and spread gravel on the access road.
  • Club dress became official in 1979. Club dress consisted of white dress, long or short sleeves, slacks or skirt, white hat, white flat shoes. Wintertime a white or red cardigan.
  • 1981 saw very unseasonable weather with extreme temperatures and high humidity. A daily roster was organized for watering the lawn in the hope of saving it.
  • There were 27 members in 1984 - 8 of which were new members. Inclement weather, for several weeks did not help the club finances. Monday was set aside for teaching beginners. (Even today we have regular coaching sessions on Monday.)
  • In 1986 the Lawn was repaired and measured to correct size. At the same time the lawn was cored, rolled and fertilized. Watering became a necessity owing to extreme heat.
  • The Annual General Meeting was postponed due to insufficient nominations. Bank balance was $436. Balls now cost $76 a set. Membership fees rose to $36.
  • Mid 1986 the Urunga Club was affiliated with Croquet Players Association of New South Wales (now CNSW) and their court was officially opened on 21st June. Urunga ladies learnt the game at Sawtell under tuition from Alice Barrett. There was a close association any many visits between the two clubs.
  • Pressure for a second lawn began in 1989 by the then President, Graeme O'Neill. It was continued for many years.
Since 1976 council has suggested several times that the club be relocated. Finally in 1991 it was brought to the members notice that the club would be eligible for a grant.

News from COFFSAC of the grant of land from the Trustees of the Sawtell Caravan Park. A dollar for dollar grant of $7000 was also received from Department of Sport and Recreation.

The second lawn completed in April 1996. It was agreed that it should be named the "Leon Adams" lawn. It was Officially Opened on 2nd November 1996. There were 109 people present including invited guests from Urunga, Woolgoolga, Port Macquarie and Forster clubs; local politicians, and Life Members .

In January 1998 it was decided to name No 1 Lawn the "Islet Faichney Lawn". Islet Faichney was the sole surviving foundation member of the club. The inaugural NSW Masters Games to be held 31st July to 11th August.

Year 2000. Club funds were being saved for a new clubhouse - however court maintenance had been neglected. In October the court 1 was stripped, levelled, and top dressed then re-sown.

February 2001. Our grant applications had been very successful - Department of Sport and Recreation $9000 for rebuilding the Clubhouse, the Department of Veteran Affairs $1832, and Sawtell RSL an equipment grant for $250.

During the last week of September the old clubhouse was demolished. With some professional help and many hours of volunteer work we were able to celebrate Melbourne Cup day in the new clubhouse. The Official opening of the new clubhouse did not take place until February 6th. The Official Guests included Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker, who presented the Australian Flag to the club; Coffs Harbour Mayor, Jenny Bonfield who cut a large red ribbon, and members from Port Macquarie, Urunga and Woolgoolga clubs. The day was marred by torrential rain - in fact the water was ankle deep across both lawns. The rain had eased enough for all to adjourn to the Sawtell Bowling Club where a buffet lunch was served. The Sawtell Bowling Club was very generous in allowing us the use of their kitchen and dining room.

December - once again good news, NSW Department of Sport and Recreation approved a grant of $5000 for an Automated Recycled Watering System. In April 2002, 35 members were at the christening of the watering system with finger food and drinks. A thank you to all the husbands of members who had given their time during the installation. Some 200 hours in 10 days, a sterling effort. Reconstruction of Court 2 should proceed in September/October.

The first years of the new century were full of activity and improvements to the club. Come and try days were organised and social groups were playing. Membership continued to increase. We started playing Golf croquet on a regular basis. Jenny Arnold became coach.

2004. Fun days continue on each Public Holiday. The first for the year being part of the Sawtell New Years Day Carnival. . Australia Day is celebrated with an Aussie theme of green and gold, or red, white and blue. Ross Williams's famous pies being the fare for the day. Easter and Melbourne Cup days are a chance for a hat parade, and Queens Birthday is a time for "honours".

2008. We celebrated our 60th Birthday by holding our first ever Carnival - 6 days of Croquet. 3 days of Golf Croquet - 6 blocks of 6 players playing both Doubles and Singles. A Birthday Luncheon, held at the Sawtell Golf Club on Monday 15th September. Followed by 3 days of Association Croquet - 3 blocks of 6 players. Players came from Lismore to the north, Jamberoo to the south and Dubbo to the West.

This year we will hold our 9th annual carnival - Golf Croquet in August and AC in October. Unfortunately the 2010 GC carnival was a wash out - but our carnivals continue to be popular and well supported.

The Birthday Luncheon saw a crowd of almost 100 enjoy a Roast meal at the Sawtell Golf Club. Life Member Iris Frazer acted as MC for the day. During the luncheon Life membership was awarded to June Stack - June has been a member of the club for 10 years and has held office or been on the committee for most of that time. Members' commitment to the club is ongoing.

The Monthly Mallet competition was commenced in February 2009. Noel Harders who was awarded Life Membership in 1998 was unable to attend the 60th Birthday celebrations. He remembered the occasion by presenting the club with 2 brooches, gold and a silver mallet. Hence the Monthly Mallet was commenced; the Gold Mallet for Association and the Silver for Golf croquet.

The first 3 months of the year 2009 saw record rainfall in the Coffs Harbour area. March 31 saw a torrential downpour coincide with a king tide and all of Coffs Harbour and Sawtell were awash. On 1st April it was discovered that at the height of the storm some 450ml or 18 inches of water had poured down the hill of the caravan park and through the clubhouse, and equipment shed. Fortunately most of the equipment survived but the clubhouse and equipment shed had to be re-lined.

The President's Report noted a total of 86 members - 43 playing Golf and 43 playing Association; with a number playing both codes.

As a result of the floods earlier in the year the courts were in a fairly sorry condition. The recycled watering system was upgraded Working Bees were organised and many members took part. Today we are often told that our courts are some of the best anywhere.

Our club continues to grow and there is a small, but enthusiastic group who travel to other carnivals. Throughout its history Sawtell has always been well represented at events run be other clubs and CNSW.

Our plan now is to build a third court. After over two years of negotiations and grant applications we now have the "rubber stamp" and the money to start work early next year. With over 100 members we are one of the larger clubs in NSW. We play golf croquet on 3 days a week, AC on 2 days and Ricochet on Friday. A busy but happy and friendly club. "Sunny Sawtell"

New Clubhouse