Croquet veteran Simon Hockey helps break Aussie drought

With over three decades of croquet experience, Simon Hockey reached the high-point of his chosen sport last month.

With team mates captain Ian Dumergue from WA, Victoria’s Stephen Forster and the three Fletcher siblings, Robert, Malcolm and Greg, Hockey was a member of the Australian team that won the prestigious MacRobertson Shield, the zenith of world croquet for the first time since 1935.

The test series was held at the Mission Hills Country Club in Palm Springs, California, where Hockey was a member of the national team which defeated firstly England (12-9), then New Zealand (14-7) and finally America (15-6) to secure their first win in 82 years.

Hockey, now 39, and a member of the Jamestown Croquet Club since he was eight, said the win was certainly the pinnacle of his career.

“I first played for Australia back in 2001 in a Trans-Tasman tournament against New Zealand,” he said.

“The test series is played every four years and its like our Olympics.

“I first played for SA back in 1998 and have now represented Australia in four test series and three world championships singles tournaments.

“It was by far the most extravagant venue I ever played croquet at. There are three golf courses at the club and they have played a Ladies PGS Golf tournament and Davis Cup tennis at Mission Hills previously.

“We celebrated after the tournament with a dinner and a couple of ‘reds’.

“I knew we had a pretty good team going into the tests, but it’s pretty special to collect the MacRobertson Shield.

“We are a very supportive, tight knit group.”

The Croquet Test series started in the early 1920s, with the 2017 tournament held from April 15 to May 8.

Initially the tests were between England and Australia.

New Zealand joined the test playing nations in the 1950 and the Americans arrived in the 1990s.

In each of the 15 playing days, Hockey, who played in the number two position, played a three-game match to gain a point for his team.

Matches could go from anything from three to four hours if the player completes a convincing win, but if the match goes to three games, the match could be as long as 12 hours.

Hockey, who described himself as a driven character, who is passionate about winning, was also a bronze medal at the world individual titles held in Adelaide back in 2012. While always able to play in the state titles, due to his national commitments, Hockey is a three-time men’s South Australian individual champion and also has a SA Open title in his trophy cabinet.

Hockey also said that playing the “Lords” of world croquet is the Hurlingham Club, in London, England, where he competed in the 2013 world individual titles, was another highlight in a three decade-plus career in his chosen sport.

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