Bryan Dawson

World Croquet Federation

Hall of Fame

Bryan Dawson

Born: 1946

Inducted: 2019

Bryan Dawson is a resident of Adelaide, South Australia and played Association Croquet competitively from 1988 to 2013. He made regular appearances in the Australian Men’s and Open Championships from the start of his career to the early 2000s and was a stalwart of the South Australian Interstate Team from 1991 to 2011. In 1999, he travelled to the USA to play in the Sonoma-Cutrer and Resort at the Mountain events and, in 2000, represented Australia in the MacRobertson Shield in New Zealand as well as making a second appearance at Sonoma-Cutrer.

However, Bryan made his major contribution to the game of croquet as the maker of the eponymous Dawson Ball, the premier competition croquet ball for over 25 years from 1992. At his Adelaide workshop, he undertook years of painstaking research into the precise mix of plastics and colours required for the cold moulding process that would produce a croquet ball that met the specifications reliably by being perfectly round, robust enough to withstand years of vigorous use and almost totally resilient to temperature changes.

The manufacture of croquet balls had evolved from the use of boxwood at the dawn of the game in the 19th Century to various forms of composition balls in the 20th Century, culminating in the widespread use of the famous “Eclipse” ball manufactured by John Jaques. Unfortunately, the plastic cover of a compressed cork inner became a source of weakness and, from 1980 onwards, a cottage industry of croquet ball manufacturers began to emerge. Names such as Barlow, Walker, Willhoite came and went and, even today, Sunshiny balls are still regularly used. But, without any doubt whatsoever, the ball that steadily took centre stage in almost every croquet-playing country in the world as the 1990s wore on was the Dawson Ball.

The only exception was in Egypt which had been self-sufficient in ball-making for decades. As a Golf Croquet nation, the Egyptians preferred very hard balls and used wooden mallets which were had faces capable of handling the sharp impact of ball on mallet face. However, with the growth of interest in international Golf Croquet came the realisation that Egyptian balls did not suit the new generation of carbon-fibre mallets with brass inserts. The sharpness of the impact of ball on face tended to break the adhesion of the insert to the head. The Egyptian Croquet Federation recognised that it made sense to use Dawson Balls in their own international events not only to suit foreign visitors but also to prepare their own players for using Dawson Balls in world championships. The Dawson Ball can now claim to be genuinely ubiquitous in croquet terms!

As a youngster, Bryan did not excel academically but had a strong mechanical and inventive streak. He joined his father in his cabinet and joinery business and learned the importance of being a perfectionist. Bryan began making croquet mallets even before taking up the game and was then encouraged to turn his attention to making a reliable croquet ball. He adopted the cold moulding process and embarked on continual research over many years on the effect of different components on the colour, resilience and temperature stability of the moulded ball. The Dawson 2000 ball was his final development based on the most accurate metal master ball that he had ever made.

Bryan decided to retire in 2017 and sold the business to Paul Mainwaring, a fellow-South Australian, who has continued Bryan’s work and supplies Dawson Balls all over the world. The contribution of Bryan’s wife, June, should not be overlooked. She played a very important role in supporting Bryan in the running of his business and was particularly responsible for dealing with customers and ensuring the efficient transportation of thousands of sets of Dawson Balls all over the world.

Bryan’s unique contribution to modern croquet will be remembered and appreciated by croquet players for as long as the Dawson Ball continues to be used.

WCF Hall of Fame Members

The following individuals have been inducted into the World Croquet Federation in recognition of their special contributions to the games of Croquet as players, administrators or contributors in other ways.

2006

Tom Armstrong (Australia)

Ashley Heenan (New Zealand)

MacPherson Robertson (Australia)

Arthur Ross (New Zealand)

John Solomon (England)

2007

Nigel Aspinall (England)

Andrew Hope (Scotland)

John Jaques II (England)

Jack Osborn (USA)

John Prince (New Zealand)

2008

Jean Armstrong (Australia)

Humphrey Hicks (England)

Bob Jackson (New Zealand)

Archie Peck (USA)

Keith Wylie (England)

2009

Patrick Cotter (England)

Tom Howat (Australia)

David Prichard (England)

2010

Chris Clarke (England/New Zealand)

Tony Hall OBE (Australia)

Bernard Neal (England)

Neil Spooner (Australia)

Jerry Stark (USA)

2011

Reg Bamford (South Africa)

Robert Fulford (England)

Tom McDonnell (USA)

Dorothy Steel(England)

Chris Williams (Wales)

2012

Garth Eliassen (USA)

George Latham (Australia)

Stephen Mulliner (England)

Ian Wright (Scotland)

2013

Brice Jones (USA)

Charles Jones (New Zealand)

Walter Peel (England)

Graeme Roberts (New Zealand)

Walter Jones Whitmore (England)

2014

Creina Dawson (Australia)

David Maugham (England)

Rhys Thomas (USA)

2020

Bryan Dawson (Australia)

 

 

 

 

Archie Peck

World Croquet Federation

Hall of Fame

Archie Peck

Born: 1935

Died: 2012

Inducted: 2008

John Archibald McNeil (“Archie”) Peck was an all-round American sportsman who took up croquet in the 1960s and remained devoted to the game for the rest of his life.  Blessed with film-star good looks and a relaxed and affable personality, he became the “glamour boy” of the United States Croquet Association as its founder, Jack Osborn, successfully attracted the East Coast jet set to the charms of the game.  Archie was a natural athlete who played croquet with style, grace and skill and did much to put croquet on the map in America in the 1970s and 1980s.

Archie, who also played tennis and golf among other sports, was the USCA’s leading player for several years.  He won the USCA National Singles Championships in 1977, 1979, 1980 and 1982 and the National Doubles Championships in 1977 and 1979.  He was also the Southern Regional singles champion in 1982, 1983 and 1984, the year he was inducted into the USCA Hall of Fame.

He also played International Rules, as Association Croquet is known in the USA.  Archie enjoyed an international success by winning the Silver Jubilee Cup at the Hurlingham Club open tournament in London in August 1996 and showed that, even at the age of 72, he had not lost his touch by winning the USCA International Rules doubles championship with Steward Jackson in 2007.

After a successful career in West Palm Beach real estate, Archie decided to devote what most people would regard as their retirement years to ensuring that the newly-built 12 lawn National Croquet Center in Florida Mango Drive in West Palm Beach would be a success.  He was appointed Director of Croquet in 2001 at the age of 66 and thereafter gave what seemed to be 100 per cent of his time, talent and energy to ensure the success of the Center and promote the enjoyment of croquet.

He was usually to be found at the Center day and night either working on the lawns or being available to teach, help and encourage other players and newcomers.  He had a gift for understanding how to inspire players and correct their weaknesses with great encouragement.  He made the game fun and always encouraged good sportsmanship.

[Updated August 2017]

Keith Wylie

World Croquet Federation

Hall of Fame

Keith Wylie

Born: 1945

Died: 1999

Inducted: 2008

Keith Francis Wylie grew up in Cambridge, the eldest son of an academic family, and was educated at Winchester and at King's College, Cambridge, where he read mathematics.  It was at Cambridge in the mid-1960s that he began playing croquet, one of a long series of players who took up the game while undergraduates, encouraged by Mrs. Heley, who entertained the university club on her private lawn.  Many of the Cambridge players in the annual Varsity matches against Oxford, a fixture revived in 1961, eventually achieved the highest honours in the game, but Wylie stood out as the most brilliant of them all.

Within five years he had won the three major titles in British croquet, the President's Cup in 1967, the Men's Championship in 1968 and the Open Championship in 1970 where he beat Nigel Aspinall in the final.  Defending the last of these titles in 1971, again facing the formidable Aspinall, he completed a sextuple peel in the second game of the final to complete his victory.  This manoeuvre had never before been achieved in such an important game and it established Wylie as one of the game's greats.  But, by turning down the possibility of selection for the Great Britain MacRobertson Shield team which went to Australia in 1969, he had already demonstrated his reluctance to take croquet too seriously – or, as some would say, seriously enough.

After leaving Cambridge as an undergraduate, he decided to become a barrister and returned to Cambridge in 1975-6 to read Law.  He represented the University in a match against Colchester and was responsible for inspiring Stephen Mulliner to take up croquet seriously.  Keith completed his studies for the Bar in London and joined a set of chambers in Southampton where he spent the rest of his career.  While establishing himself as a barrister he played little during the 1970s but, in 1974, he did play in two Test matches in England and then, in 1977, he again won the President's Cup.  In 1982 he felt able to join the British MacRobertson Shield team which was due to tour Australia.  This was to be his final appearance as a top-ranked player and, in the third Test Match against Australia, he produced another performance to rank with his 1971 triumph.

Australia and Great Britain entered the third and final round of Test Matches with two wins apiece against a New Zealand team weakened by the absence of Bob Jackson and with one victory and one loss to each other.  The destiny of the Shield would be therefore decided by the result of their final Test.  Having led 4-2 after two days, British prospects turned gloomy when they lost the first two matches on the final day and Keith, who had lost to the formidable Neil Spooner by comfortable margins in their first two encounters, also lost the first game of what soon became the deciding match. However, despite having by now lost five consecutive games to Spooner, Keith lifted his perfomance on a most challenging court and took the next two games to win the match and so achieve victory in the Test and in the Series.

Most of his best performances owed much to his coolness under pressure, which in turn appeared to result from his apparent reluctance to take winning, or the game itself, too earnestly. While others could be overwhelmed by the importance of winning or the occasion, he claimed to be more interested in the intellectual challenge that the game's tactics provide. While this attitude may sometimes have lost him games he might have won, it may also have provided the detachment and calmness needed to prevail on the really big occasions.

What is certain is that at his best he was one of the greatest exponents of the game ever seen, and that the ideas so lucidly and entertainingly expressed in his book "Expert Croquet Tactics" (1985) will remain the basis of intelligent thought and discussion of Association Croquet for years to come.

Wylie died in 1999 aged 54.  With his death, croquet lost its then most innovative thinker and the player who did most to confirm it as a game of intelligence and tactics in the latter half of the 20th century.  Keith Wylie truly played "chess on grass".

Bob Jackson

World Croquet Federation

Hall of Fame

Bob Jackson

Born: 1932

Inducted: 2008

Bob Jackson took up croquet in his late thirties after a career representing New Zealand at international table tennis.  He brought a professional attitude to practice that was almost unknown in croquet in the late 1960s and helped him to rise rapidly to the top of the sport.  He became particularly famous for his accurate shooting which was based on a remorseless practice routine.

Bob regarded a 10 yard roquet as a near-certainty at a time when almost every other player regarded it as a long shot.  This ability allowed him to adopt a tactical approach that was as intimidating to his opponents as it was effective.  Woe betide the player who laid up in a corner less than 14 yards from one of Bob’s balls – the roquet would be taken without hesitation and usually hit and a break extracted.  Bob’s method of picking up breaks was both novel and apparently adventurous.  If faced with an angled two yard hoop 1 off an enemy ball, most players of the time would retire to join partner.  Bob would bang the ball through the hoop up to the north boundary, turn round and hit the hoop 2 pioneer to the south boundary and then split that ball to hoop 3 while getting a lengthy rush on the erstwhile hoop 1 pioneer.  He would hit that somewhere in the direction of hoop 2, approach with his trademark crouch roll stroke and leave himself another two yard hoop.  This would also be banged through at high speed but, with the boundary only seven yards away, he had a break once again.

Bob made full use of his single-ball accuracy to help with the completion of peeling turns.  Most players would play split peels to ensure that they could obtain a short rush on the escape ball.  This kept the break going but the pull created by the split shot was liable to jaws the peel or worse and so endanger the completion of the triple.  The Jackson approach used a straight stop-shot to take pull out of the equation and he simply hit whatever roquet was needed afterwards.  This approach was so successful in his hands that he was soon an acknowledged expert at sextuple peels and became the first player to achieve an octuple peel.  He actually completed two consecutive octuples and almost completed a third on the same day.

Bob Jackson won 14 New Zealand Open Championships between 1975 and 2003 and was the runner-up on many other occasions in that period.  He also won 12 New Zealand Men’s Championships between 1977 and 2005 and 11 Senior Invitation Events between 1972 and 2004.  He also won ten New Zealand Open Doubles Championships (nine with Joe Hogan) between 1973 and 1990.

Bob represented New Zealand in the MacRobertson Shield on six occasions (1974, 1979, 1986, 1990, 1993 and 2000).  He was regarded as the best player in the world by many in the period from 1979 to 1986 but what stands out is the longevity of his career at the top of both Association Croquet and Golf Croquet.

He made his last appearance in the 2008 Association Croquet World Championship at the age of 76.  He came second in his block and produced an extraordinary one-ball finish to defeat Jonathan Kirby, a 28-year-old Great Britain MacRobertson Shield player, in the first round of the knock-out stage.  It was an amazing display of skill for someone in his eighth decade.

Two years earlier, Bob had reached the quarter-final of the 2006 Golf Croquet World Championship and, at the 2015 Golf Croquet World Championship, when aged 83, lost a play-off game 7-6 and so just failed to qualify for the knock-out stage.  He is the first player to demonstrate that it is possible to play genuinely top-class Association and Golf Croquet when well over 65.

Bob was also known as an equipment maker for both table tennis and croquet for many years.  In the late 1970s, he began making mallets which had an excellent reputation for robustness and good value and they soon began making their appearance in England and Australia.  He was one of the pioneers of what has since become a worldwide cottage industry.