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Saturday, January 23, 2021

GALLERY: Tom Cleary’s at the top of his game

Take a tip from nonagenarian Tom Cleary: you’re never too old to try anything new.

The 94-year-old Toronto Croquet Club member is, arguably, one of the eldest “active” players in the state – and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

In fact, he credits the sport for not only revitalising himself but helping him through an extremely tough period.

“My wife [Iris] died eight years ago; we’d been married 65,” Cleary said.

“So, I was totally devastated when she passed away.

“To be honest, I couldn’t stop crying for two years – I’d break down at the shops or at home.

“It was a terrible situation.

“Then, one day, a lady said to me: ‘why don’t you give croquet a go?’

“And, here I am; I’m now a regular.”

The former Wangi Power Station employee, who spent four decades in the energy industry, admitted it was the best decision he had made in a long time.

“When I got down here [at the Toronto club], the first person I saw was Kevin Davies, who I knew,” Cleary said.

“That relaxed me straight away.

“The people [here] are great; they’ve been utterly fantastic.

“I received all the assistance in the world when I started, which was a blessing.

“They’re excellent to be around – and I love the camaraderie.

“We’re all there for each other.”

As for croquet itself, Cleary admitted he was a “massive fan”.

“It’s a very serious game, even though it’s played in a friendly, relaxing environment,” he said.

“There is a lot of thinking – it’s very strategic.

“So, I love the challenge.

“Plus, croquet makes me happy.

“I’m down here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning.

“And, I’d play on a weekend if it was on, too.

“It’s certainly given me a new lease on life.”

If you’re keen to pick up a mallet, contact a club near you: