The Macquarie City (Pelican) Croquet Club will soon be the envy of others in the Hunter Valley.
Following a tough 12-month period, due to safety hazards as well as the coronavirus pandemic, the members were recently buoyed by the news that Lake Macquarie City Council would invest $280,000 to provide four full-size state-of-the-art courts and landscaping at the Lakeview Parade premises.
The announcement also comes as the organisation gears up to celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2021.
“The members are beyond excited,” Pelican vice-president Pat Foster said.
“Construction started a fortnight ago and should be completed in about six-to-eight weeks’ time, pending on the weather.
“So, we’re hoping to play on the courts by mid-May.
“But, in saying that, it’s been a six-year process.
“Originally, we were going to be placed at Parbury Park (Swansea).
“However, that didn’t work out.
“We then approached the Belswans Junior Football Club – and they were happy to help us, with vacant land nearby.
“We’re all delighted it’s finally coming to fruition.
“To have four new courts – two dedicated to croquet and two for co-use, all irrigated – is certainly terrific.
“Plus, Aitchison Reserve’s a venue we’re more comfortable with.”
Unfortunately, due to asbestos concerns, the members also had to relocate from their “home” for health reasons.
As publicity officer Robert Creswick described it: “The substandard lawns boasted a great deal of ‘character’ (weeds, paspalum, duck droppings)”.
The Pelican club has now suspended play until the new complex is completed.
“Our next goal is a clubhouse,” Ms Foster said.
“And, we’re in the process of applying for a grant to achieve that objective.
“In the meantime, we’d like to thank Lake Macquarie City Council who provided all the funding; Belswans, without whose assistance none of this would be possible; and Swansea state MP Yasmin Catley for our new equipment.
“Let’s not forget the Pelican RSL Club either; they’ve welcomed us with open arms, too.”
Ms Foster admitted the organisation was looking forward to greeting its members back to the fold, as well as many newcomers.
“The good thing about croquet is you can play it at any age,” she said.
“We also cater for all demographics and fitness levels.
“It’s sunshine, exercise, brain food and social activities all wrapped up in one package.
“Someone once said ‘it’s like snooker on grass’.
“But, it is a sport that challenges everyone, no matter if you’re young or young-at-heart.
“One of our oldest members is 91.
“It’s a healthy outdoor activity with an active social group where you can make new friends… and beat them,” she added with a laugh.