As the holder of the hibiscus tea bags – aka the wooden spoon – for BCC’s innovative Hi Bisquers tournament in May, I headed to York in search of enlightenment. My target: the James Hawkins weekend, Twelve Hoops, One Turn on Saturday, Control, Tactics, Action… on Sunday. The venue: the Northern Academy (northerncroquetacademy.org) at York Croquet Club. Hawkins is the author of Complete Croquet (£16.99, available on Amazon), widely acknowledged as the most comprehensive contemporary guide.
His premise is blindingly obvious: winning an AC game requires 12 approaches accurate enough to make hoop running easy. In between, as many hits as it takes to make this happen.His weapons: shot making skills, strategy, psychology and bluff. ’I don’t care if I win or lose’, he said disarmingly. A blatant lie of course, but cool ruffles opponents tautly wired for victory. And ruffled equals prone to error.
The course is divided between classroom and supervised court time, the ratio defined by the weather. For me, there were several light bulb moments for plays at points on the course where I’ve often been stymied. My fellow students, seasoned by years of league matches, were less obviously excited, but several were repeaters which tells its own story. At the end of the first day, James made the headlined break of 12 hoops in one turn. All the shots looked effortless. What could possibly go wrong? I found out as soon I tried it after class, but I woke up the next morning with a plan for achieving it in my mind. Will this happen? I now dare to believe it will. MC