Croquet at Imperial: 1972

Friday, July 1st, 2016

Topic 1971I recently discovered this 8mm colour film shot for inclusion in the student news programme TOPIC. No programmes from that period remain and the one photo we have, on the right, shows me during a recording of that programme in 1971. This is, as far as I know, the only record of Croquet being played at Imperial. I’m not sure in which month of 1972 this was shot, but it’s either early summer or autumn. What I do know is that it’s the late Professor Bernard Neal (former head of dept civil engineering) playing. According to the Imperial obituary “…He was also an accomplished sportsman captaining Cambridge at tennis and excelling at croquet, playing for Great Britain and winning the All England Club’s men’s singles title 38 times.”

In June 2011 the BBC had a web page all about his croquet abilities saying “…He has won more Wimbledon singles titles than Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe combined, and yet you have probably never heard of him. That is because 89-year-old Professor Bernard Neal from Cheltenham is not a tennis player but a croquet player…”

Colin Grimshaw July 2016

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