USA Match

Scotland v USA

In 1982, Scotland and South Africa were invited to Palm Beach, Florida to compete with United States for the USA Challenge Cup.  The Tournament featured matches under both International and USCA Rules, both singles and doubles, and South Africa beat USA 10-8, whilst Scotland and USA drew 7-7.  In 1985, as part of a grand tour of Britain, USA played a Test Match in Glasgow, winning 13-2.

Match scores:




United States


at Palm Beach




United States


at Glasgow


The following players have represented Scotland in this match:

Alasdair Adam

USA 85

Bob McLean

USA 82

Jack Norton

USA 85

Bill Spalding

USA 82 85

Geoff Strutt

USA 85

Rod Williams

USA 82 85

Ian Wright

USA 82

Stephen Wright

USA 82 85



USA v Scotland, March – April 1982, Palm Beach

The first but hopefully not the last International Challenge Match was played between Scotland and USCA at Palm Beach at the end of March and the beginning of April.  Scotland was represented by Stephen Wright, Bob Maclean, Bill Spalding and Rod Williams, with Ian Wright as non-playing captain.  However Ian was also asked to play as the Americans wanted as many matches as possible.  The South Africans were playing the USCA at the same time, but there was no play between Scotland and South Africa.

The Americans had organised a very tight tournament timetable, as they were playing their own Team (Doubles) National Championship at the same time, and included some demonstration matches too.  Jack Osborn, Ted Prentice and their helpers must have worked many hours organising all the play.  The International and National Championship events were played on alternate days.

American hospitality has to be experienced to be believed – Mrs Olsen lent us her very comfortable flat overlooking several hundred boats and yachts at Palm Beach West for the first two days.  We then moved into very comfortable flats at the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club, on whose excellent lawns the matches were all played.

The International Match was played half under US Rules and half under International Rules, with five singles and two doubles in each format.  None of us really mastered the American Rules, which are markedly different and require different tactics.  Bill Spalding and Rod Williams however each managed to win their games, Bill by one hoop after being 9-21 down, and Rod by 17 after both players fell foul of the complications in the Rules.  Ian Wright was defeated by tactics, finding his black ball ‘dead’ on all three other balls, while blue was ‘alive’ only on red – as the balls are played in strict sequence, the red ball was never within range and his opponent could creep round to the peg using only his own two balls, to win 26-16.  Bob Maclean showed no sign of mastering the American game either, frequently playing a ball out of sequence, or ‘roqueting’ a dead ball, to no avail, and he lost his game 11-26.  Stephen Wright also lost his game.  In the two doubles games, both Scottish pairs completely failed to master the American Rules and tactics, Rod and Bill losing 5-26 and Stephen and Bob 7-26.

In the International Rules section of the Match, on very wet, slow lawns, Bill managed to win (again) by one point while Rod was beaten by the conditions to lose 15-25.  Ian eked out a 13-12 win, but Bob lost a similar struggle 13-15, while Stephen won his game.  In the two doubles, the Americans suffered as much from lack of experience as the Scots had under the alternate regime, with Bill and Rod winning 26-7 after a near triple by Bill, while Bob and Stephen struggled a bit, coming out victorious on time with the score 23-11.

So the Match was drawn 7 games each – with either section going 5-2 to the experienced side.  The USCA are making a very strong effort to encourage croquet and we hope that out visit helped – we certainly enjoyed it.  Each player was presented with a commemorative plate and the team with a Challenge Cup.  We now propose to play an annual tournament to their Rules, using this cup as the trophy.

Again we must offer sincere thanks to USCA for looking after us so well, not only in organising the croquet, but the many parties and our entertainment in general.  They showed us too, how to go about a promotional project by bringing in national television and the press at a serious scale, even to film taken from a helicopter. 

Scotland v USA, Glasgow, 28 – 29 May, 1985

Croquet in Scotland got off to a promising start this year with a busy fixture list, the highlight of which was the visit from the USA team.  While the final score, 2-13, was not good from Scotland’s viewpoint, the visit was very successful, and friendships made in Florida in 1982 were strengthened.  In the hope that these exchanges will become regular, the SCA put up a trophy for this match in the form of a full-sized leather battle targe, and have called it the Johnny Walker Trans-Atlantic Croquet Trophy.  The American side has come a long way in the past three years.  They were generally outclassed in their matches south of the border, but they are aiming high, and who knows, there soon may be a fourth nation in the MacRobertson Shield contest.  The next edition of this was in England in 1986, which will be too soon, but they should be ready in 1990 or 1993.

Three years ago, in March 1982, Scotland was invited to send a team to Florida to play an international match against the United States, and this year we have been able to return the hospitality we enjoyed and entertain the US team when they came to Glasgow for a return match.  This match was part of a very busy tour of the UK by the visitors.  After playing against several clubs and the West Midlands Federation, they played an international match against Great Britain at Nottingham on 25 and 26 May – Keith Aiton, who plays for Scotland in the Home Internationals, contributed to their defeat.  They travelled up to Scotland on 27 May and we greeted them at the home of the Nortons, who provided a mouth-watering buffet supper.  We were glad to renew friendships from the Florida trip, make new friends, and to welcome the US team supporters, Libby Newall and Lee Olsen (who had lent our team her flat in Palm Beach in 1982).

The match in America had been played to a combination of International Rules and American Rules.  We had discovered that these are similar to those played in Britain in the early 1900s, and are very different from the modern rules. Croquet here has always been a competitive sport, and, as players have improved, the game and its rules have changed and developed.  In America, although it was always very popular, it has not until recently been much more than a ‘back yard’ game.  The United States Croquet Association is out to change all that, and has developed a set of standard rules that are now accepted throughout that country.  These are based on the six-hoop (six-wicket) layout on grass as used internationally, and are being modified as they gain more competitive experience.  The biggest differences are that (a) their game is played to a strict sequence, i.e. the balls are played in the same sequence as golf croquet, blue, red, black, yellow, (b) the player is allowed to roquet any ball only once between running hoops, and (c) the ‘yard’ line is only nine inches from the boundary and no roqueted ball is permitted to leave the court. 

We offered to return the compliment and play this match with half the games to their rules and half to ours, and we started the first day with three doubles played to our rules.  The Americans showed that all the international rules croquet they had been playing in England had given them a pretty good grasp of both rules and tactics, but they found the bowling greens at Glasgow Green East very heavy; the trouble was so did we.  All the games were very close and could have gone either way.  With Bill Spalding’s ball on rover, Stephen Wright was set to go out but just failed to get a good approach to penult, and young John Osborn’s ball was near corner one.  This gave Jim Bast an easy lift shot with the other balls lying at the right hoops, so the Americans won that game +5.  Alasdair Adam and Jack Norton beat the husband and wife team of Ted and Debbie Prentis by +3.  The third game was a dour struggle, and at the 3½-hour time limit, USA captain Jack Osborn and Ray Bell were nine points ahead of Rod Williams and Geoff Strutt.

The afternoon session was also doubles, this time to American rules, and our unfamiliarity with these showed in our tactical errors, but once more some of the games were very close.  Bill Spalding and Rod Williams went down to Jim Bast and Ray Bell by two points, while the game between Alasdair and Jack against Ted and Debbie was once again settled by three points, this time in favour of the visitors.  In the third game, Jack Osborn quickly reached 4-back, but son John, and Scots Stephen Wright and Geoff Strutt all found it difficult to make progress.  Just at the end John got a break together and the Osborns went out with a comfortable +19 win.

Having lost the first day 5-1, we were beginning to wonder whether we had been wise to offer to play to American Rules, but all these thoughts were put aside as we rushed off to the City Chambers for a Civic Reception from the Lord Provost and a most interesting tour of the building.  This was followed by a very enjoyable evening at Bill Spalding’s house in Newton Mearns; Jack Osborn had brought a film made during the 1982 visit to Florida, and showed this after the excellent supper provided by Bill’s wife.

On Wednesday it was all singles, with International Rules in the morning and American Rules in the afternoon.  Our tactics of entertaining them as much as possible and giving them no chance to get any rest were not paying off, as they were getting the measure of the courts, finishing the morning with four fairly comfortable wins.  In the afternoon the picture was much the same, although Bill lost by only five to John Osborn, and Ray Bell was only five ahead of Rod Williams when time was called.

The one saving grace on the Wednesday was the match between the Number 1 player on each side – this was a best-of-three International Rules match lasting all day.  The first game lasted most of the morning, resulting in a +14 win for Stephen Wright.  The second was a very closely fought game in which Jim Bast pegged out Stephen’s forward ball when the other one was for 4-back.  With some long hitting in, Stephen managed to score the remaining hoops, but did not have a chance to shoot at the peg before Jim got back in to finish off.

A feature of the match had been the way that both players had been hitting long shots, and the third game was no exception.  Again Jim Bast pegged out Stephen’s blue ball, this time when the black was for 2-back.  Although our rules are played a lot in Jim’s native Arizona, he made a tactical error at this point; his other ball was for rover, so he should have pegged out his own ball along with Stephen’s.  He chose to leave Stephen’s ball on the north boundary while leaving himself a rush to rover on the south boundary.  This gave Stephen a target of 1½ balls from 33 yards, and he hit.  He got a three ball break going, but dangerously had to approach rover using Jim’s ball; the approach was not quite straight, and spectators were holding their breath as black had stuck in that hoop twice in the previous game.  But he went through cleanly, roqueted red, and pegged out, to give Scotland its only win of the second day.

With the match over, the American visit ended with Dinner at Strathclyde University’s Ross Priory, delightfully set on the shores of Loch Lomond.  While the croquet was not quite the success we had hoped for, the visit certainly was, and this was entirely the result of all the hard work put in by the Glasgow Croquet Club.  All arrangements for the visit had been left in their hands, and they also dealt with the press and television men who turned out in force – at one time the spectator was outnumbered nearly ten to one by reporters and photographers!  The feeding of the teams was masterminded by Corla van Griethuysen, who was so ably helped by some of the other lady members.



1982:     American Rules:
Rod Williams & Bill Spalding lost 5-26
Stephen Wright & Bob Maclean lost 7-26
Bill Spalding won 26-25
Rod Williams won 26-9
Stephen Wright lost
Ian Wright lost 16-26
Bob Maclean lost 11-26
International Rules:
Rod Williams & Bill Spalding won 26-7
Stephen Wright & Bob Maclean won 23-11
Bill Spalding won 26-25
Rod Williams lost 15-25
Stephen Wright won
Ian Wright won 23-12
Bob Maclean lost 13-15

1985:     Doubles:
International Rules:
Stephen Wright & Bill Spalding lost to Jim Bast and Johnny Osborn -5
Rod Williams & Geoff Strutt lost to Ray Bell & Jack Osborn -9T
Jack Norton & Alasdair Adam beat Ted Prentis & Debbie Prentis  +3
American Rules:
Rod Williams & Bill Spalding lost to Jim Bast & Ray Bell -2T
Stephen Wright & Geoff Strutt lost to Jack Osborn & Johnny Osborn -19
Jack Norton & Alasdair Adam lost to Ted Prentis & Debbie Prentis -3
International Rules:
Stephen Wright beat Jim Bast +14, -1, +3
Bill Spalding lost to Ray Bell -10
Rod Williams lost to Johnny Osborn -17
Geoff Strutt lost to Ted Prentis -9
Alasdair Adam lost to Jack Osborn -11
American Rules:
Bill Spalding lost to Johnny Osborn -5
Rod Williams lost to Ray Bell -5T
Geoff Strutt lost to Ted Prentis -20
Alasdair Adam lost to Jack Osborn -18



International All-Stars

Scots participating:


John Surgenor, Rod Williams


David Appleton, Martin Murray, Rod Williams


These teams were formed from several countries to play the USCA.  No reports have been found.



International names first

1988:     No records have been found

1990:     Singles:
John Young lost to Peyton Ballenger
Martin Murray beat Johnny Osborn
David Appleton beat Tremaine Arkley
Rod Williams beat Lennie Karbo
Dick Pearman lost to Peyton Ballenger
John Young lost to Archie Burchfield
Terrence Read beat Johnny Osborn
Phil Cordingley beat Bob Kroeger
Mark Saurin beat Damon Bidencope
Martin Murray beat Ren Kraft
Rod Williams lost to Tremaine Arkley
Terrence Read lost to Ren Kraft
Dick Pearman lost to Archie Burchfield
David Appleton lost to Lennie Karbo
Phil Cordingley beat Damon Bidencope
Mark Saurin lost to Bob Kroeger