World Croquet Federation
Hall of Fame
Arthur George Francis Ross was born in Christchurch New Zealand and was the third son of Edward James and Ginny Ross (nee Cox). His father was the founding Secretary of the United Tennis, Bowls and Croquet Club in Christchurch and was a driving force in the formation of the New Zealand Croquet Council in 1920.
Arthur subsequently attended Christ's College in Christchurch and took up croquet in his teens. In 1915, he won his major title, the New Zealand Doubles Championship with H.A. Penn, and was also runner-up to Keith Izard in the New Zealand Singles Championship.
He fought in World War 1 where, in the latter stages, he was gassed at Ypres. His two brothers were both killed in action.
During his many months of convalescence at Hanmer Springs, he refined his game and evolved his distinctive and memorable style before resuming play in the 1920 New Zealand Championships where he again won the Doubles Championship with Penn.
Following recuperation, he became a poultry farmer and later a schoolteacher in North Canterbury, New Zealand, a position which also required him to drive the school bus over hazardous back country roads. He retired in 1951.
His croquet success continued and he won the New Zealand Singles Championship 11 times, was runner-up a further eight times, won the New Zealand Men Championship six times and the British Open Championship in 1954.
In 1930, he made his debut in the MacRobertson Shield, eventually representing New Zealand no less than six times and captained the first New Zealand team to win the Shield in 1950.
At various times, he held every office on the New Zealand Croquet Council (President 1928-1930, Secretary 1932-1935, Vice-President and Referee 1935-1952) and started the New Zealand Croquet Council Gazette as editor, at his own expense. He wrote "Croquet and How to Play it" which ran to no less than five editions and, due to his acknowledged international authority on the Laws of the Game, the "Powers and Duties of an Umpire" in 1946.
He was actively involved in coaching around the country, often finding himself battling to hold breaks together while demonstrating on some odd proportioned lawns at out of the way clubs, playing with a pipe in his mouth that he would sometimes throw to the boundary as his break became more involved.
In 1952, he was officially recognised as a leading luminary in the sport with the award of a Life Membership of the New Zealand Croquet Council.
He was married twice, namely to Violet Ross (nee Minchen), who died in 1974, and to Lena Ross (nee Ashworth) who also died in 1974. He had three sons, Hugh (b.1925, d.1992), Terence (b.1927), Peter (b.1940) and his only daughter Jean (b.1930) was at one time married to Ashley Heenan.
Arthur was a wonderfully kind hearted man. When asked late in life about his croquet record, he only reluctantly gave the details but said that his grandchildren were his best record.
Sometimes known as “The father of the triple peel”, Arthur Ross died at Motueka, New Zealand in 1975.
In 1979, the Ross family and his son-in-law, Ashley Heenan presented to the New Zealand Croquet Council the Arthur Ross Memorial Trophy for the New Zealand National Handicap Event to encourage croquet at grass roots level, something in which Ross believed passionately.