Two Dubbo sporting clubs are building a new future together after facing challenges to their survival.
Dubbo City Croquet Club and Muller Park Tennis Club each encountered testing times but cooperation offered up a lifeline.
Both sports will soon be a familiar sight at the Muller Park complex.
It’s a big move for the players of croquet, with mallets being swung on lawns at the Dubbo City Bowling Club since 1921.
But the croquet club’s use of those courts became uncertain this year when the bowling club and the Dubbo RSL Memorial Club began to move towards amalgamation.
With no permanent provision for the croquet club in the future, its executive began an exhaustive search “everywhere in Dubbo” for a new home.
Talks with the tennis club led to a popular plan.
Croquet players became members of the tennis club, and croquet club president Jenny Brown stepped into the role of president of the tennis club.
Outgoing tennis club president and life member Ken Bailey became vice president.
Mrs Brown told of her relief at finding “a new beginning” for the croquet players.
“... after 97 years, it’s a blow and all our members are really sad this has happened,” she said.
“But I think we’ve got to look positively towards the future and we’ll adjust ourselves.”
Mr Bailey welcomed the outcome for the tennis club, which he reported had been “struggling” with membership numbers before the talks with the croquet club.
“We were approached and after much discussion we thought it was a great idea,” Mr Bailey said.
“One of the main benefits of the community is, as a long-time member there and fair stint as the president, the facility was definitely being underused, underutilised.”
He said with its new members playing croquet, it would probably multiply the usage of the courts “by up to 400 per cent”.
“I can only see good coming out of this,” Mr Bailey said.
“It probably, I don’t know if it’s 100 per cent sure, but it’s probably saved our club, so it’s given us a future playing tennis there.”
Mrs Brown said the croquet club, whose members also held membership of the bowling club, was told in September it had to go within six months.
In response, RSL club general manager Gus Lico said the process of an amalgamation was “time-consuming and onerous for both boards and management”.
The initial discussion took place early in the year, with both boards agreeing to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and displayed for members approval of both clubs, he said.
“The MOU is very clear and governs the process of amalgamation and the end result. It was made clear from the outset that the croquet club was not part of the amalgamation moving forward and no they were not given six months’ notice to leave,” he said.
“We were prepared to give suitable time (should the amalgamation proceed) to ensure a suitable home was sought.
“I believe that they have found a new home and have utilised this on several occasions already.”
Bowling club members had voted overwhelmingly in favour of the amalgamation, with 145 votes for and “only two by memory that voted against”, he said.