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Professor John Larmouth
1941 – 2012
Club member 1996 - 2012
Not your average bloke.
John moved to Bowdon in 1984 when he was headhunted by the University of Salford from the University of Cambridge, to establish a new department of Computing. I met him both as a neighbour in Bowdon and colleague at Salford. On his retirement, Salford University awarded him the title of Professor for life. His approach to croquet owed much to his possession of a superb scientific brain. He always loved the challenge set by croquet in working with spatial patterns and planning several shots ahead. Peeling his partner ball, or peeling and pegging-out an opponent’s ball, was a favourite tactic of John’s. He tried to justify it by logic, but I reckon he simply enjoyed it. It sometimes seemed that no sacrifice in bisques was too high to achieve it. He qualified as a referee, which was unusual given that his handicap was generally around 16, but that indicated his scientific attitude to the game – you must know the rules first. John was quirky and unusual in his outlook and took some getting to know, but it was worthwhile. He had a very generous nature and was an extremely loyal friend.
successes came in the years 2005 – 8. He achieved singles success
by winning the club D-class and Short competitions in 2005 and the
Northern Week C-class in 2006. His doubles victories came with Ian
Lines in the Northern Week Handicap Doubles in 2006 and 2008, and
in the club Handicap Doubles in 2006 with Paul Widger [also a
neighbour]. This latter victory showed John’s willingness and
enthusiasm to help novices develop their game – and give him some
extra bisques of course! That some of those novices would
eventually attain lower handicaps than John gave him particular
His own short lawn at home [meticulously laid out, naturally] was a venue at which he arranged matches and introduced several friends to the game, including me. He encouraged me to join the beginners’ course and the club in 2006. I was fortunate that he nurtured me as ‘his novice’ by being available for short games on a regular basis to help me learn. In 2010 he somehow achieved what I could not, when he persuaded Kay Martin, Eila Higham and my wife Sue to become members. Kay was his last doubles partner in this season’s competition. He was a passionate promoter of the game to anyone who he felt might benefit from playing – i.e. anyone he met who did not already do so. As the picture above shows, when his daughter Sarah-Jayne married last year the venue had a croquet lawn, so John took his mallet and insisted on running a few hoops thus demonstrating his Solomon grip and ‘stabbing’ action to bride and groom.
John was a dependable and active member of our St Mary’s team until his health prevented him from playing more than one match in a day. In hospital, during the last few weeks, he still took an interest in the results of matches. His final visit to the club in July was a brave attempt to play in the Northern Week, but that proved to be beyond even John’s determination and love of the game.
I will miss him.