Paille-maille (or pall-mall) is a game derived from the Latin words to describe the combination of ‘ball and mallet’. Paraphrased from The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England in 1810, the game involves using a mallet to strike a wooden ball through a high arch of iron. During this era the game had two arches set apart at a distance normally within an alley. The objective was to reach the arch in the fewest number of strikes or on an agreed upon number. The first origin theory is that the game was introduced from France to Britain and was particularly popular with king Charles II. The second origin theory is that Ireland should be credited with bringing the game to England in the mid 1800s. In 1834 it was recorded that a game called ‘crookey’ was played at Castlebellingham in County Louth, although there was no reference to the distinctive croquet stroke. During the late 1800s the game had flourished in England and especially to other nations like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and United States. There was, however, another sport gaining popularity.
Lawn tennis had quickly become fashionable and many croquet clubs converted their lawns into tennis courts. This included the All England Club at Wimbledon. There was a brief resurgence of popularity in the late 1890s, but the game, compared to tennis, has always been a minority sport. Today there are variations based on the scoring system, layout, and order of shots. Gateball is a game very similar to croquet and played mainly in Japan. Other variations include golf croquet, garden croquet, nine-wicket croquet, American six-wicket, ricochet, association croquet, extreme croquet, short croquet and one-ball croquet. The sport is managed by the World Croquet Federation based in England. WCF organises World Championships in Association Croquet and Golf Croquet. The sport has been developing steadily with the federation managing 30 members across 5 continents. This is especially true among younger age groups as WCF aim to grow the membership worldwide and introduce competitions for several age levels. Croquet is played by both men and women.