Quoits In Ferntree Gully

by Catherine Turnbull

On 30th December (Boxing Day) 1885 Mr. Thomas Samuel Grimwood, the proprietor of the Ferntree Gully hotel and avid sportsman, held a handicap game of Quoits at his hotel. He provided gold and silver medals for first and second place and a number of locals (the competition was only open to local residents) entered the competition with great enthusiasm. Frederick J. Charman won the match, with Frederick Stevens, the sextant for the Ferntree Gully Cemetery, taking second prize. Messrs Moore and Minns shared third honours. Due to the evident support accorded to this event, Mr. T.S. Grimwood decided to form a quoit club within the local district. Interested local gentlemen held a meeting in March 1886 and the club was established - their first official competition to take place the following month. The following men were appointed office-bearers: - President, Mr. A. Smith; Vice-president and Treasurer, Mr. T.S. Grimwood; Secretary, Mr. Robert Minns; Handicappers: Messrs Hughes, Charman and Bambury.

The opening match of the Ferntree Gully Quoit Club took place on April 3rd, 1886 at the Ferntree Gully Hotel. First prize, donated by T.S. Grimwood, was a gold quoit. Keen interest was shown with 20 entering the competition. The game started at 1:30pm and it wasn't until dark that play stopped and it was decided that the three remaining men still in the competition, would finish the game the following Saturday. The match was followed by a sumptuous dinner. Mr. Grimwood occupied the chair, and Mr. Harold Pocock Hayward, J.P. was vice-chair. The following Saturday F.J. Charman concluded the match by defeating his opponents and was duly declared the winner.

April 24th 1886 saw a match between teams picked by the President, Mr. A. Smith and Vice-president, Mr. T.S. Grimwood. The losing captain to provide a dinner, and on Easter Monday (May 3rd) that year, a valuable pipe was to be competed for by members of the club. Mr. William Bambury won the pipe and Master E. Carey, the son of the local policeman B.L. Carey, took second place. Messrs Robert Hughes and Jacob Bambury came 3rd and 4th. There was a special prize of 1, donated by Mr. A. Smith, and won by George Bambury.

By now the Ferntree Gully Quoit Club was in full swing and a grand sports day to be held at Grimwood's Ferntree Gully Hotel was organised for the Queen's Birthday holiday. May 24th, 1886 was the date, and the programme of events was as follows:

Amusements and other Races will be made up during the day.

First race to start at half-past 10 a.m.

The Ladies' Hopping Race sounds rather interesting - the 16 yards of dress material would have tempted many of the young ladies of the district. The Quoit Match for members at a distance of 18 yards was won by Frederick J. Charman once again - obviously the undisputed champion of quoit throwing in Ferntree Gully. This win secured him his own set of quoits, donated by Mr. William Bambury.

On the 19th June 1886, the Ferntree Gully Quoit Club felt confident enough to travel with their quoits and paid Collingwood a visit. This was to be their first match against another club and they must have been feeling very confident in their abilities to choose the Collingwood Club as their adversary. The Collingwood club had 200 members and was ranked as the best in Melbourne - needless to say Ferntree Gully lost! The Collingwood team graciously offered to visit the Gully and put on an exhibition match.

Quoits were still being played in Ferntree Gully in June 1888 when a gold quoit, donated once again by Thomas S. Grimwood, was played for and won by Mr. T. Daley.

What is Quoits?

The Encyclopaedia Britannica of the 1880s explains that the game resembles the discus throwing of the ancient Greeks, however the quoit, unlike the discus is light-weight and is made "of a circular iron ring to be thrown or pitched in play at a fixed object". "This ring is flattened, having a thick inner edge and thin outer one." The outer edge has a slight indentation on it for the player to place their forefinger on without receiving a cut from the metal edge. The quoit can be any weight, however before a match the weights have to be specified, and the quoit must not exceed 8 inches in diameter. To play the game two "iron pins, called 'hobs' are driven into the ground at a certain distance apart". This distance is usually 19 yards, however the Ferntree Gully Club played at 18 yards. One or more players may participate in the game, each having two quoits, which are thrown one at a time. To throw the quoit "the player grasps the quoit with his forefinger along the outer edge and the tip in the dent, holding the two surfaces between the thumb and the other fingers. In pitching, a slight rotary motion is imparted by the wrist, in order that the quoit may pass smoothly and horizontally through the air, and alight flat." The object of play is to get the quoit to land over the top of the pin and rest there. This is termed a "ringer," and a score of 2 is recorded for that player. If a player has both his quoits nearer the pin than any of his opponents he scores 2 points; while if only one is nearer he is entitle to score only 1 point. "The game is popular in many country towns and villages of England and in the mining district of the Midlands and Lancashire." The rules were drawn up in 1869.

-Quotes taken from the Encyclopaedia Britannica 9th Edition, Vol p.189

Created by: Timothy Court
Last Modified: Wednesday, 22 March 2000
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