There are great clubs everywhere and some have been around for several decades. Preston and St. Jacobs come to mind if you are talking longevity. I heard the rumour more than once in the 90’s that if you wanted to join the St. Jacobs club, you had to put your name on the waiting list, fill in as a spare whenever called upon, and wait for someone to fall ill and/or pass on. They had a club with an extremely large group of faithful and loyal members. The Preston club has been playing officially since 1933 and seems to be still going strong. While both these clubs have had some of the best individual players over the years, there was no way to determine which club was the best. That was until in 1993 when the Joseph Schneider Haus (JSH) Museum in Kitchener Ontario hosted the first annual Crokinole Team event. The event placed 4 team or club members up against several other clubs in a round robin singles format. Since inception, 3 teams, including St. Jacobs, Cameron Heights Teachers and Varna, have dominated the event. Naturally, this is the first place to look to determine which club is the best of all time. The event was won by Cameron Heights or St. Jacobs for the first 14 out of 15 years. In that span Cameron Heights won 8 times and St. Jacobs won 6. No other team had anywhere near the depth that those two groups had. Varna, Preston, Mannheim and any other club that entered, were all fighting for 3rd place. So the group has been narrowed down to two clubs and the problem deciding between the two is that outside the JSH Event, up until 1999, there was only one other regular tournament happening that I am aware of. The annual St. Jacobs Tournament was being dominated by Joe Fulop, the Cameron Heights Teachers rarely attended, and since I do not have much detailed documentation on it, it is of little value determining which club is the best.
Before I go any further, there are two side notes to be aware of. Both St. Jacobs’s and Cameron Heights Teachers played doubles in their clubs pretty much all the time, and Cameron Heights played with a couple of different rules. More specifically, they had a differing free or open shot rule and had to hit the opposing disc directly with their shooter, among other slight variations. In my opinion, these rules put Cameron Heights at a disadvantage when it came to playing at events they were not hosting.
Fortunately in 1999, the World Crokinole Championship (WCC) begins. The event attracted attention from around the world, but obviously, highlighted local talent. Most of the best players show up and the results from the JSH and the WCC together will help determine possibly the best crokinole club ever.
From 2000-2005 the Cameron Heights Teachers won the JSH Event 5 of 6 years. At the WCC, from 2000-2006 in Doubles play, they amassed a total of 9 top 4 finishes by 6 different players including 4 consecutive wins from 2002-2005, by 3 separate pairings. This time frame also saw 3 top 4 finishes in the WCC Singles event, and 12 top 16 finishes by 7 unique players. To top it off, they even added a 20s title in 2004, when Jarmo Puiras dumped in a record 108 20’s which would stand for 7 years before being eclipsed in 2012.
Therefore, by examining any 5-6 year window since 1999, I subjectively conclude, by the JSH and WCC results, the fact that they played by different rules and still dominated (especially in doubles play), and had the club depth that they did, that the Cameron Heights Teachers of 2000-2006 is one of, if not the best Crokinole Club ever.
In case you are wondering, some of the names in this club included, Paul Hartman, Barry Kiggins, Julie Neeb, Mark Seupersaud, Jarmo Puiras, Elvis Husic, Tony Snyder, and some guy named Jon Conrad. I know there were more, but this was the main group.
WCC Doubles Titles (2000-2006) by Cameron Heights Teams
2002 - Julie Neeb & Barry Kiggins
2003 - Jon Conrad & Paul Hartman
2004 - Tony Snyder & Jarmo Purias
2005 - Jon Conrad & Paul Hartman
JSH Winning Teams (2000-2006)
2000 Cameron Heights
2001 Cameron Heights
2002 St. Jacobs
2003 Cameron Heights
2004 Cameron Heights
2005 Cameron Heights
2006 St. Jacobs
I would enjoy entertaining any feedback, differing opinions, thoughts or challenges.