Page last updated at 15:36 GMT, Wednesday, 13 August 2008 16:36 UK

Prescott honoured by croquet club

John Prescott playing croquet
John Prescott was revealed as an unlikely croquet fan

John Prescott has been awarded a mallet by the British Croquet Association for boosting interest in the game.

The former deputy prime minister was ridiculed by the press when he was pictured playing croquet with staff at former country residence Dorneywood.

But he claims to have had the last laugh after being presented with a new mallet at a ceremony in Yorkshire.

"Apparently sales have gone up 40%," said Mr Prescott at the Edinburgh international book festival.

A spokeswoman for the British Croquet Association said interest in the game rocketed after pictures of Mr Prescott wielding a mallet were splashed across the newspapers two years ago.

"Croquet gained a lot of publicity thanks to Mr Prescott. There was a big increase in the number of inquiries to our online shop. Our membership also increased."

Mr Prescott's working class image may even have helped broaden the appeal of the game, which is traditionally associated with the upper classes.

"We are a pretty egalitarian bunch," the spokeswoman added.

She said the Hull East MP had been presented with a mallet at croquet club in Beverley, Yorkshire, in a private ceremony.

At the same book event in Edinburgh, Mr Prescott also revealed he now owned two Jaguar cars, living up to his "two Jags" nickname, according to the London Evening Standard.

"My wife didn't like stooping down low to get into the XJS so we bought another Jaguar, a second-hand Sovereign, for 4,000," said Mr Prescott.

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