Tournament has an interesting definition in the dictionary!
“A sporting contest popular in the Middle Ages in which knights took part in jousting or combat, generally with blunted weapons or mallets” it isn’t quite a battle but we are very passionate about polo!
Tournament morning – the ominous clouds set the seen for the looming day ahead, as I said goodbye to the wife and kids as if I didn’t know if I would ever see them again I did feel like I was setting of for some kind of battle so I loaded the commuter bike with the trailer full of beer, chocolate an array of tools and spare stuff for the bike three or four mallets and my folding polo bike yes a folding polo bike! well I like it anyway! And off I went!
Our team had already gotten off to a bad start when Ray (team Top Centre) who was sensing defeat took out Scott the week before during a pick up match breaking his foot! But not letting even this hold us back Leigh and I were on the phone to secure another team member “Robbie” who was willing to put his life on the line for the team.
The ten Km’s or so ride was fairly uneventful and took me about half an hour as I listened to a Band of Horses on my Walkman although when track 4 “Ready for the Funeral” came on I couldn’t help but think of the irony of the track with the whole tournament scenario!
Arrival – the court was already buzzing the sound of hammers and drills with players making the edging, keZ was construction manager and made everyone make the edging a perfect fit and it was, thanks keZ.
I soon met with my brothers in arms Robbie and Leigh we embraced, shook each others hands in anticipation of the day.
I said well then what’s the team name? we just looked at each other with blank faces and all said “I dunno” …….I think this was the hardest part of the day after coming up with all sorts of crap names for what seamed like an hour, Leigh in his normal matter of factness said were F’n calling it “Three Less Horses” and that’s it, I wanted to call it “Two less horses and one less Ass” as I was half their height and twice there age but can still pull my weight! But well done Leigh as we won the prize for best named team.
Team rego I must admit I wasn’t used to the getting the wallet out for polo but what can you get for $5.00 these days I’d gladly pay ten times that for such a great day!
So with all the teams registered we were set to go! The sun started to shine the crowd was getting bigger there must have been a cast of thousands looking on with all sorts of people milling about, zombies, Pirates, caped crusaders and oh yeah a hot roller skating chick not to mention the ref who had a hundred little friendly puppies mounting his leg, the waft of that strange smelling cigarette must have been effecting me!
The Games – All of a sudden we were up next and although I have been playing polo for nearly six months I had this strange feeling in my stomach, of all the luck feeling sick on the big day of the tourney or could it be butterflies? It was! I was actually nervous how could this be with bike polo? I told my team mates Robbie and Leigh they assured me I’d be fine however little did they know I was about to barf on them!
With luck on our side we had drawn an easy set to ease us into play this was good to settle the nerves.
We played through the round robin with many a drama, in one set against milkshakes we got caned, I was out for part the game with my chain coming off , Leigh had the same problem while Robbie was riding about the court covering for us well done Robbie!
The next game I had a big stack just before Leigh’s bigger stack so once again Robbie had to take up the place of the two of us! Somehow we made it through and Leigh was shaking like a druggy that needed a fix after his big fall! Some ice, the frozen variety! and he was back in action for the finals.
Then Robbie dropped the big one! he was cooking for a big family do and well he had to go! After all we’d been through We had to find a substitute, that wasn’t going to be easy to find a sub for Robbie but in steps an angel by the name of John! A player of note I now know!
We quickly talked him through the game plan that had worked so far – guard the other team’s goals and go for our goals!
We had some good luck with drawing Rock Scissors Paper can’t say the same for Milkshakes who had to play the reigning champs Top Centre! anyway after our long and a drawn game we had the ultimate scenario of the next goal wins!
After we all had many attempts at goals Leigh finally cracked he turned green his eyes red, veins popped from his neck and had one almighty slam at RSP brilliant defence and put the ball through the defending players wheel busting a spoke for the glory goal !!!
Leigh is forever a Polo legend!
The crowd went wild! The only thing louder was the sound of my heartbeat.
The Final – Well as the darkness descended and any strength in my legs and arms was just about gone not to mention the team injuries! We “Three Less Horses” were about to play the Champs the living legends of the Melbourne polo scene team “Top Centre” in the biggest Tournament since the last one.
But it was evident once we tried to hit the ball but instead hit each other it was just too dark to keep playing, but I must admit I was keen to hit a beer or two instead so after a decision to play the final the next week we had a fantastic presentation thanks to all the sponsors, Rob the teams and the tourney committee – Scott winning the best stack award (on his Crutches) Rap scallions winning the best dressed and Leigh winning the best goal of the day however as the prize was for a bike service and he’s a mechanic it went to my goal which was ordinary by comparison!
After the Games – a quick clean up and finishing all the beer that Ryan bought from the street beer vendor, we went down for a few more at the Great Northern Pub after a nice meal and a few more beers and thanks to Ryan an Arse Whisky(named because it puts you on your arse!) the goals got better and the stacks got bigger the girls got better looking, and my ride home got longer and longer this was evident in the first few steps of my weary and now very wobbly legs just trying to get to my bike, it only got worse when I tried to get on and ride home!
The rest is a bit of a blur all I know is I didn’t get home until about 2.00 in the morning and at one point had a huge stack in the middle of Westgarth St (one of many) when a motorist came along stopped to help and as it must have looked like a plane crash! my bike and the trailer turned over spitting out my polo bike and with all sorts of shit all over the road, he asked where the other rider as it looked like the bender had been run over by a truck, I mumbled something in brail picked up all my stuff talked him out of ringing the cops and was on my wobbly way again.
I finally got home with no keys and had to wake up my wife! So no hope of polo Sunday! But I realised when I finally woke up I was too sick to play anyway, and I was probably very lucky to make it home alive, I reflected on the big day and will forever where my reflective arm band (won for second best goal) as a reminder of what could have happened, and what may have been.
Thanks to everyone for a great day of Polo and looking forward to the next tourney already.