The return of West London Bike Polo!

From Bikeminded website:

From March 2012 to April 2013, Bikeminded hosted the West London Bike Polo Open Sessions in association with the London Hardcourt Bike Polo Association at the Westway Sports Centre and the sessions got so popular that we decided to host our very first and hugely successful Wild West Beginners’ Bike Polo Tournament in Sept 2012.

Although it was great to see so many new players getting to play for the first time, the time came for us to take a break from booking what was referred to as the ‘best court in London’, so we put the sessions on hold for a while.

However, we are very pleased to announce that we will be hosting the return of the West London Bike Polo Open Sessions at the Westway Sports Centre on Thursday evenings from 7-10pm starting Thursday 15 August 2013.

For more info, please go to bikeminded, or check the London Bike Polo forum, where weekly (indeed, probably minute-by-minute) updates will be posted. This night is aimed at novice or beginner players, and loaner kit, including bikes, may be available, depending on who and what is available.  Do check & ask on the thread if there is spare kit.  Something can normally be arranged if a few days notice is given. Or just show up and ask!

2013 London Open Bike Polo Tournament

 

Now in it’s fourth year, the annual London Open hardcourt bike polo tournament will be taking place across three courts in Highbury Fields, Islington on the 23rd – 25th August.

The London Open is the biggest tournament of it’s kind in the world – hosting 82 teams from 16 different countries last year. We’re improving the tournament this year by hosting it over three days, meaning more games for more players!

 

Grass bike polo, Hackney, 1956

Photo courtesy Gary Beckett

I first played bike polo on grass about 20 years ago in the track centre at Herne Hill after a Saturday morning session. This was back when the club-house and changing rooms were still open, and there was never any worry that the sessions might be over-subscribed. I didn't know his name, but the guy who organised the knock-about on the grass polo bikes was Garry Beckett, son of the great Ron Beckett. The Becketts, for those who don't know, are pillars upon which the south London cycling scene is built. Stalwarts of the Bec Cycling Club (whose rollers we borrowed for the first couple of Rollapaluzas), organisers of the Good Friday track meet… And stars of the bike polo scene! Garry used to be captain of the England team, and father Ron was a regular player too. Garry posted this picture to his twitter account.

 

Why haven’t I been playing polo recently?

A few people have been asking me why I haven’t been at polo recently.  There are a few reasons, which I will summarise briefly:
Courts
Let’s face facts: the sport has been going down-hill since we stopped using Brick Lane. The young & ill-informed might point to the steep camber on the court, to the large gaps in the fence, the inconveniently placed goals or even to the very frequent discoveries of human faeces as good reasons to stop using the court.
To these persons, I say, huh! The large gaps in the fence facilitated that game moment now largely lost to London Polo,  namely, the Beer Break.  The ball would go under the fence, shoot off down Shacklewell Street towards Cambridge Heath, and we’d all stop for a refreshing & reviving draught of beer. By the time Yorgo had returned with the ball (yes, Yorgo was our ball boy), we would be ready to play like gods once more.
The goals were only inconvenient if you left your contact lenses at home, or forgot to look where you were going like Emily Emilia Emilie Object did (ouchy!)  Those goals were also nice and big so we used to score a lot more sweet goals back then. And scoring sweet goals is what polo is all about isn’t it? Not all this blocking & endoing and other show-boating such as you see the likes of Emmett & Ryan doing these days.
 
As for the camber, well, it’s not my fault that I always made sure I was playing down it, is it?
Yorgo, father of polo ball retrieval, illustration copyright Adrienne Hawkes, all rights reserved

And that leaves the matter of the poo. All I have to say about this is that if anyone had bothered to ask me, I would have immediately moved to exclude the south London element from polo. You can take a monkey across a bridge, but you can’t take the bridge out of the monkey.

Refs
Who died and left that speccy-eyed twat in charge of the whistle? How can you respect a man who wears slippers outdoors? Wait a minute, I’m getting confused here… what was your name again?
Mallets
You can now buy ready-made mallets. This is being presented as ‘progress’, but this a lie and a trick. So-called ‘innovations’ like this will lead to the infantilisation of London polo players. Soon you’ll be wanting to be accompanied to the toilet and you will only be able to remove your mouths from the teat of ‘big polo’ with surgical assistance.
I still make all my own mallets out of broom handles, nailed to great big lumps of wood, and my mallets never failed to make an impression on the opposition, I can tell you.
Water
Two things wrong here:
First, water is bad for you, and beer helps you score sweet goals; these are scientifically proven FACTS.
Second, how am I going to steal your beer if you’re all drinking water or ribena or whatever muck it is you have in those bottles?
 
Rules
What’s that? Turnover? No, I don’t fancy any baked goods, thank you very much, I’m trying to score some sweet goals in between putting these clowns into the fence.  And what the hell happened to “321 Polo”? How am I supposed to jump the charge and score a sweet goal if I don’t know when the whistle is coming?
 
The French
The French also bear a big responsibility. After all, they introduced dolphin slaps, blocks & other nefarious moves to London polo, and what has happened to Marc’s hair? Like everything else in polo, it used to be a lot better 4 years ago.

Shuffle! (aka the 2012 BFF London Bike Polo Tournament)

Last weekend saw the Bicycle Film Festival celebrate its 6th year of supporting bike polo by hosting a Single Player Triple Threat Shuffle Tournament in Newington Gardens, Southwark.

44 bike polo players from all over the UK arrived, err, promptly at 9.30am (many were a little bleary-eyed from the BFF party the night before). The organisers then shuffled the players into random teams of 3. The players  competed in successive games of Swiss Rounds. After each round they were shuffled into a new team depending on their individual progress in the previous rounds.

The big twist with this bike polo tournament (organised by London’s infamous ShuffleComm) was that shots with the broad side of the mallet (known as ‘shuffles’) were allowed and did not result in a disallowed goal as bike polo convention dictates. This sometimes led to a playing style moved towards a one-touch passing game, reminiscent of ice hockey, with moves finished off by a speeding attacker glancing the ball into the back of the net.

Some players felt a little dirty after their games, but everyone’s spirits were kept high by the relentless heckling of other competitors: “you should have shuffled it”, “shuffle that sh*t”, “super shuffle”, etc.

The day was blessed with sunshine and carefully selected tunes (each player had one selection) which mellifluously floated across the courts from the polo boom-box  (from an MP3 set to shuffle – completing the triple threat of the tournament title). Free beer was provided by Hackney Brewery, which kept everyone smiling even after successive losses.

A short break in proceedings allowed for an old school track-standing competition in the afternoon (despite the fact that every bike polo player now rides a freewheel). French Max emerged as the champion before a few more “delightful” games of stay-on were played whilst the organisers battled to work out the current ranking of each player.

The top 12 players were taken into two semi-final games before the winning 6 players were ‘shuffled’ into a final game. The losers of the final were John (‘H-Bomb’) H, Luca (‘Super Luca’) Semeraro and Chris (‘Nice Tats’) Pickering and the winners were Ali (‘Backhand’) Osborn, Jon (‘O’) Marshall and Robbie (‘Vomit King’) Warin.

Winning the final was short lived for the 3 champions as ShuffleComm demanded only one player could be crowned Shuffle King. Ali and Jono (top seeds) had to play one-on-one against each other and Ali eeked out the win 3 goals to 2 even though it was clear Jono was the better player all along [sic].

Prizes (courtesy of Magic Bike Polo products, Knog and the BFF) were awarded to the players before Ali held his Shuffle King trophy aloft his head only to have it ceremoniously explode thanks to the embedded fire crackers, remember: safety first kids.

Shuffle Hard Fast, Die Young.

Fan page on facebook…

I was a bit drunk the other night after polo set up the Facebook fan page

It has some photo albums in and other live updates from London Bike Polo.

We have a date! EHBPC 2010…

16-18th July is when the Europe’s best Hardcourt Bike Polo team will be found. Hosted by Geneva this should be one hell of a tourney. For more info click here.



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