A HISTORY OF QUEENSLAND POLO
Backhanders From The Past
By Gene Makim
The Queensland Polo Association would like to express sincere thanks and appreciation to Gene Makim for allowing us to reproduce parts of her book for the purpose of educating the public.
If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Gene Makim's book 'A History of Queensland Polo - Backhanders From The Past' please email Queensland Polo at email@example.com .
Where and When It All Began
may seem an unlikely place for the game of polo, the oldest sport in
the world, to have originated, but well documented records prove that
this is so. The Persians were skilful, practiced horsemen of the
oriental type, who never let their horse out of their hand. Their
Eastern breed ponies, who always had their hind legs well underneath
themselves, with the assistance of strong bitting, were able to stop
and wheel on their haunches at a moments’ notice. Originally fixed goal
posts of solid stone were erected on established grounds, which no
doubt accounted for horrific impacts at full gallop, and many
fatalities, as did the later-installed wooden ones. Common sense
prevailed, and these were eventually replaced by papier mache,
cardboard or plastic uprights. Some ancient art depicts Persian players
utilising a human skull for a ball. It is not on record that
Queenslanders were quite as ruthless, but it is quite possible that
they honed up their hitting skills on cow pats, paddy melons and
rabbits squatting under roly polys or similar noxious vegetation.
golf, hockey and Irish hurling, all originated from polo. In actual
fact when polo first originated in England, it was called hockey on
horseback, and hurling on horseback in Ireland.
assistance from modern technology or mechanisation, it wasn’t long
before polo spread to Constantinople, then east to Tibet, China, and
Japan. The hill tribes in the north of India, participated in this
horse sport in the sixteenth century, riding like ‘red shanks’ on very
small ponies, and of course breaking every rule in the book as we see
game surfaced again two hundred years later, coming back into fashion
in Bengal in 1863, where Indian Army Officers adopted it with great
Three years later the 10th Hussars returned to England
from India, full of enthusiasm with the magic of polo. In 1871 the
first recorded match on English soil took place between the 10th
Hussars and the 9th Lancers. As it so happened, the colonials in
Australia were not very far behind their English ancestors, who were
rapidly taking up
polo in preference to the traditional fox hunting.
formation of the first polo club in the Southern Hemisphere was in
1874. The inaugural match which took place in Hyde Park, Sydney, in
front of His Excellency, Sir Hercules Robinson, was embroiled in a very
English flavour. Australia was on the ball though very early in the
scene, as a polo book printed in 1905, by R and R Clarke, Ltd.,
Edinburgh, for Country Life Library of Sport, states an interesting
item in the section on Australian polo, which incidentally only
mentioned New South Wales and South Australia. “There is an invention
used in Australia which we might find useful here. This is an
instrument used by the umpires for picking
up balls. It saves them from having to dismount in order to do this,
and seems a very useful and practical idea.” No doubt since this tool
became a reality, umpires all over the world, support the writer’s
views, in fact where would they be without it? It would however be nice
to know the inventor’s name, who quite possibly was some innovative
ancient blacksmith, whose name should be recorded among those of our
great inventors. The blacksmith tradesmen are still irreplaceable on
the polo field today. To be continued.....
The first Queensland Team to go to NSW for competition, Eddie Philp, Norman Caswell, Adolph Feez & Willie Peak.
Taken in Centennial Park, Sydney 1895 (S Murray collection).