Our Home City Birmingham Plays Host To Hordes Of Good Natured Mallet Wielders.
We are happy to report this morning that Bike Polo’s ongoing quest to determine the United Kingdom’s goal scoring-est trio on human powered wheels has yielded a definitive answer. For the time being, at least.
This year’s UK Hardcourt Bike Polo Championships took place at the beginning of the month in Birmingham. Matt Cox was there for us, and has provided some pictures, both moving and still, as well as some words.
Now read on…
“What better way to host our first tournament”, we thought, as we discussed the summer ahead. It was March and the polo season was getting going. The European Championships were planned for Paris, the World Championships in Geneva, National Series tournaments were popping up all over the place, but no one had planned for what some consider the best tournament of the season, the UK Championships… so we did it.
The preparations were frenzied, but hopeful. Birmingham has a dedicated group of polo players, but nothing on the scale of London, previous holders of the tourney. We organized and re-organized, assigning jobs to each person, trying to play to our strengths. Plans were drawn up: locations were scouted, wood was purchased, goals were welded, sponsors contacted.
The night before the tournament we transferred all our wood to the massive (27m x 40m) courts and began setting up the boards. Three thousand zip-ties later, they were secured to existing fencing and pallets were carried in and screwed in place to support any gaps.
We swept the courts, sprayed the logos and locked up for the night. Players from around the country had already started to arrive and we needed to show some Midlands hospitality. To the Spotted Dog for ale!
At 8am bleary eyed Brum players met at the courts and began setting up gazebos and making goodie bags while others guided the other teams to arrive at 9-ish. After a briefing on rules and refereeing we started and managed to get six Swiss-rounds done to help seed the group for the next day.
We had three teams registered from Birmingham, the infamous ‘Black Stabbath’ – who have really upped their game at recent events, ‘Troika’ – hosting a tournament-newbie-sub, in for the injured Lucas and my team: ‘Risky Business’ with up and coming female talent Mya, and old hand Neil.
It was clear court building had taken its toll the night before as we all struggled a bit in the early rounds, but got a couple of nice wins to be pleased with. Other highlights of the day included ‘Dead Rappers’ marginally beating ‘Nice Touch’ 3:2 in the third round and the three Warin brothers getting some excellent results throughout the day.
In the evening we cooked up an awesome barbecue in Digbeth and we all enjoyed some well earned beers, with bike trains departing well before midnight to shepherd guests back to their accommodation for an early night before the knock out rounds started on Sunday morning. Los Comicos topped the table, with Black Stabbath, Troika and Risky Business finishing the day 11th, 15th and 19th respectively.
The Sunday started early and in bright sunshine. Repairs were made, coffee was drunk and elimination rounds began. We decided that all 21 teams should progress into the knock-out phase; as this meant that everybody got to play more polo. Black Stabbath shone on the second day and battled their way through the losers bracket to finish joint fifth with Manchester’s ‘5G’.
‘Spring Break’ took an unbeaten path to victory, beating the battle-scarred, but hard-working ‘Nice Touch’ in the final. The prize-giving was great fun, and the sense of relief and pride that accompanied it was ace.
This tournament wouldn’t have been a success without the added support of the wider UK bike polo community, Andy Perks – who built the goals, friends and relatives, the teams who entered and, of course, the companies and individuals who gave us money and prizes.
We got great feedback from everybody about the courts, the pub and the accommodation, but most of all about the strength and solidity of our Midlands scene. We finished unloading the final van at around 9pm and retired, sun-burnt, splintered but happy, to toast our success with a group beer. Same time next year then?
To see more pictures, match reports and a video of the weekend visit www.birminghambikepolo.com