The Bad Santa Tournament was held in Melbourne, Australia on 8 and 9 December 2012. If you want to read about it as well, go here.
Photographs by Claire Shepherd and Beth Hyland
Last weekend saw Erin Guiliani, Ollie Wykeham and myself team up as Pol-O-face for Melbourne’s ‘Bad Santa’ tournament.
I gingerly awoke at 4am with a thoroughly installed hangover. I promptly forgot my toothbrush and my phone and made my way to the airport. I had set the bar pretty low for the weekend. After some harmless flirting with the guy at check-in, I was asked if I wanted a free upgrade to an emergency exit seat. I agreed, big mistake. My seat was between two morbidly obese women who were not happy when they realised their personal space was about to be encroached on by such an obvious degenerate for the next 2 hours. Tropical storms turned a 2 hour ordeal into a 4 hour tribulation, I crawled into an upright foetal position and cried my way to Melbourne. Thankfully the airline had lost my bicycle, add another hour. Get to the courts I had agreed to meet the ever reliable Ollie Wykeham at, ghost town. After trying to obtain a phone from a number of varyingly disgusted members of the good Melbourne public and paying 10 dollars to use a computer for less than 5 minutes, I found myself at the Rathdowne cage. A more sparkling oasis I couldn’t imagine, Perth darlings Scott and Ned sat looking dapper, 2 guys from Sydney with girlish names that I can’t remember [Brook and Morgan I seem to remember: Ollie] drinking cider, Gemma Baxter looking effervescent and of course my partner in crime for the weekend Ollie [who greeted him by stuffing a cider through the fence to calm his shatters nerves]. We attempted some polo but became easily distracted by heckling cyclists, motorists and other unfortunate passers-by.
Gemma let us group shower at her house and we smashed a couple pineapple cruisers. We made our way to the opening party of Willy J’s bike shop. The troubles of the day faded away in a mixture of beer, mad tunes, bike porn and awesome company.
This was the first time Erin, Ollie and myself had played as a team, so we were really nervous and excited going into the day. Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra (in what I believe was their first interstate tournament) all fielded 2 teams, so there was a good mix of skilled and newer teams. I really enjoy the Swiss round system, we didn’t have an easy game all day and really had to pull off some miracles to finish the day with only one loss. Highlights of my day were our game against K9foosball [Dogsoccer: Jamie's heckle became the best prank when at registration we convinced the boys we were Caninefootball] and Ollie’s last second finesse goal against lefty Ray, Vive and AJ. The beer was flowing, the music was pumping; I couldn’t ask for a much nicer day.
10 hours of polo in 30+ degree heat had toned down our party mode, Erin retired to the lap of luxury and a clean bed with specially laundered towels. Ollie and I rode over to Gemma’s house and spooned each other. For the record, Ollie was little spoon.
“I am the least tired and hungover I have ever been on the second day of a tournament, nothing can stop me.” I had just finished saying this when my bicycle was conveniently ran over by a garbage truck. Other than that, the second day went off pretty smoothly. Polo tantrums and rule discussions were kept to a minimum and I got a lot of attention and sympathy beers which was all I ever really wanted.
Sleighers (Jono, Danny Cox and Daniel Strout) sent us to the loser’s bracket in a 5-2 flogging, but we managed to hold our own in some tough matches [my favourite play of the tourney came from the semi final against Anchor, where Jamie radball passed between two players, setting up the winning goal] and met them in the final. Daylight was starting to fade, and being the gentlemen they are, Sleighers offered to play a single final rather than the advertised double, even though they had been undefeated all weekend. Even though the untimed final lasted 45 minutes, it was all a blur. Suddenly the ref called beer point, we had somehow managed to stay neck and neck with Sleighers and it was now 4 a piece in a first to 5 final. Danny Cox slipped a final goal past us and it was over.
It was a really awesome weekend, really well setup and run. I can’t really think of anything that Melbourne could have done better, other than employing less bicycle hating garbage truck drivers. I am really excited to see the footage from the second day. Time constraints meant we played both courts until the final, so I missed out on seeing some awesome games. By the time the awards were presented I was pretty drunk, so I can’t remember a lot of that [I remember Danny trying to shoe me and Morgan trying to hit me with his shoe but gutting Rob in the head]. Those of us with undestroyed bicycles rode to the Gasometer for awesome beers and massive meals. The rest of the night was a haze.
Everyone knows that these things don’t happen without a lot of time and sacrifice from the organisers and volunteers. There are too many to name, so I won’t; just know that everyone really appreciates your efforts.
Dopestrong, swallows.myspace.com, [MVP, Don't forget that sheep port, Massive Victory Poo, Count It!] Pussy Money Weed, see you all in Timaru.
By Jamie Barber and [Oliver Wykeham]
Photographs by Gemma Baxter and Beth Hyland
Having more wind up than a kitchen timer, William is the current Australasian record holder for the most mallets snapped ever. He’s always ready to hug it out and for a vegan, he certainly gets a lot of meat on his shots. There’s not much more I can say about William that won’t get me into trouble. Here’s a little more about William.
Team: Melbourne Anchor
Years played: Since the dawn of time (I’m still not great)
Super power: ”Kapow” and great hugs and jack knife and breaking mallets
Favourite heckle: “More hugs and more smiles” and “this game needs more science and fire”
Bike: Jetnikoff bicycle co, freewheel with dual brake and 36:20 ratio
Mallet: Northern standard, with capped head
Protection: Norton 2012
What do you love most about bike polo?
What I love about bike polo is the people that play that make me happy
William has a bike shop – check it out here
If you missed our last player profile on Dave Bell you can access it here.
By Virginia Castellan
(credit to Donald Graham for the kitchen timer reference)
28th-29th April 2012: Flagstaff Gardens, Melbourne
Our special guest reporter, Gemma Baxter, tells us what went down at Australia’s longest running annual tournament.
I should have been warned that during a tournament, everything seems more intense than usual. The rate at which you inhale and exhale when perched upon the precarious combination of two wheels and a mallet before the call to charge. The anxiety when faced with three equally eager players, wheeled weapons at the ready, at the other end of an unforgivably hard court. The speed at which some fly guy appears in your peripheral vision, just when you thought the perfect shot had opened up. This is no, Sunday tap, no Boxing Day eat-some-cake, have-a-chat, fuck around match. This is REAL guys. SERIOUS. The Autumn Tournament in Melbourne for 2012 began in a haze of Friday night regrets, caffeine induced buzzing and, for myself, a fair bit of nervous peeing. In a toilet of course.
I should have assumed that the rate of bikes darting around me would also escalate, along with the number of times I’d hear myself say ‘Gemma you bloody idiot’. Even stumbling late into Rob’s welcome speech I could tell the competition was fierce, every smiled seemed to be laced with ‘you’re going DOWN bitch’.
Look at this line-up. The Samurai Polo Cats, Sam and Rob (the epic organisers) teamed with Daniel from Sydney wore shirts in battlefield red. Chris, Bart (Melbourne lads) and Tsz from Sydney (you crazy dancing legend) were the Polo Beers in suspect grey tones. Seagull Archy composed of Vive, Ray and AJ, gentlemen of the court, while James, Robbie and Gav shamelessly exhibited their bogan edge as Knifey Spooney in flannel. Badass Benee, Brook and Morgan wrought polo pain as Dog Particle, while Danny, Damon and Anja as Melbourne Anchor distracted us with their dapper 70s-esque tennis tees. Sasha, Andrew and Dhruva were the devious Narwals and myself, Will and Leigh played as the Elusive Nautical Vegans, mostly concerned with tofu and getting soyed.
The weekend wasn’t without drama; Vive disappeared to allegedly retrieve a bike part for quite some time, Ray’s finger was crushed between a stem and handlebars and now bears a pretty impressive bruise, Sam’s bike was….shit….I’m not good at remembering technical stuff…well it was tipped over and men were gathered around with furrowed brows for a period of time, and the poor little man proudly marking the tap-out board had been smashed to smithereens by the end of Saturday.
The two days could be described as a comforting mix of cheering, veering, beering, a bit of friendly sneering and a fair chunk of leering (polo ass is good). Belle chopped a craptonne of tomatoes too. Wadda babe.
The image of Benee leapfrogging over Anja after they dramatically collided during a semi-final will stay with us for a while. As will Will’s attempt to devour his excessively large vegan burger during Sunday lunch (to no avail, with marinated grilled eggplant and mushroom shooting out in every direction). Sam’s seemingly effortless swerving, paired with Danny’s bike dancing made for a fine spectacle, drawing Sunday park-goers to the edges of the fence. Many hipsters got pretty excited to relay to their respective social networks how alt. their Sunday was. Oh and we hogged the BBQ for a good long time, but it was worth it. Andy’s vegan patties deserved MVP.
The final took place Sunday afternoon between Melbourne Anchor and Dog Particle, and it was juicy. Melbourne Anchor’s moves were graceful and calculated, while Dog Particle exuded more of a vibrant aggression. Though the teams appeared to be well matched, Anchor eventually defeated the canines 5-3.
The boys had organised a really distracting mass of cool prizes, and when the night had ended, we played pickup sporting new gloves/hats/bags/pins until we’d run out of beer and retreated to the Union for a feed. It was a bloody good weekend.
The final placings were:
1st) Melbourne Anchor
2nd) The Dog Particle
3rd) Seagull Archy
4th) Polo Beers
5th) Knifey spoony
6th) Samurai Polo Cats
7th) Elusive Nautical Vegans
8th) The Narwhals
By Gemma Baxter
Gemma also writes for herbandlace. You can see her stuff here
Photographs: Tess Wrigley, Damon Rao and Gemma Baxter
In last weeks edition of the City Report we talked with Neil Waterhouse from Adelaide, Australia. This week we talk to Andrew Tipene about bike polo in Melbourne, Australia.
How long has polo been played in Melbourne?
More than 6 years.
How many regular players do you have?
About 15, but normally 20 people play on Sundays
How often do you play?
2 to 4 times a week depending on daylight.
Tell us about your courts
We have 4 potential courts but only 2 are used regularly at the moment – Flagstaff and Rathdowne.
Flagstaff is a multipurpose court in Flagstaff gardens in Central Melbourne. We play here every Sunday. Flagstaff is rented from the Melbourne City Council for roughly $7 per player per day. The cost is a big turn off for a lot of players, but it has 2 courts, a super fast surface, BBQs, flood lights and the Vic Markets selling cheap BBQ foods.
Rathdown is Melbournes No.2 court used on weekday nights. Its essentially everything that Flagstaff isn’t but free. It also has some lovely concrete council project buildings hanging over them to make them feel even more inhospitable. A lot of fun games are had here all the same.
Have you had any tournaments or demos lately? Do you have any tournaments or demos coming up?
We had the Autumn Tournament last weekend and normally have 2 tournaments a year.
Do you have a league?
We have tried putting a league together a number of times but hasn’t taken off yet. We’re hoping to get one started at Flagstaff soon.
What have you found works the best to get new players?
Word of mouth has brought in the most new players, but Flagstaff has raised the profile a lot being in the middle of the city in a busy park. A few beers and a bbq and most people come back for more.
Tell us an interesting face about your city
Vegemite was invented and is made in Melbourne. 22 million Jars a year.
Questions by Virginia Castellan
Answers and photographs by Andrew Tipene
Look out for next weeks City Report featuring another polo playing city of Australia or New Zealand.
This week we are taking a gander at Vive’s bits, specifically his custom Whiskey 3 polo bike. The first time I saw this weapon was at the Taupo Tapout last year where I got to witness Vive zooming all over the court on this thing, making crazy tight turns and stopping at the drop of a hat. Without further ado here are Vive’s bits.
Photo courtesy of Symes Cycles
Name: Vive Renganathan
Frame/Fork: Symes Whisky 3
Bar/Stem: Nuke Proof Warhead flat / Kore B52 stem
Seat/Post: Nuke Proof Plasma Grid saddle / Controltech Team issue 2 post.
Pedals: NC17 CR44
Cranks/Bottom Bracket: Raceface Respond 170mm, X type external bottom bracket
Sprockets: 38t (included with crank set) for riding around, FSA 34t for polo
Freewheel/Rear cog: Surly cogs- 16t for riding around, 20t for polo
Front wheel: Mavic XM317 rim, Hope Pro 2 hub, Schwalbe Kojak 2.0
Rear wheel: Mavic XM317 rim, Hope Pro 2 hub, Schwalbe Marathon Plus 1.75
Brakes: London modded Avid FR5 lever, Avid mechanical disc brake sets 160mm rotors
Why did you choose this bike?
The Whisky 3 is the third in the series of custom polo bikes built by frame builder /poloist, Scott Symes. The bike is pretty much a road frame with rear horizontal dropouts for 26″wheels. Centre of front wheel to the centre of the rear wheel measures around 100cm. The turning circle is quite tight, great for when you need to double back to goals quickly!
How long have you played on this bike?
I can’t quite remember. Would have been a month after the 2011 nationals. So, about a year?
What are the worst things about your bike?
What would you change?
Can’t think of anything I dislike about the bike, although most people who have ridden it have commented about the crazy toe overlap. I would like to add some sort of guard for the disc rotors. They can get warped during games and I have already replaced the rear rotor. There are threaded holes built onto the frame for this purpose. I am also thinking about going clipless but am still weighing out the pros and cons.
Photos courtesy of Chris Tomoya and Damon Rao
If you missed last week, we took a look at Donny’s bits.
By Oliver Wykeham
What can I say about Andrew Tipene? Apart from the fact that the man seems to run on a combination of cider and vodka, Andrew is just your regular Kiwi living it up in Australia. Occasionally found face down on the floor of pubs, Andrew also managed to get his entire team completely lost riding home from a bar in Taupo, turning a 5km journey into 15km. Here’s a little more about Andrew.
City: Melbourne, Australia
Years played: 2 years
Super power: Double wind up
Favourite heckle: Stay in goals bitches
Bike: Surly frame, freewheel with dual brake and a 36:21 ratio
Mallet: 7075 ski pole with uncapped, closed sides head
Protection: Gloves and glasses
What do you love most about bike polo?
If you missed our last player profile on Jamie Barber, you can access it here.
By Virginia Castellan
This is the first instalment of Lookin at Your Bits, a segment on the bikes of Australasian Bike Polo. This is not necessarily about the most advanced custom bikes with titanium tubes, gold welding and diamond encrusted stems. These are bikes that we think are interesting, awesome and show the character of the rider.
This week we will be lookin at Benee’s bike. For those that don’t know Benee, he is arguably the most infamous rider in Australian polo. Crazy fast, epic bike skills and an all round nice guy. Benee is a bike courier now residing in Melbourne, but he is originally from Perth, he spent a couple of years in Brisbane too, so he calls many places home. He is the reason I started riding fixed, playing polo, doing wheelies and why I became a courier – me wanting to do his the bike check inspired this segment.
City: Melb/Bris/Per – heck, I come from planet Earth.
Frame/Fork: Milwaukee Bruiser – Bruiser fork
Bars/Stem/Grips: Atomlab GI – 90′s mongoose bmx stem – BBB ergo grips
Brakes: (lever,cables,callipers): ATV/quad bike dual lever – front Odyssey EVO2 – rear Tektro 990 – U brakes
Seat/Post: San Marco Concor, Thomson laidback
Pedals: Time Alium
Cranks/Bottom Bracket: Race Face Decadence
Chainring: 39t no name
Freewheel/Rear cog: 22t roselli
Front Wheel (Rim,Hub,Tyre): Mach 1 – 510 rim – 700/32c Bontrager Aramid
Rear Wheel (Rim,Hub,Tyre): Chukker wheel -700/32c Durano Plus
Why did you choose this bike?
I’d broken 3 bikes in 3 months and was sick of using a beater bike for polo. Then some amazing people bought me this for my birthday. I almost cried.
How long have you played on this bike for? Have you played on anything else?
Over 2 years. I tried some beaters and a GT transeo, but before that was my Universe track bike.
What are the best things about your bike?
It’s my dream bike, solid and tight and sexy as hell. Track geometry but strong as a mtb, i can jump stair sets and i can ride it for work. I even rode it from Sydney to Melbourne once, fixed and no brakes.
What are the worst things about your bike? What would you change?
It’s a tad on the small side, but it works for me for polo. I’d like to upgrade the brakes, maybe get some disc mounts on, U brakes just don’t cut it for me.
By Ollie Wykeham
One of the most intimidating looking players on the Australasian bike polo circuit, the first time I saw Sam at the 2009 Nationals, I was absolutely terrified at the prospect of getting on the court with him. It turned out, my fears were completely unfounded. Known throughout the country as “the Gentle Giant”, the most you have to worry about from Sam is his constant shit talking while you are playing him. Here’s a little more about Sam.
City: Melbourne, Australia
Team: Samurai Polo Cats
Years played: 4 years
Super power: Pizza
Favourite heckle: “You’re shit”
Bike: Fetish Cycles frame, fixed with front brake only and 39:22 ratio
Mallet: Ski pole with uncapped generic closed sides head
Protection: Sam lives on the wild side and chooses to use no protection
What do you love most about bike polo?
If you missed our last player profile on Robin Clancy, you can access it here.
By Virginia Castellan