Alfred Edward Thomas Watson.

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players, and it is certain that all people interested in polo would wel-
come another really powerful American combination to this country.
Some young players are coming to the front in America, but the
American Polo Association apparently does not consider the time
ripe for another properly-organised visit to England. A number of
American players, however, are seen on the London polo grounds
every season, and it is interesting to know that some of them are to
play together this season under the title of the American Freebooters.
Many fixtures have been arranged for this team at Hurlingham,
Roehampton, and Ranelagh, and no doubt we shall see them in
some of the minor tournaments, though I cannot call to mind four
American players now in this country who could go for the Champion
Cup with any reasonable hope of success. I have seen it stated that
the American Freebooters will be composed of Messrs. F. J. Mackey,
Isaac Bell, R. J. Collier, and J. I. Blair, who played together once
or twice IdSt season; but at the moment of writing Mr. Mackey tells
me that nothing definite has been settled in regard to the precise
composition of the team.

We shall all be glad to see Ranelagh with worthy representatives
in the Champion Cup. I am officially informed that this is to be
the case in the coming season, and the side will consist of Mr. Aubrey
Hastings, Captain L. C. D. Jenner, Mr. F. A. Gill, and Captain F.E.
Guest. This should prove a well-balanced combination, particularly
strong in attack. There are not many better No. I's now playing
than Mr. Hastings — to whom hearty congratulations on his triumph
in the Grand National Steeplechase — and with that resourceful
No. 2, Captain Jenner, behind him, he should be especially dan-
gerous in opening out the game. Mr. Gill very rarely plays an
indifferent game, and Captain Guest has a tremendously stronfi
back- bander, though he lacks the great variety of strokes possessed
by Mr. H. Scott Robson, who was the Ranelagh back two seasons
ago. Both Captain Jenner and Mr. Gill, of course, are always on
the spot at Ranelagh, and the four are likely to get plenty of oppor-
tunities of working together and developing those principles of
combination which go so far towards commanding success in
tournament polo. Sundry improvements have been effected at the
Ranelagh Club since last season, including the erection of a new
Royal pavilion. Aldershot Day is again likely to be one of the

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chief features of the Ranelagh season, and it is certainly a very great
achievement to bring off a complete tournament in a single day,
which speaks eloquently for the resources of the club. Those
enterprising managers, the Messrs. Miller, have likewise been
effecting improvements at Roehampton, and special pains have
been taken in making the surface of their third ground as good as
that of the two match grounds.

A promising feature of the London polo season is the proposed
visit of the Irish team. On June 16, the Saturday preceding the
Champion Cup week, England and Ireland will meet at Hurlingham
in the third annual International match. England won the first
two matches of the series, but at Dublin last August the Irishmen


proved triumphant with a team which was wholly representative of
Irish polo. True, the English side — Mr. A. Rawlinson, Mr. F. M.
Freake, Mr. P. Nickalls, and Major Neil Haig — was not quite the
strongest which Hurlingham could have placed in the field, and
Mr. Nickalls was playing on strange ponies, but on previous form
it certainly seemed strong enough to defeat any native team which
Ireland could produce. Yet the Englishmen were beaten fairly and
squarely, and Mr. A. Rotherham, Mr. S. Watt, Major C. K. O'Hara,
and Mr. P. O'Reilly thus followed up in glorious style their victory in
the All Ireland Polo Cup. This is the team which, all bein^
w^ell, will bring their ponies over and face the forces of England
on June 16.

Beyond all doubt the success of the Irish team in the Open Cup
NO. cxxx. VOL. xxii,— May 1906 L L

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and the International match last year has given a great stimulus to
polo in Ireland. Providing they can get together before they come
over, the Irishmen are certain to give a good account of themselves,
no matter how powerful the opposing combination. Unfortunately
the players forming the team are unable, as a rule, to obtain a game
together until they go out for a tournament, but it is to be hoped
that under the exceptional conditions of the present year means
will be found to remedy this obvious disadvantage. Polo has un-
questionably made great progress in Ireland during the last few
years both as regards the number of players and the quality of the
ponies. Last year there were thirteen county clubs where regular
play took place in addition to the All Ireland Polo Club. Prospects
for the coming season are very good, and it is hoped to bring off
the usual five tournaments on the A.I.P.C. ground, viz., the County»
Novices, Open, Military, and Subalterns Cups. The last two are
not now of the importance they used to be, owing to the difficulty
of soldier teams getting leave to travel ; but the games between the
nth Hussars and the Inniskillings for two years past have been well
worth seeing. Last year an Irish team won the Open Cup for the
first time since first-class English teams began to go to Dublin, The
County Cup is a very keenly-fought tournament, confined tolnsh
teams. Major C. K. O'Hara, the captain of the International side,
has been the mainstay of polo in Sligo, and it was principally owing
to his efforts that the record of this team in the County Cup is the
remarkable one of seven wins in nine years. North Westmeath have
won the cup for the last three years, though in the first round last
season they only beat Co. Dublin after fifteen minutes' extra play-
Mr. P. P. O'Reilly and Mr. A. Rotherham play for this club, and
Mr. S. A. Watt plays for Derry ; but both he and Major O'Hara get
very little polo until they come to Dublin for the tournaments at
the end of the season.

Polo calls for so many of the qualities which one desires to find
in the thoroughly efficient cavalry officer that it is a relief to kno\*
that the danger of Army polo being vetoed by the military autho-
rities has practically disappeared. The danger was very real two or
three years back, and that it was averted was largely due, I thinK»
to the timely formation of a sub-committee of the Cavalry Club
for the purpose of governing the Inter-Regimental Tournament
and bringing down the outlay of time and money by the various
polo regiments to the lowest possible limits. The sub-comnuttee
showed that the Inter-Regimental could be conducted on compara-
tively inexpensive lines, and by so doing probably saved the life of tne
tournament. Excellent as its work had been, this sub-committee
was not on a footing to represent polo matters authoritatively. '^

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was felt in the Army that it had not sufficient power to deal with
the general principles of the game, especially as regards the con-
ditions laid down for limiting the expenses of regimental polo.
Accordingly a meeting of senior officers was held at Hurlingham
last July to consider the matter. The splendid result was that a
new committee was formed, so strong in all respects that every
doubt as to the future of the game in the Army must be entirely
dispelled. Major-General R. S. S. Baden-Powell, Inspector of
Cavalry, and himself an old polo player, is the president of the
new Army Polo Committee, which comprises cavalry brigadiers,
officers commanding regiments, representatives of corps interested
in polo, and the old Inter-Regimental Committee of three, whose


management of the details of the tournament are not to be inter-
fered with. Thus is the position of Army polo immeasurably

The outlook for this season's Inter- Regimental is bright. The
17th Lancers, winners in 1903 and 1904, have gone to India, but
their place in the tournament will probably be filled by that famous
polo regiment, the 7th Hussars. The 6th Inniskilling Dragoons,
holders of the trophy, are sure to be " on the premises '* once again,
but they will encounter very formidable antagonism from their old
rivals, the nth Hussars, and from the 20th Hussars, who ran into
the final last year. Considering that this was their first season in
English polo after a lengthy spell of foreign service, we may expect
the 20th to do even better than in 1905. It is for the good of the

LL 2

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game that no one club should dominate the situation, and this is
the happy position in military polo just now. The nth Hussars
are going to Dublin from Curragh to replace the Inniskillings, who
are moved to Ballincollig in Co. Cork. They have taken over
the polo ground there, formerly utilised by the 3rd Dragoons, but
there are no players at Ballincollig except themselves, and this
can scarcely fail to prove detrimental to the Inniskillings' chances of
retaining the Inter-Regimental Cup. From Aldershot I hear that the
8th Hussars will in all probability be stronger than they ever have
been, owing to Major Wormald, of the 7th Hussars, having been
transferred to them. The other Aldershot teams, the 5th Lancers
and the King's Dragoon Guards (who came on a great deal towards
the end of last season), will not alter much. Major Stanley Bany
informs me that the new committee of three for the management of
the details of the Inter- Regimental Tournament comprises Major
Milner (1st Life Guards), Major Ansell (Inniskilling Dragoons), and
Captain Lee (20th Hussars).

There is no question of the great progress made in London
polo, but are the provincial clubs flourishing to a like extent? One
cannot say that all of them are, the want of playing members being
keenly felt by some organisations. But a number of county clubs
are going along in a very prosperous way, notably the Blackmore
Vale, Cirencester, Liverpool, and Rugby,

I have asked the secretaries of the majority of the provincial
clubs for their opinion of the prospects of the season, and much
interesting information concerning the present position of county
polo has been the outcome. At this point I may be allowed to
express my gratitude to those gentlemen who have been so kind in
supplying me with information for the purpose of this article. My
only regret is that the want of space debars me from utilising at the
present time all the interesting details which have been sent to me.

Taking the clubs alphabetically, one comes first to the Bedford
County, which was started six years ago by Mr. Harry Boileau, the
Master of the Old Surrey Foxhounds. The club has two grounds,
one boarded, on what used to be the old Bedford racecourse, which
is very excellent old turf, and never gets really hard. As at
Wembley Park and elsewhere, polo ponies can be hired at so much a
chukker, which is very useful for officers home on leave from India
who want to get some polo without the trouble of getting a stud
together. Mr. J. R. Verey, the hon. secretary, tells me that the
ground has been well dressed since last year, and the prospects of
the club for the ensuing season are very good, the collapse of the
St. Neots Club last season having increased the number of playing
members to twenty-three.

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" Prospects are excellent with the Blackmore Vale," writes

Mr. H. K. Lambe, "and several new playing members and players

are no\v inquiring for ' polo ' boxes as well as * hunting ' boxes in

the neighbourhood." To show the progress made by polo in the

South Western Division, Mr. Lambe mentions that within the last

five years clubs have been started at Fremington (N. Devon),

Cardiff, West Somerset, Otter Vale (Ottery St. Mary), -and Exeter,

an increase which no other division of England can show. ** The

sooner the railway companies," continues Mr. Lambe, **are made to

understand how polo has increased of late years, and that they

should give special rates for the transit of ponies, the better." Since

receiving this correspondent's letter I am glad to notice that some

railway companies have arranged to make small concessions to polo

players, though the movement is by no means general. Captain


Phipps Hornby, the old Rifle Brigade player and president for the
second year of the County Polo Association, is one of the mainstays
of the Blackmore Vale Club, which also possesses one of the most
promising players of the day in Mr. H. S. Harrison. Mr. J. Har-
greaves, after a rest last season, has replenished his stud, and will
be heartily welcomed back to the polo field.

Rivalry between the older club at Cirencester and the B.V. is
always very great in the County Cup Tournament, and they have
each succeeded in winning the cup at Hurlingham. I am ^lad to
know that prospects are favourable at Cirencester, but at Burghley
Park, Stamford, they are only fair. Recently this club has not been
so strong as earlier in its career, owing to other clubs having sprung
up in the surrounding districts. Captain Lionel Lindsay tells me

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that a good season is expected by the CardiflF and County Club, a
number of attractive matches with teams like Blackmore Vale and
Cirencester being looked forward to. This club is forging ahead,
and it is worthy of note that at the end of last season a syndicate of
playing members acquired a number of good polo ponies with a
view to letting them out to members or their friends during the
coming season. Mr. Ivor Guest has promised to bring a team to
Cardiff, and Mr. Clifford Cory has started a club at his residence,
Llantarnam Abbey, near Newport. There is also talk of starting a
new club at Abergavenny. Major Wilson, of the King's Royal Rifles,
well known in Irish polo circles, is now stationed at Cardiff, and
will play for the club this year, and so will Viscount Windsor, who
joined quite at the end of last season, but played well in the

Mr. W. C. Harrild, who thinks that polo in the North of England
"has improved and increased very considerably in the last few
years," says that the Catterick Bridge Club has about twenty-five
regular players, and good prospects of some five or six new playing
members for the present season. Since last year the old polo
ground has been enlarged to full size, and a second one added,
both boarded and perfectly level with good old turf. While on the
subject of polo in the North of England I may as well deal with
the prospects of other clubs in Yorkshire and Lancashire. Mr. N. P.
Dobr^e, the secretary of the Holderncss Club, is not so optimistic
as Mr. Harrild in regard to the progress of the game in this part of
England. ** Like most clubs in the North," he writes, " we suffer
from want of players. We always have good * gates ' at ever)'
match ; in fact, larger than in any other county club in England— and
many clubs that I know have tried for the public support. During
the last year or two several new clubs have been started in the
North, but all have a hard struggle to exist, owing to lack of support
(both players and the public). Catterick Bridge, Liverpool, and
Wirral are the only clubs in the Northern Division that really
flourish through having a sufficient number of active players, but
each has a difficulty in raising a team to go away."

The Harrogate Club, I am told, is in a delicate state of health
chiefly owing to lack of new members and a lamentable want of
keenness on the part of the old. The club has been unable to
obtain a suitable private ground, and so must continue to play on
the Stray. If the members do not take a more practical interest in
the club, and turn up to practise with more regularity, it is to be
feared that the prospect of good sport for the coming season is a
poor one. A much more hopeful account comes from the Leeds Club.
The captain reports four new members, which will bring their

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playing strength up to twelve. Prospects with the Middlewood
Club are said to depend solely upon the number of playing members.
The first team is strong, and there is a likelihood of a useful second
team. The York County Club hopes to keep the game going,
but is very short of playing members, and dependent on the
cavalry regiment quartered in York for sufficient men to make up

Liverpool continues to hold a strong place in county polo, and
it is pleasant to observe this, as it is the oldest civilian club in
England. It was started originally in 1872, but died out for some
years after that, and it was entirely due to Mr. W. Lee Pilkington


that it was restarted in 1885. He himself was honorary secretary
for some twelve or thirteen years, and since then the office has
been filled by his brother, Mr. G. H. Pilkington, who shares with
Mr. G. H. Melly the distinction of being the only two playing mem-
bers left who were with the club when it was resuscitated. Liverpool
reached the semi-final stage of the County Cup last season, and
with about thirty playing members the prospects of the club for this
year are favourable. The same may be remarked of the Manchester
Club, which has a remarkably good full-sized ground at Ashley,
belonging to Lord Egerton. Hitherto the ground was in Trafford
Park, but as most of the playing members (who muster twenty-five,

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the limit number) objected to a ground in a town and close to the
Ship Canal, the club had to look out for a new ground in the countrj',
and were fortunate enough to find the one at Ashley. Manchester,
I am told, has amalgamated with the old Bowdon Club, which
should prove a great benefit to both. The Wirral Club's prospects
for this season are tolerably good. Playing members are fairly
numerous and keen, so there should be plenty of good club games.
Those who have been playing for Wirral of recent years are still
available, and there are several new players to choose from.

The North Devon Club is at present in a flourishing condi-
tion with about sixteen regular playing members and 200 non-
playing, while the Plymouth Club claims the same number of
honorary members, of which about twenty play regularly. The
active members are mainly confined to the Services, though there is
a fair sprinkling of civilian players. The outlook for the season at
Plymouth is hopeful and bright, the advent of the Rifle Brigade, so
well known for their good polo, being a promising feature. The
West Somerset Club is gaining new members, and anticipates a very
successful season. Prospects are fairly good with the Warwickshire
Polo Club, and Captain Miller forecasts a very good season for the
Rugby Club. The Wellington Club has been most successful up to
the present, and shows every sign of still further increase and
improvement this year. The game has been taken up very keenly
by the civilian element in the district, a fact which is particularly
satisfactory to the military members of the club. Favourable
reports come from the Eden Park, Worcester Park, and other clubs
in the neighbourhood of London, and, taking a wide view of county
polo, one may reasonably predict for it a successful season in igo6.

This article cannot be brought to a close without an acknow-
ledgment of the admirable selection of photographs supplied by
Mrs. E. S. Hughes, of Dalchoolin, Craigavad, Co. Down, whose illus-
trations show the life and action so typical of polo.

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** Lyncargo ? " said Carruthers. " I don't think there can be more
than one. You mean the millionaire — the man who's just settled
down in our part of the world. He bought poor Sackville's place
after the smash."

Halbeigh nodded.

" The man, without a doubt," he agreed. ** What sort ? "

Carruthers laughed.

" Unique ! " he cried. ** There's no other word for it. To
begin with, he wouldn't desire the honour of your acquaintance,"
he said. "Why? Because you're a peer, which in his alliterative
vocabulary becomes 'parasite.' He's death on the leisured classes;
* The drones must die,' is his favourite quotation."

Halbeigh whistled ruefully.

** So that's his line, is it ? " he commented. ** Genial old boy
he must be. Has he any redeeming qualities ? "

" Two," said Carruthers. ** His golf links and his daughter.
The first are about the best private ones in Great Britain. The
second's a great deal prettier and nicer than the daughter of such
an old ogre has any right to be. Haven't you ever met her ? "

" Yes," said Halbeigh, curtly. '* I met her last week at the

Carruthers laughed.

** I see," he said ; "and your admiration is serious enough to
cause you to take an interest in a possible father-in-law. You'll find
hini rather more interesting than you bargain for, I expect."

** I suppose he's accessible to ordinary politeness ? "

'* It depends what you call * ordinary.' The neighbourhood
called* He has returned few of those calls, or rather permitted his

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daughter to return them. The ordinary landed proprietor, living or
starving on his meagre rents, is anathema to him. If a man owns
land he says he should make it his business to work that land, and
not sit at home while others work it for him. His temperature
rises so high in the presence of a mere squire that he has to forego
the pleasure of that sort of company — or so he gives out. He is the
antithesis of the usual nouveau riche: he doesn't care a hang for titles
or social prestige. He entertains * captains of industry' now and '
again, Americans as often as not. He has made a golf course along
the foreshore of the firth which is supposed to be a vision of delight
for completeness. He has hired Alastair, the ex-champion, for his
professional." ,^

** No ! '' said Halbeigh. " Jack Alastair worked in our gardens
years ago. He and I learned our rudiments of golf together as
boys. I used to hear from him occasionally. I think I shall drop
him a line."

" I dare say you'll find him an interesting correspondent
on the subject of his employer," said Carruthers. ** He ought to
have had some amusing experiences. Well, I must be moving!"

He gave his companion a nod, and strolled away, leaving
Halbeigh before the club smoking-room fire, apparently wrapped in
a brown study.

He came out of it in time to return to his rooms, and there
change his town attire for the flannels of the country-seeker. An
hour later he was at Euston, parading down a platform in search of
that desideratum of the travelling Britisher, an empty smoking

Suddenly he came to a halt opposite a first-class carriage which
was by no means empty. A lady bowed and smiled from its open
window. Halbeigh bowed, wrenched open the door, and sat down.

** Now, what stupendous luck ! " he exclaimed. " Where are
you off to, Miss Lyncargo ? "

"To Leame, to spend a week with the Frobishers ; and you,
Lord Halbeigh ? " c^

He gave a boyish shout of delight.

"To do the very s^me thing! " he cried. " My word! what
ripping games of golf we'll have together. I'll put another forty
yards on to your drive, if you'll stick to what I tell you, see if
I don't ! "

She smiled at his enthusiasm.

" You seem to take my desire to learn for granted," she replied.
" Life isn't all golf. There arexDther duties, sometimes."

^ " I know," he agreed ; " Bridge and that sort of thing. But 1
always refuse to play before dinner; I think it's simply rotten to

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stuff indoors when you can be out; and if you are out — why,
naturally, you play golf! "

She laughed, but she viewed the young man with very
synnpathetic eyes.

** I know you're not really such a monomaniac as you make
yourself out," she said. " I hear you're a crack shot, and
Mr. Carruthers says he'd rather trust to your advice on a horse
than to the best vet. in London. Why haven't you done some-
thing with all your knowledge, Lord Halbeigh ? You were talking
farming to Captain Graves the other day like an expert, and

Online LibraryAlfred Edward Thomas WatsonThe Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes → online text (page 37 of 52)