In around 1980 I played my last match. It was a satisfying retirement as my last stroke in anger was to take a number 4 penalty in extra time which I did hit very clean, long and high and won the game. I was in my early twenties then. went on to play top level Polocrosse for a couple of years then life got in the way, the family farm was sold by my parents, I gave away and sold the horses and that was that.
For some reason I kept my saddles and bridles and Polo sticks but didn't even ride again except for a hack on some hotel horses in the Drakensberg.
Earlier this yearI took my 15yr old daughter to watch a South Africa versus India game at Waterfall Park a sort of this is what Daddy did when he was young moment and was taking photographs when I decided I would really like to get on a horse again.
As it turns out the lady I was dating at the time, knew someone who was playing in a low goal tournament at Inanda - she invited us along I was introduced to the Polo Manager and the next weekend went to stick and ball. Other than my legs feeling like overcooked pasta I was surprised to find I could actually still hit a ball, they were wooden when I played.
I was invited to play and was offered two ponies to trial for a few weeks or to help me decide whether I really wanted to play again. This was in October and the season had only a few weeks to run. The rest of the members laughed at my antique knee guards - I am sure taking a few private bets as to how long I would stay on and I cantered onto the ground.
Play 1 I was told and while trying to recall rules and structure of the game through a 30 year gap, I found myself galloping towards the goals a few seconds later and amazingly finding myself in the right place a ball was passed up - and my first touch of the now plastic ball in a game was to stroke it through the very centre of the goal posts.
Yeees, I shouted silently, I'm back.
Well in the next few weeks a lot has happened. I had already been fired by that girlfriend, I hooked up with an ex again. I managed to tear the ligaments in my right elbow. I sent my bag of sticks to Proline who renovated them with new grips and heads. I decided that I would buy some horses and picked up two 5 time winners from the race track 7 year old geldings.
It's the off season in South Africa now, and I have these two progressing very well instead. My new polo boots arrived from Argentina on Christmas Eve and in twenty minutes I will get out of bed and go school these two - impressed at how quickly they are going.
Even more impressed that I can still remember how to do this, feel so good. Season starts in March April - I will be at Crocodile Creek.
Playing again ... Would you believe?