When America discovered Moto-Polo
A 1935 magazine article tagged the concept as a “modern” form of polo and provided an illustration of the “official” playing field where thoroughbred stallions were replaced by iron horses, in this case focusing on Harleys and maybe an Indian or two tossed into the fray. On closer inspection, the sport seems a bit closer to the French motorcycle soccer already in play in Europe. As an observer reported, “Scarcely a moment goes by in a typical moto-polo game without an exciting spill or a tangle.” Relatively low speeds however prevented major injuries to bike or rider and apparently the relatively new sport was spreading to motorcycle clubs across the country with league and championship rules in effect while the solo-seat bikes themselves were regulated by the American Motor-Cycle Association, or the AMA, as we know it today. Often the bikes were stock, run what-youbrung civilian machines, although the regulations permitted the removal of anything not needed in the game including the front fender. The U.S. version of Motorcycle Polo apparently allowed choice of gear, including headwear, ranging from hardcore football inspired helmets to spiffy sweater and tie apparel. Ten bikes of two five-man teams were fielded which made for plenty of action. Like soccer, players took specific positions, the goalkeeper seeking to block the ball with himself, including his hands, or with his bike. The other players could use only their feet to move the ball but could however block it with their head, shoulders, and elbows. Riders weren’t allowed to trap the ball or block it with their bike or use their hands without getting penalised. The regulation field measured a maximum of 200 x 300 ft., the 14 ft. tall goal posts set 20 ft. apart while the kick-off was made centre-field with a penalty circle for free kicks spaced 50 ft. from each goal. Play was divided into fourquarters of 15 minutes with four umpires and several refs officiating.
Teams riding Monet & Goyon or Koeher-Escoffier took the French Moto Ball Championship from 1933 to 1938.
INSET ABOVE 1935 US magazine article extolled the virtues of Polo on motorcycles. ABOVE No dives taken here. Big twin riders charge toward the goal mouth.