Meet the Swingers

HARD­COURT BIKE POLO IS SO UN­DER­GROUND IT'S SPOUTING OIL, BUT UR­BAN CY­CLIST'S VISIT TO A SUM­MER TOUR­NA­MENT IN BIRM­ING­HAM SUS­PECTS IT WON'T STAY THAT WAY FOR LONG...

Urban Cyclist - - On Test -

IT’S A GREY SUN­DAY IN AU­GUST in Eng­land’s se­cond city. More pre­cisely, tor­ren­tial rain’s ham­mer­ing down on The Yard – part of Birm­ing­ham’s Joseph Cham­ber­lain Col­lege cam­pus that re­sem­bles Colditz. On three sides are bru­tal­ist con­crete walls; a steel fence com­pletes the rec­tan­gle. The potential’s there for a mis­er­able, dreary Sab­bath. That is if the court didn’t house a sex­tet of rock- metal cy­clists swing­ing what looks like an over­sized golf club against rub­berised balls, in search of goals, glory and grat­i­fi­ca­tion. This is hard­court bike polo, a sport that nes­tles un­der­ground but is slowly, ever so slowly, pok­ing its head above the pop­u­lace para­pet. THREE-A- SIDE

Ur­banCy­clist is ob­serv­ing, en­joy­ing and be­ing ed­u­cated in the art of hard­court bike polo at the se­cond edi­tion of the an­nual Sab­bath Brummy Sab­bath, hosted by the small but per­fectly formed Birm­ing­ham Hard­court Bike Polo As­so­ci­a­tion (or BHBPA). Loyal to Eng­land’s se­cond city, the tour­na­ment cel­e­brates one of Birm­ing­ham’s most no­table ex­ports – Ozzy Os­borne and Black Sab­bath. It ex­plains why the pro­tag­o­nists are rolling round the court adorned in cut- off denim tops and jeans with the oc­ca­sional ban­dana wrapped around the in­creas­ingly per­spir­ing fore­heads of the 30 men and women who’ve come from all over the UK to ex­pe­ri­ence bike- polo Brummy style.

It’s also why team names in­clude ‘ Fluff’, ‘ Chil­dren Of The Grave, ‘ Na­tional Ac­ro­bats’ and, our favourite, ‘ Rap Salad’. “They’re all Black Sab­bath songs,” ex­plains BHBPA stal­wart, 28-year- old Matthew Cox, who, it tran­spires, is an ab­so­lute author­ity on hard­court bike polo. “Last year it was Black Sab­bath al­bums.”

Play­ers of all ages have grav­i­tated to this rock­ing back­drop to wield their mal­lets over two days of hard­court bike polo ac­tion. On first pe­rusal, it’s

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