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...
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