Now in its third year the IG Index HAC 105 has become firmly established on the military polo calendar. 2012 saw the weather smile on the day. Glorious sunshine and a mini heat wave set the scene for a fantastic day of polo and military spectacle at Ham Polo Club – It is only fitting that the British Army’s oldest regiment finds itself hosted at London’s oldest surviving polo club. With the club house lunch sold out, and over a thousand people in attendance the atmosphere was electric with anticipation. The day had an added impetus being one of the first events in the regiments 475th anniversary year. It was, as ever, in aid of a good cause – The HAC Benevolent Fund which assists active and veteran members of the HAC who need support in a time of need.
The HAC Band provided some pomp and spectacle to the occasion. Undeterred by the blistering weather the bearskins and tunics were donned and the picnickers who by now had settled into the day enjoyed their champagne and assorted treats with the accompaniment of a selection of music by one of the finest bands in the reserves. The Band itself celebrating its 250th anniversary.
IG index HAC Bullecourt Vs Army Reserves
The first match of the day saw the HAC’s Bullecourt team take on the Army Reserves Polo team. The Bullecourt team was captained by Lt Cy Lloyd Jones (-2) at no. 3. LCpl Langan (-2) played up front at no. 1. the regimental surgeon major Captain Loxton-Edwards Defence for the Bullecourt team was the responsibility of LSgt Grant (-2). The Army Reserves team fielded in their new shining white livery were led onto the field by their No 1. Col Goldstein (-2) ex HAC and head of Army Reserves Polo followed at No 2 by Capt Wright of the AGC (-2) with the team Captain Maj Morgan (-2) of the Wessex Yeomanry with Capt. (Retd) Stefan Mieczkowski (-2).
The match was stiffly fought from the throw in and the match quickly captivated the crowd. It’s not often a crowd cheers and groans along with the play but clearly the combination of sunshine and liquid starters had the crowd in an ebullient mood. Despite calm heads of the senior officers of the Army Reserves the HAC Bullecourt team clinched victory. A special mention must go to Capt Ben Loxton-Edwards for his goal scoring stampede.
IG Index Arras Vs Hackett Army
The main match of the day saw the familiar scarlet of the Hackett Army team grace the field alongside the Navy shirts of the HAC Arras team. While this was officially both sides first encounter against each other on the field some playful banter was exchanged with Maj Ben Marshall and 2Lt (ret'd) Nick Swift both having previously played for the Infantry at the inaugural 105 in 2010 which saw the newly christened trophy whisked away to Andover. Much to the chagrin of the hosts. All was to play for this year. They were joined on the Hackett Army team by Lt Doug White (QRH) and Capt Folarin Kuku ADC (Grenadier Guards). The HAC team seeking to defend the title was LCpl O'Connor at 1. LCpl de Rivaz at 2 and Sgt Tim Johnson at 3. ably supported at the back playing no. 4. Tpr Hartley.
The match commenced with the anticipated gusto and both sides quickly worked up a sweat for players and mounts alike. No quarter was asked for and none given. Goals were exchanged and the Army began to win valuable penalties from some sloppy adherence to the rules by a zealous HAC team. But the lead was to be clawed back and soon the HAC took the lead with a cracking lofting shot from half way that appeared to hang in teh air just to tease the crowds. When it sailed between the posts to give the HAC the lead the home crowd erupted and Sgt Johnson allowed himself an Argentine-like loop helicoptering his stick as he returned for the throw in. Ride off's must have appeared almost vicious to the crowd but anyone in ear shot would have shared the in the humourous and light hearted banter that opposing players had taken to remind themselves and one another that ultimately the day was actually about good polo and fun. This author has never heard a crowd so engaged and absorbed in polo matches in all the events that he has attended. Misses were met with exclamations from the crowd and counter attacks and turns could be heard reflected in the undulations of the crowds cheers and roars. The match came down to the final seconds of the final chukka and the narrowest of margins saw the HAC lose the coveted IG Index 105 Trophy by a 1/2 goal - yes there are such things as half goals in polo.
The HAC Light Cavalry provided some mid afternoon entertainment with a fine display of tent pegging and sabre work.
HAC Saddle Club Vs RAF
The final Match of the day saw the HAC Saddle Club take on the RAF. Again Lucy Bowman played well and together with the much revered and new recruit to the Saddle Club, the Hon. Georgiana Crofton, provided a steadying hand that was pivotal to securing victory. Lucy scored the first goal in 15 seconds of throw-in and the team won 7 goals to 4.
Prizes were presented by Regimental Colonel Robert Murphy and IG Index MD Tim Hughes.
The award for Bahamar Best pony was won by Pintano belonging to Flt Lt Ellie Hoogewarf and presented by Bahamar representative Ms Beth Dean. Best player was won by LCpl de Rivaz.
Our thanks to the Chairman of the Army Polo Association, Lieutenant Colonel Simon Ledger, who provided the commentary throughout the day.
It is not without some pride that the HAC endeavoured to take on two of the three services of the Defence Forces and gave a good account of itself. Let it never be said the HAC soldier is not an ambitious one.
But the day, for some at least was not even half way complete. The prize giving was followed swiftly by the gates of the clubhouse being opened to the general public and an open invite to attend the after party. The crowd was warmed up by Carl Joseph on the grand the baby grand piano. Who needs karaoke with a near bottomless ability to respond to any request from the floor and get the guests singing and dancing…. And it wasn’t even dark outside! With the champagne having sold out – what do you expect from a HAC led crowd – the white wines swiftly followed. But the party stepped up a notch with the DJ Crispin Dior taking to the decks. The DJ who provided the tunes for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding reception and indeed HRH Prince Williams twenty first unsurprisingly had the guests partying and dancing with gusto. It was a sign of the fun that word had spread and people were travelling across London on a Saturday night to join the party as late as eleven o’clock.
The true measure of the party can however be summed by one fact. When it wrapped up, the crowd formulated a plan and the HAC 105 after party…. had an after party at Beaufort House where players and supporters and just plain revellers danced the night away.
Missed out on the day? Then make sure you have Saturday 31st August 2013 in your diary!