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Thursday, November 30, 2017

When They Played Polo at The Curling Club

Polo matches were the rage from about 1884 through 1915 throughout Detroit and around the state.   On a good weekend, you could find three or four games being played somewhere in the city.  The players did not ride ponies, but rather skates – roller skates.  The game was similar to ice hockey.  It was played by twelve men, six on each side, though it could be played by ten on a side.  One player on each team guards the goal.  A referee governs the contest.  He calls “play” and “time” when the game is begun or suspended.  The referee also decides what constitutes foul play.

During November 1890, The Detroit Curling Club had installed a level wooden floor over the ground in order to make ice with less water and easier to freeze.  The floor was 85 feet wide by 160 long.  At the time the members of the Detroit Skating & Curling Club hoped that the new flat and level floor would attract roller skaters.  It did – Polo Players.  The Club boasted at least two teams that played at Forest Avenue and toured around the state.  The Detroit Free Press reported on February 7, 1892: “An exciting game of polo was played by well-matched teams of The Detroit Skating & Curling Club.  A victory was gained by the Reds over the Blues by a score of 7 to 0.”  

Roller Polo Facts:  
* The first game was played in 1878 in London, England.  
* The US National Polo League was formed in Dayton, Ohio in 1882.  
* Roller Hockey (what the game is called today) was an exhibition sport in the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain in 1992

Locally, the game is played in Shelby Township.  If you are interested checkout the Little Caesars Roller Hockey League at the Joe Dumars Field House.

Can “Polo Night in America” on NBCSN be far behind?

What fools these mortals be…
Angus MacTavish

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