GOULBURN CLUB HISTORY
Following World War I, Colonel H.D.K Macartney, a brilliant artillery officer, acquired a property in the Goulburn District, to form a volunteer army unit and maintain military training. While military training was not entirely appealing, Colonel Macartney decided to form a unit polo club to entice the local young men. This became the Goulburn Artillery Polo Club, and this is how the Royal Artillery colours, red and blue, came to be the club’s colours. The Colonel recruited Irwin Maple-Brown, F.W Edwards (Teddy), Dick Daniel, Jim and Bob Ashton and Percy Hoskins to be its first members and players.
Initially, matches were held on Saturday afternoons in Goulburn, with young men coming from near and far to enjoy both a sporting and social outlet. Perhaps the most famous of these young men were the four Ashton brothers of ‘Markdale’ at Binda, near Crookwell. The brothers would trot the “fifty- three miles on a rough road” to Goulburn on Fridays in preparation for a weekend of competition.
The Ashton brothers showed great interest and keen skill, and by 1926, the four had become the formidable Goulburn Polo Team. By the late 1920s the allure of an international polo league was too great. The brothers embarked on an adventure that would become part of Australian sporting folklore.
With the blessing of the Hurlingham Polo Association in Britain, the brothers took the Goulburn quarter colours and 25 ponies on a 48-day sea voyage, travelling over 21,000 kilometres to England. This was the first sporting voyage of its kind and many felt the journey was ambitious, to say the least. The British press especially doubted the expedition, believing the young farmers were doomed to lose to their British opposition, the so-called powerhouses of world polo. Impressively, the four farmers from Goulburn proved them wrong, winning 15 of 21 matches!
Following their English success, the brothers set sail for the 1930 season in the United States - where again, success ensued. By the end of their polo odyssey, the Ashtons had become an international story. Remarkably, the four brothers sold their string of ponies in the USA, covering the entire trip’s expenses.
In 1948, the Goulburn Polo and Picnic Race Club was formed with polo being played at Springfield and picnic races not too far in the future.
By 1953, the Goulburn polo of the modern era was up and running, with the 1953 Countess of Dudley cup tournament. This was held in Goulburn, with 11 teams entering and 3000 people attending the finals. The Goulburn team attended 6 tournaments during that year, winning the main cups at Austral, Orange and Young and coming runner up in the Dudley Cup.
Goulburn first entered the Dudley cup in 1922 with a team comprising of F.P Hopkins, A.I Maple-Brown, J.H Ashton and Col. H.D.K Macartney and six years later in 1928, Goulburn had its first Dudley Cup victory. Since then, Goulburn Polo Club has become one of the most successful clubs in the history of Australian polo, having won the premier club tournament, Countess of Dudley Cup, 16 times, the record number of times in the history of the tournament.
Richard Walker, Richard Maple-Brown and Robert Bell were the lynch pins of the renowned, highly successful Goulburn A team, sharing the honour with many players in winning numerous Dudley Cups and club tournaments. Richard Walker and Richard Maple-Brown hold the personal record, with nine wins each, and Robert Bell and Jim Hoskins are not far behind with six and three wins, respectively. The original four famous Ashton brothers won four or five times in the 1920s and ‘30s. To this day, the club provides local Ashton brother,s farmers, graziers and polo enthusiasts the opportunity to come together and compete, with many of the club’s current players being descendants of the generations of players (fathers, sons and daughters) that have gone before them.
Following their champion fathers, the most recent Goulburn A team consists of descendants, Simon Walker, Henry Bell and Sinclair Bell. Angus Campbell has also come from a long line of polo players; his father, John Campbell, who played for Goulburn, grandfather David Campbell and great great-grandfather, David Innes Watt.
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