We play polo on sundays in Durango. There’s also another crew that plays fridays. The most common time we show up is the 4 hours before dark at either of those parks. We do not play every sunday due to other bike things. In 2009 the ladies of Durango began to play, and now we have regular games for ladies only at the same time and place. All levels are welcome to play. We play a simple game with little rules and keep at a gentleman’s level of play.
Our Mission Statement: Purango Dolo’s mission is to promote the sport of grass polo as a Gentlemen’s Sport, through new player development in a traditional team sport setting. The club is to have several frontmen that arrange weekly games. And the annual promoting of a local tourney to ensure lifelong polo players throughout the country.
A Brief History; Durango Polo started on Thanksgiving Day in 1999. It had been played in town in the past, but never for more than a random game or too from what we have learned.
We began in the street with a set of 8 wooden mallets made just for us by Papa VanDine in Jim Thorpe, Penn. Chris VanDine, a local cycling professional, was gifted the set by his father. A group of us had met for a classic college dude turkey day party/meal and ended up eyeing the mallets. It was a small game on a small street that was our first. The ball was a size 1 soccer ball. After an hour of uncanny concentration and focus, and cars and pavement, we took the game to the local grass field, Park Elementary.It was on. The game lasted a solid hour before we all stopped and realized what we had just discovered. The greatest invention ever now had a team sport.
The Turkey Day polo game began kinda a tradition and it was this tradition that held the Durango game together for the first 3 years. Polo was spotty during that time, but Thanksgiving was always a big game.
Our wooden mallets soon broke and it was Tall Paul Baumann who introduced the ski pole and pvc mallet. He showed up to play one day with 8 “new” mallets. Tall Paul was 6’5, so our first batch of aluminum mallets were all very long, like 34-37 inches, but our game improved ten-fold because of the new gift. Dribbling became the thing to do.
In 2003 we scored some serious lifers and the game reached a sporty level. No longer was it just a weekend drinking game. We began to make crafty mallets and build polo specific cycles. We began to talk about the strategies, we began to dork out. We began to reap the rewards of having our picture in the local paper, and the “polo media hype” lead to games of 10v10 or even 12v12, whenever our sport was in the limelight. Our season was winter after the snow melted through May, took the summers off, and then started up in the fall around October or November and played until the snow fell.
In 2004 we got some kind of inspiration to create a bike polo film. Local diehard, Jon Bailey had made some short films and got us all together to meet and set up some sort of plan to make a movie on the sport. We decided to bring cameras to every game and just start filming. Well, none of us ever wanted to stand there and film, so the project fell apart quickly.
The talk of film-making made for some pretty experimental play, as the games grew in player number, the passing game became the new frontier. The hype from the past had led to numerous well gamed regulars, and the game started to resemble a professional play as compared to the early days of third grade soccer. We were no longer hitting the ball to hit it, we were now in the game.
2006 saw the perfect season. The summer was riddled with thunder storms that left the fields short and cool. We played so much that summer. That fall, the decision was made to resurrect the film idea. We figured that the only way to make it happen would be to take the posse on the road and just film whatever we did. Traveling a loop throughout the four corners, we pretended to take to the road as a team, heading to play another team for the first time. Six of us along with Jon the director and Alex the sound guy and Spenser the other filmer, spent the weekend playing polo, interviewing each other and making camp together. The weekend ended in an amazing, unfilmed game in Mancos, Colorado that saw each and every one of the cast of Mallethead play some die hard polo. Shishim and Vahey coming to blows and Doom making precision work of his many gaol shots. It was the only ending that could have been for the weekend.
The next year left the looming question amongst the regulars; when could we see the movie? This was a long way off and grew to be overwhelming. The season went on and the footage stayed on the shelf. Meanwhile, the game grew increasingly more competitive and new comers to the game were learning at a rapid rate. It seemed the quality play of the regular gamers was rubbing off on the rookies in a way that excelleratesd their learned play. Many of newcomers being mountain bike racers and such.
In the fall of 2007, Jon and Chad decided to plan a movie premiere of Mallethead during their 2nd season of Rally of the Dead, a local singlespeed mtb race. This they figured, would make them edit the film to a finished product and give an ending to the project. The pair started the film work one month before the premiere due to random events. The footage working itself into a short story of mockumentary, as the crew pretended to be themselves. The premiere was a great success at the Smiley Theatre and the film launched a short intense, early winter polo season that saw a handful of new, young players to the game.
In the spring of 08′ the Mallethead contingent was asked to showcase their game on the main streets of Telluride during the Telluride Mountain Film Festival. This was the first of 5 film festivals the short action film was invited to and the game on mainstreet turned into a caged in challenge match, anybody vs the Malletheads.
This hype again led to record number of player turnouts, games of 7v7 were the norm. Still no girls really played, and games were played at Buckley Colosseum or Park Polo Grounds. We found out YouTube and saw that people were playing polo all over the place. Not much competitive grass polo seemed to be happening anywhere. At that years Rally of the Dead Polo Tourney, the Bike Porn Team from Portland and the Flagstaff ol’ schooler showed up an made for the first game for any of us against an out of town team. It was a great feeling to play another team for the first time.
That Thanksgiving, by happenaschance, the Durango crew had 2 players in Fort Collins. This led to a game with another similar crew of longtime polo action. The game led to the idea of a statewide call out of polo players. The winter went polo-less with a huge winter dumping of snow and in the spring, a tourney was devised.
Lyons Colorado would take host to the first modern grass polo tourney in the states history and we were quick to lay claim on the Colorado Cup Trophey, taking Boulder in the finals handily, 5-2. Salt lake city, Fort Collins and the STomparillaz all represented and laid stake to be the teams to beat.
The summer of 2009 saw 4 tourneys that drew an average of 10 teams. The ladies began to play soon after the Lyons tourney and took the local sunday game to another level. Now we had 2 games on the field at once, one for the boys, one for the girls. Durango sent teams to each of the four tourneys that summer and returned with the title each time. The tourneys were getting more and more competitive, but at the same time, a community was growing.
2010 saw the Malletheads loose for the first time at their home spring tourney, in the finals, to the Fort Collins Belfrey Boys. It was a quick onslaught of long distance goals that caught us in a 4-1 hole. We battled back to 4-3 only to loose on a trickler-goal that had us dumbfounded. Our short precision game had been outdone by the long, wooden sticks of the FC Hockey boys for the first time in competition play. The visiting victors were treated to a hair washing and scalp massage at the Lemonhead Hair Salon in honor of their victory.
A summer went by of constant polo action. The busy summer led to a missed tourney in Carbondale that saw the locals take names over the visiting SLC squad and a random troupe from South Carolina. We then made plans to travel to Fort Collins in the fall of 2010 to take back our cup, the Colorado Cup. It was the STomparillaz this time, playing us in the finals, only to be outdone 10-1 in front of a small intimate crowd.
We still like polo.
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