Ham Polo Club
Ham Polo Club is a Hurlingham Polo Association Polo Club situated in Richmond in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. It is one of the oldest polo clubs in the United Kingdom and the last surviving club in London. The club occupies a location between Richmond Park and the River Thames overlooked by Ham House, eight miles from Hyde Park Corner. The club's facilities include three polo fields (two boarded), a stick and ball field, an exercise track, livery service, coaching and a clubhouse for the members with a restaurant and bar. Polo is played at Ham Polo Club between May and September. There are around 125 playing members at Ham and several hundred social members.
Ham Polo Club is the last remaining of the many clubs that existed as satellites to London's 'Big Three' – Ranelagh, Hurlingham and Roehampton. The club began life as the Ham Common Polo Club in 1926, with one full sized ground and two smaller rounds. The first ground was next door to Brown Gates House, Church Road, Ham Common, home of the first chairman, Loftus Storey.
The full sized ground lay between Richmond Gates and Sheen and a regular coach there was Johnny Traill, the first Argentine 10 goaler, who lived at nearby Roehampton. Ham Common Polo Club, together with Stoke d'Abernon and clubs such as Worcester Park, Kingsbury and Crystal Palace, was ideal for Londoners who did not compete in the major tournaments at the 'Big Three' but who played for the fun of the game. The 1939 season was necessarily the last for the next six years.
Ham was revived in 1946 by William Francis Walsh (1907–1992), known universally as Billy. On returning from service in the Army Billy found that Capt. Tom Brigg, the owner of the stables where he had worked, had died and the stables were on the market. Using his gratuity Walsh bought the stables and revived Ham Polo Club under HPA rules. It is widely believed that Lord Cowdray, Arthur Lucas and Billy Walsh were the trio who rescued polo in the United Kingdom after the war.
The first post-war English polo tournament was held at Roehampton in 1947 and the Ham Polo Club team carried off the premier trophy the Roehampton Cup (now played for at Ham). Three years later the club began using a field adjacent to Ham House for matches. Then in 1954, George Stevens, The Dysart families tenant at Ham House Farm agreed to turn the Ham House orchard into a polo field for the club.
The first president of the club was Major Archie David the patron of the Friars Park team. The Autumn cup which he presented is still played for annually at Ham. Johnny Traill became a familiar figure at the club and Edward Tauchert Rescued the Roehampton Trophy from the Roehampton Golf Club.
In 1970, thanks largely to the efforts of the then President Sir David Brown, the club purchased the freehold of the land. Sixteen years later land adjacent was purchased and the club gained another ground. In 1982, at the age of seventy, Billy Walsh retired as manager of the club to become President. He was succeeded by two further generations managing Ham Polo Club, Peggy, his daughter and Tim, his grandson.
The club continues to play polo between May and September, managed by Will Healy, the current President is Steven Lamprell. The club's Chairman is Nicholas Colquhoun-Denvers who is also Vice President of the Federation of International Polo.
There are a number of tournaments run throughout the season at Ham Polo Club. The flagship tournaments are The Summer tournament (0–4 goal), The Dubai Trophy (12 goal), The Roehampton Trophy (8 goal) and the Billy Walsh Tournament (0–3 goal).
The number of playing members is limited and applicants must be interviewed by the committee. Social membership entitles individuals or families to use the clubhouse facilities on match days as well as being invited to the club's social functions. A field membership bracket was introduced in 2012 for those wishing to picnic in the club's grounds on match days.
Ham Polo Club has helped raise almost £2 million for charity over the last few years. Several main charitable events are run each year.
- ChildLine Sundown Polo Challenge
On a Saturday evening in June each year a polo match, dinner and charity auction is held to raise funds for the ChildLine organisation. Patron of the charity Esther Rantzen is always present alongside a host of celebrity guests.
- Laureus Sport for Good Foundation
The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation works with millions of underprivileged children worldwide. An event takes place annually, this year a number of Laureus ambassadors were in attendance including Edwin Moses, Hugo Porta, Sean Fitzpatrick, Daley Thompson and Boris Becker.
- Chakravarty Cup
For many years the Chakravarty cup was held at Ham Polo Club. The event, started in 1997, raises funds for the charities and foundations supported by The Royal Family. The Prince of Wales took part in the match for nine years; now he has retired, his sons The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry take part.
- Elle Macpherson- Super Model
- Ali Albwardy- Patron of the Dubai Polo Team
- Adolfo Cambiaso- 10 goal Professional
- Lolo Castagnola- 9 goal Professional
- Major Archie David- 1957–1970
- Sir David Brown- 1971–1979
- Doug Riley-Smith- 1980
- Post Vacant- 1981–1982
- Geoffrey Lawson- 1983–1986
- Billy Walsh- 1987–1992
- Bryan Morrison- 1993–1996
- Douglas Brown DFC- 1997–2000
- J.W.M. (Buff) Crisp- 2001–2003
- Saeed Ali Albwardy- 2004–2007
- Vichai Raksriaksorn- 2008–2012
- Steven Lamprell- 2013–
- Billy Walsh- 1946–1986
- Peggy Healy- 1987–2000
- Tim Healy- 2001
- James Lange- 2002–2003
- Tom Benson- 2004–2005
- David Leach- 2006
- Daniel Devrient Kidd- 2007
- Adolfo Casabal- 2008–2011
- William Healy- 2011–
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- Hurlingham Polo Association – Governing body of the sport in the UK & Ireland
- PoloLine – Polo News and Tournament updates
- Ham Polo Club Blog – News and Reviews of matches and tournaments at Ham Polo Club
- Flickr – Images of Ham Polo Club
- YouTube – Videos of Ham Polo Club
- Wikimedia Commons