When Clare played Polo

Updated: Aug 27

Polo was in a flourishing state at Clare between the wars

Northern Polo Team (1895) Lord Denman's Team (1912)History of Polo Polo at Clare (1920)Adelaide Vs Clare (1920) The Melrose Cup (1923) Clare Polo Week (1923) Clare Polo Week (1924) Flourishing at Clare (1925) Clare Polo Club (1926) Polo at Clare (1928) Polo in the West (1929) Polo Trials at Clare (1930)Polo in the Vines (2021)

Left: Edmund Bowman, junior, riding his pony 'Powder' for polo at Strathalbyn, 1905

Above: 'The Northern polo team'. Approximately 1895 - Studio view of the three Bowman brothers and W. Murray dressed for polo. Left-right: C.W. Bowman; H. Bowman; W. Murray; E. Bowman (captain).

Polo in South Australia was first conceived in 1874 when a young graduate from Cambridge University returned home to South Australia carrying with him some polo sticks and balls.

  • The first polo match was played in South Australia on Montefiore Hill in 1876.

  • Robert Barr Smith, W. Gilbert, W.H. Horn, Major Godwin and Stirling were listed as the initial participants.

  • So it was that in 1879 the Adelaide Polo Club was officially formed, seemingly at the instigation of W.H. Horn.

Martindale Hall was built in 1879 – 1880 for Edmund Bowman Jr. who surrounded the home with a polo ground, a racecourse, a boating lake and a cricket pitch where the English 11 played at least once.

Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA), Tuesday 10 December 1912, page 2 POLO.


His Excellency, since his arrival in Australia, has been creating a lot of interest in the polo world.

His side of players showed the Sydney public at Easter time some very dashing polo—his team won the final in brilliant style. As a horseman. Lord Denman excels amongst a team of dashing riders.

Lord Denman's 1912 Team:

G.C.S. Stephen, H.E Gov-Gen Lord Denman, Capt H.S. Nutting, ADC, Capt.G.LeR.Burnham,ADC.

Played for and won THE COUNTESS OF DUDLEY CUP 1912, Presented to the Polo Association of NSW by the Countess of Dudley, 1910 (illustrated at right)

Army Origins

Most of the best English and Indian teams learn the game in the army.

Polo is comparatively a young game, as far as it is connected with the English-speaking race.

Colonel Henry Lloyd Howard, C.B., recently had a word or two to say regarding the starting of polo by his Lancer regiment in India in 1874.

Below: A Polo Match played at Albert Park, Melbourne, 8th Nov. 1875

Colonel Henry Lloyd Howard says of the first polo games in India:

  • The play was of a primitive character,

  • Balls were slightly smaller than those now in service were used;

  • the sticks were shorter, and the heads were made out of old artillery wheel felloes, a dark red wood and very tough.