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PLAYING THE GAME
The purpose of all the Administration was only to try to make the most of playing the game of Polocrosse. Venues and Carnivals had to be organised, overseas visitors and overseas tours arranged with the consent of the Australian Polocrosse Association and later the International Polocrosse Association.
We started with social games late in 1973 at Arona and Dumpu. Both horses and players had to learn the game. There may have been a few players who had played in Australia or the earlier era in PNG, but no horses were used to a polocrosse racquet. These early practices sorted out the players with an eye for the ball and good horsemanship, plus the horses that were agile, accepted the racquet and the close proximity of other horses (riding off). Bruce Duffield's first mount, a sturdy chesnut, definitely did not like being "ridden off", he preferred being over the sideline. Another Dumpu horse urged into the fray, promptly bucked meaningfully.
By 1974, we had Clubs formed at Goroka and a Lae/Markham/Ramu Club, called Markham was based at Lae. A game was played at Lae, in January in conjunction with a gymkhana, followed by a small practice at Dumpu. We played in February, again in both places. By May we travelled to Goroka for the first carnival there for about ten years. Goroka beat Ramu at the Goroka Show, but in June, at Yonki, the tables were turned with Ramu winning. Thus started twenty years of rivalry between the two Clubs. Yonki, near Arona, was the site of the construction of the Upper Ramu Dam (Yonki Dam). For a few years there was a racecourse there, so we played polocrosse on race weekends, in the centre of the track. Also in June we revived the New Guinea versus Papua games. Dan Leahy, Bruce Jephcott, Bob Simmons, Bruce Duffield, Bill Johnston, Gary Dickfos and Nicky Bromley flew to Port Moresby to play against the Port Moresby team at the Show. An Otter charter collected us from Goroka and Dumpu early in the morning. Breakfast on board was bread and red wine. As our hosts opened the aircraft door in Moresby a couple of wine bottles rolled down to greet them.
Some of the horses had only been mustered from Moitaki that morning. Bruce was given Marg and Joe Alexander's precious Pam. Gary fell off three times. Bob and Nicky opened the scoring for New Guinea, with Bob gaining possession of the ball; he and Nicky went full tilt to the 30 yard line, Nicky threw the goal, and they both went out through a gate into another paddock. Horsemanship and ball skills enabled New Guinea side to defeat Papua. At the Show Sandi Jephcott successfully rode Cyril Fleming's Sasha in the Junior events. It was a good weekend socially too. We were generously entertained and billeted.
We came back to the beginning of our larger carnivals. At Dumpu on 22nd June, there were forty adults and twenty-five children. Between the games we played tennis and cooled off in the swimming pool. A month later there were sixty adults plus kids at Gusap. The first National Titles were held in Lae on 24/25 August. A team came from Port Moresby to be defeated by both Markham 1 and 2 and by Goroka. The Markham players were Phil Best, Peter Deaville, Paul Bishop, John Robinson, Cliff Jurd and Bruce Jephcott and most had played before. They won the A.L.Rose Cup for the first timefrom Gorooka. The second team were, Grant Morton, Henry Leonard, Waubi, Gary Dickfos, John Leahy and Barb.J. Colonel A.L. Rose and his son Tim were there to present the Cup they donated to PNG Polocrosse. The first Australian coach/umpire was Peter Eaton. Mick Casey assisted with umpiring. We ended the year with a few social games at the Lae Show and at a post Christmas party at Dumpu. A big year for a start and the enthusiasm for horse sports spilled over to more Pony Club events and more racing.
In 1975, we started the year early again in February at Gusap. Mark Godlonton from Leron, David Harpham at Dumpu, Doug and Cherie Haig from Lae had started to play; while Dan Leahy, Noel Challis, Bob Ward, Bob Hannon, Laurie Cremin were playing for Goroka. Bob Simmons had moved to Dumpu and the Ramu Club. Markham Club had become Lae and Ramu Clubs. After a carnival at Yonki in April, a major carnival was held in Goroka to select a team to play a Queensland team in Lae and at Yonki in May. This team led by Peter Eaton consisted of Ray Ford, Tom and Josephine Bancroft from Eidsvold, Andy Smith and Alan Booth. They came to the Nadzab Races, then on to Leron, Gusap and Dumpu. The Eaton family came to Dumpu, helping when the truck with the racehorses got bogged near the Surinam. Fortunately there was machinery at the camp there. An Italian company was erecting the power lines from Yonki power station.