THE FOUR BROTHERS
About the Ashton brothers
From the land so far below us
Where the fence less fields lie wide
Here are four good men to show us
How the lean Australians ride.
Here’s a team distinct from others
With a unity made plain
By a lusty line of brothers
Linked in perfect chain
Mr Punch, most proud to meet them
Boot and spur in England now
Though he hopes our best will beat them
Greets adventure with a bow.
Polo Wives—O Polo Wives
Ours are truly dreadful lives
We fly around from ground to ground
To try to keep their ponies sound
We sit and shiver in the stand
A precious stick in frozen hand
If ponies cost just slightly less
I might have had a nice warm dress.
Look – he’s missed it – O dear me
Now he’s hit the ponies knee
As none of them can hit the ball
I wonder why we’re here at all.
A broken stick – I try to run,
“Not that you fool – a fifty one ! “
He says the Umpire should be shot
I’d like to shoot the flipping lot
The game is lost … they mostly are
The men have vanished to the bar
O pity us poor polo wives
We really lead most dreary lives
We love you dearly, polo wives
It’s due to you the game survives
So slog away and tend the fire
You’ll get that dress …
When we retire!
There are many lands on God’s green earth
Where the lovers of horses dwell,
Where hearts beat high to a buckled girth
And the sound of the saddling-bell;
But if any land was by Heaven bestowed
To be used as a bridle-way
It is surely the land where Gordon rode
And the Ashtons ride to-day.
For there lie the paddocks wild and wide
And the homesteads out and far,
Where the daring long lean stockman ride
And the master-horsemen are;
And that’s where the tide of life has flowed
To the sound of the hoofbeats gay,
In the land where Lindsay Gordon rode
And the Ashtons ride today.
THE HOOVES OF THE HORSES
The hooves of the horses as bewitching and sweet
As the music earth feels from the iron shod feet
No whisper of lover, no trilling of birds
Can stir me as hooves of the horses have stirred
They spurn disappointment and trample despair
And drown with their drum beat the challenge of car
With scarlet and silk for their banners above
They are swifter than fortune and sweeter than love
On the wings of the morning they gather and fly
In the hush of the night time I hear them go by
The horses of memory thundering through
With flashing white fetlocks all wet with the dew
When they lay me to slumber no spot you can choose
But will sing to the rhythm of galloping shoes
And under the daisies no grave be so deep
But the hooves of the horses shall sound in my sleep
Poetry is integral to the Millamolong brand. Here we’ve collected a few poems we love (particularly Banjo Patterson whose 150th anniversary was 2014). These poems have either been hung in the Millamolong clubhouse for years or date back to the four Ashton brothers. The famous poem “The Man From Iron Bark” was first recited by Banjo Patterson at a polo match in the 1920’s.
Polo – Millamolong Polo Club Style
To mark the 25th anniversary
Bring me a pint of your best ‘Badland’s’ beer
And for m’ lady, ‘Angulong’ wine— will bring her good cheer!
And maybe a mug of ‘Bills Beans’ coffee for you
Whilst of polo- humour me, and I’ll tell you a tale or two…
The rules, they are simple- to avoid a quick death,
You’ll need derring-do, horse sense, the ability to guess,
what four opposing, accomplished and slick horsemen will try,
to unsettle you, hassle you, ‘til your tank runneth dry…
For polo is fast- it is seriously quick,
(you try riding a half ton of pure muscle, while hitting small ball with a stick)
While your mate’s busy colliding into his opponent at pace,
their shoulders jostling to push each other out of the race
Another team-mate’s corralling his opposite away-
“Clear the way for the Back”- he shoots at goal- and we pray,
that his aim may be true,
his seat not too horrid,
that his line is correct,
his horse’s footing be solid.
These are the variables at play on the field,
most polo players from busters off horses have healed,
’Tis the gasp of spectators watching thrills and spills on the deck,
that define what is polo- “Rougher than rugby, and Better than Sex!
A Family Handover – Millamolong Polo Club
L. Andrew Ashton
It was somewhere west of Sydney,
in the Central West dry scrub,
That James Ashton formed an institution
called the Millamolong Polo Club.
He was a tough and hardy horseman,
who as a boy had learned to ride,
And he’d turned to playing polo,
down by the Belubula River side.
He’d known of his father’s exploits,
With four brothers: James, Bob, Geoff and Phil,
Twenty-six horses they’d shipped to England,
Played the high goal season, with consummate skill.
James had grown up loving horses,
And competitive sports to boot –
A natural fit he was to polo
And the club he formed bore fruit.
Toompang was his early polo Club,
Though he knew the family plan,
He teamed up with his brother Wal,
40 years on the Southern Circuit they ran.
His son James Jnr to polo was also wed
And a ‘Four Goaler’ he did become
Two generations of brothers: a formidable team,
James, Jamie, Wal, and me at number One
So Dad brought in the land levellers,
And hooked up pipes to the nearest dam,
And built a tank on top of the hill,
to irrigate his plan
“Winter cooch” he proclaimed loudly
“is the stuff we’ll plant down here,
If it’s good enough for Kerry Packer,
It’ll do our little square”
The polo club it flourished,
though sadly a gravesite it did become,
when we lost our brother and father – both James’
we feared the end – it may have come.
But through our sheer hard work and will,
We built it once again,
Neither floods nor droughts would break us
And our work was not in vain…
A complete committee we did become,
Most skill sets covered as one,
Were it plumbing, farming or building
even viticulture – our commitment was second to none.
With spirited teams, our Club did grow,
though success would come and go,
Our tournaments were lavish affairs
To the community we became well known.
Strong communal feeling – it did blossom,
Built by stylish, hard-working women,
the Social Team, they brought in true panache,
our tournaments showcased great Country Living’
The magic of this wonderful club:
Comradery and family ties,
It’s with this in mind, we welcome the Heads
The next chapter, theirs to define.
The Head family team are a Cobbity lot,
Their pedigree in polo is clear,
Dave played as a ‘pro, now with family in tow,
Jim and Harry are cleaning the gear
Brothers in polo together,
A hard act it is to beat,
Three Ashton generations have shown the way,
At Milla; polo will always have a seat
So now to the family Head we turn
And it’s our pleasure to present
The “Brothers Cup” to be won by those
showing true sportsmanship intent.
THE GEEBUNG POLO CLUB
by A.B. “Banjo” Paterson
It was somewhere up the country in a land of rock and scrub,
That they formed an institution called the Geebung Polo Club.
They were long and wiry natives of the rugged mountainside,
And the horse was never saddled that the Geebungs couldn’t ride;
But their style of playing polo was irregular and rash –
They had mighty little science, but a mighty lot of dash:
And they played on mountain ponies that were muscular and strong,
Though their coats were quite unpolished, and their manes and tails were long.
And they used to train those ponies wheeling cattle in the scrub:
They were demons, were the members of the Geebung Polo Club.
It was somewhere down the country, in a city’s smoke and steam,
That a polo club existed, called the Cuff and Collar Team.
As a social institution ’twas a marvellous success,
For the members were distinguished by exclusiveness and dress.
They had natty little ponies that were nice, and smooth, and sleek,
For their cultivated owners only rode ’em once a week.
So they started up the country in pursuit of sport and fame,
For they meant to show the Geebungs how they ought to play the game;
And they took their valets with them – just to give their boots a rub
Ere they started operations on the Geebung Polo Club.
Now my readers can imagine how the contest ebbed and flowed,
When the Geebung boys got going it was time to clear the road;
And the game was so terrific that ere half the time was gone
A spectator’s leg was broken – just from merely looking on.
For they waddied one another till the plain was strewn with dead,
While the score was kept so even that they neither got ahead.
And the Cuff and Collar captain, when he tumbled off to die,
Was the last surviving player – so the game was called a tie.
Then the captain of the Geebungs raised him slowly from the ground,
Though his wounds were mostly mortal, yet he fiercely gazed around;
There was no one to oppose him – all the rest were in a trance,
So he scrambled on his pony for his last expiring chance,
For he meant to make an effort to get victory to his side;
So he struck at goal – and missed it – then he tumbled off and died.
By the old Campaspe River, where the breezes shake the grass,
There’s a row of little gravestones that the stockmen never pass,
For they bear a crude inscription saying, “Stranger, drop a tear,
For the Cuff and Collar players and the Geebung boys lie here.”
And on misty moonlit evenings, while the dingoes howl around,
You can see their shadows flitting down that phantom polo ground;
You can hear the loud collisions as the flying players meet,
And the rattle of the mallets, and the rush of ponies’ feet,
Till the terrified spectator rides like blazes to the pub –
He’s been haunted by the spectres of the Geebung Polo Club.