Victorian Junior Team at the 1980 Nationals, Capel, Western Australia
Players names left to right: Tracey Purdon, Donna Buchanan, Donald Holland, Vincent Malady, Trevor Lewis, Phil Jolly
Vincent Malady & Red Eye
At the upcoming 2020 Australian Polocrosse Nationals to be held in Ballarat this March-April Victorian legend Phil Jolly will make a return to representing his state, this time as Victorian Junior coach. Phil had a decorated Polocrosse playing career representing Victoria and Australia on many occasions. One of those occasions is the subject of today’s story, it is from 40 years ago when Phil captained the Victorian Junior team at the 1980 Nationals in Capel, Western Australia.
The Victorian Junior team was Phillip Jolly, Trevor Lewis, Vincent Malady, Tracey Purdon, Donna Buchanan and Donald Holland. There was no coach, “back in those days there was no coaches” said Phil Jolly “We had our parents, Lawrence (Malady) and Dad (Ron Jolly) had a fair bit of input”. The tournament went for just 2 days and the competition was knock-out, meaning if you lose your out, teams would play their opening game of 8 x 8 minute chukkas and if they won would play a second 8 x 8 minute chukka semi-final that day and either the main final or losers final on the Sunday which was also 8 eights. Oh, also very important, no interchange bench just the six players and their one horse each and no changing from one chukka to the other during the tournament.
Trevor Lewis was just 13 and had moved to the Trafalgar Club that season seeking better opportunities and got the chance to play regularly between Phil Jolly and Vinnie Malady who were both 15 years old, “We played together a lot that year, which was good” said Trevor, who also remembers having a month off school and traveling across the Nullabor Plain with his parents and the horses “It was a great family trip with Mum and Dad and my older brother Shane, my team mates all caught the plane over”.
The tournament got under way on the Saturday with wins over Western Australia’s second team and a semi-final win over New South Wales. The Victorians had won their way into the final against Western Australia who were favoured to win, and that’s the way the game was panning out, come the beginning of the 8th and final chukka Western Australia had a lead of 7 goals and the trophy seemed destined to be going to the host state but Phil Jolly, Trevor Lewis and Vincent Malady had other ideas and began the road back scoring the first goal of the final chukka, unfortunately Western Australia were able to answer almost immediately making the difference 7 goals once again, Phil Jolly remembers thinking on the way back to the line-up “it’s going to be difficult from here” but the Victorians dug deep and produced one of the greatest comebacks in Polocrosse history to shoot the last seven goals of the game to tie the scores at the final bell. It was a playoff chukka (first goal wins) for the Junior title of 1980 and Victoria’s first section of Donald Holland, Donna Buchanan and Tracey Purdon had been up against a strong West Aussie combination all match, they returned to the field with one change, Donald Holland had moved back to the No1 position after playing the previous 2 chukkas in defence. And then the play off began . . . . . . Donald Holland gains possession and bounces his way into the area, briefly works his way around, finds an opening and shoots the winning goal! And Victoria win! Vincent Malady’s champion horse ‘Red Eye’ was awarded the best Australian stock horse in the Junior competition.
It’s 40 years ago now and while the players memories were fuzzy on some details the one constant was that they all look back on representing Victoria at 1980 Capel Nationals as a great time in their lives, the friends they made through playing Polocrosse and the stories that came from it have lasted a lifetime.
Phil Jolly is looking forward to helping a new Victorian Junior team with the modern-day challenges in front of them at the 2020 Australian Polocrosse Nationals at Ballarat March 30 – April 5th.
By Mark Semmens