I’ve held off writing this post for weeks: wishing that it wasn’t true; that it was all a bad dream. But despite my best efforts, I’ve been forced to accept the situation. It’s a loss that affects us most tragically here in Birmingham, but the reverberations will be felt around the country, and even on the continent.
Benedict O’Brien/Neill has quit bike polo.
Ben had been a Birmingham polo regular since day one. What he lacked in ability he made up for in enthusiasm. Indeed, to watch him play, you wouldn’t guess that, to this day, he can’t even trackstand.
He was an astute observer of the international game, and was in the vanguard of freewheelers and one-leg-outstreched shooters. His greatest competetive contribution however, was to team morale. Time and again he would engineer calamitous situations, often at great personal expense, in order to raise team-spirits. Take the times in Geneva, when he ‘spilled’ a litre of blackcurrant ‘sirop’ in his bag, or when he ‘smuggled’ beers and knives through airport security.
Always a devisive character, it is perhaps no coincidence that since his retirement, Birmingham bike polo has once again begun to grow. Comments from new players have focussed on his gang-baiting and fondness for gangsta rap and grime. It is true that there are very few photos in existence in which he is not throwing a gang sign.
Whatever his faults, his presence will be missed. We (well, some of us) wish him all the best in his new chosen profession of internet gambling and benefit scrounging.