The 'Poly' was formed in 1874, as part of the then huge Polytechnic of Central London Institute, who can boast among their achievements the staging of the 1908 Olympics at White City. (The Olympic pool at the City University site was still used by the Poly for training until two years ago when, sadly, the roof fell in!)
Early success came more for the swimming club, and it was they who first brought an English Championship to the Poly, however Alf Peacock represented GB at water polo in the 1924 Olympics in Paris. He was followed in slightly more recent times by Peter Pass and Bob Knights who competed at the 1956 Melbourne Games.
The modern Poly really took shape in the 1950's with the team built around the outstanding talents of Peter Pass (later to be made an MBE for his services to water polo) which won the first of Poly's trophies, the 1956 Knock-out Cup. Neil May, known then and by future generations of Poly players as 'Mother', joined soon after, and it was Mother's guiding hand and attitude to training which helped that, and future sides, to enjoy the huge success that Poly has had.
In 1968, after 3 further cup wins, the top prize of the English Championship finally came to the Poly for the first of 17 occasions.
Poly have had success in the European Cup competition and got through the first round in 1971 having finished second in their Group to CSKA Moscow, and in front of Antwerp and Marseille. The semi-final round took place on the Island of Hvar (was Yugoslavia, now Croatia), and Poly played De Robben (Holland), Mladost Zagreb (Yugoslavia - with 6 1968 Olympic Gold Medal winners and winners of the European Cup that year) and Olympiakos (Greece). Poly finished last, but drew with Olympiakos and only lost 4-6 to De Robben, who finished second and therefore made it to the finals. This team included players such as Glyn Berry, a great two yard forward.
On the back of this growing success a stream of superb players were drawn to the capital to study and play for the Poly. Terry Benstead, Chris Ayling, Andy Lench, the McCartney brothers and Roddy Jones in the earlier years, Andy Knight, Robert Eastman, Jez Sherman, Alan Anderson, Kevin Roberts and, possibly the greatest of them all, Jerry Birmingham in more recent years, to name but a few.
Throughout this period the Poly won record numbers of English and British titles and National Cups and in 1991 completed an unprecedented treble. Virtually every year saw the side competing against the best teams in Europe, with limited success (the 1992 side in Finland lost only to the European Champions from Germany but still found themselves eliminated on a bizzare technicality!)
Poly players have represented the GB team in Major International Tournaments (Olympics and World Championships). Since 1960 participation in the Olympics required qualification. In 1976 Poly supplied 4 of the starting 7 - Terry Bensted, Chris Ayling, Andy Lench and Roddy Jones. That team got within one goal of qualifying. In the World Championships, GB has qualified once in 1973 in Belgrade. That team comprised 6 of the 11 (as it was in those days) - Terry Bensted (Captain), Roddy Jones, Chris Ayling, Andy Lench, Tony Meek and David Chapman. Poly also supplied six of the 11 (Peter McCartney replacing Tony Meek in the team that played in Belgrade) that competed in the last "Open" (before it split into various divisions) European Championships (in Vienna in 1974) and achieved the best position a GB Team ever attained when they were 10th.