Mark Kendall Bingham was Rugby Player who died on United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. Along with others on that plane, he is credited with orchestrating a passenger rebellion to prevent the hijackers achieving their objective, believed to be the White House. 44 people died on United Flight 93 when it crashed into an open field in Pennsylvania after the Passenger action. They gave their lives to save numerous others. Mark was gay. He was a hero.
Below is a trailer for a documentary about the life and times of Mark Bingham
You can see the full film on ABC IView here: http://iview.abc.net.au/
A fellow G&GR associate takes up the story:
Mark Bingham was a close friend of mine. Yesterday marked 11 years since we lost him.
I have played in x4 Bingham Cups. Won 2 of them. Played in the Final in a 3rd. And ran 3rd in my final one.
I’m a straight guy. While a lot of my Brothers are gay, I have never been that way inclined.
Mark along with a handful of us started the San Francisco Fog in 2000 in a pub – where things of this nature start.
As a straight, married guy living in San Francisco with a bunch of Gay buddies , and after playing here at home since I was 4 years old, I thought it was a great idea for me to lend a hand.
I loved the idea of creating a place to be able to play for everyone. Gay, straight, black, white – if you had never seen a Rugby ball in your life that was cool. We would teach you. We had the opportunity to create a “Rugby Utopia” – and we did. I was very much the “token straight guy” in the early years – but it didn’t bother me and it didn’t bother them. We were all there for one thing – to play Football.
A year later and September rolls around. Needless to say it was pretty heavy. We knew Mark was on that plane as he was coming back for practice that evening.
In his honour we created the Bingham Cup.
The first was held in San Francisco in 2002. We were lucky winners in the Final against a tough as nails London team. The joy on the faces of my Brothers – who mostly had never won any kind of sporting endevor in their life was memorable – to say the least. I was interviewed by NPR (National Public Radio) before the tournament began (as the “token” i’d imagine) and was asked an interesting question. “What’s it like for a straight guy playing Gay Rugby?”.
I had not thought of it like that before and thought it was strange to do so. I told the guy, “Dude, I don’t play Gay Rugby. I play Rugby. It’s the same game they play in the UK/NZ and at home in Australia. Same rules. I just happen to play it with bunch of Gay guys.”
The second in 2004 was in London. It was a crazy week and ended with us going back-to-back after beating Manchester in the Final.
I carried the Bingham Cup back to San Francisco. When I checked in on British Airways I was upgraded to Business Class. The Cup rode in the spare seat next to me back to the City of Champions.
Later that year we created a Women’s team with the same ethos. Anyone, anywhere, any background, any size, you have a home here. We will teach you.
We also started going into local schools to run clinics on the same principles.
3rd Bingham Cup was in New York. Another crazy week with games played on a field out in the East River.
Had to rake the stones and glass off the field into huge mounds before each game. Classy.
We made the final where we faced a new team on the block – Sydney. Interestingly, started by another buddy of mine who played with me in San Francisco during the 1st Cup. Being an Aussie also he came home and started the Convicts. And what a team it was. Solid and tough all over the park. They beat us in the New York summer swealter by about 16-12 if I recall correctly.
The 4th and my final Cup in Dublin was in 2008. More new classy teams on the block included a gritty New York team who beat us for a shot at the Final. Sydney was already there waiting.
Sydney did the job on them quite easily from what I remember – which was not much. I got my teeth knockle out on the Final play of the game V’s New York.
Whats the point in all this? Not much aside from explaining that your sexuality means nothing. As did your ability mean nothing, your experience, your race or your religion.
It’s not as if you have to show some of kind of “Gay ID” in order to get a run.
What you do have to posses is a love for the game and a desire to have under-represented people play it.
Its the game the play in Heaven. Best to get everyone started on it down here before they get there right?
Mark is waiting.
Mark is now in town. The Bingham Cup takes place in Woollahra this weekend.
Sydney Convicts founder Andrew Purchas:
”We didn’t start the Sydney Convicts to make a political message or to change the world. We started it only to provide people the opportunity to play the great game of rugby.”
The inscription on the Mark Bingham Cup says it all:
“We few, we happy few, we band of Brothers,
For he today who sheds his blood with me,
Shall be my Brother.”
The Mark Bingham Cup Games are on:
Friday (Pool Games 9:30 – 4:30),
Saturday (Quarter Finals and Women’s Games 8:30 – 4:30),
Sunday (Finals 8:30 – 4:00)
The Games will be played on Woollahra Oval 1, 2, 3 and Lyne Park Rose Bay.
Daily Admission is $10. Tickets from here:-> https://binghamcup.
Spectators are encouraged to come along; leave the car at home and get public transport Buses 324, 325 or 326 from Edgecliff or Kings Cross stations.
Food and drink and numerous bars are available onsite; plus there will be no shortage of surprises.
(Parking is restricted. If you need to drive, parking may be available on O’Sulllivan Rd, Lyne Park and Lyne Park Tennis Courts, New South Rd, all in Rose Bay and 5 mins walk to Bingham Cup HQ).