Revival of hockey in Kandy | Daily News


 

Revival of hockey in Kandy

Hockey is to be revived again in Kandy by the present hockey promoters and the present Kandy District Hockey Association headed by R. Maheswaran and his able committee. They are all out to bring back hockey to its former glory.

Kandy, the hill country capital, is where hockey was first played, and has a proud record of producing some of the top national hockey players and captains both men and women. Hockey in Kandy dates far back as 1907, when the Indian Rajput Regiments occupied the Kandy military barracks, currently known as Police barracks.

During that time St. Anthony’s College was housed at the present St. Sylvester’s College premises and they used the barracks square for all their sports. The boys of that era felt drawn to the game themselves and tried their hand at knocking the ball around with a borrowed stick or two. The fearless youngsters found some places vacant whenever the military men did not turn up for their games. Gradually, more boys found the glamour of the game irresistible and in a matter of few months threw down the gauntlet themselves and were soon at grips with the Indian military men.

Glancing through some old records, the first ‘Bully Off’ in Kandy was in 1907 at the Bogambara grounds, when the Kandy Sports Club and the Industrial School Team met. The leaders of these two pioneer clubs were Europeans, S.R. Hamer and R. Sparks. These two clubs played regularly and had opposition from the regiments stationed in Kandy.

Kandy SC packed with European planters, also met Dimbulla ACC and Dickoya MCC. Somewhere in 1910, a new club was formed, the Kandy Rovers. They had the Vanlangenberg brothers Hugh and Lloyd, Wicky and Percy, all first class players. In addition, they had Edwin Boulton, a teacher at Kingswood College, and H. John Gaye a teacher at SACK. In 1909, one of the Antonian students, Charlie Hamilton, who was a little ten-year-old prodigy, played as centre half. This lion heart midget was one of those who had learnt the game the hard way in the company of the Indian stalwarts. That year a team picked from Kandy travelled down to Colombo to play against the Municipal Council of Colombo and Bloomfield ACC. The first match was drawn, each side scoring a goal, and the hero of these two games was Charlie Hamilton, whose play had evoked repeated rounds of applause. The anti-climax was that after the teams returned from Colombo, Charlie took ill suddenly and died on November 5, 1909. The game then died a natural death.

Once again in 1926, Kandy SC with Europeans, started hockey and a tournaments were held again and in few years game faded away. At that time there was only a handful of clubs who played the game. Then again in 1930s people like P.T. Rajan, M.S. Jainudeen. V.D. Paul and J.O. Mendis started to play the game. At that time only a hand full of clubs showed interest. As the years rolled by hockey flourished in Kandy with several schools in and around Kandy taking to the game. During the World War a large number of clubs and schools including foreign teams played in Kandy. Hockey in Kandy was well organized with local tournaments in full swing. In 1944, the Kandy District Hockey Association conducted one of its finest tournaments where 14 teams participated in the league.

Then in 1950 P.T. Rajan came forward to present a trophy in his name for the league tournament. Matale who played in the Kandy League, were gradually making their presence felt and won the league championship under George Mant he man who did a lot to promote hockey in Kandy, he is the man who took hockey to Matale from Kandy. As years rolled by hockey flourished in Kandy with several schools in and around Kandy taking to the game. During World War II, a large number of clubs and schools, including foreign teams, played in Kandy. For the good service done by late Rajan for hockey, Hafiz Marikar who was the Sports Committee chairman of the Municipal Council came forward, and named Wewalpitiya grounds, popularly known as Rakade grounds, as PT Rajan Municipal Play grounds, when most of the people were not in favour which most of the people even his family have forgotten now. There is an old Antonian who was involved in hockey, P. Thangavelu. From that time, an old Antonian who was on the staff of St. Sylvester’s who has now passed his 90s and knows the entire history of Kandy hockey. During his era, the high standard of hockey was high, because it had tournaments and people were keen to promote the game.

Now there is a proposal to name a ground in his name. He is another man who gave a big hand for hockey.


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