P. T. Rajan did yeomen service for Kandy hockey | Daily News


P. T. Rajan did yeomen service for Kandy hockey

Kandy has a rich sports loving history. Over the years, different sports in Kandy have seen their golden days and some sports have had a decline in their popularity due to different reasons. Trends might have changed but one thing remains unchanged and that is the love of Kandy city for sports. Hockey is a sport which was first played in Kandy. There are many people who gave a hand for the game and one of the legendary figures in Kandy in hockey was the Indian born late P.T. Rajan. He is remembered for his good service for hockey. He was an educationist, hockey promoter and a coach. He is the man who founded the Asoka Hostel where estate children were housed as borders and later he founded Asoka Vidyalaya Kandy. It was in the hill country capital, where hockey was first played, with a proud record of producing some of the top players.

Hockey in Kandy, which dates far back to 1907. It was in Kandy that hockey was first played when the Indian Rajput Regiments occupied the Kandy Military Barracks, presently known as Police Barracks. At that time, St. Anthony's College was housed at the present St. Sylvester's College premises and they used the army barracks square for all their sports. With hockey in action, schoolboys at that time were drawn to the game. 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.

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. The Kandy Sports Club packed with European planters, also met Dimbulla A & CC 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 St. Anthony’s College.

Then the game of hockey 'died' in 1909 with the death of Charlie Hamilton, who was a little 10- year- old prodigy from St. Anthony’s College, who played at centre-half and housed the stick in the good way. This lionhearted boy learned the game the hard way, in the company of the Indian stalwarts. That year, a team from Kandy travelled down to Colombo to play against Colombo Municipal Council and Bloomfield C & AC. The first match against the Colombo Municipal Council hockey players ended in a one all draw and the game against Bloomfield C & AC was won by Kandy. The hero of these two games was Charlie Hamilton, whose display had evoked repeated rounds of applause. The anti-climax of this was that, following the teams return from Colombo, Charlie suddenly took ill and died on Nov. 5, 1909. After which, the game too, died a natural death.

Once again in 1926, KSC, with Europeans, started a tournament. Special mention must be made of the Kandy Sports Club Secretary John Jackson Smale, some stalwarts such as Hamer, Trailm Mclaughlanm, the Bengan brothers, B. and R., Trinity teacher K. R. Pilcher (Oxford Blue), and Strefield (English County player). There was a big match between the Upcountry and Low Country in August, with the teams composed of all Europeans.

Then in the 1930s the game came to the right place, when P.T. Rajan who was a coach of that era stepped into the game. His coaching was able to bring back the game of hockey to schools and clubs along with other coaches M.S. Jainudeen, V.D. Paul and J.O. Mendis. 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. They were St. Anthony’s “Hotspurs”, Trinity “Rabits”, Kingswood, Police, CLI (Army), Kandy Rovers, Sampans (Army), Blue Jays (Army), All Anglo Indians, Parklands (Army), Indians Legionaries (Army), South East Command Team of Lord Mountbatten’s staff. Kandy Rovers had the distinction of winning the league championship and also played that year in the Connor Cup and the Andriesz Shield tournaments in Colombo. P.T. Rajan gave a big hand for the game. In 1950 P.T. Rajan presented a cup in his name for the league tournament. Later this tournament was abandoned and the cup was missing. The winners failed to return it, as there was no tournament and Hafiz Marikar and R.Maheswan traced this cup and handed it over to P.T.Rajn's son, B.D.R. Rajan, this cup may be still in his cupboard.

Then the teams during that period which played in the P.T.Rjan Cup were the Indian Students Hostel, SACK known as "Hotspurs", Trinity College known as "Rabbits", Kingswood College, Kandy Rovers SC and Imperial Motor Garage Hockey Club.

During that era, the high standard of Hockey was because it had tournaments, such as PT Rajan Trophy for the league, MS Jainudeen Cup for the League runners-up, 7-a-Side Tournament for the KPMM Seyed Ahamed Challenge Cup and the VHL Anthonisz Challenge Cup for the Knockout tournament.

Some of the people who kept the game going were Rev Fr Robert M. Perera, S. R. Hamer, G. H. Robinson, K. de Lanerolle, P. T. Rajan, A.L. Perumal, Leonidas James, M.I. Bin Ismail, Freddie White,Dr. V. H. L. Anthonisz, George de Saram, Fr. Dom George, Dr. Samad Ismail, R. B. Wijekoon, P. Thangavelu, Leslie Handunge, I. M. Anwer, Roy de Silva, Rohan Wijenayake, M. D. Rupasinghe, and later Lakshman Senevirathne DIG, Hafiz Marikar, Aroos Salimdeen, Malcolm Perera, R. Maheswaran, M. Ashroff, M. Nadaraja , G.G.Dharmaratne, Paranidaren Nadaraja to name a few.

And in remembrance of late P.T. Rajan, H. Marikar who was a member and the Sports committee chairman of the Municipal Council named Wewalpitiya grounds, popularly known as Rakade grounds, as PT Rajan play grounds.

There is an old Antonian who was involved in Hockey, P. Thangavelu, who was in the staff of St. Sylvester’s, who is now over 90 years. In an article for the 37th National Hockey Championship which was held in Kandy in 1992, he said in the magazine that he is delighted to write a brief account regarding Kandy hockey. After the formation of the KDHA a few teams took part in the tournaments, St. Anthony’s under the name of (Hotspurs), Kingswood, Trinity (Rabbits), Kandy Rovers, Imperial Motor Garage, Police and Indian student’s hostel. In 1938 Hotspurs hockey team was the league champions winning all their games and during the World War II a large number of clubs and schools including foreign teams took part in the game. He has also mentioned, people like ever green M.S. Jainudeen the secretary of KDHA went all out to popularize the game in Kandy. During this period he had the fullest support and co-operation of great players of the caliber of Philip Bultjens, H.W. Bobby Jayaweera, Sam Elhart, Robert Wright, the Robert brothers Dennis and Peter, A.L. Perumal, Leonidas James, M.I. Bin Ismail, and Freddie White, who was considered as the best goal keeper not only in Ceylon but also in Asia.

M.S. Jainudeen took over the reins as the president and P. Thangavelu became the secretary of KDHA. The committee comprised several gentlemen in the caliber of G.H. Robinson, S.P.F.C.S Charnivel SP Kandy, and Dr. Samad Ismail who later became president, Leslie Handunge, H.W. Bobby Jayaweera, Philip Bultjens, A.L. Perumal, H. Wijekoon, Parine Silva, and Fr. Dom George. It was during this period P.T.Rajan, donated a challenge trophy for the league tournament.

He also mentioned the service rendered by Roy de Silva who was one time a long standing president of the parent body and Kandy DHA.Then for a couple of years hockey in Kandy was in the doldrums. Thangavelu paid a tribute to Hafiz Marker JP., MMC and sports writer from Kandy who spotlighted the activities of the KDHA in the paper in 1988. This opened the eyes of some youngsters in Kandy who formed clubs and played in the Kandy DHA tournament and brough back the PT Rajan trophy tournament. Due to various reasons even they could not carry tournaments in Kandy and Hafiz Marikar brought in SSP – Lakshman Senavirthne to KDHA and his first task was to unite the clubs and members as one Unit. Then he together with the committee organized the Men’s and Women’s tournament for the Himalaya challenge trophy for women and P. Thangavelu trophy for men. Where KH & FC won both men's and women’s tournament.

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