Hockey died with Charlie in Kandy? | Sunday Observer

Hockey died with Charlie in Kandy?

Over here in Kandy, a major city in Sri Lanka located in the Central Province and the first to play hockey, a herculean effort is urgently required if hockey in Kandy is to see its former glory days. It is sad to note that hockey has taken a back seat at club level. Today it is like a ship without a rudder and today the controlling body, unlike in the past, only support the people who helped them during the AGM.

Kandy has a long history in hockey dating as 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 a few months threw down the gauntlet themselves and were soon at grips with the Indian Military men.

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 when 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 Sports Club with Europeans started a tournament and the game faded away. At that time there was only a handful of clubs who played the game.

Years later it was revived in the mid 1930s when people like PT Rajan, MS Jainudeen, VD Paul and JO Mendis gave their invaluable support to promote the game with only a handful of clubs taking interest. The teams during that period were St. Anthony’s College under the name of “Hotspurs”, Trinity College under the name of “Rabbits”, Kingswood College, Kandy Rovers SC Indian Students Hostel, later known as Asoka Hostel and Imperial Motor Garage Hockey Club. As the years rolled by hockey flourished in Kandy with several schools in and around Kandy taking to hockey. During the World War a large number of clubs and schools including foreign teams played in Kandy. Then they introduced the schools and clubs with league and the knockout tourneys that were 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. 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.

During the next few years, the standard of hockey was kept up and in 1950 PT Rajan presented a trophy in his name while MS Jainudeen presented the runners-up trophy 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 the man who introduced the game to Matale. At one time he was Kandy’s secretary. Then came the 7-a-side tournament for the KPMM Seyed Ahamed Challenge Cup and the Dr. VHL Anthonisz Challenge Cup for the knock-out tournament.

Some of the others who gave a have a hand for the game at that time were Rev. Fr. Robert M. Perera, SR Hamer, GH Robinson, K. de Lanerolle, Dr. VHL Anthonisz, George de Saram, Fr. Dom George, EL Fernando, RB Wijekoon, P. Thangavelu, Paul Jeyaraj, Leslie Handunge, S. Rupasinghe, IM Anver, Roy de Silva, Rohan Wijenayake, Malcom Perera, H. Marikar and Lakshman Seneviratne (Rtd. DIG).

The hockey loving public of Kandy are now making fervent appeals to the newly elected committee with the experienced president R. Maheswaran to put things in order. Where does Kandy actually stand. At one time being the top-ranked Sri Lanka hockey association? Are Kandy officials learning from past mistakes? The hit and miss tactics of the past and the all-out counter-attacks are no longer preferred.

The Kandy hockey committee is showing some sign of regrouping in a structured way. R.Maheswaran, H. Marikar, P. Kumara, D. Herath, S. Dissanayake, GG Dharmaratne, MAM Ashraf, N. Paraneetharan, A Godigamuwa and RTR Raheem are focusing on bringing the game back with the support of the new controlling body headed by P. Visvanathan and former president who is the present secretary Sumith Edirisinghe. The absence of proper grounds for matches and sponsors for tournaments must be given top priority if hockey is to regain its past glory.

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