When Bradby’s last charges go thundering | Sunday Observer

When Bradby’s last charges go thundering

As Bradby fever transcends global boundaries, we were in Zambia, doing our Saturday shopping but anxious to hear news on SLBC of the outcome of the game in Colombo. So, I asked ‘Boga’ Harinda Gunasekera, the rescuer in the story, what made him jump into the fray. With the Bradby at the back of his mind, he says, showing off his boxer torso, “I tackled Maiya Gunasekera at the ’69 Bradby and this was a piece of cake!” As it turned out in later years, Maiya and Boga honoured the class of ’69 by playing for Sri Lanka.

This week as the teams of the Class of ’69 celebrate their 50th reunion, the Bradby Canvass in my mind’s eye is illustrated with such memories and those related to the 75th Anniversary celebration of the Bradby series. In the year before -1968- the ‘Bulla Team’ had bullied Trinity to a 19/0 thrashing and a 5/3 win in the return.

Smarting over this loss it was Shafi Jainudeen’s Trinity team’s challenge to avenge defeat. This the Trinity Captain accomplished with an 8/0 and 9/3 win. It was a major upset against the odds.

Both Royal and Trinity over the past 75 years have upheld and handed on some of the best traditions of the game exhibiting a repertoire of the finest qualities.

The year 1969 was no exception. A relatively inexperienced Trinity side under the Shafi Jainudeen was molded by Denzil Kobbekaduwe to win and regain the Bradby. Denzil was always strategic. He prepared his team by reading the minds of the Royal’s treble -barreled coaching outfit in Geoff Weinman, anchor Lakshman Kaluaaratchi and MT Thambapillai.

Royal went out as favourites. But both teams dished out block- buster fare.

It stood to the credit of the Trinitians to have withstood tremendous pressure and win both encounters. Of Royal’s versatile Jagath Fernando, their chief play maker, being closely marked by Trinity’s own trump card in gutty Sam Samarasekara; of how Royal’s scrum half Beverly Janz hounded his counterpart the ubiquitous Tikiri Marambe resulting in passes to Trinity’s darting gazelle of a fly half Irwin Howie being put at odds with the expected sweeping movements of the Trinity line that included Fredrick Prins, Nihal Marambe and Cuda Wadugodapitiya; of how the stylish Harin Malwatte, the Royal fly-half and captain, along with his insides were schooled to try beat Trinity at their own art in open play; of how Royal’s forwards Maiya Gunesekera and Fred Perera dominated the lines-out but were matched by capable Trinity counterparts in Anura Madawela, YS Ping, Mohan Samarakoon and Rohan Tennekoon; of how the respective hookers in Dushy Perera and Boga Gunasekera engaged in Houdini type exploits to gain access in the scrums; of how Ralph Roberts and Ranjith Panabokke ably commandeered by Izwan Omar formed a stunning Trinity back row; and of how Izwan was at his best in cover-defence while architecting, with tactical finesse, several good moves.

The canvass of memories further shows the Royal line in motion in the Trinity’s ‘ 25 and a crafty Harin Malwatte dummy selling two defenders, sending a pass over to Senaka Abeyaratne who sent Dilanjan de Soysa sprinting over for an unconverted try; of how both Royal’s wing-threes in Dimitri Gunasekera and Prasanna Kannangara tactically backing the move to guarantee a precious try; of how this move gave Soysa the distinction of being the first player to cross the unbeaten Trinity line that season.

And the canvass shows in bold relief Shafi Jainudeen the exemplary leader firing across two penalties—the first a beauty from thirty yards out and mid right.

The second from 15 yards out of the posts and off a peach of a move – the *piece de resistance—*with Trinity winning the ball in midfield, Irvin Howie’s well timed pass to Sam Samarasekera who, with a sizzling run, hotly pursued by Royal defenders, dives over near the corner flag for an unconverted try.

The Trinity win against the odds was characterized by Royal’s MT Thambapillai, an old Trinitian himself, who wrote: Trinity wielded on me both as a scholar and a sportsman a great influence and you can count on them to live up to the lines of the school song ‘When the last charge goes thundering towards the twilight goal’ to do the unexpected.