When Mercantile HA upset favourites Matale | Sunday Observer

When Mercantile HA upset favourites Matale

21 November, 2021

The second National hockey championships of 1957 opened with a blaze of glory and colour. The many thousands of men, women, school boys and girls will not forget the spectacle they witnessed. The opening ceremony was magnificent, the likes of which was never before seen in any sporting event held in the district of Matale.

The Police band was in attendance amid the splendour of colour along with the march past of the teams and the release of pigeons and the Chief Guest was Sir Nicholas Attygalle.

The opening match at Edward Park saw a record crowd of over 5,000 loudly supporting the home team Matale. Neighbours Kandy DHA were no match for Matale and were trounced by seven goals to one. The Wijekoon brothers were in all their splendour as Herbert scored a hat-trick while Douglas scored twice.

The other two goals were scored by GH Jayatissa and Chandrasena and it was a tantalising display of stick-work and clever dribbling.

In the final, Matale went out as favourites against Mercantile HA and thousands came to share the glorious moments of victory that everybody felt was sure to come.

The Ceylon Observer reported thus: ‘Matale tumbled from their hockey pedestal when the less fancied Mercantile HA prevailed over them by a solitary goal as a result of a penalty bully in the last few minutes of the game scored by Mercantile centre forward Vernon Prins who also played for the Ceylon cricket team.

The closing ceremony was patronised by His Excellency the Governor General Sir Oliver Goonetilleke.

As His Excellency entered the ground, there was a fly past by the Royal Ceylon Air Force.

I am very thankful to National ‘cap’ AJM Farook for some of the material provided. He too was a very capable administrator for many decades. The President of the Ceylon Hockey Association during the period April 1957 to 31 March 1958 was Sir Donatius Victoria and the secretary was TMNM Mahamooth with SMS Sabireen as treasurer.

The Selection Committee comprised Walter Jayasuriya (Chairman), Wally F. de Zylva, TMN Mahamooth, George Mant and MS Jainudeen.

For the record Madras HA beat Ceylon HA 2-0 in an international match played in Madras on 30 May 1957. Tamil Union C&AC emerged champions in the Andriesz Shield (League) in 1957 while the Pioneer Cup (K/O) tournament was won by the Burgher Recreation Club.

The Tournament Committee comprised JCP Fernando (Chairman), George Mant (Vice Chairman), S. Ratnasothy (Secretary), AZO Omerdeen (Editor, Souvenir), KHB Dissanayake (Treasurer), C Robinson, MV Mathai, JN Daniel, EMC Amunugama, QP Dias, TB Dhanapala, DMP Deen The first four mentioned had the task of performing all duties in connection with the tournament.

The live-wire behind the whole organisation was the human dynamo and hockey great of Matale, George Mant.