How a tactical move made Colombo HA emerge champions at hockey Nationals | Sunday Observer

How a tactical move made Colombo HA emerge champions at hockey Nationals

16 January, 2022

In a spirited display of hockey, Colombo Hockey Association came fighting through to annex the National Trophy for the first time in five years, when they toppled the more-fancied Mercantile team by two goals to nil in the final of the fifth National Hockey Championship at the Navy Ground at Galle Face in September 1960.

In the semi-finals reigning champions Mercantile HA beat Combined Schools 5-1 and Colombo HA beat Matale 3-1.

The Championships was organised and conducted by the Ceylon Hockey Federation.

Before the commencement of the match, CG Gray, the chief guest, was introduced to the two teams.

After a goalless first half in which Mercantile had more of the exchanges, Colombo netted their first goal in the 15th minute of the second half when Rayen pushed the ball past the on-rushing goalkeeper.

Six minutes later, the same player scored again for Colombo. This time he made use of a good back pass from Kumar and slammed the ball in to a corner of the goal.

It was in effect a tactical move that brought Colombo both their goals. Rayen who was playing right-extreme changed positions with right-inside Jayasuriya, ten minutes after the second half had begun.

This move took Rayen away from left-half Harvie who never let him go through on the right wing. It further gave Rayen the opportunity of scoring himself and this he did by making use of both the chances that came his way.

It was obvious from the start that Colombo was concentrating on defence and were even slowing the game down occasionally in order to offset the fast-moving Mercantile.

The ground conditions too were entirely suited for a fast game of hockey so that the Mercantile forwards were effectively repulsed each time they made an attack on the Colombo goal.

During the last fifteen minutes of the game Mercantile were constantly on the attack and to Colombo’s deep defenders (Assey and Davies) and goalkeeper Tharmarajah goes the credit for having thwarted Mercantile’s persistent bid to score.

Colombo’s intermediate trio of Bosco, Gunaratnam and Crusz were also heavily taxed, but they stood up gamely to the end and nipped many a Mercantile move in the bud.

So persistently did Mercantile attack, that they were awarded 13 penalty corners (eight in the first half) as against one awarded to Colombo. It reflected badly on the Mercantile side that they were not able to make use of even one of these corners. In fact, they never came close to converting a single penalty corner.

Play started on an even note but the Mercantile forward line soon got going and made many a raid on the Colombo goal.

Midway in the first half right-inside Ivan de Kretser combining well with right-extreme Nadarajah had two shots at the Colombo goal, but both these went outside. In an occasional break-away, Colombo’s forwards took the ball into Mercantile territory, but backs Adahan and Jayaratnam were always there to prevent any serious threat to the Mercantile goal.

Mercantile decidedly had the better of the first half, but the Colombo defences held and the teams crossed over without a goal being scored.

Mercantile went straight into the attack as soon as the interval was over. But Colombo’s deep defenders, ably supported by their intermediate trio and backed up by efficient goalkeeping, proved too good for the relentless attacks launched by the Mercantile forwards who were themselves well supported by their intermediate trio of Harvie, Nanayakkara and Rosayro.

In the 15th minute of this half, Colombo’s centre forward H Wijekoon picked up a pass in midfield and worked the ball into Mercantile territory.

A free hit was then awarded to Colombo just outside the circle and Rayen who picked this up worked his way into the circle and pushed the ball past the goalkeeper who was out of his charge.

Stung by this goal, Mercantile came fiercely back into the attack but another Colombo break-away six minutes later resulted in yet another goal.

This time, left inside Kumara worked the ball on his own down the left flank and made a good reverse pass across. This was picked up by Rayen at the top of the circle and he made no mistake as he slammed in a shot in a corner of the goal.

Undeterred, Mercantile put on the pressure in a desperate bid to score. Seven minutes from time right-half Rosayro took the ball on his own to the left and scooped it high past the defenders stick into the goal. Goalkeeper Tharmaraja however, let the ball hit his forehead and saved what looked to be a certain goal.

Further attempts by Mercantile to score proved to no avail and when the final whistle was blown Colombo having made another break-away into Mercantile territory had just been awarded a penalty corner.

Tharmarajah, Davies, Assey, Gunaratnam (in the pivotal position) and Rayen played extremely well for the winners while Nadarajah, Harvie, Rosayro and Adahan were the pick of the Mercantile players.

PW Moses and W. Jayasuriya controlled the game well.


Colombo HA: K Tharmarajah, Gerald Davies, Brian Assey (captain), J Don Bosco, V Gunaratnam, Sylvester Crusz, LP Rayen, PS Kumara, Herbert Wijekoon, G Jayasuriya, V Balaratnarajah

Mercantile HA: KS Ananthan, V Jeyaratnam, Tony S Adahan (captain), Pius Nanayakkara, Dennis de Rosayro, Derrick Harvie, A Nadarajan, Ivan de Kretser, RS Somasekeran, Douglas Wijekoon, V Rajaratnam