When Mercantile HA beat India’s Southern Railways | Sunday Observer

When Mercantile HA beat India’s Southern Railways

23 January, 2022

The Mercantile Hockey Association (MHA) successfully withstood India’s challenge to win the inaugural Donovan Andree Memorial Cup Invitation Hockey Tournament beating the Southern Railways by a goal to nil in the final played at the Royal Ceylon Navy Ground at Galle Face.

The Donovan Andree Memorial Hockey Tournament was conducted soon after the completion of the fifth Hockey Nationals in 1960.

This international hockey tournament named after one of the greatest patrons of all sports in the island attracted 12 teams including five from India and one from Malaysia, the rest being local teams.

The Integral Coach Factory (ICF) team from Madras, winners of two All-India tournaments and four State tournaments, included in their ranks Jabbar, who had played here before and just missed a place in the Indian Olympic side, and several other All-India Railway and State players.

Jimmy Carr, the skipper of the Madras State team, led the Southern Railways team which included six Madras State players. Among them were Susainathan who has represented the T.I. Cycles team in India on two foreign tours. Carr and Mohamed Ghouse had played in Ceylon before.

The Madras Blues included several promising youngsters while the Malayan team consisted of a few players who represented their country against the New Zealand Olympic team.

The local teams participating were the national champions, the Colombo HA, the Government Services, Matale, Combined Services, Mercantile and All-Ceylon Schools.


Mercantile played extremely well to beat the strong and fancied Integral Coach Factory by two goals to one in their semi-final cup tie after a goalless first half.

In the other semi-final played earlier, Southern Railways, leading 2-nil at half time, gained a comfortable 4-nil victory over T.I. Cycles.

It was the grand spoiling work by the Mercantile Halves, Ivan de Kretser, Dennis de Rosayro and Derrick Harvie, who also led the forwards with accurate passes that earned Mercantile this victory. The game was played at a scorching pace and the exchanges were more or less even.

Mercantile launched into a fiery attack during the first ten minutes of play but Back Murugan with fine anticipation stemmed them.

Three short corners were awarded to the Mercantile team but none of them were utilised.

Dennis de Rosayro was playing well, defending and attacking with equal strength. ICF too rallied and made valiant efforts at scoring but Adahan and Jeyaratnam at Back, were hard to get by and then the first half ended without any score.

In the twenty fifth minute of the second half, Rienzie Perera opened scoring for Mercantile when he pushed the ball into the goal of a short corner scramble.

I.C.F. had an easy chance of scoring when they were given a Penalty Bully but Jabbar most surprisingly failed to beat goalie Ananthan. ICF gave some anxious moments to the Mercantile defence, but the half time saved them.

Then off a sudden break away D. Wijekoon dribbled the ball well and gave a reverse pass to Somasekeram who had no difficulty in netting it. Stung by this ICF played hard and were rewarded with a goal by Sayed Ahamed’s good effort but they just could not prevent Mercantile from winning.

Southern Railway displayed splendid coordination and moved rhythmically to rattle the defence of T.I. Cycles many a time. They were given great encouragement by skipper Jimmy Carr, whose stick work, deceptive body swerves and accurate passes carried play to the T.I. Cycles goal area constantly.

The losers never showed the semblance of being dangerous although skipper Susainathan tried hard to score.

Skipper Jimmy Carr at right inside, centre half L. Cotter, left back T. Siddique and right half Akbar Hussain, stood out for the winners, with skipper M. Susainathan, left back, B. Dalby, centre half Ghouse and goalie Mubarak standing out for the losers.

Right from the Bully Off, Southern Railway took control of the game and worried a perplexed T.I. Cycles defence.

Carr opened scoring with a drive that beat the goalie completely.

Southern Railways should have scored on many occasions but left back Dalby would not allow them. However, Carr played through the defence in a solo effort that had the defenders tackling shadows and scored the second goal with a neat scoop.

Midway in the second half, right winger Cluer gave a fine pass to the top of the ring with centre forward D. Edmonds, who positioned himself well to bang in the third goal.

There were some delightful movements by the Southern Railway spear headed by Carr, which at the final stages were well foiled by the opponents defence.

In the final stages of the match, it was that brilliant and illusive Carr again. He went through the C.I. Cycles defence with sheer artistry and capped it with a powerful shot that gave the goalie no chance, to give his team an easy four-nil victory.

Messrs M.N. de Hoedt and F.J. Daniel, umpired.


A very large crowd who turned up to witness the final were not disappointed for they saw a grand game of hockey which was a fitting finale to a very successful tournament.

It was easily the most exciting final witnessed for a very long time and the standard of hockey displayed by both teams was very high.

The Mercantile XI who had to be content with being runners-up at the recently concluded National Championships played the game of their lives.

Although they took the field without their star forward Douglas Wijekoon who was injured in the semi-final against the ICF, his place in the forward line was taken by P. Nanayakkara.

Despite the setback the Mercantile XI combined well and set a scorching pace.

There was never a dull moment throughout the 70 minutes of the game. Both sides played well and there were several anxious moments in front of the rival goals.

The honours of the game go to the rival defences which stood firm. Adahan and Jayaratnam, in deep defence and the intermediate trio Rosayro, LC de Kretser and Harvie excelled for the Mercantile XI while T. Dick and Anver Sherriff, Akbar Hussain and L. Cotter were outstanding for the South Indian Railway men.

The Mercantile XI attacked strongly during the first half and they succeeded in taking the lead in the 20th minute – which goal proved to be the decider – when Somasekeram which his deft stick work went through solo to beat four defenders and neatly side stepped the on rushing goalkeeper, Sheshadri to flick into an open goal.

Buoyed by this success the Mercantile attacked strongly but failed to increase their lead although they had numerous chances.

The second half was very exciting with the Southern Railway fighting back. They missed a glorious chance of equalising when skipper Jimmy Carr failed to beat the Mercantile skipper Adahan in a penalty bully.

Towards the closing stages the South Indian Railway men unleashed a furious attack, but the Mercantile defence refused to yield.

Thus ended a memorable final with the crowd kept on their toes in the last ten minutes of the game.

Messrs E. Wickramatilleke and S. Rajakrishnan umpired.

Before the commencement of the game the two teams were introduced to Sir John Tarbat.

At the conclusion of the game, WR Chamnugam, President of the Ceylon Hockey Federation presented the trophy to TS Adahan, the Mercantile XI Captain and replicas to members of both teams.

Thus 1960 was a golden year for Ceylon Hockey, elated by the fact that the greatest of all time hockey legend, Dhyan Chand rated Ceylon among the top 10 nations in the world.

Also Ceylon’s gritty performance against Claudius’ Olympic team of 1960, and the elevation of Freddie White as Asia’s best goal keeper, was justified.

In no less measure, Mercantile HA’s victory over two of the best teams in South India brought joy to the hockey loving public of Ceylon.