46th Anniversary Of The 1975 World Cup Win - Top Ten Facts

Based on "46th Anniversary of 1975 World Cup Win: 46 Facts you should Know"
Original article and Graphic courtesy Stick2Hockey.com

orty six years ago, on 15 March, 1975, India won its first and only World Cup in hockey. Here are top ten facts from that milestone event in Indian sports history.

1. Asia Hosting for the First Time: The Men's Hockey World Cup was played in Asia for the first time in 1975. The first two editions were held in Barcelona (1971) and Amsterdam (1973). Mumbai was the original host of the 1975 World Cup, but the it got moved to Kuala Lumpur.

2. Record Crowd for a Hockey Final: 70,000 watched the final at the Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, a record equalled two decades later in 1990 (Lahore).

3. Dysfunctional and Disaffiliated IHF: Amidst infighting between two factions of the IHF, the FIH disaffiliated the Indian Hockey Federation. As a result, India went to Kuala Lumpur under the banner of the Indian Olympic Association.

4. Life Father, Like Son: Back in 1936, Dhyan Chand and Ahmed Sher Khan won gold for India in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. In 1975, their sons Ashok Kumar and Aslam Sher Khan won gold for India in the 1975 World Cup. Aslam's contribution - he came as a substitute with only 4 minutes left and scored the tying goal in the semi-final against Malaysia, a match which India won in extra-time. Ashok Kumar's contribution - he scored the goal that won India the World Cup against Pakistan.

5. Arch-rival Pakistan: The only time India and Pakistan have met in a World Cup final in any sport is the 1975 Hockey World Cup in Kuala Lumpur. India emerged victorious in this battle between arch rivals.

6. The legendary Balbir Singh Sr, three-time Olympic gold medallist, was the manager and de facto head coach of the India team. During the training camp in Chandigarh, his father passed away. Balbir Sr. missed only one day of overseeing training during the whole camp - the day his father was cremated. Balbir Sr. dutifully followed his father's advice, "Duty first, self and everything else afterwards."

7. Triple Medal Count: Four India players - Ashok Kumar, Michael Kindo, Ajitpal Singh and Harcharan Singh - won bronze at the 1971 World Cup, silver at the 1973 World Cup and gold at the 1975 World Cup. India has not won a medal in any Hockey World Cup since then.

8. Tale of Two Prime Ministers: Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razaak presented the World Cup to Ajitpal Singh. Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi invited the triumphant team over for a felicitation. When she was shown the magnificent World Cup trophy that was donated by Pakistan, the astute prime minister pointed out to a distortion in the map of Kashmir on the globe engraved on the trophy.

9. Tale of two Broadcasting Legends: Jasdev Singh (Hindi) and Melville D'Mello (English) were the AIR commentators at Kuala Lumpur 1975. They were also the commentators the previous time India won a world event in hockey - the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

10. Bollywood Celebrates Hockey: Victory celebrations in India continued for next six months! One event stands out because of its uniqueness - the World Cup team played a match against the top Bollywood stars at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, which attracted a huge crowd.

How Quickly Have We Forgotten India's Only World Cup Win

Photograph of the 1975 World Cup winning team courtesy Hockey India

ndian hockey wrote a historic chapter 46 years ago on 15 March, 1975 in Kuala Lumpur arch rival Pakistan by 2-1 in a thrilling final. Ashok Kumar, who scored the winning goal in the final, looks back on the World Cup with a mixture of pride at that singular achievement, and disappointment that his countrymen have gradually forgotten their feat.

Says Ashok Kumar, "What is a bigger example of nationalism than bringing laurels for your country. That win in 1975 brought smiles on the faces of every citizen of this country, across caste, religion, status, gender lines," he told PTI Bhasha.

He said the World Cup final win against Pakistan was one of the most impactful matches in the history of Indian hockey. "India's 1975 World Cup triumph had created a tehelka (storm) at the time. Before this win, India had been labelled as a team of silver and bronze medallists. With this triumph, we removed that label," he stated.

"People still recall the radio commentary of that match. Hockey was a symbol of nationalism those days. I remember how Raj Kapoor organised a friendly match between our team and Bollywood team. The whole film fraternity turned out in Wankhede stadium to watch that," he said.

On his return to Jhansi, he was given a hero's welcome. The three-km route from Jhansi railway station to his house took four hours to reach. At home, his father, the legend Dhyan Chand, was waiting for him. Says Ashok Kumar, "When I reached home, 'dadu' (his father Dhyan Chand) patted my back in appreciation. It was a rare occasion when he touched me, since out of sheer respect, I used to keep a distance from him."

The 1975 win remains a jewel in the crown for Indian hockey. During training, the players got ₹50 as daily allowance for their diet. After their World Cup win, the players were gifted a scooter on their return to India.

Public memory being short, the 1975 World Cup heroics are unknown to the present generation. Ashok Kumar signs off, "Who remembers all that now. There is not a single mention of the Hockey World Cup win anywhere on television on 15th March every year. We do not get any congratulatory calls on this day. The television channels have been busy celebrating actress Alia Bhatt's birthday since morning."

Hockey On Television Screens Is Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

Star Sports calendar of sporting events - graphic credit Rediff.com

ockey has lost the viewership battle on Indian television, with zero live events for the past 365 days. The Star Sports schedule for 2021 shows cricket driving the sporting calendar with nine tournaments, and non-cricketing events such as Formula One, English Premier League, Hero Indian Super League and the Tennis majors making up the rest.

With hockey nowhere in the mix, it is a case of out of sight, out of mind for hockey fans. The reality is that televised sports follows the money, and unfortunately, there is no money in televising hockey in India.

Star Sports has acquired rights for 140-150 days of cricket broadcasting this year on Star Sports and Hotstar Disney, and has been able to monetize the rights. Star Sports is coming off a successful 2020 IPL, which generated advertising revenue of over ₹2,700 crore for the host broadcaster Disney-Star - even though it was held outside India, and with no in-stadia audience. Star Sports was able to garner 110 sponsors last year.

The India-England bilateral series attracted 18 sponsors, including Dream11, Byju's, Ceat, Maruti Suzuki, Oppo, Amazon and Mondelez India, among others. Cricket events in the line-up include the Asia Cup, World T20, and India's tour to South Africa.

Sanjog Gupta of Star Sports said that they are looking at starting two-three more regional feeds to boost IPL's reach in 2021, in addition to the Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Bengali feeds. Advertisers on board for IPL 2021 include Byju's, ITC, Just Dial, MRF, Maruti Suzuki, besides new entrants Asian Paints, Parle and Kamla Pasand.

With so much of the audience share already taken up by other sports, and with no live hockey programming for more than a year, televised hockey in India is dying a slow death, unnoticed and unmourned by Indian sports fans.

Indian Men Win 2-Test Hockey Series vs. Great Britain In Antwerp

Chinglensana Singh vs. Samuel Ward in India vs. Great Britain in Antwerp. Photo credit World Sport Pics

he world no. 4 Indian men's team played a 2-test series against world no. 7 Great Britain in Antwerp. These matches were counted as friendlies (uncapped) by Great Britian. India won the 2-test series, with the following match results:

Date Result Goal Scorers - India
Mar 6 India 1 - Great Britain 1 Simranjeet Singh (57 min)
Mar 8 India 3 - Great Britain 2 Harmanpreet Singh (1 min), PC
Mandeep Singh (28 min-PC, 59 min)

The 22-member Indian men's hockey squad was as follows:

Goalkeepers: P. R. Sreejesh (captain), Krishan Bahadur Pathak

Defenders: Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Gurinder Singh, Harmanpreet Singh (vice-captain), Surender Kumar, Jarmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra

Midfielders: Chinglensana Singh, Neelakantha Sharma, Hardeek Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Rajkumar Pal, Simranjeet Singh, Shamsher Singh, Akashdeep Singh

Forwards: Gurjant Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay

Photograph of the Month

Based on article by Prakash Bhandari of The Times of India, photo credit Getty Images

he Photograph of the Month for April 2021 is of the late commentator Jasdev Singh. This was taken in 2008, when he was honoured with the Padma Bhushan award at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The following article accompanied the photograph in the Times of India.

In the era of the radio, when major sports event like the Olympics, Asian Games, World Cup hockey, and international hockey and cricket tests were covered by the All India Radio (AIR), millions of sports buffs would tune in. Several generations grew up listening to the radio commentary, which only grew in popularity with the advent of transistor radios in the early 1960s. Sports broadcasters had a large following all over the country.

Jasdev Singh, who began his career in 1955 from AIR, Jaipur, gave Hindi sports commentary respectability with his deft description of the play in the middle, and by his speed and accuracy. Jasdev Singh excelled in hockey commentary, and the manner in which he followed the moving ball with his super-fast commmentary made people wonder whether he had a motor in his mouth. Such was his popularity in Pakistan, that whenever India and Pakistan clashed in an international hockey fixture, like the Asian Games, World Cup or the Olympics, many hockey fans in Pakistan would tune in to AIR to hear Jasdev.

Once when Jasdev had gone to Karachi for an assignment, and was roaming in the market in his spare time, a blind person requested for help to cross the crowded street. When Jasdev Singh spoke to him, the person asked whether he was Jasdev Singh as his voice resembled the Indian commentator. When Jasdev said yes, the blind man could not believe his ears and said that he was a great fan of Jasdev's commentary.

In the third Hockey World Cup held at Kuala Lumpur in 1975, Jasdev was there to give commentary in the India-Pakistan World Cup final. India won the match, and the commentary was heard by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi herself in her office. When the triumphant Indian team returned, the Prime Minister feted the Indian team. During the felicitation function when Jasdev Singh was introduced to late Indira Gandhi, she admitted that she heard his commentary with bated breath during the final.

Even after four decades, the voice of the legendary Jasdev Singh describing the winning moments of the 1975 World Cup reverberates in the minds of millions of Indians.

"Aur yeh free hit mila 25 gaj ki doori se dayen flank par Pakistan ke Iftikar ko. Aur ye hit lagaya. Ab gend Akhtar Rasool ke paas.

Gend Bharat ke D mein bayi or se, jahan chaukanni hai puri team. Ajitpal ne khoobsurti se gend apne D se bahar kar di. Aur yeh khel khatam.

Bharat 2-1 se jeet gaya. Bharat vishwa hockey champion hai!"

Born in Baoli village, near Jaipur in the family of an overseer of Jaipur state, Jasdev Singh became fascinated with radio commentary after hearing Melville de Mellow's marathon commentary in English of Mahatma Gandhi's funeral in Delhi in 1948. He made up his mind to become a broadcaster, and after graduation, he joined AIR Jaipur as an announcer. His romance with sports commentary began in a humble way, when he started doing sports commentary on the public-address system during sports events in Jaipur. He shifted to Delhi and then established himself as a sports commentator. He was not confined to sports, and also gave commentary on Republic Day, Independence Day and other mega-events.

He along with Melville de Mellow teamed together to give commentary at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics in 1964, and had hockey buffs in both India and in Pakistan glued to the radio. This was a crucial Olympics for India, as they had lost the hockey gold to Pakistan in the 1960 Rome Olympics. Jasdev excelled in his description of the pulsating final, with the late Mohinder Lal scoring the winning goal for India.

Jasdev's broadcasting journey saw him cover 9 Olympics, 8 Hockey World Cups, 6 Asian Games and numerous hockey and cricket test. He shifted from radio to television, and he retired as Deputy Director General (Sports) of Doordarshan.

A recipient of the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan, his biggest honour came when he was given the Olympic Order, the highest award of the Olympic movement. He also acted in a Hollywood film, the "The Wind Cannot Read", a film based on the second World War that was filmed in Jaipur in the late fifties. He acted as a Sikh soldier.

Money Matters

he Indian men's and women's hockey teams have received a financial boost from the Indian government's Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), under which the core group of men's and women's Indian hockey internationals will get a monthly allowance of ₹50,000 till the Tokyo Olympics.

TOPS is a flagship program of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports that aims to provide assistance to India's top athletes and potential medal winners in their preparations for the Olympics.

Manpreet Singh, the current captain of the Indian men's hockey team expressed his happiness at the announcement. He shared how the Indian men's hockey team consists of players from challenging economic backgrounds, and how having a monthly allowance will help them continue pursuing their hockey dreams and participate in the Olympic Games.

The women's hockey team captain Rani Rampal was thrilled by the fact that this was the first time the Indian women's hockey core group was being included in TOPS. Just like the Indian men's team captain, Rani Rampal express her gratitude for the financial support. She added that the decision shows that women's hockey is being given equal importance and equal benefits by the government as compared to the men's team, which is encouraging for Indian women's hockey.

58 hockey stars will get the TOPS monthly allowance till the Tokyo Olympics - this includes 33 players from the Indian men's core group and 25 from the women's core group.

At the 2016 Rio Olympics, TOPS-sponsored athletes P. V. Sindhu and Sakshi Malik captured silver and bronze in badminton and wrestling, respectively. In the 2016 Paralympic Games, TOPS athletes won 2 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze, demonstrating the effectiveness of the scheme.

Media Matters

orba Books has published the book "How India won its Olympic medals 1900 - 2016" written by noted sports author Vijayan Bala. The book contains interviews of our individual Olympic medal winners in different sports. We come to know the struggles the winners had to overcome on their way to achieve Olympic success.

The book is of special interest for hockey lovers, as it takes the readers from 1928 (Our First Hockey Gold 1928 Amsterdam Olympics) all the way to 1980 (India Wins Hockey Gold after 16 Years in Moscow Olympics). The book provides interesting snippets like:

  • In 1964 there were two Germanys - West Germany and East Germany. Which Germany participated in the 1964 Olympics hockey?
  • Who was the renowned Indian hockey goalkeeper who died of gangrene in the very legs with which he protected India's goal and won gold medals for India?
  • Who is the only Indian (and possibly in the world) to play international hockey with spectacles?
  • Which Indian hockey players have won the Vir Chakra for gallantry awarded by the Indian Army?

Gurbux Singh, 1964 hockey gold medalist and joint-captain of bronze medal winning team in 1968 Mexico Olympics has written, "I have known Vijayan for many years and also done television commentary with him. Apart from being a reputed educationist, Vijayan follows sports very closely and has a deep understanding and knowledge of hockey and other sports. I am confident that his book on Indian Olympic medal winners will be enjoyed by youngsters and sports enthusiasts as it is both informative and interesting. I wish Vijayan and his book all the best."

The author has been Vice-Principal of Army Public School in New Delhi, and Principal of Raunaq Public School near Sonepat. Vijayan Bala has been an English commentator for All India Radio and Doordarshan, covering hockey, cricket and football.

The book was published in December 2020 and has 152 pages. It is available in paperback for ₹199 and the Kindle edition costs ₹99.  Those interested in getting copies of the book can contact the author on his mobile number 9990570304.

Fun With Numbers

Statistics by B. G. Joshi

he April 2021 edition of Fun with Numbers is on countries with which the Indian men's hockey team has played a century of matches.

  • There are 6 countries against which the Indian men's team has played 100 or more matches - 2 from Asia (PAK, MAS), 2 from Europe (NED, GER) and 2 from Oceania (AUS, NZL)
  • India won the debut matches against all these six countries
  • India's debut match against Netherlands was in the 1928 Olympic final, and debut match against Pakistan was in the 1956 Olympic final
  • Against both Pakistan and Malaysia, India won the first match, the 100th match and the most recent match
  • India reached the century of matches quickest against Pakistan (in 47 years, from 1956 to 2003)
  • Melbourne has hosted both India's first match against Australia (1935) and India's first match against Pakistan (1956)
Opponent First Match 100th Match Most Recent Match Overall Record
Date Venue Score Date Venue Score Date Venue Score Total India W India L Draw
Pakistan Dec 6, 1956 Melbourne IND 1 - PAK 0 May 31, 2003 Perth IND 2 - PAK 0 Oct 20, 2018 Muscat IND 3 - PAK 1 175 62 82 31
Australia Aug 17, 1935 Melbourne IND 12 - AUS 1 Jun 9, 2014 Hague IND 0 - AUS 4 Feb 22, 2020 Bhubanesvar IND 2 - AUS 2 128 22 85 21
Malaysia Jun 4, 1932 Singapore IND 7 - MAS 0 Dec 1, 2011 Johannesburg IND 5 - MAS 4 Aug 17, 2019 Tokyo IND 6 - MAS 0 122 85 17 20
Netherlands May 26, 1928 Amsterdam IND 3 - NED 0 Dec 6, 2015 Raipur IND 5 - NED 5 Jan 19, 2020 Bhubanesvar IND 3 - NED 3 108 34 49 25
New Zealand Jun 26, 1926 Christchurch IND 5 - NZL 2 Aug 18, 2019 Tokyo IND 1 - NZL 2 Aug 21, 2019 Tokyo IND 5 - NZL 0 101 55 29 17
Germany Sep 11, 1932 Munich IND 6 - GER 0 Mar 2, 2021 Krefeld (GER) IND 1 - GER 1       100 20 53 27