Autobiography of Hockey Wizard Dhyan Chand
Published by Sport & Pastime, Chennai, 1952
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|Two major provinces - Bombay and
Madras - were not in the draw as they did not have Hockey Associations in
Bombay was, and is today, a big noise in hockey circles, being the home of the Aga Khan tournament, and I was surprised that they did not cooperate in this national effort.
The Rajputana team was largely composed of players from the BB & CI Railway.
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ive teams participated in the first Inter-Provincial hockey tournament in 1928 - Punjab, United Provinces (UP), Bengal, Rajputana and Central Provinces. Kolkata hosted the tournament, which was staged with the sole idea of selecting India's first Olympic hockey team.
The Bengal Hockey Association took the trouble to make the tournament a success from every angle, particularly the financial angle. We all know that but for the support and financial aid given by Bengal in 1928, India might not have been able to send a team to win the World Championship at Amsterdam in 1928.
You will notice that two major provinces - Bombay and Madras - were not in the draw as they did not have Hockey Associations in those days. Bombay was, and is today, a big noise in hockey circles, being the home of the Aga Khan tournament, and I was surprised that they did not cooperate in this national effort of the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF).
The Rajputana team was largely composed of players from the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway, a team that had won almost every tournament they entered in. I naturally expected that after the successful New Zealand tour the Army would enter a team in the Inter-Provincial tournament, and I would be on my mettle with my own men and not be playing with strangers. I was surprised when the Army did not enter a team in the tournament.
I was informed that I was to play for UP in the tournament, perhaps based on my birth qualification. The UP team was sponsored by the Lucknow Sports Association, as UP had no association to cover the entire province those days, and Lucknow was virtually a provincial body.
I had my fears that since it would be my first appearance for a civilian side, I might be a misfit and my civilian colleagues might not appreciate my game. But very soon my fears were gone as the UP team welcomed me with all their heart and gave me jolly good support, encouragement and assistance.
I have heard reports that the Army had approached the Lucknow Association, and the authorities who were responsible for selecting the side felt that with me as the leader in the forward line they had a very good chance of winning the trophy, which eventually they did - the first champions of the Inter-Provincial hockey tournament.
The Army authorities gave me permission to play for UP, and accordingly I arrived in Kolkata straight from my regiment to join the provincial team. I stayed in the camp along with the UP players, most of whom were strangers to me.
N. N. Mukherjee, popularly known as Habul Mukherjee in the hockey world, was a member of the UP team. I had heard of Habul's reputation as a great player, and in fact he was. Habul, I believe, was the eldest member of our team. With his great reputation and wide experience of conditions in Kolkata where he had played in the Beighton Cup many times, I thought that Habul was the obvious choice for the captaincy.
But that honour fell on our goalkeeper, P. C. Bannerjee, another Bengali. Both Habul and Bannerjee hailed from Bengal but had settled down in UP. I did not, however, bother myself as to who skippered our side. Dr. A. C. Chatterjee was our manager.
At camp I mostly kept myself aloof from the other players, and joined them only at meal times and during play. I admit that I have never been a good social mixer. My temperament is of a peculiar nature. While at home or on the field, it is my habit to keep myself quiet and just do my duty.
When we came to Kolkata, we were told that the tournament would be run on a league basis, but later the IHF decided to run it on a knockout basis. This was because the Calcutta Football Club ground, where the events were to be staged, would not have lasted for so many matches if played on a league basis.
The day I arrived in Kolkata I saw in the papers the names of the personnel of the Bengal team. I was not interested at all because I did not know any of them. I had not played in Kolkata before, or witnessed a Kolkata team play anywhere.
But one name was familiar to me - F. C. Wells, the captain of the Bengal team. Wells had played for Punjab as the centre-forward in the first inter-provincial hockey match held in 1926 between Bengal and Punjab. Wells was attached to the Army in a way, being a member of India's Auxiliary Forces. On enquiry, I learned that Wells had shifted to Kolkata.
Wells was one of the best centre-forwards I ever saw in my hockey career. If necessary, Wells excelled equally as an inside-right. I was surprised when Wells failed to get a place in the 1928 Olympic team.
Wells travelled with me in the 1935 tour of New Zealand. It is my view that on a wet ground you cannot find a better inside-right than Wells. Wet grounds were almost the rule rather than the exception in New Zealand, and Wells partnered me well in many of our games there.
In 1936, at Berlin, when we were badly in need of an inside-right, we sent an SOS home to reinforce our team. I remember we mentioned three names - Dara, Wells and Eric Henderson of Kolkata. We got Dara. I was hoping that Wells would be sent, not because Wells was better than Dara, but I had played with Wells on my right and Roop Singh on my left the previous year in New Zealand, and Wells knew my game better.
Dhyan Chand - The Nemesis of Goalkeepers