Autobiography of Hockey Wizard Dhyan Chand
Published by Sport & Pastime, Chennai, 1952
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|I had an embarrassing incident at Prague.
A young and good-looking hockey enthusiast, a Czechoslovakian girl, insisted after
the match on kissing me.
"Oh, you are an angel!" she declared. She almost succeeded in her intention, but I resisted, repeating all the time that I was a married man. It was all in good fun. I would not have mentioned this incident had not Hayman referred to this in his tour booklet.
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e left in the Mauritania, which carried us from New York to Southampton. As the boat passed the imposing Statue of Liberty, I experienced a feeling of admiration and reverence. The huge Statue of Liberty reminded us of the glory and history of the United States of America.
We stayed five days in England, and we had the same experience there as before. England took no notice of us. Although we very much desired to play one or two matches, we were told that hockey was out of season.
The German Hockey Association made us a generous offer to meet all our expenses on the Continent. We had a hectic tour, playing nine matches in various countries in a fortnight, commencing on September 2. We played four internationals during this hurricane tour - against Holland, Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. At Amsterdam, I met a large number of acquaintances.
There was no comparison at all between the standard of hockey in the Los Angeles Olympic Games and the type and class of hockey in the Continent. Sometimes I used to wonder whether it was worthwhile going all the way to Los Angeles to play very weak sides like USA and Japan. I was initially critical of IHF's decision to participate, but later when I heard of the reason, I revised my opinion.
Hockey was once upon a time an Olympic event, then it was abandoned and subsequently re-introduced in 1928. Therefore, if India had not entered in the 1932 Olympic hockey competition, hockey might have been scrapped once again. From this angle, India's participation in Los Angeles was justified.
By Indian standards, hockey in the Continent was nothing to enthuse over. I did not notice much improvement over what I saw in 1928, excepting that more people had started playing and watching the game.
Of the matches played on the Continent, I thought the keenest fixture was against the Berlin XI, which we won by four goals to one. I still remember how they raided our area several times and threatened our goal, particularly when penalty corners were awarded against us.
Now that our country is free, I think I can safely refer to one incident without being in the bad books of the authorities.
Many of you must have heard of Dr. Taraknath Das, now in USA, but then living in exile in Germany. In Munich, we stayed in the same hotel where Dr. Das was staying. When he saw that we were carrying the Union Jack with us, he became furious. He hunted out his Bengali colleague Pankaj Gupta, and insisted that we discard the Union Jack for the Tricolour. It was quite a job for Gupta to get out of the predicament without making a scene or making it known to the world.
In Prague we had a match against a ladies team in which we played left-handed. The old man Hayman took great interest in this match, and as an umpire, he imposed all sorts of restrictions on us.
I had an embarrassing incident at Prague. A young and good-looking hockey enthusiast, a Czechoslovakian girl, insisted after the match on kissing me. "Oh, you are an angel!" she declared. She almost succeeded in her intention, but I resisted, repeating all the time that I was a married man. It was all in good fun. I would not have mentioned this incident had not Hayman referred to this in his tour booklet.
In our match against Hungary, we could beat them by only five goals. The ground in Budapest was in a terrible state and small in size, and I remember that we had a long motor drive from Vienna to reach Budapest just half an hour before the start of the match. We were actually two men short, but the two injured players sportingly agreed to play. Otherwise, both our officials, Sondhi and Gupta, were ready to play to complete the team.
After finishing our last match in Budapest, we made halts in Vienna, Florence, Rome and Naples. We sailed from Naples to Colombo on September 18, again on a N. Y. K. liner, Hakusan Maru.
We reached Colombo on October 4. From Colombo we travelled to Chennai, and then on to Mumbai, and finally to Lahore via Delhi.
In Mumbai, we were accorded a civic welcome at Victoria Terminus station. Mr. V. N. Chandavarkar was the Mayor of Mumbai those days, and it was very nice of him to have met us as we alighted from the train at Victoria Terminus. We had a photograph taken with the Mayor.
We had to play a series of matches in Ceylon and India to collect as much money as we could to repay the expenses of our trip. We played a total of ten matches in Ceylon and India, winning all except two. Our two drawn matches were against Bombay Customs (0-0) and Punjab Combined XI (2-2) in Lahore.
While at Lahore, Pankaj Gupta read out to us a letter which he received from the Director of the Olympic Village:
"The Indian team stayed in the village longer than any of the other teams, and became part of the family. On behalf of myself and all my associates here, I want to thank you, and through you the Indian hockey team, for the splendid cooperation you gave in managing the same. It was only such cooperation and assistance that enabled us to do the job we did."
We were demobilised in Lahore on October 16. In spite of gathering a good bit of money at various Indian centres, the tour ended up with a deficit of more than Rs. 3,000. This deficit was made up by Mr. Hayman, that grand sportsman whom India will miss.
Our tour statistics were as follows:
There was a round of entertainments. The first reception to me was given by my club, the Jhansi Heroes. Then followed a party by my friends Ismail and Babulal.
The grandest of all these gestures was the one made by Macdonnel High School. They did a singular honour to me by closing the school for half a day. The president of Jhansi Heroes, P. K. Chatterjee, was the headmaster of the school, and this was his great tribute to both myself and Roop Singh.
During my brief stay in Jhansi, a good match was arranged between a picked Military side and the Jhansi Heroes. I played for the Heroes, and we won the match by 4 goals to 2, with all our 4 goals coming off my stick.
At that time, there was a persistent rumour in Jhansi that I was going to leave the army to accept a lucrative job in the railways. It was a fact that Mr. Hayman did offer me a job in the railways, and I was caught in two minds.
General Duncan, who was commanding the Lahore area, met me when I was at Lahore. General Duncan assured me that I would be well looked after. In fact, had I not met him, I might have left the army. I am glad that I did not leave the army. My hope for getting a Commission has now materialised, and I am now holding a Captain's rank.
Dhyan Chand's son Virender Singh with the 1932 Olympics gold medal certificate