Autobiography of Hockey Wizard Dhyan Chand
Published by Sport & Pastime, Chennai, 1952
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|The Kolkata maidan belongs to the
Defence Department of the Government of India, but it is controlled by the
Kolkata Police. Called 'the lungs of Kolkata,' the maidan is reserved
exclusively for the relaxation of the vast millions of this great city.
Many famous sporting clubs have their grounds on the maidan. Every year the club grounds have to be kept closed for a fortnight to prevent any rights from accruing to them.
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n March of 1949, I went to Kolkata to take part in the Army hockey tournament, and I led the Eastern Command to victory. During that time we staged an exhibition match for the Troops Welfare Fund. We played a civilian team put up by the Bengal Hockey Association (BHA), and lost 1-5.
I was approached by the BHA to visit Kolkata again in April to lead the Rest of India team against the 1948 Indian Olympic team. I was most grateful to the Eastern Command authorities for permitting me to undertake this trip.
This match was played, in my opinion, in the presence of the largest crowd I have ever witnessed in my hockey career in India. For this match, the paid galleries were full to the capacity, and at the open end and all along the ramparts of Fort William, there was a huge concourse of spectators.
The gate collections on that day amounted to Rs. 14,298 gross! I do not know if this record collection for a hockey match was excelled anywhere else in India. The BHA did me the honour of not only asking me to lead the Rest of India, but also left the choice of my team to me. The two teams were:
Olympic Team: Leo Pinto (Bombay), Walter D'Souza (Bombay), R. S. Gentle (Bombay), Leslie Claudius (Bengal), Keshav Dutt (Bengal), Jaswant Singh (Bengal), Kishan Lal - captain (Bombay), K. D. Singh 'Babu' (UP), Reggie Rodrigues (Bombay), Pat Jansen (Bengal) and Lawrie Fernandes (Bombay)
Rest of India: Kulwant Singh (Bengal), Owen Pereira (Bombay), D. Paul (Bengal), Govind Perumal (Bombay), Ravi Deo Misra (UP), R. Da Luz (Bengal), Ramakrishna (Mysore), R. Pillai (Bombay), Dhyan Chand - captain (Army), Raj Kapoor (Bengal) and Bipin Das (Delhi)
The Olympic team with great difficulty beat my side by two goals to one. According to the Kolkata press, the goal I scored reminded them of my best days.
The match was played in Kolkata's maidan, and a short history of the maidan would not be out of place here. The Kolkata maidan belongs to the Defence Department of the Government of India, but it is controlled by the Kolkata Police. Appropriately called 'the lungs of Kolkata,' the maidan is reserved exclusively for the relaxation and recreation of the vast millions of this great city.
Many famous sporting clubs have their grounds on the maidan. They cannot put up any permanent fixtures and every year the club grounds have to be kept closed for a fortnight to prevent any rights from accruing to them.
Also, any member of the public has the right to walk into a club ground and linger on if he so wishes, even if an interesting sporting event is in progress for which tickets have to be purchased. However, nobody ever gate-crashes like that, and this is just an example of the sporting spirit of Kolkata's vast millions. They know what their rights are, but they also know that without money sports cannot thrive.
Another peculiarity is that a club can have temporary stands only on three sides of the ground. The fourth side has to be kept free for those unfortunate onlookers who could not get a ticket into the enclosures or who could not afford to buy a ticket, despite the fact that tickets are comparatively cheap.
Centre-forward Dhyan Chand (1928-36 gold) with centre-forward Balbir Singh Sr. (1948-56 gold)