Autobiography of Hockey Wizard Dhyan Chand
Published by Sport & Pastime, Chennai, 1952
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|We left Colombo on April 17 on the S. S.
Largs Bay of the Aberdeen and Commonwealth Line, a one-class liner, for
the non-stop ten days voyage from Colombo to Fremantle.
There were the traditional festivities when we crossed the Equator, with members of our team getting their share of lathering and ducking. What struck us was the sudden drop in temperature when we crossed the Equator.
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e assembled in Madras on April 13, 1935, where we played the first match of our tour. It was an auspicious beginning as it was India's New Year's Day, and Madras was in a gala mood. We met the combined Madras XI on the M. U. C. ground, and won the match easily by 5 goals to 2. I scored only once, and that was the last goal of the five. We were quartered at Bosotto's Hotel, and there we had a meeting and elected Masood as the vice-captain of the team.
We left Madras the same night and reached Colombo in the early hours of April 15. The Mayor of Colombo, Dr. H. P. Kaufmann, gave us a welcome at the Colombo Fort Railway Station.
We played two exhibition matches in Colombo, both against All-Ceylon. We won both the matches quite comfortably, the first by 7 goals to 1, and the second by the handsome margin of 21 goals to nil.
We left Colombo on April 17 on the S. S. Largs Bay of the Aberdeen and Commonwealth Line. Of course in those days air travel was not the fashion. Travelling by sea we did not insist on getting the best accommodation. Our boat was a one-class liner, we were quite comfortable about it.
The journey was pleasant and we had many new experiences. There were the traditional festivities when we crossed the Equator, with members of our team getting their share of lathering and ducking.
During the non-stop ten days voyage from Colombo to Fremantle, what struck us was the sudden drop in temperature when we crossed the Equator. We passed through the Cocos Islands, which was the only piece of land we saw during our voyage from Colombo to Fremantle. We kept ourselves fit by doing P. T . exercises in the morning, and taking part in all deck games.
During the voyage, various Australian State Hockey Associations wirelessed us to ask that we play matches at each port of call. Our itinerary showed that we would be going via Perth, Adelaide, and Melbourne to Sydney, which are in the states of Western Australia, Southern Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.
Since we were guests of New Zealand, we thought it would not be right on our part to play matches on Australian soil without a reference to our hosts. We took up the matter with the New Zealand Hockey Association and they readily granted permission.
We reached Fremantle in the early hours of April 27, and were met by the representatives of the Western Australia Hockey Association (WAHA), with whom we motored to Perth. What a beautiful city Perth is! The Swan river and the drive will long be remembered by me.
We played against the Western Australia XI at the Clairemont Show ground. It was an easy win for us. Though the half-time score was only 3-2 in our favour, in the second half we completely dominated the play. I scored six goals in this match.
After the match we were entertained to a dinner by WAHA. We witnessed for the first time a trotting race at night. We were back aboard for the night, and early the next morning we left for Adelaide.
At Adelaide we were given a reception by the Lord Mayor the city on May 2. Pankaj Gupta asked him if he could arrange for the team to meet Don Bradman, who was then in the city.
The Mayor at once sent a messenger, and within a few minutes the great Don came to the City Hall to meet us. We were delighted to meet him. Don posed for a photograph with us, a photograph that I will cherish all my life.
In the evening we met a South Australian XI and beat them by 10 goals to 1. The match was played at Adelaide's beautiful cricket ground. Don Bradman was an interested spectator in the match, and I was told later that it was the first hockey match he had seen in his life. After the match, we had a short sight-seeing drive and were back again on the boat to sail immediately for Melbourne.
We reached Melbourne on May 4. After playing Victoria, whom we beat by 15 goals to 4, we left for Sydney the same night by train. At Sydney we played a Metropolitan XI on Sydney cricket ground no. 2, and beat them by 11 goals to 4.
We spent a few days in Sydney and thoroughly enjoyed our brief stay at a small private hotel in King's Cross. On May 7 we sailed from Sydney to Wellington on an Union Line steamer. The name of the boat was Manganui.
We reached Wellington on May 13. The New Zealanders were particularly happy because our sojourn coincided with the jubilee celebrations of King George V. After the State welcome in the morning, the mayor of the city gave us a civic reception. Later in the evening we were presented to the Governor-General, Viscount Gallway, at Government House, Wellington.
We had a whirlwind tour and I will not go into the details of the various matches excepting the test matches. We played a total of 9 matches in North Island, winning them all. On May 19, the day after our match with Poverty Bay, we were given a stirring welcome by the Maoris at Kaiti. A dozen young Maoris stripped to the waist gave us the traditional haka welcome.
The Maoris, who claimed to have migrated from Asian countries to the Antipodes more than a thousand years ago, declared that they were related to the Indians. At this meeting the Maoris asked that we play a friendly match with the All-Maori XI, and the New Zealand Hockey Association authorities agreed to the same. Accordingly, the last match in that Dominion was awarded to the Maoris.
On June 2, we crossed over to Christchurch in the South Island. We made our journeys within South Island from one centre to another entirely by charabanc.
The country was in the grip of a severe winter, and while proceeding from Oamaru to Gore on June 11, our automobile was caught in a fierce snowstorm. It was with great difficulty that we arrived at Gore. The next day we found that the field was waist-deep in snow, and there was no chance of play that day.
We played the first test at Lancaster Park in Christchurch on June 22. A crowd of 11,000 watched the match, and it was a great thrill to us when we were led to the ground by the Scottish Society's pipe band.
We won the test by 4 goals to 2, after being down by two goals at half-time. Immediately after half-time, Shahabuddin with a clever flick shot scored the first goal. Soon after, Roop Singh scored with a flick drive. Frank Wells netted our third goal, Roop Singh obtained the fourth, and when the final whistle was blown, we sighed in relief.
The same night the New Zealand Hockey Association entertained us to an official dinner. We crossed the channel to North Island to play our second test at the Athletic Park in Wellington on June 29.
This test was a keenly contested match, and the closing stages provided exciting hockey. We managed to win this match 3-2. Frank Wells scored the first goal, and I scored the other two, while captain Mcleod and Watts reduced the margin for New Zealand. It was a close finish, and I felt that we were somewhat lucky to win this match.
The third test was played at the Eden Park in Auckland on July 20. According to the Auckland press, more than 12,000 people watched the test.
New Zealand surprised us by taking the lead. After that it was all India, and we won the match by a comfortable margin of 7 goals to 1. Frank Wells scored the first goal, I got the second and third, my brother Roop Singh netted the fourth and fifth goals, Frank scored the sixth, and I completed the tally by scoring the last goal.
I must pay great tribute to New Zealand's captain Eddie Mcleod, who had earlier played against us in 1926, and was also a New Zealand cricketer.
The Maoris were anxious that that we play a match with them, which we did so at Rotorua, well known for its hot springs and sulphur baths. That was the last match in New Zealand.
On this occasion the Maoris presented us with a carved shield, which served as the trophy for the Inter-Provincial Championship in India till it went to Pakistan and never returned!
Happily, however, the proprietors of The Hindu and Sport & Pastime, great lovers of sport, presented a new trophy, the Rangaswami Memorial Cup, during the 1951 championship in Chennai.
We left New Zealand on our homeward journey on July 26. We had a short hurried stop in Australia, and we beat Australia in the only international fixture in Melbourne by 12 clear goals.
We played three matches in Ceylon, two more in Chennai, and were demobilised on September 10, 1935. We had a round of entertainments in Chennai before we left for our respective destinations.
The Nawab of Manavdar, through his private secretary, M. N. Masood, who was my vice-captain in the New Zealand tour, presented each member of the team with a fountain pen. In addition, a camera was also presented to me.
I left for Jhansi the next day, and after staying a few days with my family, I resumed my duties in the barracks.
Dhyan Chand & team-mates signing autographs to raise money for the 1935 tour of NZ & Australia