Autobiography of Hockey Wizard Dhyan Chand
Published by Sport & Pastime, Chennai, 1952
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Journey to Berlin
|During our voyage from Aden to
Marseilles, I must record one happy event. His Highness the Maharaja of
Mysore, Krishnaraja Wodiyar, was travelling in the same steamer.
The Maharaja mixed with us freely and we all came to like him very much. He had his own arrangements for food, and everyday we received curds and Indian vegetarian dishes. At Malta a large number of pressmen from England boarded the boat to interview him.
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he team for the Berlin Olympics was asked to assemble in Delhi, and accordingly, 11 of us met in Delhi on June 16. Cullen, Nimal and Phillips joined us in Chennai, Ahmad Sher Khan in Bhopal, and Gupta, Allen and Mickie in Mumbai.
Like the 1928 tour, we had an inauspicious start. We played the Delhi Hockey XI on the Mori Gate ground on June 16, and much to our disappointment, lost the match by 4 goals to 1. My experiences thus far had been to win matches and not lose them.
I remember that in 1932, after our return from the Olympic tour, we beat Delhi by 12 goals to nil. I never recognised Delhi as a big hockey playing centre, but on this day they were right on top of us and completely outplayed us.
The news of this defeat created adverse opinions about us, and while we were touring other centres before we finally sailed from Mumbai, this particular defeat kept worrying me. For the first time I was captaining the Olympic team; will India lose the title under my charge?
We left Delhi on the night of June 16 and reached Jhansi the next morning. We played the famous Jhansi Heroes and beat them by 7 clear goals. We led by two goals at the interval. Had not Jhansi Heroes goalkeeper Nanhe Lal been in top form, we might have doubled the score.
Leaving Jhansi the same night, we reached Bhopal the next morning. We played Bhopal State XI on June 18 before a very large crowd that included His Highness the Nawab and the Begum of Bhopal, and Sir Joseph Bhore, who was a former president of the IHF. We beat Bhopal by 3 clear goals.
In the evening, we were entertained lavishly by the president of the Bhopal State Hockey Association, Nawabzada Rashidul Zafar Khan. We left Bhopal for Chennai the next morning, and arrived on the afternoon of June 20. We played Madras Indians on June 21, and won by 5 goals to 1. We played All-Madras the next day, and won by 5 goals to 3.
We left Chennai on June 22 and arrived in Bangalore the next morning. We played Bangalore Combined on June 23, and won by 4 goals to 1. We left Bangalore the same night and reached Mumbai on the morning of June 25. We had a very good time in Mumbai. During our 48-hour stay in the city, there was a round of entertainments. The most impressive and enjoyable function was that organised by the Consul General of Germany.
We left Mumbai by the P & O line Ranpura on June 27. The sea was rough right from the time we entered the Arabian Sea. The monsoon was then in full swing in Mumbai.
I will never forget how the Bombay players Nimal and Phillips made frantic appeals to the managers to send them back to Mumbai at once. Probably they were having their first sea journey, and were bad victims of sea-sickness.
The bad sailing conditions continued till we reached Aden, and most of the team members refused food. We arrived in Aden in the early hours of July 2, and immediately after breakfast we went ashore with the hopes of some hockey practice.
I was happy to find that my own unit, the 4/14 Punjab Regiment, was then stationed in Aden, and it was a pleasure to meet my comrades. We were entertained by the Regiment to an enjoyable Indian meal, after which we had some practice in their regimental field.
During our voyage from Aden to Marseilles, I must record one happy event. His Highness the Maharaja of Mysore, Krishnaraja Wodiyar, was travelling in the same boat to England for medical attention. He had with him a large retinue, including the Diwan, Sir Mirza Ismail, and the Yuvaraja.
The Maharaja mixed with us freely and we all came to like him very much. He had his own arrangements for food, and everyday we received curds and Indian vegetarian dishes which were very welcome. At Malta a large number of pressmen boarded the steamer in the early morning. They had come from England to interview His Highness.
We reached Marseilles on the evening of July 10. Dock workers there were on strike, and the passengers were put to great difficulty in getting their baggage through. It took us time to unload our luggage ourselves and get them through the Customs and other formalities, and the result was that we missed our train to Paris. We were lodged in an ordinary hotel in Marseilles for the night.
Early next morning we boarded a train for Paris. We travelled third class. There was a restaurant car in the train, but our funds did not permit us to indulge in anything more than a meagre breakfast.
Nowadays I hear of the princely comforts provided for national teams travelling overseas, and the fuss players raise if they happen to miss even a cup of tea! When we used to travel, the name of our country and the game were the only two things that mattered.
We reached Paris in the evening. A man from Cooks met us at the station and arranged accommodation for us. The next day we visited Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, and rounded the day off with a visit to the Follies Bergere which we immensely liked.
We took a night train to Berlin. It was a job even to secure the third class seats provided to us. The night was cold and there was no sleeping accommodation. Cheerfully we forgot all these comforts. We were on a mission for our country.
There is a tendency on the part of our young players to care more for creature comforts than rendering high duty to our nation. I want to tell my young friends that if India is to attain the level of other nations in the world, one must sacrifice to a large extent personal comforts and shake off snobbery. Then only can we hope to be leaders of Asia, if not the world.
In every sphere of life, especially in sport, we must behave in a manner that will make the whole world respect us. The name of the country and the game must be the goal, and everything else subordinate.
The journey from Paris to Berlin was instructive. The ceremony of crossing the frontier from France to Germany was brief and painless. The Customs and Police personnel were very courteous and polite. In our former trips also I had the same happy experience. There was only one strict regulation, and that was the ban Germany had placed on importing foreign currency into the country. The ease with which the frontier could be crossed amazed all of us, in spite of the relations between France and Germany not being cordial.
At Cologne an official of the Organising Committee of the Berlin Olympiad joined us and travelled to Berlin, which we reached on the evening of July 13. A large crowd welcomed us at Berlin. The entire Indian community of Berlin was there, some of them carrying the Indian National Congress Tricolour.
Dr. Diem, chairman of the Organising Committee of the Berlin Olympiad, and Herr Georg Evers, president of the Deutsch Hockey Bund and also of the International Hockey Federation, welcomed us officially. The British national anthem was played and speeches were made in German. 'Heil Hitler' was called for at the end, and this was echoed by the crowd.
We were given a civic welcome in Berlin's Town Hall. The Mayor presented each player with a beautifully bound book on the city of Berlin. He also pinned a bronze medal on me.
We travelled in a luxurious bus to the Olympic Village, which was about 20 miles away from Berlin. The Village was a pucca brick and steel affair, unlike the pre-fabricated and removable cottages of the Los Angeles Olympiad.
As we entered the Olympic Village, I saw that representatives of seven nations were already in residence. Their national flags were flying in front of their respective residences.
The Indian contingent's flag, the Union Jack with the Star of India insignia, was hoisted as we entered. The commandant of the Village welcomed us and we were 'piped' into our cottage. The number of the cottage was 113 and its name was Elbing. I was told that Elbing was an industrial town in Germany which had supplied a large number of locomotives to India.
The cottage had 20 beds, a telephone and a refrigerator. Everything was kept spick and span, and every minute detail of our comforts had been attended to. Two stewards were there to look after us. One was Otto, an old-seasoned sailor who had visited India several times and spoke English well. The other was named Schmidt, and he spoke English haltingly.
Captain Fanelsa of the Reich Army was our attache. He spoke fluent English, but could not utter a single word of Hindi. Somehow it had been decided that English, not Hindi, was the national language of India. Perhaps Hitler did not want any foreigner to get to know more of Germany than was sanctioned by the authorities.
At Tempel Hof, Germany's biggest aerodrome, I found a huge hangar underground. Discreetly we were told not to notice such things. We also observed that most of the competitors in the German team were recruited from the Reich Army. We would later read in the press that whenever a German competitor won an event, and if he was a soldier by profession, he would be immediately promoted by the next morning to the rank of a Lieutenant or a Captain.
For dining we had to walk about half a mile to a huge circular building which reminded me of the Council Chamber in Delhi. The dining hall was located in the second floor. Meals were arranged cafeteria style, and there was more than enough good food for each.
One day while we were in the dining hall, who should walk in but the burly Hermann Goering, clad in his military attire! We were after him in a trice to get his autograph. Later some of us obtained Dr. Goebbel's autograph.
The Indian Team Arrives in Berlin