Foreword / Preface
GOLDEN OLYMPIC MOMENTS
- The 13 member Indian team for the 1928 Olympics (with 3 students joining in London) set
sail on March 10, 1928 from Mumbai to London. Only 3 people - 2 officials of the IHF and a
solitary journalist - were present on this historic occasion to see the first national
hockey team leave the shores of India.
- The Indian team landed at the Tilbury docks near London on March 10, 1928,
en route to Amsterdam. After witnessing the Indian jugglers’ game in the
Folkstone Hockey Festival, defending champions England, gold winners at the
1908 and 1920 Olympics, lost their enthusiasm. The English decided to
withdraw from the Olympics to avoid defeat at the hands of a 'subject'
people. Britain never played India as long as it remained its colony.
- The ten-day hockey competition in the Amsterdam Games was held in May, two months before
the rest of the Olympic events. India made its debut in the Olympic Games on May 17, 1928,
beating Austria 6-0. India went on to beat Belgium 9-0, Denmark 5-0 and Switzerland 6-0 in
the semi-finals to set up the title clash against Holland.
- Jaipal Singh, a student of Oxford University, captained India only till
the semi-finals before he had to go back to England. Vice Captain Eric Pinniger then
took over the captaincy for the final against Holland.
- The finals, held on May 26, 1928, aroused tremendous interest. Nearly 24,000 spectators,
till then the biggest crowd for a hockey match, saw the game. India beat Holland 3 - 0 to
win its first ever Olympic gold medal, and its first ever victory in a world tournament.
On May 29, when the prize giving ceremony was held at the Olympic Stadium, and Eric
Pinniger lead the team to the victory stand, this marked the first time that a team from
Asia had won any medal in the Olympics.
- Richard James Allen did not concede a single goal in the 1928 Olympics.
Allen, who kept India's goal in 3 consecutive Olympics (1928, 1932, 1936), conceded a total of
only 3 goals in the 3 Olympics and won 3 gold medals.
- The Amsterdam Games marked the debut of a Lance Naik from the Indian Army - the 'Hockey
Wizard' Dhyan Chand. He had come by the sobriquet with a sensational feat in the
final of the Punjab Indian Infantry tournament in the town of Jhelum. 'Come on,
Dhyan! We are two goals down,' said his commanding officer. 'Do something about it.'
Dhyan Chand then scored three goals in the last four minutes for his side to snatch a
dramatic victory. Dhyan Chand was the favourite of all at the Amsterdam Games,
dazzling spectators and critics alike.
- An awe-struck Dutch journalist wrote "The Indian ball seems ignorant of the laws of
gravity. One of those tanned diabolical jugglers stares at the ball intently; it gets
upright and remains suspended in the air. This is no longer the game of hockey. It is a
juggling turn. It is splendid." The Indian team's performance revived interest in
hockey, and overnight it became a world sport.
- India's record in the 1928 Olympics at Amsterdam was as follows :
- Played: 5
- Won: 5
- Goals For: 29
- Goals Against: 0
- The following were the members of the 1928 Indian Olympic Team :
- Jaipal Singh (captain) (from London)
- Broome Eric Pinniger (vice captain) (Punjab)
- Shaukat Ali (Bengal)
- Richard J. Allen (goalkeeper) (Bengal)
- Dhyan Chand (United Provinces)
- Michael A. Gateley (Delhi)
- William James Goodsir-Cullen (United Provinces)
- Leslie C. Hammond (United Provinces)
- Feroze Khan (Punjab)
- George Eric Marthins (United Provinces)
- Rex A. O. Norris (Central Provinces)
- Nawab of Pataudi (from London)
- Michael E. Rocque (Central Provinces)
- Frederick S. Seaman (United Provinces)
- Kher Singh (Punjab)
- Syed M. Yusuf (from London)
- A. R. Rosser (manager) (Bengal)
Photo Courtesy Wills Book of Excellence - Hockey