Autobiography of Hockey Wizard Dhyan Chand
Published by Sport & Pastime, Chennai, 1952
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The Beighton Cup
|Instituted in 1895, the Beighton
Cup hockey tournament has had a non-stop run. World Wars I and II did not affect
the tournament. Threats of Japanese bombs and actual bombings in Kolkata while
the hockey season was on also did not prevent the tournament from being held.
That being said, it is sad to think that the tournament had to yield to the communal frenzy which gripped the nation in 1946-47.
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n 1933, the Jhansi Heroes decided to participate in the Beighton Cup hockey tournament. My life's ambition was to win the Beighton Cup, as I had always regarded this competition as the blue riband of Indian hockey.
In my opinion it is perhaps the best organised hockey event in the country. Kolkata is indeed lucky that it has at least three or four first class hockey grounds on the maidan, and this is a great advantage to run a tournament on schedule.
Instituted in 1895, this tournament has had a non-stop run. World Wars I and II did not affect the tournament. Threats of Japanese bombs and actual bombings in Kolkata while the hockey season was on also did not prevent the tournament from being held. That being said, it is sad to think that the tournament had to yield to the communal frenzy which gripped the nation in 1946-47.
I was not sure if I would be granted the necessary leave by the army. Leave, however, was granted, and I joined the Jhansi Heroes at Kolkata. The team stayed in an Indian hotel, while I stayed with Pankaj Gupta.
I will never forget this trip to Kolkata for many reasons. Firstly, we won the cup, secondly, we played five matches in four days (on one day we had to play in the morning and in the afternoon), and lastly, just before the Cup final, I had a serious attack of dysentery. There was danger to my life, but thanks to the care taken by Dr. K. Misra, I pulled through and in that state of health I played in the final.
If anybody asked me which was the best match that I played in, I will unhesitatingly say that it was the 1933 Beighton Cup final between Calcutta Customs and Jhansi Heroes. Calcutta Customs was a great side those days; they had Shaukat Ali, Asad Ali, Claude Deefholts, Seaman, Mohsin, and many others who were then in the first flight of Indian hockey.
I had a very young side. Besides my brother Roop Singh, and Ismail, who played for the Great Indian Peninsular Railway in Mumbai, I had no other really great player in the team. But I had a team which was determined to do or die.
It was a great match, full of thrills, and it was just opportunism that gave us the victory. Customs were pressing hard and our goal was at their mercy. Suddenly I broke through and from midfield gave a long through pass to Ismail, who ran with Jesse Owens' speed half the length of the ground. A misunderstanding occurred between the Customs left-half and the goalkeeper, and Ismail, taking every advantage of it, cut through and netted the only goal of the match. We felt very proud of our triumph.
My memoirs will become rather unwieldy if I enlarge on the social part of my hockey career. For this reason, the entertainment and the parties and the very good time we had in Kolkata immediately after winning the Beighton Cup need not be detailed. We had a grand time.
We also took part in the Lakshmibilas Cup tournament in Kolkata which is open only to Indian teams, and won this tournament as well.
With India's two famous trophies in our possession, and not insured, we travelled back to Jhansi in a crowded third-class compartment. A great reception was accorded to the Jhansi Heroes on our return. Our president, Mr. Chatterjee, specially came from Jhansi to Kolkata to see the final.
In 1935, Jhansi Heroes again entered in the Beighton Cup to defend their title. We met Mohun Bagan in the third round, but I could not reach Kolkata in time to play the match. While still in the train in Allahabad, I read in the papers that Jhansi Heroes had a surprise defeat at the hands of Mohun Bagan, losing by the odd goal in three.
I wondered at that time if I should proceed to Kolkata or go back to my regiment. I decided to proceed to Kolkata and took part in the Lakshmbilas Cup, in which we defeated the same Mohun Bagan side in the final by five goals to nil.
In April 1936, Jhansi Heroes once again entered the Beigthon Cup, and this time I was able to play in all the matches. We beat Dalhousie 9-1, C. F. C 2-0, and the famous Bengal Nagpur Railway by 3 clear goals, before losing to Calcutta Customs in the semi-final by a solitary goal in a very close match.
In the 1937 Beighton Cup hockey tournament, my team Jhansi Heroes beat Armenitola Club (Dhaka) 12-0 and the Armenians of Calcutta 3-0. In our next match with the Bhopal Wanderers, we were defeated by the odd goal in three. Bhopal Wanderers were a very strong side, and ours was a team mainly consisting of youngsters, with the exception of my brother Roop and myself.
The Hockey Twins - Dhyan Chand (left) and Roop Singh