Autobiography of Hockey Wizard Dhyan Chand
Published by Sport & Pastime, Chennai, 1952

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Olympic Hockey Final

Suddenly Pankaj Gupta produced a Congress Tricolour. Reverently we saluted and prayed and marched onto the field.

A crowd of 40,000 which included the Maharaja of Baroda, the Princess of Bhopal and a large number of Indians who had travelled from all over the Continent and England, had turned up to witness the final. The vast crowd cheered as both teams entered the field.

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riday, August 14, was the date fixed for the final, but it rained very heavily that day. When we saw the ground lying under deep water we became nervous. The impact of the defeat that Germany inflicted on us in the practice match still lingered in us.

Manager Jagannath requested the German hockey officials to obtain a postponement to the following day. But August 15 was the final day of the Olympic Games, and the evening fixtures on that day could not be disturbed.

It was therefore suggested that the game be staged in the morning, to which we agreed. The final day dawned on August 15 when we were to meet Germany in the Hockey Stadium at 11:00 in the morning. Perhaps it was the first time an Olympic hockey match was played in the forenoon.

On the morning of August 15, we met in the dressing room. All of us were wondering as to what would be the result of the day. Never before had we ever doubted the issue of a game. Suddenly Pankaj Gupta produced a Congress Tricolour. Reverently we saluted and prayed and marched onto the field.

A crowd of 40,000 which included the Maharaja of Baroda, the Princess of Bhopal and a large number of Indians who had travelled from all over the Continent and England, had turned up to witness the final. The vast crowd cheered as both teams entered the field. In contrast to our despondency, the Germans appeared to have the feeling that they were up against an inferior side.

Germany adopted India's game of short passes and at the interval we were up by only one goal. After the interval we made an all-out attack and the Germans completely collapsed. They found to their cost that the adoption of Indian tactics would not do.

When Germany was four goals down, a ball hit Allen's pad and rebounded. The Germans took full advantage of this and made a rush, netting the ball before we could stop it. That was the only goal Germany would score in the match against our eight, and incidentally the only goal scored against India in the entire Olympic tournament. India's goal-getters were Roop Singh, Tapsell and Jaffar with one each, Dara two and myself three.

Describing the game, the Special Correspondent of The Hindu wrote, "Every member of the team was feeling the strain of the defeat to the Germans in the practice match, and no one was in his usual self. I never saw a hockey team from India, where the game is definitely of a superior standard compared to the rest of the world, being so obsessed on the eve of the match. The players were nervous as to what the result of the match would be, which was heightened by the feeling that the burden of the country's honour was on their shoulders.

The game was played at a fast pace and was packed with thrilling incidents. The Germans undercut and lifted the ball, but the Indian team countered with brilliant half-volleying and amazing long shots. Twice Dara attempted to score but was declared offside. Dhyan Chand discarded his spiked shoes and stockings and played with bare legs and rubber soles and became speedier in the second half.

The vigorous German attacks were brilliantly saved by Allen and Tapsell. The goal scored by Weiss of Germany was the only goal scored against the Indians throughout the tournament. The whole Indian team put up a splendid display. Dhyan Chand and Dara impressed by their combination, Tapsell by his reliability and Jaffar by his tremendous bursts of speed."

Every member of our team having participated in the various matches qualified for the Olympic gold medal. On August 16, at an impressive ceremony in the Stadium, the XI Olympics Games were brought to a close. Herr Hitler, the Reich Chancellor and King Boris of Bulgaria were in the Loges of Honour.

The Olympic fire was extinguished and the Olympic flag was lowered. The last words before the ceremony ended were an exhortation to all the participants to attend the next Olympiad in Tokyo. It is a matter of history that the Tokyo Olympiad did not materialise.

After the closing ceremony, a grand banquet was held in the Deutsche Hall, where as far as I remember Herr Hitler was present. We left the banquet early and boarded a train at Pottsdammer station to commence our post-Olympic tour of the Continent.

As a reward for our Olympic victory, the Indian Hockey Federation allowed us a week's holiday in London. India's High Commissioner, Sir Feroze Khan Noon, the Nawab of Pataudi and Mr. G. D. Sondhi made our short stay happy.

Whilst in London, our manager Jagannath left us to spend a few days in Paris which had caught his fancy. It was Pankaj Gupta's complete responsibility to look after us until Jagannath rejoined us at Zurich, where we played our last Continental fixture at 9 pm on a gravel ground lit by floodlights.

On September 17, we boarded the P & O steamer Strathmore homeward bound. The Strathmore was carrying a large number of Indian celebrities returning home. The Nawab of Pataudi and the Maharajkumar of Vizianagaram, the captain of the Indian cricket team which had been to England, the Maharaja of Mysore and the Governors of Bombay and Madras were on board.

A charming farewell message was received from Georg Evers, president of the Deutsch Hockey Bund and the International Hockey Federation which said:

"You and your boys have done wonderfully to foster the game of hockey in our country. I hope that you will return to Indian with good impressions and with the same feeling of friendship to the German hockey players as we feel towards you ... Tell them how much we all admired the skill and artful performance of the perfect hockey they have shown us."

We arrived in Mumbai on September 29. Here is what Masud said about our return home in his book:

"Bombay received us at the Ballard Pier with only two of its representatives - Mr. Behram Doctor of the Bombay Hockey Association and Mr. Mukherjee of the Bombay Olympic Association. At the railway stations in Germany, we had to be escorted by cordons of volunteers for fear of being squeezed in by enthusiasts .... while in India, the land of our birth, we were welcomed by only two of her sons .... Rain came in big drops as we were landing as a benevolent gesture of welcome from the heavens, and also showing the citizens of Bombay the state of our feelings of being neglected."

Before dispersing we played a round of matches all over India. On October 8, at Lahore, the hockey sticks were finally put away to give them and their wielders a well-earned rest, if only for a few days.

Readers will be interested to know that with each succeeding Olympic tour, the Indian team played an increasing number of matches. In 1928, we played 25 fixtures, in 1932, 37 and in 1936, 39. Of the 39 matches played in the 1936 tour, we won 37 and lost only two. The two losses were to Delhi XI (1-4) in Delhi and to a German XI (1-4) in Berlin.

The goals scored were as follows. The figures do not include the scores of practice matches played in Germany before the Olympic Games.

Player Pre-Olympics Olympics Post-Olympics
S. M. Jaffar 2 3 11
Emmett 6 - 12
Ahmad Sher Khan - - 5
Tapsell - 4 3
Cullen - 1 2
Peter Fernandes - 2 5
Shahabuddin - 2 2
Roop Singh 6 11 33
Dhyan Chand 11 11 37
A. I. S. Dara - 4 -
TOTAL 25 38 110


Classic shot of Hockey Wizard Dhyan Chand scoring a goal in the 1936 Olympic hockey final