India has not qualified in Hockey for Beijing Olympics. And the media is spitting venom. “National Shame”, “Chuck Dey”, and more. This mediadolescenct self-righteous rage shows little wisdom. One newspaper carried a front-page a photograph of the players, where they stood, faces down, forlorn – like a bunch of fellows caught in some illegal act.
Why hang the players?
Did the same team not beat Mexico in this tournament with a score of 18 goals to 1? Yes. That’s right…18 to 1. When was the last time we saw a score like that in Hockey? Perhaps during the times of the great Dhyan Chand. When India defeated USA 24 – 1 (1932 Olympics, Los Angeles).
And with thoughts like these and such, my mind goes back to some hockey memories. The brilliant Ashok Kumar, son of Dhyan Chand, blazing his way as outside-right, with a wand for a hockey stick. What a dashing dribbler he was. And Govinda, his centre-forward teammate. Zafar Iqbal the forward. Ajit Pal Singh, who one of the greatest centre-halfs the world has seen. Surjit Singh the back, and penalty corner scorer. Aslam Sher Khan, Mukhbain Singh, full backs. Balbir Singh…Shahid, the great Shahid…Dhanraj Pillai, Baskaran…Shankar Lakshman, the goal keeper…All great players.
And memories of legends before. The great Dhyan Chand, surely the Don Bradman of Hockey. The man who could score from anywhere, ten times out of ten chances. Roop Singh, of 1936 Berlin Olympics team – of whom it is said that the Germans named a street after him. And so many others.
Yes, India is a great field hockey team. Artistes on field. Dribble like magic. Dhyan chand has played barefoot! But the advent of artificial turf was perhaps a dampener to sub-continental hockey. Also, penalty corner goals became far more the rule, and India somehow has not been able to machine-master it like the Europeans. I would rather see a nice dribble, pass, scoop, push, and a field goal strike, than a penalty corner guillotine goal.
What say you? Hockey memories anybody?