The Kandy District Hockey Association, which held their AGM fourteen days ago, elected a hockey promoting committee and are all out to bring the game back to the position where it was in the early days. The new committee need to start thinking for themselves – they will have to develop an analytical approach if they want to succeed consistently at the highest level. It is high time Kandy hockey began a revival. They are hoping to start with the inter-club league, knockouts and sevens tournament. The new committee comprises R. Maheswaran was once again elected as president, vice presidents – H. Marikar, P. Kumara, D. Herath, S. Dissanayake, G. G. Dharmaratne, secretary – M. A. M. Ashraf, asst. secretary – N. Paraneetharan, treasurer – A. B. Godigamuwa and Asst. Treasurer – R. T. R. Raheem.
The game of hockey has a long history in Kandy. Hockey was first played in Kandy in 1907 when the Indian Raj-put Regiment were housed at the Kandy Military Barracks, now called Police Barracks. At that time St. Anthony’s College was housed at the present St. Sylvester’s College premises. The students used Barracks grounds present Police grounds for all their sports. Antonian schoolboys seeing the Indians playing hockey, they were drawn to the game and tried their hand at knocking the ball about with a borrowed stick. Gradually, more and more boys found the glamour of the game irresistible and, in a matter of few months, threw down the gauntlet and soon found themselves at grips with the Indian Military men. Glancing through some old records, the first “Bully Off” in Kandy was in 1907 at the Bogambara grounds, when the Kandy Sports Club packed with Europeans and the Industrial School Team met they too were with Europeans. These two clubs played hockey regularly and had opposition from the Regiments stationed in Kandy. Then somewhere in 1910, a new club was formed, the Kandy Rovers SC. They had the Vanlangenberg brothers Hugh and Lloyd, Wicky and Percy, all first class players. In addition, they had Edwin Boulton, a teacher at Kingswood College, and H. John Gaye a teacher at St. Anthony’s College.
In 1909 hockey ‘died’ with Charlie Hamilton’s death, who was a little 10-year-old prodigy from St. Anthony’s, who played as a centre-half. This lionhearted midget had learnt the game the hard way, in the company of the Indian stalwarts. That year, a team from Kandy went down to Colombo to play matches against Colombo Municipal Council and Bloomfield C & AC in the last week of October 1901. The first match ended 1-1 draw and the second match Kandy won. The hero of these two games was Charlie Hamilton, whose display had evoked repeated rounds of applause. The anti-climax of this was that, following the teams return to Kandy, Hamilton suddenly took ill and died on 5th November 1909. After which, the game too, died a natural death.
Once again in 1926, Kandy SC, with Europeans, started a tournament. Special mention must be made of the Kandy SC Secretary John Jackson Smale, some stalwarts such as Hamer, Trailm Mclaughlanm, the Bengan brothers, B. and R., Trinity teacher K.R. Pilcher (Oxford Blue), and Strefield (English County player). There was a Big Match between the Upcountry and Low Country in August, with the teams composed of all Europeans.
It was in the mid-1930’s that the game was revived due to the keenness of people like P.T. Rajan, M.S. Jainudeen K.V.D. Paul and J.O. Mendis. At that time only a hand full of clubs showed interest. As the years rolled by hockey flourished in Kandy. During the World War, a large number of clubs and schools including foreign teams played in Kandy. Hockey in Kandy was well organized with local tournaments in full swing. By 1940 hockey in Kandy was well organized with tournaments in full swing. As years rolled by hockey flourished in Kandy with several schools in and around taking to the game. During World War II, a large number of clubs and schools, including foreign teams, played in Kandy. In the early days, there were tournaments such as PT Rajan Trophy, MS Jainudeen Cup for the League runners-up, 7-a-side Tournament for the KPMM Seyed Ahamed Challenge Cup and the VHL Anthonisz Challenge Cup for the Knockout tournament. The teams during that period were St. Anthony’s College known as “Hotspurs”, Trinity College known as “Rabbits”, Indian Students Hostel, Kingswood College, Kandy Rovers SC, Young Stars SC, and Imperial Motor Garage Hockey Club.
Now, where does Kandy actually stand, at one time being the top-ranked Sri Lanka Hockey Association? Kandy officials are now learning the art of patient build-up. The hit and miss tactics of the past and the all-out counter-attacks are no longer preferred. The Kandy hockey committee has been regrouped in a structured way. They are all-out to an improvement in the game in all aspects.