1928 Olympics: India's first step towards ascending hockey throne

Updated - July 05, 2016 12:04 pm IST

Published - July 07, 2012 06:25 pm IST

The Indian hockey team which won the 1928 Olympics gold.

The Indian hockey team which won the 1928 Olympics gold.

The 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, when India won the gold, was the country's first step towards ascending the hockey throne. It was at the insistence of the newly-formed Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) that the sport was included in the programme after a break of eight years.

When hockey made its Olympic debut in 1908 at London, the sport had barely taken root in India. Calcutta formed clubs in 1885 followed by hosting the country's first tournament, the Beighton Cup the same year, and Bombay organising the Aga Khan Cup in 1886. However, it was only on Sep 7, 1925 that the IHF had its first meeting in Gwalior where Col Bruce Turnbull was elected president and NS. Ansari, the secretary.

India's Olympic debut was marred by controversy over captaincy. Jaipal Singh, who was studying in Oxford, was selected along with two other England-based Indians, Yusuf Khan and the Nawab of Pataudi (Sr), who played only in the warm-up games but not the Olympics.

Jaipal was named captain much to the dismay of the Anglo-Indian players in the squad. The simmering discontent saw a disgusted Jaipal walk out of the team after it reached the quarter-finals and Eric Pinninger took over the leadership.

The competition that India won convincingly saw the birth of a legend in Dhyan Chand who was the top scorer of the tournament with 14 goals, including a hat-trick in the final against the Netherlands while India did not concede a single goal in five matches.

India's performance earned them rave reviews and while only three persons saw them off on their journey to London, massive crowds thronged the Bombay port to welcome the new Olympic champions.

A Dutch journalist, taken in by the Indian wizardry, wrote: "The Indian ball seems ignorant of law of gravity. One of those tanned, diabolical jugglers stares at the ball intently; it gets upright and remains suspended in the air. It only proceeds on its way when the player has bestowed an approval nod on it."

Indian team: Jaipal Singh and Broome Eric Pinninger (captain), Syed M Yusuf, Richard J Allen, Michael E Roeque, Leslie C Hammond, Rex A Norris, William John Goodsir-Cullen, Kehar Singh Gill, Maurice A Gateley, Shaukat Ali, George E Marthins, Dhyan Chand, Feroze Khan and Frederick S Seaman.

Results:

League - India beat Austria 6-0 (Dhyan Chand 4; Shaukat Ali 1; Maurice Gateley 1).

India beat Belgium 9-0 (Feroze Khan 5; Frederic Seaman 2, George Marthins 1; Dhyan Chand 1)

India beat Denmark 5-0 (Dhyan Chand 4; Frederic Seaman 1).

India beat Switzerland 6-0 (Dhyan Chand 3; Maurice Gateley 2; George Marthins 1).

Final: India beat Holland 3-0 (Dhyan Chand 2; George Marthins 1).

Final Positions: India 1, Netherlands 2, Germany 3; Belgium 4; Spain 5; France 6; Denmark 7; Austria 8; Switzerland 9.

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