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Helen Morgan

Helen with her grandfather Don Perkins. Courtesy of Hockey Wales.

20.07.1966 – 19.11.2020

The Hockey Family were saddened to hear that Welsh goalkeeper and Olympic bronze medal winner, Helen Morgan (nee Grandon) passed away on the 19 November 2020 at the age of 54.

Helen was introduced to the game at thirteen and she soon established herself as a precocious goalkeeper who, just a few months later, made history by becoming the youngest ever player to play in the European Club Championships with Swansea. She would win go on to win six national titles.

Helen proudly represented Wales and her prowess and unflappable nature saw her become the only Welsh player selected for the 1992 Great Britain (GB) bronze medal-winning side at the Barcelona Olympic Games. They triumphed over Korea 4-3 to take bronze. As the only Welsh competitor to win a medal in Barcelona, she found herself feted on her return.

Helen was awarded 19 caps for GB.

Helen was not only a talented hockey player, but following Olympic success she turned her energies to football and was selected for Wales – but outfielder rather than in goal. She went on to captain the Welsh football team for two years.

You can hear Helen talk about her Olympic experience and read the longer transcript of an interview she gave to People’s Collection Wales in 2014 by clicking here.

Following her retirement from the game, Helen went on to inspire many young people through her coaching and stories of her many achievements.

Those that had the honour of knowing Helen say that she was an incredibly humble and kind person who was known for her smile and infectious laugh; a real character and a truly lovely individual who will be greatly missed.

Our thoughts are with her family at this sad time.

This obituary combines those on Hockey Wales and Great Britain Hockey websites.

Ernie Wall1

Ernie Wall. Courtesy: SikhsinHockey.com

24.12.1924 – 15.11.2020

It is with sadness that we learn of the passing of Ernest (Ernie) Wall on Sunday 15 November 2020 at Windyhall Care Home, Ayr in Scotland. He was aged 95.

Ernie’s career in hockey spans more than 70 years, starting during his war service in India in the 1940s. When he was demobbed in 1947, he joined Inverleith Hockey Club.

Ernie became international match secretary of the Scottish Men’s Hockey Association, and team manager between 1959 and 1965, as well as being Scottish representative on the British Olympic Hockey Board between 1959 and 1966 and 1979 to 1984.

Ernie was also involved with the International Hockey Federation (FIH), with Scotland joining the FIH in 1970. He was Indoor Hockey Committee secretary between 1970 and 1988, as well as an elected member of the FIH Executive Council in 1980. He was also a member of the Technical/Equipment committees. He was awarded with the FIH Order of Merit in 1988.

Ernie also has a long involvement with the Hockey Rules Board, which celebrated its centenary in 2000. Specialising in indoor hockey rules, he was the longest serving board member, having joined in 1969 and retired in 2002.

Ernie’s involvement with hockey also stretches to international umpiring, both outdoor and indoor, which he undertook between 1968 and 1976. He was also involved with the European Hockey Federation (EHF). He was honoured as a Member of Honour of EHF in 1991.

His long service to the sport was also recognised in 1982 when he was awarded the OBE for services to hockey.

He had also been involved in a number of Olympic Games as an official and had a keen interest in the history of hockey. He was a passionate collector of hockey stamps. This is where our friendship grew from when I (Dil Bahra) became the secretary of Hockey Writers’ Club in 2000.

Ernie Wall stamps

Ernie Wall with his hockey stamp collection. Courtesy: SikhsinHockey.com

Ernie was the first winner of the Friskin Award in 2000. The award was made annually to a UK individual for Outstanding Services to the Sport of Hockey by The Hockey Writers’ Club in memory of Sydney Friskin, the respected correspondent of The Times.

I had the pleasure of meeting him and presenting the award during the Olympic Qualifier in Edinburgh in 2001. In 2006 I visited him at his home in Peebles to see his hockey stamp collection. We exchanged news on stamps regularly.

In 2006 when an image of a hockey was printed on a Scottish ten pounds note (Commonwealth Games, Melbourne 2006), he wasted no time in ensuring that he sent this note as a gift to be included on the Hockey on Stamps website.

Ernie was the major contributor to One Hundred Years of Scottish Hockey, a lavish book published to mark the centenary of the Scottish Hockey Centenary Celebrations and Tournament; and produced pamphlets on the history of indoor and outdoor hockey rules. He shared many of the photos with me, particularly relating to Indian hockey.

He was a great supporter of my Sikhs in Hockey website. With his vast knowledge of hockey around the world, he provided information on the contribution of Sikhs worldwide. If it had not been for Ernie, I never would have known that Sikhs were playing hockey in Palestine. Ernie recalled playing hockey with Sikh Regiments when he was stationed in Palestine back in 1940-41.

Ernie contributed to The Hockey Museum with many items when the Museum was established in 2011. He would post the items to me to take to the Museum, never accepting any money or reimbursements in return.

Leandro Negre, past FIH President and past EHF President paid this tribute to Ernie Wall: "It is very sad news. Such a lovely man. I will pray for him. I always got good advice and wisdom from him. I will keep forever his memory." He then went on to say how much he appreciated Ernie who introduced him in official hockey circles and appointing him as a member of the Indoor Committee.

By Dil Bahra
This obituary previously appeared on fieldhockey.com.

Other obituaries:
Scottish Hockey
EHF

Tony Johnson Brooklands IoM27.2.1949 – 25.5.2020

The name of Anthony William Johnson was never likely to be found in hockey’s national record books, and his portrait was never destined for any Hall of Fame, but Tony Johnson was undoubtedly one of those unsung heroes and club legends upon whom our great sport depends.

Born on 27 February 1949 in Birkenhead, Tony played hockey at school and then moved into club hockey with the Dunlop works team in Liverpool. His sporting interests extended to cricket and football, and he founded the ‘Noctorum Dynamos’ team that played in the Birkenhead Sunday League 6th Division.

After attending Flintshire College of Technology in north Wales, he moved to Manchester and played at Bowden HC for a season before joining Brooklands HC in 1972. Tony was soon a key member of his new club, running the ‘Crusaders’ Sunday team and becoming a long-standing captain of the 4th XI.

He was also a founder member, organiser, captain and ‘general life and soul’ of The Goblins – a touring side from Brooklands and Golborne HC in Warrington – that went to the Whitsun Festival in the Isle of Man from 1976.

Apart from being a big part of his sporting life, Brooklands Hockey Club also introduced Tony to his bride-to-be who was working on the clubhouse bar. However, because he played hockey on Saturdays and Sundays, went to training sessions and Committee meetings, played five-a-side football and ran the ‘Sweet Chariot’ mobile disco, Pip didn’t see too much of him … and his relationship was not helped by the occasion when he returned home with broken ribs after a late-night table tennis match in the clubhouse.

Tony moved to Nottingham in 1984 and joined West Bridgford HC, by which time he was the father of two young children with a third to follow soon afterwards. While he accepted that Pip’s interest in hockey was limited (at best!), Tony did hope that the children would share his passion for the sport. However after some junior hockey coaching he graciously accepted that Mike was more interested in football, while Samantha and Rebecca preferred dancing. And despite his best efforts, Tony had to reluctantly concede that his children would also never share his passion for country walking.

During 35 years at West Bridgford HC Tony was Captain of the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th teams for a total of eleven seasons, Club President, and the only person to win the ‘Contribution to the Social Life of the Club’ award on more than one occasion.

He was always willing to umpire matches and, unless one of his other interests intervened, Tony could be found near or behind the clubhouse bar every Saturday, where his luxuriant shock of dark hair led to the nickname ‘Wiggy’. He also brought his appetite for touring to the East Midlands by establishing and organising The Wimps, a team of West Bridgford men and Lincoln ladies that went to the Isle of Man for eleven years.

When West Bridgford moved to a new ground opposite his house Tony was a natural choice for Ground Secretary, responsible for cancelling matches in adverse weather. He held this post for more than 15 seasons, and suspicions that pitch inspections took place from the window of his son’s second-floor bedroom were merely a rumour.

With extensive business contacts among sports equipment suppliers, Tony offered to order the balls, shirts and goalkeeping kit for the Club – all of which added to the clutter in a busy house. In true ‘Del Trotter’ style, Mercian Sports were paid in reject Meccano (for which Tony’s company was the UK distributor) over a period of ten years, leaving Mike Smith with one of the largest private collections of this model construction system in the country!

Tony’s educational supplies company also acquired a business competitor and their stock, which included a large number of hockey sticks that he started selling to clubmates at West Bridgford. However this line of business ground to a halt when one batch of sticks proved to be faulty, and the remainder were donated to a charity that provided sports goods to under-privileged children in Africa.

Affectionately remembered by a Brooklands team-mate as “a lumbering but effective full back”, Tony achieved notoriety for heading shots off the goal line on two occasions – although to little avail, as both subsequent penalty strokes were scored. In his later years at West Bridgford he could be found near to the opposition’s goal for much of the game, earning the nickname ‘Tap-In Tony’ for his positional acumen and unerring ability to score from all of one or two yards.

With an email address of “TJhockeyman”, Tony’s sporting preference was no secret. And although hockey, family and business would have been more than enough to fill up his life, he still found time to pursue other passions that included old cars, French holidays – where he and Pip bought a house – fine food, real ale, live music, country walking and big dogs; he was also a life-long supporter of Tranmere Rovers and an enthusiastic spectator of cricket and rugby union.

Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2015, Tony faced this challenge with typical good humour and a positive attitude; and despite the impact of chemotherapy he continued playing hockey whenever his health permitted, with the result that many people were unaware of his condition. In August 2019 he completed the 192-mile Coast-to-Coast walk with three clubmates from West Bridgford, and he appeared regularly for the 10th XI and continued to umpire until late November 2019.

Remaining positive and cheerful to the very end, Tony passed away on 25 May 2020, leaving many lives and the sport of hockey a much poorer place. Two of the many warm tributes sum up a special man who will be sorely missed:
“Tony was not the best hockey player, far from the best umpire, but one of the very best men I had the pleasure to meet.”

“He was also one of those people who if you asked him to do something then he found it difficult to say no. A nicer guy you would be hard pushed to find.”

Steve LeMottee

Balbir Singh FB Profile pic      Balbir Singh Snr

 

31.12.1923 – 25.5.2020

An Obituary Appreciation of Balbir Singh Senior.
By Nikhilesh Bhattacharya, THM volunteer.

Balbir Singh Dosanjh, who died aged 96 in Mohali, India on Monday, was arguably the greatest hockey player of the twentieth century.

A fearless, goal-poaching centre-forward par excellence, Balbir was an integral part of the teams from newly independent India that won the men’s hockey gold in three straight Olympic Games between 1948 and 1956. On the last occasion, in Melbourne, he stood on the podium as captain, just rewards for a man who always put the team above individuals. The rate at which he scored goals in that period was second to none.

What made Balbir even more remarkable was the fact that his contribution to Indian hockey went beyond his outstanding exploits on the field of play. After retiring as a player, he proved himself to be an astute coach and manager, and, for a while, he was the most perceptive observer of the game in India.

He was known as Balbir Singh Senior because as many as five younger players with the same name went on to represent India in international competitions. One of them, the 1968 Olympic bronze medal winner Balbir Singh Kullar, died after a heart attack in February 2020. However, as his name suggests, Balbir Singh Senior was always first among equals.

An articulate man, fluent in English, Hindi and his mother language, Punjabi, Balbir wore his laurels lightly and was humble to a fault. He was admitted to hospital with high fever and breathing difficulty on 7 May. He tested negative for Covid-19 but remained on ventilator support and later suffered multiple cardiac arrests, which left him in a coma.

Balbir was the recipient of Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India, in 1957. He was the first sportsperson to be honoured so. In 2012, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) included Balbir among sixteen iconic Olympians from across disciplines assembled for the London Games.

Balbir was a great friend and admirer of The Hockey Museum (THM). During his regular family trips between India and Canada he would break his journey in London and he visited the Museum several times. On his first visit in 2012, THM set up a meeting with John Peake, the Great Britain left winger in the 1948 Olympic Final against India in London. It was an incredibly emotional occasion, both for the two of them to meet again after 64 years and also for those of us who had the privilege to witness the meeting. The two genuine sporting gentlemen greeted each other with total humility and respect. Thankfully, the occasion was captured by ITV.

Balbir’s visits to the Museum felt like Royal occasions, such was the aura about him. He was always impeccably dressed, unassuming, kind and full of praise for the THM’s achievements.

 

Balbir Singh Snr and John Peake


John Peake and Balbir Singh Senior at The Hockey Museum in 2012.
Photograph: Dil Bahra.

Scoring When It Mattered

There had been legendary centre-forwards before Balbir, starting with Stanley Shoveller of England whose career spanned the first two decades of the twentieth century. The years between the First and the Second World Wars saw the emergence of a new star from undivided India, Dhyan Chand, dubbed the 'human eel' for his ability to evade opposition players. Dhyan Chand went on to win three Olympic gold medals with British India in 1928 Amsterdam, 1932 Los Angeles and 1936 Berlin, the last one as captain.

Like Shoveller, Dhyan Chand was a heavy scorer. So too was his brother, Roop Singh, an inside left who played with Dhyan Chand in two of those Olympic Games. Roop Singh once scored 10 goals in a 24-1 rout of the United States. And in the era of the astroturf, penalty corner specialists such as Sohail Abbas of Pakistan and Paul Litjens of Holland (who started on grass) have scored a glut of international goals. There have also been hockey players with more Olympic medals: Balbir’s teammates Leslie Claudius and Udham Singh both won one silver to go with three gold medals. And this is to say nothing about the women who have scorched the hockey fields since the end of the nineteenth century.

However, any estimation of Balbir must take into account the era in which he played. The larger context to his career was provided by a country recently freed from foreign rule trying to carry forward the hockey legacy of British India while also contending with a fledgling force in Pakistan. Independence on the Indian subcontinent came at a price. The partition of British India along religious lines left the two new nation-states of India and Pakistan scrambling to share the resources of the erstwhile colony. The situation was no different in hockey. Sometimes players felt compelled to switch allegiance leading to curious situations, such as when Akhtar Hussain won the Olympic gold with India in 1948 before migrating to Pakistan and going on the win the silver for his new country in 1956. Balbir was working in Punjab Police in 1947 and was an eyewitness to the terror unleashed by partition, about which he wrote in detail in his autobiography, The Golden Hat Trick: My Hockey Days, published in 1977. Like many Sikhs from both eastern and western Punjab, he decided to make India his new home.

The more immediate context was Balbir’s initial struggle to establish himself in the national side and later the pressure of being the talisman of a team burdened with the favourite’s tag. Three instances from the three Olympic Games in which he took part bear this out.

Balbir Singh 1948 Final


Balbir Singh, moments after scoring India's first goal against Great Britain 
in
the final of the 1948 London Olympics at the Empire Stadium at Wembley.

 

In London in 1948, Balbir came into the final against the hosts having played in only one of India’s four previous matches in the competition. This despite Balbir scoring six goals in a 9-1 rout of Argentina. The team management’s decision to repeatedly bench him, including for the semi-final against Holland, rankled with Balbir for decades, though it was probably done to ensure each member of the squad got a game and thereby qualified for a medal (this was before hockey allowed substitutes). Whatever be the reason, at Wembley on 12 August 1948, before a record turnout of some 25,000 spectators, Balbir’s response was emphatic. On a ground heavy with rain and presumably unsuited to the Indian style of play, Balbir scored the first two goals as India defeated Great Britain 4-0. For young India, the win against the former rulers tasted especially sweet. However, Balbir also remembered the sporting nature of the home crowd: after the fourth goal, he recalled, even the English spectators in the crowd were egging India on to make it a half-a-dozen.

Balbir’s finest hour as a centre-forward came in the medals round of the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, where he scored three out of three in the semi-final against Great Britain and five out of six in the final against Holland, the highest number of individual goals ever scored in an Olympic final. The 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games was a personal triumph as Balbir captained the side, scored five goals against Afghanistan in the opening game but also fractured his hand, and missed the next two matches. He ended up playing the semi-final and the final with the injury. He did not score in those two matches which India won by the identical score of 1-0, but his very presence on the field kept the opposition defenders occupied, thereby creating space for his teammates to exploit. The perfect team-man that he was, Balbir would not have begrudged the scorers, Udham Singh and Randhir Singh Gentle, their moment in the sun. It is the team that wins, he would always say.

Small Town, Big Dreams

Balbir was born in Haripur Khalsa village in Jalandhar district of eastern Punjab on 31 December 1923. (10 October 1924, which shaves off a year from his age, remains his ‘official birthday’, as Balbir had revealed in a Facebook post last October. His family had celebrated his 96th birthday on New Year’s Eve 2019.) Balbir’s father, Dalip Singh Dosanjh, was a freedom fighter who was often incarcerated, leaving Balbir to grow up with various relatives on his mother Karam Kaur’s side, claimed a recent biography of Balbir written in Punjabi. The father’s side of Balbir’s family traces its root back to the seventh-century Sikh warrior-preacher Bidhi Chand, the biography added.

Balbir’s hockey dreams started in the town of Moga, where his father was the hostel superintendent of the local school and the family lived in a rented house just a few yards from the hockey ground. As a young boy, Balbir would recall years later, he would play in any position as long as he was included in the team and in fact started as a goalkeeper. As his hockey skills improved, he moved up the field, ending up with the glamourous role of the centre-forward.

Balbir’s introduction to hockey in Moga proves how deep hockey had spread in British India, especially in the Punjab. However, for his career to take off, he needed to move to a bigger centre and it was failure that forced him to leave Moga. His love for hockey meant neglect of education and a failed examination in the local college left him with the unappetising prospect of repeating a year with his juniors. Relief came in the form of an invitation to join the Sikh National College in Lahore, with his hockey skills being the ticket. Later, he was spotted by Harbail Singh, the director of physical education at Khalsa College in Amritsar, and transferred to that institution. Just as Dhyan Chand had Bale (Bhole) Tewary, his first coach at the 1st Brahmins regiment of the British Indian Army, Balbir had Harbail, whom he called his guru. The word is loosely translated into English as teacher, though the last two elements of the expression friend, philosopher and guide probably come closer to its true meaning.

Harbail would later coach the national side at the 1952 and 1956 Olympic Games, Balbir recalled in his autobiography. The Indian Hockey Federation did not retain Harbail’s services for the 1960 Rome Olympic Games. Balbir was not picked for the tournament either, though he had been in the team that won silver at the 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo, losing out to Pakistan on goal difference. In Rome, India, captained by Claudius, lost to Pakistan in the final. Harbail died in a plane crash on his way back from Italy soon after the final.

Backroom Brains

After his playing career was over, Balbir continued to guide a new generation of players. By this time, he had quit his job in the police and joined the sports department of the Punjab state government. His finest hour in his new avatar came when he was the chief coach and manager of the Indian team that won the third Hockey World Cup in Kuala Lumpur in 1975. The captain of the team was Dhyan Chand’s son, Ashok Kumar, who scored the winning goal in the final against Pakistan.

Recalling the event in a post on his Facebook page two years ago, Balbir did not forget to mention the others who had worked with him on the campaign, right from the coach, Gurcharan Singh Bodhi, down to the yoga instructor, Dev Vohra, with a special mention of the players who executed the plans on the field. Balbir did not write about the personal sacrifices that he had had to make during the preparatory camp. His father had died while the camp was underway and his wife, Sushil, had taken seriously ill. Balbir had taken only a day off to cremate his father before going back to oversee the team’s preparations. After the team’s triumphant return to India, Sushil was at hand to receive Balbir and pose with him and the trophy for a photograph.

The Kuala Lumpur triumph remains India’s only World Cup win as international hockey shifted to artificial surface soon after and India struggled to come to terms with this seismic change. The country faced other challenges too, which included, but were probably not limited to, the government’s apathy to sports in general, the death of hockey in educational institutions, factionalism in the federation, regional bias in selection and the mass exodus from India of the Anglo-Indians, who had adopted hockey as their chosen sport.

Balbir was acutely aware of these challenges, which is one of the reasons why he wrote his autobiography in collaboration with journalist Samuel Banerjee two years after the World Cup win. In The Golden Hat Trick, Balbir lamented the fact that as a college student he was made to read about the exploits of Ranji (Ranjitsinhji, who played cricket for England and reportedly did little for the development of Indian cricket after coming back to rule over his native state of Nawangarh in western India) written by an Englishman (AG Gardiner) and not about Indians who shone on the hockey fields. Hockey players from the subcontinent had published books before Balbir’s attempt, notably MN Masood who wrote about British India’s triumph at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games in 1937 and Dhyan Chand, whose memoirs were serialised in Sport & Pastime, a Madras-based sports magazine, between May 1949 and January 1951 before being collated and published as a book in 1952. However, Balbir’s autobiography, written in the form of “as told to”, was a far more detailed book and hinted at a new phase of literature on Indian sports (the cricketer Sunil Gavaskar’s autobiography, Sunny Days, was published a year earlier). Perhaps, Balbir had hoped that a new generation would be inspired by his book and take up hockey.

Unfortunately for Indian hockey, it did not pan out as Balbir had imagined. India continued to slip down the pecking order in international hockey, notwithstanding the gold medal in the largely boycotted Moscow Olympic Games of 1980.

Cricket, which had even deeper roots in the country despite the national team’s modest international record in the first 50 years of existence, took off after India won the world cup at Lord’s in 1983, followed by victory in the World Championship of Cricket in Australia two years later. When the government initiated economic liberalisation of India in 1991, the cricket administrators were the first ones off the blocks, working hard to commercialise cricket and thereby bring in money that could be invested back into the sport. Of course, the massive riches that fill the coffers of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) today were still a couple of decades away, but their roots can be traced back to the early 1990s. Hockey, with its amateur ethos, was left far behind and remained largely dependent on largesse from the government, which had more pressing things to deal with than sport.

At Home In India

Meanwhile, Balbir himself moved to Canada where he lived with his three sons for a few decades. In his absence from the public gaze, the memory of his exploits faded from the Indian consciousness.

He was never completely forgotten. In 2004, Gulu Ezekiel and K Arumugam published a book containing biographical sketches of 22 great Indian Olympians and Balbir’s name was second on the list, after Dhyan Chand’s. In 2018, his legend attracted renewed interest from his countrymen following the release of a Hindi commercial film, Gold, a sensationalist retelling of India’s quest for the Olympic hockey gold in London in 1948.

Modern India has had a complex relationship with its past and preserving history has never been India’s forte. Even by these standards, it was shocking when reports emerged in 2016 that some of Balbir’s priceless memorabilia, which had been donated to the Sports Authority of India for a proposed museum, had gone missing. The sad episode was one of the rare things that made even the equanimous Balbir angry.

This kind of apathy towards Balbir’s achievements led Patrick Blennerhassett, a Canadian journalist, to write a new biography of the man, entitled A Forgotten Legend: Balbir Singh Sr, Triple Olympic Gold & Modi’s New India, in 2016. In it, Blennerhassett identified religious bias as the primary reason why Balbir was not as celebrated in India as Dhyan Chand, for example. Balbir, after all, belonged to the minority Sikh community in a Hindu-majority country.

Blennerhassett wrote the book after travelling to India and seeing Balbir’s anonymity first-hand, so there is no reason to doubt the veracity of his account. However, in looking for the real reason for the apathy, Blennerhassett may have underplayed the role of Balbir’s long absence from India. A contrary case in point is fellow Sikh and 1968 Olympic gold medal winner Gurbux Singh, who remains a celebrated hero in his adopted city of Calcutta. Since his return to India, Balbir, too, has received media attention from time to time. All media outlets in India covered extensively his last battle with illness even in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

While India could be accused of apathy towards Balbir, the opposite was never true. Even when he was living in Canada, Balbir was adamant that his heart always lay in India. Some six years ago, in a television interview shot during one of his visits to India, Balbir had said he would die an Indian. He kept his word.

Balbir is survived by daughter Sushbir, sons Kanwalbir, Karanbir and Gurbir, and grandchildren.

Balbir Singh Dosanjh, hockey Olympian, coach and manager, born 31 December 1923; died 25 May 2020.

 

Career At A Glance

Name: Balbir Singh Dosanjh
Also known as: Balbir Singh Senior

Olympic Record
1948 London: Gold; 8 goals in 2 matches, including 2 in the final
1952 Helsinki: Gold; 9 goals in 3 matches, including 5 in the final
1956 Melbourne: Gold (as captain); 5 goals in 3 matches

Other medals/cups
1958 Asian Games in Tokyo: Silver
1971 World Cup in Barcelona: Bronze (as coach)
1975 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur: Gold (as chief coach-cum-manager)

Awards/Recognition
1957: Recipient of Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award
2012: Included among 16 Iconic Olympians assembled by IOC for the London Olympic Games

Jas Missan in Denmark

30.01.1941 – 30.06.2019

Jaswinder (Jas) Singh Missan, the former Kenyan international, died yesterday morning (Sunday) following a stroke at his home in Chatham, Kent, England. He was aged 78.

Jas was born on 30 January 1941 in Mombasa, Kenya. He was educated at Alidina Visram High School and Mombasa Technical High School. He represented his schools in hockey and athletics and played for Sikh Union Mombasa and the Coast Team. He was a top class sprinter at Coast, with Kenya’s 1962 Commonwealth Games champion Seraphino Antao as his training partner. He was clearly a talented sportsman.

Jas was selected to play for Kenya against England on 20 September 1958 in Nairobi, at the age of 17. The following year he captained the Combined University Team to play against the Indian team on their tour of East Africa. He played for Kenya against India in a test match in Mombasa. He played for Kenya Governor’s XI against the Pakistan team on their tour of Kenya in 1960.

In September 1961, Jas came to the UK for further studies. He decided to settle in England after graduating which meant that his international career was cut short, but he brought all the international hockey skills he had learned in Kenya with him to England, including the Asian style of play he developed from playing against both India and Pakistan.

He represented London Universities from 1961 to 1965 and was awarded his University Colours in 1962.

He played in the British Universities Sports Federation tournaments in 1962, 1963 and 1964 and represented British Universities against European Universities.

He played for Surrey County from 1962 to 1970 and was a member of the Surrey team that won the County Championship in 1963. He was awarded his Surrey Colours in 1962-63 season.

He was a member of the Indian Students tour of Holland in September 1962. He played and captained London Indians Hockey Club in the 1960s and 1970s.

Jas joined Spencer Hockey Club, one of London’s leading clubs at the time, in 1965. He captained Spencer from 1970 to 1975 and it was under his captaincy that Spencer won the London League in the 1973-74 season for the first time in the club’s history.

He was selected to represent London XI against India at Surbiton in June 1966 and again in 1967.

Jas was a one Club man, and he was elected as the President of Spencer Hockey Club from 1999 to 2003 and remained Vice-President of the Club for the rest of his life.

Dil Bahra

Jas Missan India London XI 1967
 
 Jas Missan (standing, 4th left) after the London XI vs India match, Surbiton Hockey Club, June 1967.
India were both Olympic and Asian champions at the time.

 

1950s Ramsgate Easter Festivals with Ealing LHC Joyce Clarke Audrey Appleby Barbara Walker
 

Joyce Clarke, Audrey Appleby (centre) and Barbara Walker
at Ramsgate Easter Festival with Ealing LHC, 1950s.

 

30.05.1924 19.04.2020

The Hockey Museum is saddened by the news of the recent death of Audrey Appleby. Still in excellent health, Audrey took a fall at home and after a short illness died peacefully aged 95. As a long-term servant of women’s hockey since she took up the sport in the early 1940s, there isn’t much that Audrey didn’t turn her hand to in the hockey world. She became one of the stalwarts of the All England Women's Hockey Association (AEWHA) era, but it was as an umpire and technical official that she will be best remembered; the highlights being when she umpired twice at the annual women’s international match at Wembley Stadium and in umpiring and officiating in numerous international matches including the 1967 Women’s World Cup in Germany.

Audrey’s hockey career began as a regular second-team right wing for Ealing Ladies HC in the early 1940s and her first memories were of making hockey teas, cycling to matches and enjoying the comradery of team sport. Audrey became involved in many aspects of the running of the club but with the England right wing playing in Ealing’s 1st XI, she soon looked for other avenues of development and once she’d picked up the whistle her progress was swift. She had an easy style with the whistle at a time when it was not always seen as ‘fashionable’ to chat with players during and after games, Audrey was never one to hide behind conformity and the players always appreciated her more open approach. In THM's oral history interview with Audrey back in 2015, she talks about being determined to not only talk to players and fellow umpires about their umpiring but also about her umpiring.

Audrey was also an ‘organiser’ as she felt things could always be done better – this got her elected on to numerous committees, a trait that continued throughout her hockey career. Once she retired from top-flight umpiring she continued to work to improve the system for umpire development, selection and mentoring.

Having served Ealing LHC, Middlesex and the South for many years, in the late 1960s, she moved to Wiltshire where she wasted no time joining Old Sarum HC and getting involved in Wiltshire and the West Associations where she continued her work for many more decades.

The Museum was very honoured to welcome both Audrey and Joan Davies for a visit in 2015 and it was during this visit that THM undertook its oral history interview with her. It gives us a very personal and fascinating insight into her hockey career and her very unique personality. You can listen to her story by clicking here.

The Museum has received so many tributes from the many umpires who over the years have benefitted from the support, friendship and wise words given by Audrey. Two ‘A’ umpires, Carol Unwin and Jan Bartlett, both give Audrey great credit for the support and guidance that she gave them in their paths towards achieving the top umpiring award. Many players too, at both club and international levels, have sent in their tributes. Anita White, former England Captain, remembers Audrey as “having great style and, as an outstanding umpire in her day, striking just the right balance between authority and understanding of the game and the players.”.

Audrey’s funeral service was held on Friday 1 May 2020, but due to the COVID19 situation no visitors were allowed. The family have said that they are considering organising a Service of Thanksgiving to remember Audrey’s life at some time in the future.

pdfA full obituary of Audrey’s life, written by Cathy Harris, was published in The Times Newspaper on 06.05.2020 and you can read this by clicking on the PDF.

Katie Dodd

Kate Billson 04


It is sad to note that Kate Billson died peacefully on Monday 27 January at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester following a short illness as a result of lung cancer.

Kate became extremely well known in the men’s and boys’ game and she spent many years helping the development and progress of young players, not in a coaching capacity, but wholly as an administrator. She only played the game at school and only once was selected to represent her school.

Getting involved with the boys’ game with husband Tony, initially through supporting her son Andrew, Kate set up and developed the Northampton County Schoolboys’ Association before moving on to work in the development and match planning of the Midland Schoolboys. She then went on to work with the England Schoolboys national squads acting as Chef de Mission on their home and overseas tours.

Kate with Tony planned and organized many of the key England Schoolboy national events bringing a new level of organization and professionalism. She was successful in securing much needed financial sponsorship for the boys’ game from the likes of NatWest Bank and Nationwide Building Society, thus ensuring that the profile of schoolboy hockey was enhanced.

After the amalgamation of England Schoolboys with the men’s Hockey Association (HA), Kate continued her involvement as Chair of the Schoolboys’ committee and was majorly involved with and sat on various HA committees. She was involved in the organizing of several of the international hockey events at the National Hockey Stadium in Milton Keynes, including the women’s Qualifying Tournament prior to the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.

Kate’s final key involvements with hockey were acting as Secretary to the Centenary Club and finally the Hockey Youth Trust. She engineered funding for the Trust to be able to help clubs and schools obtain financial support for the development of the boys’ and girls’ junior game at grassroots level.

Kate was also a great friend to The Hockey Museum, being one of its earliest supporters. When the first hockey museum was started at the Milton Keynes Stadium back in the 1990s, Kate arranged for the Centenary Club to purchase some splendid display cabinets, which are still in use in The Hockey Museum today. Kate also deposited the England Schoolboys records with the museum, now available to all as an archive.

Kate’s overall passion lay with helping and seeing young people have the chance to participate and develop through the opportunities afforded by the sport of hockey.

It is doubtful that any woman has ever done more for men’s hockey in England; indeed there have been few men that have accomplished as much as Kate did.

Mike Smith, THM Curator, 10.02.2020

 

An Appreciation Of Kate From David Pattison


Kate and I spent many hours in each other’s company in meetings, on tours and on the touchline.

I recall that Kate caused a major problem when appointed to the England Schoolboys’ Hockey Association because we met in the East India and Public Schools' Club. It was our custom, as ever, to seek refreshment at the bar after several hours confined in the gender-neutral basement. Not so the bar! I think we took it in turns to take a gin and tonic to Kate in the corridor before dispersing to the nether ends of the country.

During Easter 1985 it was the turn of Belgium to host the annual U16 and U18 tournament. Kate and I were suspicious of the arrangements for the tournament in Brussels or thereabouts not least because the conduct of the Belgian teams at the former tournaments at Canford bordered on the bizarre. (They were housed in my Boarding House so my recollections are fairly accurate even after this passage of time – and those of Matron.) When we arrived at the army camp, the teams were issued with knife, fork and spoon and taken to their barracks: iron bunks for management as well as players. John Law and I had no trouble having survived the Blitz and lulled the players to sleep with stories of the Battle of Britain and hummings of the Dambusters' tune. It fell to Kate to negotiate a hotel and organise ‘permission’ from the men in suits, but we moved out. This experience alone served me in good stead in future tournaments, but devious machinations were relieved by meeting Kate and Tony each evening. Parents now understood the need to relax the management team with three fingers of gin and a drop of tonic.

As The Hockey Museum has the display cabinets, I trust that you will have the honours boards from Milton Keynes [Editor: we do]; surely another inspired work of Kate and Tony [Kate’s husband], and Bill Felton perhaps. The list of HA Vice-Presidents was a testament to the Corinthian spirit. The 1988 Gold Medal was achieved by those who were the product of England Schools' and Youth: Kate ministered to Steve Batchelor when the ball bumped up and hit his lip and hurt him in the Waasenaar Stadium but he was brave! And ... and ... and …

It cost all these people their own money to serve their country while seeking to forward their own careers with success.

Kate and her like didn't do a bad job I reckon.

R.I.P.

David Pattison, 15.2.2020
David Pattison was England Schoolboys Coach (1984) and Manager (1985-1987).

Charles Randall

 

We are saddened to report the passing of Charles Randall, Chair of the Hockey Writers’ Club (HWC), who has died aged 71 after suffering from pneumonia.

His career as a sports journalist began at the sports desk of the Herts Advertiser in the ‘70s before joining the Daily Telegraph in 1979. During the following three decades he covered rugby, bowls, cricket and then hockey for that paper before taking over the Chair of the HWC on the death of the Daily Express journalist Graham Wilson in 2016.

Away from his journalism he joined the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC), an army reserve regiment, part-time in 1968 and maintained this connection into recent years as President of the HAC football club.

Numerous messages via Twitter have been coming in from the hockey community. From England Hockey: “England Hockey were terribly saddened to hear of the passing of Charles Randall, Chairman of the Hockey Writers’ Club. Sincere condolences go to his family and friends.”

A message from a former Telegraph colleague described him as “a lovely man” with fond memories of their time together, particularly during the hockey Olympic Qualifier in Santiago, Chile. “His laptop was stolen on a train to one of the matches which for most of us would have been a disaster. But he took it in typically calm fashion.”

A long-term resident of Radlett, Herts, he was a member of Porters Park Golf Club for 55 years and a member of Radlett Cricket Club for a similar length of time, playing league cricket until he was 64.

His interests included collecting records for his Rockola Max jukebox, chess and drawing.

He leaves a wife Kate, whom he married in 1979, two children Nicole and Simon and five granddaughters.

 

Notification Of Funeral Arrangements

Charles Randall’s funeral will be at 12.30pm on Monday 24 February at Christ Church Radlett (Watling Street, WD7 7JJ) and afterwards at Porter's Park Golf Club, Radlett (Shenley Hill, WD7 7AZ).

Dress code will be club ties.

The family have requested no flowers please. Donations if desired should be made to the MCC Foundation.

 

Mike Haymonds, 04.02.2020

We are saddened to learn of the passing of John Cockett, an Olympic hockey medallist and talented cricketer, aged 92.

Cockett was a member of the Great Britain (GB) hockey team which won a bronze medal at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, beating Pakistan 2-1, before finishing fourth four years later in Melbourne after a 3-1 defeat by West Germany.

He earned 37 England caps and 18 for GB as a half back during an international career between 1951-1958.

He was a pupil at Aldenham School before heading to Cambridge University where he earned blues at hockey and cricket. He played his club hockey with Chelmsford, Cambridge Wanderers and Ghosts.

On leaving Cambridge he became a house master at Felsted School, teaching Mathematics and coaching hockey and cricket until his retirement in the late 1980s. At Felsted he coached several first-class cricketers, including Nick Knight, Derek Pringle and John Stephenson.

He also had a notable cricket career as a middle-order batsman, making seven first-class appearances for Cambridge University in 1951 and from 1949 to 1962 he regularly played Minor Counties cricket for Buckinghamshire. In 1953 he played in a Minor Counties team against the touring Australians, who included Alan Davidson, Ray Lindwall, Bill Johnson and Richie Benaud.

He is survived by his wife Heather, two sons and a daughter.

Mike Haymonds, 26.02.2020

Betty Shellenberger

08.08.1921 – 30.12.2019

The Hockey Museum (THM), along with the sporting world, is mourning the passing of Betty Shellenberger, 98. Betty was a legend in American field hockey and lacrosse through much of the 1900s. Known to friends as ‘Shelly’, she first picked up a hockey stick at the age of ten and by eighteen was selected for the national team as their youngest ever player. Betty went on to represent the USA for twenty-one years from 1939 to 1955 with one further appearance in 1960. It is a record for USA Field Hockey that stands to this day.

Betty was also a talented Lacrosse player, representing the USA in this second sport for eleven years. She became President of both hockey and lacrosse national associations.

Not just a talented player, Betty was long-standing umpire and a tireless supporter and administrator at all levels of hockey, including Secretary of the International Federation of Women’s Hockey Associations (IFWHA), the world governing body for women’s hockey. Sharon Taylor, former President of USA Field Hockey and a supporter of THM told us:

“Shelly was the 'face' of the USFHA to the hockey world beyond the US, but her contributions to, and associations with, a host of sport and civic organizations, as a participant and as a leader, were legendary. One of my clearest and more recent memories of Shelly was in Moscow in 2008; she was at the same gate that I was to get on a plane to Kazan for the Olympic Qualifier for the Beijing Games. The officials at the airport were not going to allow Shelly to board as they were concerned about her age! My travel companions thought we should help. I assured them that the Russian officials had no idea with whom they were dealing! And, shortly after, the plane took off with all of us on board!

Betty Shellenberger was one of the women who must be remembered in the annals of women's sport in the United States as one who made that pursuit possible for tens of thousands of other girls and women. No job was too big or too insignificant for Shelly to take it on in the many sports she served. Shelly was a remarkable athlete, official, administrator, and benefactor; she stands in the minds of so many of us, along with her good friend and mentor Constance Applebee, as a treasured foremother of field hockey.”

Betty visited the UK on many occasions, playing against England during the IFWHA World Tournament at Folkestone in 1953 where, despite her formidable presence in the USA team, England ran out 2-1 winners. Former England player, Nan Williams (nee Morgan), first met her in 1961 when England toured the USA as well as at the IFWHA tournament in 1963:

“She really was a larger than life character and was always welcoming and encouraging. A remarkable lady.”

Former England international player, coach and selector, Freda Walker writes:

“It is sad to hear of Shelley's death. She was such a mainstay of US Field Hockey. We first met in 1961 as players and saw each other frequently over the years. When I last spoke with her in 2017, in her care home, she still sought news of past coaches and umpires from England. Such devotion will be hard to match.”

Over the years, Shelly made many more friends on this side of the Atlantic and they will all miss her.

A full tribute can be found on the USA Field Hockey website here.

Katie Dodd, 7 January 2020.

Pam Parker

Pam Parker receiving the Freedom of the City of Leicester from
the Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, on behalf of Leicester Ladies HC.

 

Pam Parker OBE, 1929–29 May 2019

The Hockey Museum is saddened by news of the death of Pam Parker. Pam was a long-time servant of hockey for over five decades as a member of member of Leicester Ladies HC, Leicestershire, the Midlands, England and also served at GB level. She celebrated her 90th birthday earlier this year and was still a regular tennis player until quite recently, but fell ill after returning from holiday. Pam suffered a cardiac arrest and died in hospital a couple of days later on the 29th May.

Pam will be remembered as a kind, loyal and much-admired colleague and friend by many throughout the hockey world. It is probably as an umpire and administrator that Pam will be best remembered. She took up umpiring in the 1960s after playing for Leicester Ladies HC for several years and quickly rose through the grades achieving her A badge in 1975. She went on to umpire many times at international level, including at the 1979 Women’s World Championships in Vancouver, but she always said that the occasion that meant the most to her was the day she umpired at Wembley in 1979 at the England vs Ireland international. She said how proud she was to walk out in front of such a large and enthusiastic crowd; it was such a special feeling. Pam was tall, so cut an imposing, but not intimidating figure with the whistle. She was a stickler for propriety so was always immaculately dressed in her blazer and white gloves, no matter what level of match she was umpiring. Pam became a respected umpire coach and technical delegate at National League matches and European events.

Pam was born in 1929 and grew up in the Leicestershire area, attending Wyggeston Grammar School for Girls where she took up hockey. She joined Leicester Ladies HC and was a regular player through the 1950s and ‘60s, where she also became involved in hockey administration at club and county level. Pam went on to serve as Leicestershire President for eight years, followed by Midlands President from 1979-‘88. She was the All England Women’s Hockey Association (AEWHA) Vice-President from 1984 through to the merger with the men’s association in 1999. Her experience then saw her elected to the newly formed joint association, English Hockey, as a Non-Executive Director.

Pam was also the England representative on the GB Women's Olympic Hockey Committee from 1985-1992, a period of time when the GB women played in their first ever Olympic Games in Seoul 1988 and won their first ever Olympic Medal in Barcelona 1992. Pam was exceptionally supportive of GB hockey and GB Olympic Hockey and was involved in the early development of not just the GB Olympic Team, but the whole selection, training and match programme which facilitated qualification and performance at the highest level, setting the foundations for the performance of the GB team today.

Pam’s contribution to hockey was recognised in 1997 when she was awarded an OBE and in 2014 she received the Freedom of the City of Leicester by the Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, on behalf of Leicester Ladies HC. This award meant a lot to Pam as she was immensely proud of her Leicester roots.

Pam was devoted to husband Frank who died in 2005 and while they had no children, she was a much-loved aunt to eight nieces and nephews.

There will be a private cremation followed by a Service of Thanksgiving at St. Luke’s Church, Thurnby LE7 9PN on Monday, 8th, July 2019 at 2.00pm. The family have requested no flowers but donations, if desired, can be made payable to Breast Cancer Now or Prostate Cancer UK, c/o A.C. James & Son Funeral Directors, 9, Biddulph Street, Leicester, LE2 1BH. Tel. 0116 2542 900.

Katie Dodd, Chair of THM
June 2019

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