At Oak Grove School, Jharipani where I was born and brought up, Hockey had been a passion running in the blood of all locals. Generally we started playing hockey at the age of 5 years. Even if you didn’t have a hockey stick, it didn’t matter much, guys even used a general wood stick curved at the bottom (termed as “baingda” in the local language) to play the game. I too, having been brought up in the same environment, had the same passion for the game.

I joined Oak Grove in Class III (1981) as a Day Scholar and entered Boys School in Class VI in 1984 and became part of Ashoka House. When the Inter House Hockey matches began, students interested in participating in hockey gathered in the back pitch. As a practice, one person from the senior classes was responsible for the selection of the team. When Ashoka House had their first match, similar procedure was followed. My short height was a disadvantage (used to stand 1st in the line), so I was ignored. I requested my senior Raghav Gupta to give me a chance. I somehow convinced him and was asked to take the “left in” position. I always played as forward player in right wing and “left in” was an awkward position for me, but then I did not have any choice. I was not sure if I would be able to justify the “left in” position and was thinking about my departure from the field after 15 minutes. Some days are yours and eventually things worked out. All reverse flicks, scoops, dribbling skills and stopping were in place and everyone appreciated it.

After some matches, I was asked to play “right back” as the usual defender for reasons not mentioned. Mr B.N. Khanna was the referee of this match and was simultaneously choosing players for Inter-school Hockey. He appreciated some of us during the match. Next year in Class VII, he formed the Sub Juniors team and made me the captain. He fixed my position at “Right Back”. This is how I moved to the defender position from my usual forward position. He was exceptionally good at nurturing us, whatever being our skills. He had his own way of training you in the fields. He did not resist if his instructions were not followed, which mainly included “stop the ball”, “push the ball” and “clear the ball”. If you failed to obey his instructions, you were bound the get one or two tight ones at the back of your neck. That was his pet place to hit you and I was welcomed by him in this form many times.

Restricted by height, the Sub Junior Division were given Aristocrat hockey sticks to play, but I was always keen to play with a Jagriti hockey stick. Its size generally started at 34” so our chances to grab it were nil. During one of the practice sessions my Aristocrat hockey stick broke into two. It was time to get replacement and I requested Mr Khanna to give me a Jagriti stick. At first he did not agree, but when I continuously insisted, he gave me a stern look and handed it to me saying “tere size ki to hockey hi hai”.

Two years passed by, but we never won Sub Juniors Hockey. Now, we were in class IX and Mr Moses had joined Oak Grove School as PTI and was made the In-Charge of Sub Junior and Junior Hockey teams, while Inters and Seniors rested with Mr Khanna. It was 1988 and the school was going to celebrate its glorious 100 years in June.  In March-April 1988, the Inter School Hockey tournament started and I was now a part of Junior Division Hockey team.

Scanned from The Oakgrovian, 1989 issue

1988 – The Centenary Year – Oak Grove gave a remarkable performance, by reigning the tournament and registering all four Inter School Hockey trophies in its name. Perhaps, this was a historic win for Oak Grove, which was awaited for the last 100 years. It was also a unique achievement in the history of Mussoorie Schools Sports Association (MSSA).

The winning streak, started by Sub Juniors who outplayed Wynberg Allen in the finals by 1-0, was followed by the Junior Division, who emerged as the winners in the finals against St Georges by 3-1.

Inters did not lag behind, with the added advantage of home ground, they registered a marvellous victory in the finals against St. Georges. They were the proud winners by 2 goals to nil.

Seniors, the most important team, was all set to emerge as winners under the leadership of School Hockey Captain Sushil Kumar. They braced the most prestigious trophy defeating St. Georges at their home ground by 1-0.

After the historic win Mr Khanna and Mr Moses were generous enough to treat us with “kaleji” as an extra dish during dinner. Separate dinner arrangements were made for the players of all four divisions.

Unfortunately somehow, the photographs of any division were never displayed on the walls of the corridors of Boys Schools, which was very much a practice carried out by the school. I too did not have a copy of these photographs, until I reached the Boys School Library on the Reunion 2017 with my classmate P.S. Monga. There, we found volumes of the school magazine “ The Oakgrovian”.  This was something to treasure, and I excitedly tried to locate the photographs of hockey teams of 1988. Yessss…. Found it…. Lucky enough to find Seniors and Juniors and unfortunate not to see Inters and Sub Juniors photographs. Although it included a good write up of the victories for all four divisions.

Scanned from The Oakgrovian, 1989 issue

 

1988 Hockey Teams :

Sub Juniors 

  1. Avijit Ghosh (Capt.)
  2. Niranjan Kumar
  3. Kholi Lorho
  4. Ausim Ali Khan
  5. Ashish Khare
  6. Mayank Joshi
  7. M.K. Singh
  8. Jyotir Moy Dey
  9. Sanjay Kumar Mishra 
  10. Suman Kumar Saha
  11. R.K. Naidu (Goal Keeper)
  12. Shakeel Akhtar
  13. Shailendra Singh 
  14. Sushant Tripathi 
  15. Tapan Kumar

Juniors

  1. Ayub Hussain (Capt.)
  2. P.P. Das
  3. R.K. Singh
  4. Manas Hembram
  5. Neeraj Verma
  6. D.K. Singh
  7. S.K. Das
  8. S.Siddiqui
  9. S.K. Awasthi
  10. A.N. Manikandan
  11. A. Dey (Goal Keeper)
  12. A. Sharma
  13. S. Chatterjee
  14. S.V. Chandrasekhar
  15. P.S. Sehgal

Inters 

  1. R. Bhardwaj (Capt.)
  2. T.B.B. Singh
  3. S. Srivastava
  4. Raghav Gupta
  5. P.D. Gupta
  6. A.K. Ojha
  7. B.R. Das
  8. S. Sarkar
  9. S.P.Singh
  10. Dheeraj Sharma
  11. A.Burman (Goal Keeper)
  12. P. Agarwal
  13. B.Hariharan
  14. J. Panjiyar
  15. Kashi Nath

Seniors

  1. Sushil Kumar (Capt.)
  2. Praveen Sharma
  3. Sanjay Awasthi
  4. Ravi Kharola
  5. Subarato Biswas
  6. A.K. Chakraborty (Goal Keeper)
  7. S. Rajeev Kumar
  8. S.K.Mandal
  9. Sanjeev Kumar
  10. Uttar Kumar
  11. D.M. Yadav
  12. S.K. Das
  13. Sunil Kumar
  14. Sumanto Sen
  15. Surender Kumar

From the picture collection of Arindam Burman (1991)

 

We were not fortunate enough to find the Inters (received subsequently from Arindam Burman, featured here) and Sub Juniors photographs of 1998 Hockey Teams. I therefore request all Oakgrovians here to help us locate those photographs, without which this write-up seems incomplete.

Apart from all the praises for the players and our coaches Mr Moses and Mr Khanna, we owe a lot to non-participants for their motivation and cheering. A lot more thanks to locals of Jhits, who were part and parcel of this victory. They daily took out time for playing practice matches and carried out the practice with equal zeal and energy with us for many many years. These are the heroes who nurtured talents of many players every year and always went all the way, be it Wynberg or SGC to cheer and guide us and extended equal support on our home ground.

While writing this, I find myself back in hockey field, and can almost smell the same dust and sweat and feel energetic enough to play again. At the same time can also hear the crowd cheering “Down The Line – OG”, “Into The D –  OG”, “Shoot The Goal- OG” .

I hope the rest of us also feel and hear the same.

– Ayub Hussain (1991 Batch)


This piece was shared by Ayub Hussain, Hockey Captain, OG Juniors, 1988, over email on November 03, 2017.

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