(Left) The Indian winning team after getting their medal. (Right) The result of the Melbourne Olympics 1956 in ‘The Official Report of the Organizing Committee for the games of the 16 Olympiad Melbourne 1956” in the MCG Library. PHOTOS: SAT/NN.
By Neeraj Nanda
MELBOURNE, 1 August 2020: Last year (18 January 2019) while covering the 3rd ODI between Australia and India at the MCG, I decided to visit a place in the MCG which most Cricket fans don’t go or are not aware of. And, this was the MCG Library. After a long walk with my ex-HT colleague Ashok Kumar (from Sydney), we reached this neat and defining intellectual hub full of thousands of books, magazines, publications, and friendly staff.
An exhibition of sorts of memorabilia from different Australia-India Cricket encounters were taking place with few people around. But I was interested in something else – some material on India’s Gold Medal winning team in the Melbourne Olympics, 1956. Yes, those were the days and Indian Hockey was in its glory. The MCG Library is a library of all sporting stuff, not just cricket.
The rather nostalgic and historic details of India’s Hockey Gold and the tournament in this volume are as follows:
There were three groups of teams – Group A – India, Singapore, Afghanistan and USA, Group B- Gt. Britain & N. Ireland, Australia, Malaya and Kenya and the last Group C had Pakistan, Germany, New Zealand and Belgium. The winner of Groups A & B, and the 1st & 2nd team in Group C qualified for the Semi-finals.
In the Semi-finals India defeated Germany 1-0 and Pakistan defeated Great Britain & N. Ireland 3-2.
And, in the final India defeated Pakistan 1-0 (Half-time – 0-0).
The Indian team consisted of – S. Laxman, Baksish Singh, R. S. Gentle (Captain), L. W. Claudius, Amir Kumar, G. Perumal, Raghbir Lal, Gaurdev Singh, Balbir Singh and R. S. Bhola.
The Pakistan team consisted of – H. Zakir, A. Munir, M. H. Atif, Gulam Rasul, A Anwar, H. Mussarat, Noor Alam, A Hamid, R. Habib, A Nasir and Ullah Muti.
The Refrees were: M. G. Cowlishaw (Gt. Britain & N. Ireland) and J. McDowell (Australia).
FINAL PLACINGS: 1. India, 2. Pakistan, 3. Germany, 4. GT Britain and N. Ireland, 5. Australia and 6. New Zealand.
Lastly, India scored 36 goals in the tournament and no goal was scored against it. Pakistan scored 7 goals and 1 goal was scored against it. Germany scored 5 goals and 4 were scored against it.
Well, there is much more in this library which needs to be told. One can research endless topics here. This vintage stuff, I feel, needs to be digitalized for posterity. Hope the MCC/MCG management looks into this need or has it started?
The Library founded in 1873, has been described as one of the best sport-related collections in the world. The collection consists of some 100,000 monographs, periodicals, newspapers, programs and ephemera, and microfilms, videotapes/DVDs, and CD-ROMs. We are also told there are around 30,000 books and all are not on display.
Meanwhile, we could hear the noise from the MCG stands as India was moving towards victory. Reluctantly, me and my friend moved back to the media room. I am sure next time you go to see a match at the MCG, a visit to the MCG Library will also be a priority.