Sports Club who entered the ‘A’ Division in 1967 under the
leadership of S. ‘Siva’ Sivandran a top class hooker, entered
the Clifford Cup finals in their very first year of ‘A’ division
rugby. In that year they met the strong Havelocks Sports Club
and lost the cup by 11 points to 3. They beat Dickoya MCC in the
quarter-final and CR & FC in the semi-final.
Their second Cup final was in 1970 under the
leadership of Abdul Majeed, which ended in a 6 all draw and the
cup was shared. They entered the final by beating the League
Champions Dimbulla A & CC in the semifinal.
It was in the year 1972 that the Policemen led
by Anton Benedict won the coveted Clifford Cup outright by
beating the strong CH & FC led by Y. C. Chang by 12 points to 9.
A kick on the stroke of time fulfilled a
lifetime’s dream for Policemen as Nizam Hajireen put over a 25
yard penalty kick at goal to ensure Police SC of the Clifford
Cup. In normal circumstances the kick that Hajireen goaled would
have been kid stuff but under the prevailing tension, the
atmosphere was electric and only successful completion to it
would have given police SC the cup. No sooner the ball sailed
over referee Malcolm Wright sounded full-time to signal the saga
of Police guts and determination.
This cup final was played on the 23rd of
September 1972, at Longden Place, in front of a massive crowd of
rugby lovers. The game turned out to be exciting with both teams
matching each other in every department. The contest was so keen
that the outcome was decided on penalties.
The Cops who had featured only in two cup finals
in 1967 and 1970, both against Havelock’s Sports Club, took the
field with a lot of confidence, and the knowledgeable skipper
Anton Benedict who had played in both the Cup finals earlier,
knew his players like the palm of his hand. His forwards were
Ibrahim Hameed and E. K. R. Wijewardene props with T. Morseth
hooker. K. Banda and Kandy product J. Kularathne were the two
second row forwards, the third row was made of Kandy’s Daya
Jayasundara, Juragen Savangham and skipper Anton Benedict.
Vidyartha College’s Sunil Perera was the scrum
half with Nimal Abeysinghe as the outside half, Abdul Majeed
played as the first center and the other was S. L. Samaraweera.
Bandula Wijesinghe and Kandy’s R. M. Laffir were the wingers,
and match winner Nizam Hajireen fullback.
CH & FC who were led by Y. C. Chang had played
in two cup finals, one for Havelock’s in 1961 and in 1969 for
Kandy Sports Club.
Burly Y. C. Chang and R. Hutchison were the
props with Harendra Gunasekera as hooker. M. Nizar and Kumar
Bastianpillai were the two second rowers. The third row
comprised Brian Baptist and Lanil Tennekoon as flankers and Noel
Brohier No. 8.
Upali Vithanage was the scrum half and paired
off with Lorensz Pereira, Rodney Patternot and Horace Perera,
Michael Hauck, Hamish Patternot and Tony Amith as full back.
The game was kicked off at 5 p.m. at Longden
Place, in front of a capacity crowd. This game was a nail biting
one with CH & FC badly shaken up. They never got a chance or the
space to use their three-quarters as a scoring unit. The hard,
close tackling of every Cop snuffed out the methods of Hamish
Patternot or the loop passes of Lorensz Pereira as they were
grounded time after time mostly in the second half. The cold but
harsh fact that CH & FC secured all their points through penalty
kicks at goal by Lanil Tennakoon bear testimony to the
unyielding Police SC defence as CH & FC players ran into the
thick blanket of dark blue.
The Cops defence worked like a Geiger counter by
spotting all hidden threats of CH & FC as Noel Brohier and Brian
Baptist broke out on their own and when confronted with the
thick blue blanket spun out a variety of sorties. Even these
attempts which left one flank open for the dagger-thrust saw the
ball carriers being tackled by swift Policemen.
It was the Cops who drew the first blood when
outside half Nimal Abeysinghe fired a penalty at goal when Brian
Baptist was nabbed off-side. By the 15th minute the Cops were 6
points ahead `D1 this time Nizam Hajireen made good a 30 yard
penalty kick at goal.
Then came the fireworks from CH & FC, Y. C.
Chang got the team together and they made their first raid into
the Cops 25 in the 28th minute and Lanil Teunakoon put over two
penalties to give them six points which made the score 6 each at
During the breather Y. C. Chang was seen giving
the team the much needed boost and after the restart with Chang,
Gunasekara, Nizar, Baptist and Bastianpillai doing all the
ground work to ensure CH & FC of 90 percent possession. But
Police forwards though conceding ‘good ball’ were made of
sterner stuff Hameed, Moerseth, Kularathne, Wijewardene, Banda,
Jayasundara, Benedict put every ounce of energy into the fight
and squeezed CH’s mobility and sharpness.
Lanil Tennakoon took CH into a 9-6 lead with
another 25 yard penalty kick at goal and CH gave the impression
of playing safe. That was the biggest mistake they made against
a side that was throwing everything they had into the game.
Nothing came of Chang’s kicks as three other penalties were
With the time ticking to full time Police
altered the entire complexion of the game as Nimal Abeyasinghe
fired a 50 yard penalty, using his football skills, kicked the
ball dead on target, to give the Cops the equalizer.
Now came a thirty yard scrum down and Police won
the ball and skipper Benedict shrewdly held the ball in the
third row while scrum half Sunil Perera dummied his opposite
number Upali Vithanage by faking a pass without the ball which
gave the Policemen another penalty, with only few seconds left.
Benedict took the ball and handed over to Hajireen to take the
kick at goal. Hajireen obliged with perfect accuracy and the
match ended with Police being outright winners of the Clifford
Cup for the first time.