GOLDEN YEARS OF POLICE SPORTSMarch 23, 2013, 7:41 pm
By S. Sivendran
(Retired Senior Superintendant
Former Director, Police Sports
The Sri Lanka Police Sports Club held its 78th annual Athletics Championship on the 6th, 7th and 8th of March 2013 at the picturesque Police Park with all the pomp and pageantry under the command of the affable Inspector General of Police N. K. Ilangakoon.
The Chief Guest at this colourful event was Air Chief Marshal Roshan Goonatileke, Chief of Defence Staff and a former Air Force Commander who was himself an outstanding sportsman when he had his entire education at St. Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya and later at the Air Force, excelling at rugby football. He was also the President of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union. His father Air Vice Marshal Harry Goonatileke too was the former Commander of the Air Force who excelled in rugby football at Royal College, Colombo and in the Air Force and contributed immensely for the promotion of rugby in the Air Force. He was an active rugby referee and President of the Referees Society with whom this writer had a close affinity as a referee and member of the Rugby Union Executive Committee.
This sports festival brought back nostalgic memories of the past which were the golden years of Police sports. Police athletics had its origin as far back as in 1902 when Major Knolleys inaugurated this meet and the trophy ‘The Knolleys Shield’ is to date presented to the champion athlete at this Meet.
The Police after independence attracted a galaxy of sportsmen from the leading schools. In 1958, when this writer joined the Police, the Inspector General of Police was Osmund de Silva, a smart officer who was an outstanding athlete from S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia and later at the University. He joined as an Assistant Superintendant of Police and married the daughter of Sir Richard Aluwihare, our first Sri Lankan Inspector General of Police. He was followed by officers of the caliber of DIG C. C. Dissanayke, a giant of an officer from Royal College Colombo, who held the National Shot Putt record for several years. His younger brother S. A. Dissanayake, another Royalist athlete too joined as an ASP and went onto become the IGP. They both were also superb ruggerites. Then there was the dynamic DIG Sidney de Zoysa, who became a legend in the Police for his brave deeds in the Police, who too was from Royal College. He was a tough officer who excelled in rugby, cricket and horse riding. During this period there were several other brilliant officers such as DIG Wilhelm Lembruegen, a smart tall officer, DIG Cecil Wambeek, a chubby faced pleasant officer, DIG L. I. de Silva, another outstanding sportsman, DIG David Pate, who was DIG CID and DIG Tommy Kelart, who represented the country at cricket.
Another outstanding officer who joined the Police as a Sub Inspector and who went onto become the IGP was Eleric Abeyagoonawardane from S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia. He was an outstanding cricketer and tennis player and was a very strict disciplinarian. Another IGP who rose from the rank of a Sub Inspector was John Attygala, who too was a sportsman of repute.
The longest serving Inspector General of Police was Stanley Senanayake, a tall handsome officer who will put to shame even the film stars of Hollywood with his looks. He joined the Police as an ASP and was a champion swimmer and a good tennis player who had good humane qualities. He was the Director of the Police Training School at Kalutara, when this writer joined the Police as a Sub Inspector and under whose guidance, had six months training there. DIG T. B. Werapitiya from Trinity College too joined the Police as an ASP and represented the country in cricket and retired prematurely as a DIG and was later elevated as a Deputy Minister of Internal Security.
Rudra Rajasingham, another outstanding sportsman from Trinity, too joined the Police as an ASP and went onto become one of the most popular Inspector Generals of Police and was called the "Prince Charming of the Police." He was an outstanding ruggerite who represented the Low Country in the Capper Cup, a superb cricketer who toured India with the University cricket team and a dashing horseman. He was President of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union and the Ceylonese Rugby and Football Club.
IGP Ernest Perera too joined the Police as an ASP from St. Joseph’s College, Colombo and the University and was a great sports enthusiast, encouraging all sports in the Police, especially rugby football, which was his first love. It was during his tenure as IGP that the Police Grounds took a new look with the construction of the Grand Stand replacing the old shed with a tin roof on the rugby grounds side, an additional pavilion alongside the existing pavilion, a permanent sight screen with storage facilities for ground equipments and a beautiful fence around the police grounds replacing former barbwire fence, all of which this writer is personally aware as he was the Director of Police Sports during this period, who was tasked with this development work.
Police dominated athletics in this country during this period and had great athletes who did the country proud such as E. G. Labrooy, D. S. de Silva, W. T. Siebel, Osmund de Silva, C. C. Dissanayake, S. A. Dissanayake, Arthur Dep, R. E. Kitto, W. T. Sanders, David Thambiah, R. A. Stork, R. R. Scott, Bertus Perera, K. Satkunaraja, Leslie Jayabandu, Ivan Boteju, Oswald Rajapakse, C. Navaratnam, V. T. Mahalingam, P. "Brute" Mahendran, Nimal Fernando, Chandra Mendis, P. L. Karunasena, Premalal Weerasinghe, Piyadasa Fernando, Lionel Karunasena, O. K. Hemachandra, Christie Dareeju, R. A. F. Perera, Trevor Barthalot and the one and only woman Police athlete who joined the Police as a Woman Constable to end up as the first Senior Superintendant of Police, Premila Diwakara, an outstanding sprinter from Sri Pali, Horana.
Rugby football was another sport that Police reigned supreme with officers of the caliber of Sidney de Zoysa, Fred Brohier and Rudra Rajasingham recruiting outstanding rugby players from leading schools such as S. S. Bambaradeniya, Mike Schockman, Rodney Aluwihare, T. M. B. Mahath, Quintus Jayasinghe, Franklyn Jacob and Ananda Piyasena from Trinity College, James Senaratne, Sumith Silva, Rahula Silva, P "Brute" Mahendran and Raja Pothuhera from Royal College, Leslie Ephreaums, Terry Williams, Muni Gomes and S. Sivendran from St. Peter’s College. M. A. Majeed and T. M. I. Hamid from Zahira College to build a strong rugby foundation in the Police, which thereafter became a strong force in the country which attracted more youngsters to join the Police such as Anton Benedict, Daya Jayasundara, Nizam Hajireenl, Nimal Leuke and Rohan Gunaratne to name a few.
Police cricket was at its zenith during this period with outstanding cricketers representing the country such as Capt Brindley, Cecil Horan, V. T. Dickman Sr, Tommy Kelart, T. B. Werapitiya, Vernon Prins, Malcolm Spittel, Hilton Perera, Dhanasiri Weerasinghe, T. B. Kehelgamuwa and Jayantha Paranathala. At national level, Neil Weerasinghe, S. O. L. Gunatileke, Puggy Schockman, R. W. Gibson, Eddie Bultjens, Hugh Bagot, Alcon Powell, L. M. P. de Silva, S. L. Silva, Felix Perumal, V. Narendra, Duke Rajaratnam, Lyn Taylor, Franklyn Burke and M. M. Gunaratne to name a few.
Soccer in the Police was very popular with outstanding players such as R. R. Williams, R. D. Somapala, T. B. Bongso, Preena, Maslamany, Kanthi Pussella, B. B. Sourjah, Pingho, Nizam Hajireen, T. Perinpanayagam, M. Seevaratnam, Harold Anthony, Judy Preena, T. Wanigaratnam, M. Hussain, C. Vandergert, and Samidon representing the country. DIG Ivor Van Twest who was the President of the Football Federation for a long spell contributed immensely to Police soccer with V. K. Arumugam, a Superintendent of Police who was the Secretary of the Football Federation.
Boxing then was a must in the Police and several Police officers shone at this sport. Barney Henricus, coming from a famous family of sporting brothers George, Basil and Allan was the first to win a gold medal for the country at the Empire Games held in Auckland. Eddie Grey, H. P. Jayasooriya, C. P. Jayasooriya, Sumith Liyanage and Dharmasiri Weerakoon represented the country at the Olympic Games. S. Selladorai, Percy Wijesooriya, Micheal Schockman, Ralph Jansz, Chandra Jayawardane, Rahula Silva, Muni Gomes, P "Brute" Mahendran, Mahagedera, Balasooriya and J. Thangavelu excelled at national level.
Hockey too had some great players who shone at national level at the Andriez Shield Championship such as W. T. Brindley, S. O. L. Gunatileke, Brindley Stave, J. W. Jayasooriya, A. T. Fonseka, Dhanasiri Weerasinghe, Ranjit Liyanage, M. Sadiyan and Rajakaruna to name a few.
Another outstanding sportsman from humble beginnings who went unsung and unheralded was U. D. Jinadasa from the Police Transport Division. He was a champion motorcyclist in Sri Lanka who won all the major motor cycle races in Sri Lanka and in Cholapuram, India, where all the International Motor Racing Meets were held, astride his Norton Manx and Triumph motorcycles.
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