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Hockey's Odyssey from Dhyan Chand to Charlesworth (2/21/2008)
--K.Arumugam
Trevor Vanderput has put down his vast experience of hockey in his masterpiece, "Dhyanchand to Charlesworth: Hockey's odessey

Hockey is infectious. Once in touch the sport catches you and becomes lifetime companion. Personal life might carry a person from one place to other, even continent to continent yet the passion for hockey would not change. Perhaps keeping this in mind, someone somewhere told hockey is a life sentence. How true! This is exactly the case with Trevor Vanderputt. He is a Dutch descendent of Indian origin, who after spending about 30 years in India migrated to Australia in 1964. He lives here still. Naturally, he saw best of Indian hockey in the 50s through mid-60s and when the Indian hockey started sliding, coincidentally moved to Australia, where interestingly the hockey fortunes have just started picking up. He is one man who saw, enjoyed and be part of best of both India and Australia.

This way Vanderputt is eminently placed to put down his memoirs. He did the same recently when he released his very appropriately titled treatise 'Hockey Odyssey from Dhyan Chand to Charlesworth'. In the 164-page book, he pours all his experience, both personal and hockey, in elegantly readable way. Told in simple language, with a fair dose of humour and wit, the book reads well. One thing certain about the book is, it is not a bore. No overburden of statistics, no postulations, nor over emphasis of coaching. This is a humble mans' life story told in a humbler way. Hockey is the fabric about which the whole plot revolves around.

The book starts with his ancestry, where he beautifully traces four generation of his forefathers. With vintage photo inserted here and there, he throws virtually a historical insight into the India of his times, that is, before the country's Independence. Then the story moves to Calcutta and Delhi, where he worked and played hockey in his formative days. It seems he had built very good rapport with the greats of his times like Pankaj Gupta, the grand old man of Indian Sports, legendary Dhyan Chand and the like. He recollects his early days in those cities, going back 45-50 years. Yet, his memory serves him very correct. Perhaps, he has had the habit of writing dairy. He is very precise in reminiscing the past and takes enough care not to tell anything beyond what he personally knows.

He fondly recollects how the First Eleven hockey players got toasted bread while the rest just the untoasted ones in the St. Joseph School In Naini Tal, India. He was lucky to have the toasted one. But, as the story moves, we understand hockey has not been his bread winner, but heart winner. He not only located hockey club to play everywhere he went, including a brief stint in London, but also put all his four children in the hockey Club.

With a vast working knowledge of both India and Australia, he could confidently say, `the Delhi Independent Club was to Delhi hockey in the 40s and 50s what the Cricketers Hockey Club was to Perth hockey in Western Australia'. This is the beauty of the book. The readers get a clear picture of these two great hockey nations. Particularly pleasing to Indian ears is, the contribution the Anglo-Indians have made towards the prosperity of Australian hockey. This he clearly outlines in the foreword: `It is my tribute to my community, the Anglo-Indian, who brought the spirit of undefeated champions from the sub-continent to the southern hemisphere. This is their odyssey, an odyssey that continues through into the future with the girls and boys of Australia`.

A vast section of Anglo-Indians might have left India in pursuit of their own prosperity, but they always looked back their country of birth through the prism of hockey. Vanderputt was no different. We the Indians, and of course the whole hockey world, therefore, get to know vintage hockey of India and the contemporary scenario of country their present stay.

His recollection of Calcutta rangers Club days, Beighton Cup feats, glimpses on some of the stalwarts like Leslie Claudius, KD Singh `Babu' Gurbux Singh, unknown Carapiat (`chasing Carapiat was like attempting to catch a cat in a room full of furniture'), another unknown -- at least to the present generation-- Lt. Colonel John Fonseca and one and only Pat Jansen, Joe Galibardy (his tricky roll ins are well described) gives a perspective glimpse into these figures. The salient features of these portrayals lie in the fact that Vanderputt does not go beyond what he knows personally about them. Intentionally or unintentionally, he dwells the whole subject within this parameter. That's why the book is honest about everything it deals with. Historians and chroniclers would love such approach.

The second part very aptly dwells on Australian hockey as it existed in Perth (Western Australia), Sydney and Canberra, the places he worked for a company called Gestetner. We could have got some insight into the Kiwi's hockey too had Vanderputt been lucky to have been sent to New Zeala

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