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BOOK REVIEW: Australian aroma in Ashley Book (10/12/2016)
--K. Arumugam
BOOK REVIEW: Australian aroma in Ashley Morrison's work
BOOK TITLE: Australia's Hockey Grail

Successful nations should tell their story of success. Not merely told, but should be narrated in, and for, different perspectives. It will inspire many. In hockey, Australia has in it a treasure trove to make its trials and tribulations it underwent before reaching and staying at top, known to others.

undefined Australia did not lack in this aspect too. Attempts have been undertaken in the past. Besides a cornucopia of coaching books, the likes of Mark Transon, Clary Miller, Trevor Vandeputt and significantly Ric Charleworth produced a series of works that enrich and entertain hockey literature.

Though a late entrant to Olympics and international circuit, Australian hockey is worth emulating by aspiring nations, and anyone who will attempt to chisel its architecture for the benefit of others will have done a service to the sport of field of hockey.

This is exactly what Ashley Morrison, Perth based TV commentator and documentary producer, has done with his recent work Australia’s Hockey Grail.

The greatness of the book lies in its simplicity and focus.

Ashley Morrison being a professional media man, doesn’t take us to his personal journey into the book, as many writers mentioned above did. He hits undefined straight and brings views of others verbatim.

The book focuses on Australia’s Olympics journey edition wise. The general approach revolves around run up, a peck of preview by real actors, short match description, turning points, anecdotes, moods, and then significantly select player’s post-mortem, all in a telling way.

This structure keep us engrossed.

The pre-Olympic history part is interesting, especially how Australia was willing for the 1940 Olympics, and then how war dried its resources and energy for the 1948 number and then how knock-out format kept it away from 1952 Olympics, which is a sensible decision.

As facts would have it, Australia at last entered Olympic hockey when the mega event came home. And their effort to enlist Indian legend Dhyan Chand as chief coach is also documented.

How it struggled for each Olympics till winning bronze in the third attempt makes a good read. The trauma of how results were arrived at for drawn matches, and how pool rankings were adjusted and adjudicated for minor placings, reveal agony of old times.

Australia made history by destroying the history of another country, India, when it beat them in the Mexico Semi-final. India for the first time was not in the Olympic final since 1928. Thereon their self-belief lifts them to next level where the vast nation rests even now.

undefined As we move through the chapter, the question why one of Pearce brothers, despite being in the fourth Olympics, not made captain muck like our own Dhanraj Pillay, lurks and goes unanswered. The distinguishing feature of Ashley’s portrait is it doesn’t opinionate.

Some recaps from legends really add colour to the chronicle. Sequence leading to Ric getting known his Olympics selection, feelings after learning Indian players’ houses ‘burnt’, players’ view on Merv Adams inter alia, come under this.

However, the talk that the houses of losing Indians were burnt’ cannot stand scrutiny. No such thing ever happened.

Photo section disappoints, so also thick leaves and thus weighty production.

There had been no centralized camps till 1976, players not getting medals despite team winning gold are reminders of Brundage kind of brutal amateurism.

Over all, Ashley Morrison has painstakingly woven mere facts into a thing of beauty with methodical approach and meticulous recaps.

Ric’s works were classics meant for connoisseurs and coaches alike; Vanderputt’s was personal impressions meant for emotional tribe; Mark Transon’s, sorry to say, is haphazard in everything while Clary’s is endless rendition of what you already knew.

undefined Ashley’s work on the other hand is meant for global audience, neat and sincere, essential and emphatically elaborated. It has everything one wants to know about the vicissitudes and metamorphism that made the Aussies a permanent hockey force to reckon with.

His book is definitely a welcome addition to every hockey fan and nation, a must read and a definite reference source.

Its worthwhile to remind of what Australia's first Olympic coach, an Anglo-Indian Fred Browne observed in his book 'Hockey: The game that grows' published some 56 summers years ago when the Indian Style was ruling the mindset of every coach and considered wonderment world over.

But visionary in Fred Browne wrote, 'the Indian style has been developed by India. An Australian style will be developed by Australia..... learn much from other nations, but let us apply that knowledge to develop our own style...'

This is how the Australian hockey castle has been erected on the foundation of wisdom and new vista.

Ashley Morrison's Australia's Hockey Grail radiates that aroma in full measure. Don't just miss it.


Title: Australia’s Hockey Grail
Ashley Morrison
Pages: 256
A$ 25 (Approx. Rs.1000)
Author’s contact:

Author may be contacted for Special discounts /offers

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