Rawalpindi’s Memoirs: History of Hockey in Rawalpindi (Part 1)

By Hussain Ahmed

Hussain Ahmed, Rawalpindi, ex Manager Allied BankEditor’s Note: Hussain Ahmed was born in Rawalpindi on 6 June 1933. He passed his Matriculation from Denny’s High School in 1952. Then he attended Gordon College from 1952 to 1953. He is a retired manager of Allied Bank Ltd. He has a photographic memory and considered as an authority on Rawalpindi Saddar. He has been requested to write about Rawalpindi of yester years. These are his personal views/observations, one may not agree with them. His aim is to inform and educate people on history of hockey in Rawalpindi.

The organised Club level hockey was started in Rawalpindi around 1925. The Rawalpindi Hockey Association was established in 1930 and it celebrated its Silver Jubilee in 1955.

If you take GPO Rawalpindi as a centre, then within a radius of one mile major activates in Rawalpindi took place in early 1930s, 40s and 50s. Four corners of Rawalpindi Cantonment were Railway Station, Military Hospital (MH), Saddar and Lalkurti area. This one mile produced significant hockey players. Also it was a major entertainment for people of this area to watch hockey matches. Even Tonga walas, parked their Tongas outside Victoria Ground (Present day Army Hockey Stadium) and enjoyed watching hockey matches. There was a public involvement also. It encouraged the players. In front of Victoria Ground was a statue of Queen Victoria. Now that statue is lying in British High Commission, Islamabad.

Initially there were two hockey clubs in Rawalpindi; Union Freshmen and Pindi Tigers. British Military Hospital (BMH) which is now called Combined Military Hospital (CMH) also had a hockey team which was exclusively for British Army doctors and other British officers. There were two hockey grounds, one was near BMH and the other was near Northern Command (now GHQ). On the latter location, Blue Lagoon Restaurant and Army Welfare Trust Marriage Halls have been built. There was a hockey ground called, Risala Ground, near Military Hospital (MH). At present AFNS Mess is located there. There was another hockey ground near Pindi Club where at present is T&T Colony. It belonged to Army Observer Corps Group.

Union Freshmen had all its players from the Cantonment area. They were mostly Muslims but there were some Hindu players as well. Riaz-ud-Din was goalkeeper. My uncle, Said Mahmood and my father Said Ahmed were the founders of Union Freshmen. My uncle was an outstanding player but  got sick in young age and died in 1948. My father played till late and also presented All India Telegraph Team, a great honour. My father was an avid hockey player. I was hardly 5 or 6 years old but still vividly remember his peculiar symbol of identity, a bicycle which was fitted with a clip. He used to fit his hockey stick in that clip while cycling. He never went to the ground in shorts. He used to wear trousers and always changed into shorts when reached the ground.

Rawalpindi hockey players, two brothers, Said Mahmood and Siad Ahmed

Pindi Tigers had players from Murree Road, College Road and Gordon College Road, etc. Olympian A Hamid Hameedi (later Brig) also played with this team. Dr. Mahmood also played with them. He was a famous person and his clinic was on Jamia Masjid Road. Dr. Mahmood joined the Army for some time and remained there as a civilian. He was later an International Umpire of Hockey. His son was General Manager of Pearl Continental Hotel Rawalpindi. Pindi Tigers was looked after by people from Rawalpindi City, including Hindus.

BMH team used to play frequent matches with Union Freshmen Club. BMH had funds and resources and used to entertain the other team with tea and eatables. They entertained them separately and they were not allowed to mix up with British officers whose tea arrangements were always in another enclosure. Some Indian players did not like this racist attitude and objected to it. BMH team did not give any importance to local clubs’ protest for having refreshments separately. They just ignored it. Local clubs used to play for the sake of hockey and not tea. Class difference was there. Boys were still happy that they were playing hockey with Goras. It was a sort of honour for them.

During the early days of hockey in Rawalpindi, it was patronized by some philanthropists. I would like to mention the name of Khan Bahadur Ismail who was kind enough to donate some money for the hockey teams in 1930s. Sheikh FE (Fazal Eliahi) Naseer-ud-Din was another person who patronized hockey in those formative years. He was father of Capt Amir-ud-Din (he was in FF and got early retirement). Sheikh Naseer was the member of Rawalpindi Cantonment Board and later became its Vice President too. His opponent in Cantonment Board elections was a Hindu by the name of Dr. Ram Krishan Handa. Sheikh Naseer mostly used to win. His election office was in my grandfather’s house in Saddar near Capital Cinema.

Union Freshmen was looked after by Khan Bahadar Ismial Khan and Sheikh FE Naseer-ud-Din, famous persons from Rawalpindi. Where there is Grugsons Dry Cleaners shop, that road has been named Sheikh FE Naseer-ur-Din Road. Their names are also in the old photographs, as Chief Patrons.

History of Hockey in Rawalpindi, group photo of players of  Union Freshmen Hockey Club , 1930s
The chief guest sitting in the centre is Mr. Noor Ellahi, owner of Commercial Union Press near GPO, Rawalpindi.
Sitting on ground L to R: Sunder Das, Muhammad Din (His brother had Eagle Printing Press next to Messey Gate, Saddar, Rawalpindi).
Standing Row, Left to Right: No. 6 Khurshad Ellahi (younger brother of Noor Ellahi, chief guest in this photo).

Suder Das and Dhyan Chand, hockey playersSunder Das, a Shudra Caste Hindu, was an excellent player in Union Freshmen team. He was earmarked for 1932 Olympics but could not be selected because the other Hindus in Indian Hockey team objected and did not want to live and eat with him. Had he been selected he would have been a player of the calibre of  Dhyan Chand (known as “The Wizard”) who is widely considered as the greatest field hockey player of all time.

 Dhyan Chand, The Wizard, with Feroze Khan arriving at Amsterdam for 1928 Olympics

Maj Hans Raj (nick name ‘Hansoo’) was another person who patronized hockey in Rawalpindi. He later retired as a Maj Gen in Indian Army. When Union Freshmen was dissolved, it was converted into 300 Spartans (named after 300 Greek Spartans), this effective name was selected by Maj Hans Raj. Hindu and Muslim players used to play together in this new team. There was a boy Jeewan Lal from Gawalmandi in this team who was a very fine central forward player. He died at a very young age before Partition. Spartan Club had the honour of winning Agha Khan Gold Cup at Bombay in 1945. It later on became purely local club.

Dr. Ghosh was another very active patron of hockey. His two sons Eric Ghosh and Kenneth Ghosh were outstanding hockey players. Eric died at a young age in England. Dr. Ghosh and his sons played from Union Freshmen. Ghosh was Bengali and his wife a British. When Union Freshmen finished it became Spartans.

Educational institutions also had an important role in developing the game of hockey in Rawalpindi. My alma mater, Denny’s High School, was on the top in producing many international hockey players.

Denny's High School Rawalpindi Hockey Team, winner of Downs Hockey Challenge Shield, 1942-43
 (Editor: Photo contributed by Lt Col (R) Zahid Mumtaz)

Naseer Bunda, the famous hockey player, was also from Denny’s High School. He scored the winning goal (the only goal) in Rome Olympics in 1960 against India and we won the very first gold medal in hockey. Naseer Butt was another player from this school. When during Melbourne Olympics in 1956, Anwaar, centre-half of Pakistan’s team, became unfit, Naseer Butt was called in and played that match as centre-half. Later his nephew Gulrez Butt, also from Denny’s High School, played for PIA and also participated in Olympics.

Naseer Bunda's goal makes Pakistan win Olympics Gold Medal in hockey in Rome in 1960

Islamia High School also produced some good hockey players, who were from the city area. They had Lal Muhammad Baksh who later played international hockey. He was a fine right-out. Malik Faiz Baksh, a central-forward player, played neat and clean hockey. He was also a well dressed person.

In Gordon College, hockey was played extensively. The boys left the college after 2 or 4 years after completion of their studies. They did not stay in college for long time. In those days it was an honour to wear Gordon College sports shirt with black eagle. Gordon College hockey team played at University level. Their arch rival was Government Degree College Campbellpur (now Attock). Mudassar Asghar (later Col) was an Olympian from Gordon College. Later he played for PIA also. Other prominent players which I remember were Sheikh Nasim, Shahid Jaffery (later Col), Zulqarnain Haider, Shamim Zahidi, Khawaja Saeed, Khawaja Waheed, Salik Nawaz (later Col), etc.

Later there were many other hockey teams in Rawalpindi. Mahsabeen was hockey team of CCMA (Chief Controller of Military Accounts). Sheikh Rehmat Ullah (Olympian, played in 1948 Olympics), Sheikh Nasim, Yahaya Siddiqui (Left-half) played for Mahsabeen. Rawalpindi Electric Power Company (RepCo) had their own hockey team. They had a hockey ground of their own. RepCo Hockey Ground was behind the Repco office building and Railway line. It is still there but not in a good shape. GHQ Signal Regiment had their own hockey team. Col Manzoor, Maj Ayub Raja played as forwards. Sepoy Fazali was their prominent player. They used to entertain local clubs very nicely.  Local Army Regiments in Rawalpindi had their own hockey teams. They used to play with local clubs. Railways had their own ground, near Railway Station Rawalpindi. Railway used to hold athletics also in this ground. Pakistan Railways produced Olympians like, Khawaja Aslam (Centre-half), Habib-ur-Rehman (Centre-forward) and Latif-ur-Rehman (Left-out). They had migrated from India in 1947.

There were many Olympians from Rawalpindi but at present I do not remember all the names. Some of the Plypians from Rawalpindi are; Noor Alam, Sheikh Rehmat Ullaah, Ashfaq Ahmed (known as Fooko), Shahfaat Baghdadi, Naseer Bunda, Riaz Ahmed, Mudasar Asghar, Lala Rashid, Aziz Malik, Rony Gardner, Bashir Ahmed, Aziz Niak, Muhammad Naseeb, Muhammad Amin (known as Chaca Amin), Carman, Gulzar Butt, Gulzar Batta.

Related Pages:
Nostalgic Articles about Rawalpindi  
Rawalpindi Blog 

Editor’s Note: 
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  1. Roslyn Penn says:

    My Father Cecil Johnson was chosen by the Rawalpindi District Hockey Association in 1940 at the Punjab Hockey Championship at Lahore from the 7th – 12th, unfortunately leave was not granted. He was then again invited in March 1941 to participate in the Agha Khan Hockey Cup from 25th March was granted. I have these letters to his Commanding Officer & a newspaper cutting. You might find these of interest.

  2. Torsam Khan says:

    What about Afghan Hockey Club? Anyone remembers Pervaiz Kiyani who played one match for Pakistan national hockey team? He was from Afghan Hockey Club, Marir Hassan.

  3. Dr. Jamshaid Ahmed says:

    May Allah Bless you all. I used to play hockey from the Cantt Public School from 1984 to 1987. Being a captain of school team won F.G. Inter Regional and F.G. All Pakistan Championship in 1984-85-86. Joined F.G. Sir Syed college on sports basis nad got laurels. Played Attock Oil Company from 1990-98. Attended various national hockey training camps. Proudly represented Rawalpindi. Later, I did PhD in Sports Psychology. No doubt, Rawalpindi produced the very best talent in hockey.

  4. Khawaja Tariq Askari - Copenhagen, Denmark says:

    Great, I saw interview Mr Hussain Ahmed and read this easy also. An excellent work and history of Pindi hockey,
    My late father use to play hockey and I have some pictures with his team. He use to play in Pakistan Hockey Club in Rawalpindi , I think between 1960 to 1962-63.
    If some body can put light on this club.

  5. M. Mukhtar Khan says:

    I desperately wish to meet a person like Honourable Hussain Ahmed.
    My all prayers for his well-being


  6. Pervez Iqbal Butt says:

    Very interesting to read about hockey players from Pindi. My father Muhammad Sadiq aka ‘Glad’ was prominent hockey player. Initially he played for Pakistan Army along with Brig Hamidi and Atif (then Captains). He played on right out position. Later joined 501/502 Workshops. Also represented Pakistan team which visited Malaya in mid fifties. He was close friend of Naseeb from Rawalpindi Saddar and they both played together from army in jabalpur. My father used to take me along on his bicycle to many matches. Unfortunately he passed away about two decades ago. I can share old group photos.
    In none of the articles I found mention of Brig Alweyn who was great patron of hockey in Pindi. I remember Brig Rodham used to live singly in a room of Flashman’s Hotel.
    My father tried his best that I should follow him and become a hockey player but instead I became a cricketer. Even now I regret it very much.

    pervez iqbal

  7. This article is great memories refresher!!

  8. Sir,
    Meticulously detailed article. Although I was only born 1952. My schooling was in Rawalpindi at prestigious institutions like Viqar un Nisa School up to age 11 then Central Government Model School (CGMS) Satellite Town near Chandni Chowk, where I completed my matriculation in 1967, later I completed my FSc from Gordon College in Sep 1969 then I came to UK.
    Indeed these two above mentioned educational insttutions produced some good calibre players. I also played a bit of hockey in CGMS, one of my uncles Mirza Naseer ud Din was a talented player, he used to coach in Gordon College in late 1950’s and early 1960’s. He was son of Mirza Fazal Karim who lived in Bohr Bazar.
    I enjoyed reading the article.

  9. SAT GOEL says:

    So glad to read about hockey in Rawalpindi and about the contribution of Denny’s High School where I was a student from 1938 to 1947. Denny’s had one of the best playgrounds for hockey.

  10. Maj Gen (R) Syed Ali Hamid says:

    Dear Hussain Ahmed Sahib,
    I thoroughly enjoyed your article and the plethora of comments that it generated ………. being an old resident of Pindi I could associate with many of the names that I heard in my childhood…………. I am so very grateful to you for having made a mention of my father, the Late Maj Gen Syed Shahid Hamid. He was an ardent sportsman and I remember him so vividly as MGO playing hockey with his team in the 501 Workshop Hockey Ground.
    I also remember Brig Rodham so well and wrote an article on him which you may have read but I will request the Editor to post it on this site.
    Thank you again.

  11. Asif Pervez says:

    I am Asif Pervez, grandson of Olympian Noor Alam.
    I feel very sad to see the deteriorating standard of hockey in Pakistan.
    We have lost our national game and have adopted other games, even in those we have not achieved much.

  12. Khalid Pervez says:

    I am Khalid Perverz, son of Noor Alam. I have liked the article by Hussain Ahmed. I will share photographs of my father of 1956 Melbourne Olympics, 1958 Tokyo Asian games, 1960 Rome Olympics, 1962 Asian games Jakarta, etc.

    • Sheikh Talha Mumtaz says:

      It will be an excellent gesture. More people will be able to see our ex heros. Thank you Col Cheema for providing a platform where people can share valuable information, comments and photos.
      We are grateful to M.r Hussain for very educative and informative article on History of Hockey of Rawalpindi.

    • Dear Mr. Khalid Perverz,
      Please send the photosto the Editor at the following email address:-

  13. Sheikh Raza says:

    Thank you Hussain Ahmed for telling us the History of Hockey of Rawalpindi. I read the article to my uncle, he liked it. He pointed out that names of few prominent players from Rawalpindi have been missed out by you and Anis Ahmed. Those may be included.

    My uncle has suggested that since the article is about on the history hockey of Rawalpindi, either mention all the old Hockey Clubs of Rawalpindi or put their group photos if possible. Even if names are not there at the bottom of group photo , there are still few living persons who will be able to recognize them, later you can add in the group photo.

  14. Kanwar Jit Singh Malik says:

    Dear readers,
    Let us not think about a biased opinion of Natives of Muslim players of Pakistan Hockey. Surely there were many Hindu/Sikh players too belonging to many schools/colleges who were good at hockey. They also desrve praise.
    In my previous page I mentioned that Rawalpindi District had the distinction of recuriting maximum soldiers in Armed Forces and also maximum Generals.
    Unfortunate part is that our Nation which stands split by POLITICIANS WITH CONIVANCE of British to this day remains so for same reason. Look at other scenario and and think
    How strong we would have been together. We could have been stronger and a World Power to reckon with today…..lot more Alas even Media has not made any effort of cooperation.
    Most unfortunate.
    Pindi walia

  15. Anis Ahmed Chaudhary says:

    Dear Editor,
    After going through the article and comments a few more names have come to my mind, from Spartans Hockey Club who won Agha Khan Gold Cup in 1945 in Bombay. These were:
    1. Naseeb Butt, played as half. Few could match his expertise and skills.
    2. Aziz Malik played as centre-forward. His brother Majeed Malik was not of his caliber. Their father, Billu owned a small hotel near Railways Station next to Chungi.
    3. Sadiq from Rawalpindi city played as right-out for 502 Central Workshop.
    4. Anwar Mirza played as full-back. Worked in Cantt Board Rawalpindi.
    5. Gulzar Bata played as left-half. Painted sign boards, his shop was in front of Washington Printing Press, in an open area between Ghakhar Plaza Building and Cantt Board Hospital. Known as Bata because while covering he used to stick with opponent player.
    6. Muhammad Yaqub played as right-half. He worked in CCMA (was uncle of renowned master Shafi of Rawalpindi, Saddar).
    7. Mani (Aman Ullah) played as centre-forward. Was son-in-law of Sheikh Inayat Ullah, owner of Taj Company.
    8. My uncle Subedar Abdul Majeed Qureshi played in Union Freshmen in 1930s as right-in. Also served on Burma front. His younger brother Abdul Hameed Qureshi had a watch shop in Chota Bazar Saddar. (I am not sure whether he was a member of the team which won Agha Khan Gold Cup 1945)

  16. Sana Ullah says:

    Informative and heart touching narration. Thanks for sharing thoughts.

  17. Anis Ahmed Chaudhary says:

    Dear Editor,
    I would like to mention a small incident as it is related to hockey. Aziz Malik, an Olympian from police who played as centre-forward was awarded India Hockey Colour somewhere in 1946. He was not getting cloth for his coat due to shortage in those days. Either he or his colleague saw my stitched blue colour coat hanging in a shop outside Chota Bazar. They approached the tailor who told them that it belonged to Anis s/o Abdul Majeed. My father was requested for the coat who told Aziz to get a permit for cloth for two suits and one over-coat on payment. Coat will be given to him free of cost. An inspector immediately brought a permit and the coat was handed over on which India Hockey Colour was pinned which he wore for number of years.
    During the same period, Naseeb Butt, Aslam Chura (known as ‘Chura’ as he used to shrewdly hit on opponents legs) and Dr. Mahmood from Rawalpindi City, were awarded Punjab Hockey Colour.

    Anis Ahmed Chaudhary
    Rawalpindi Saddar
    Born: 24 July 1930

  18. Hussain Ahmed says:

    Dear Editor,
    I recall few more names of players who played hockey in Rawalpindi. These were: –
    1. Carman, handsome Anglo Indian who played centre–forward for 501 Central Workshop with felt. Later he joined police as sergeant and afterwards migrated to Australia and then never heard of him.
    2. Abdul Rashid, known as Lala was from 501 Central Workshop. He was an Olympian and brilliant goal-keeper.
    3. Qazi Abdul Waheed was an Olympian and from Pakistan Railways. He was an outstanding goal-keeper.
    4. Latif Mir was an Olympian from police and played as centre-forward. Audience enjoyed his beautiful stick-work during matches.
    5. Mazhar Hussain, an Olympian was from Attock Oil Company, was fantastic goal-keeper.
    6. Seth Mazhar from Bohra communitywas another sparkling player. He was from Denny’s High School and lived in Aahata Fazal Haq, Saddar. He also played for the Union Freshmen as forward in early 1930s.

    • Mrs. Mustafa says:

      Respected Sir Hussain,
      You cannot beleive how happy I am finding my father’s name seth mazhar hussain from hatha fazal haq….he left me so early whn I was only 5. My mom used to say that unko flyng horse mila tha…..please please share his memories…and photos if you have any. My email is: batoolmm@yahoo.com
      Any one who knows him, please share.

  19. Syed Khalid Rafi, Karachi says:

    Hussain Ahmed Sahib,
    You have written an interesting and informative article. It will definitely inspire young hockey players. You have educated me regarding significant contribution of Rawalpindi, particularly Saddar at national level hockey.
    I would recommend that more old pictures of hockey players be included in the article. It will be of interest to children and grand children of our past heroes. There were many excellent players in those days but due to tough competition only 15 -18 be included in the national team. Others must be remembered.

  20. Maj (R) Khalid Saeed Shah says:

    Simply awesome. After Rafique Khan Sahib, another son of soil contributing his memoires.
    Many thanks and keep it up.

  21. Muhammad Bilal Jadoon says:

    Esteemed Editor!
    It is really wonderful to send me this article via email as I love Rawalpindi. I was born in Gulistan Colony where I spent 28 years. The sweet memories of wandering in Ayub Park ……..going to Gordon College from 1985-89…… marvelous Raja Bazar………….ignificant Bank Road, Saddar……………… good number of Restaurants have been closed in Saddar like; Kamran, Shezan, Archies, Kashmir Inn and Barlas.
    I have great memories. Now doing job in Dubai after spending 3 years in Ethiopia.
    Great Regards

  22. Maj Gen (Retd) Khalid Jaffery says:

    Hussain Ahmed Sahib,
    What an excellent article. I must compliment you on your keen memory, Masha Allah. The late Shahid Jaffery was my elder brother, and was really passionate about hockey. His last appointment was Manager of the Pakistan hockey team, just before he died. I remember there were many clubs in Pindi in those days, most of which have already been mentioned by you. My brother played for Spartans, City Club and a lesser known club, Zaman Eleven. Muddasar also played for Spartans for a while. Incidentally my brother, Muddasar and Salik Nawaz were great friends. I remember the spirit with which Gordon College and Govt College used to play against each other, with tempers running very high! Having played a bit of hockey myself and obviously a great lover of the sport,
    I used to tag along with my brother and got to know some of the people you have mentioned. Sheikh Khurshid, Naseer Bunda, Baghdadi and many others. I distinctly remember Chacha Amin. He never missed any important match or tournament!
    Zakir Hussein, the goalkeeper, another Olympian, used to play from POF Wah. Zafarullah from Customs, also a goalkeeper, was another prominent player from Pindi. Another hockey lover and international umpire in those days was Sheikh Abdul Majid from Saddar.
    Now a days, it is very depressing to note that there are virtually no clubs in Pindi anymore. I think the glamour of cricket, the introduction of astroturf and the high price of hockey sticks have taken their toll collectively.
    Thank you Hussein Sahib for reviving old memories. I hope I have the pleasure of meeting your soon in Pindi. My compliments and thanks to my coursemate Rashid Cheema for providing this platform.
    Best wishes and regards,

  23. Harkinder Singh, Canada says:

    Dear Hussain Ahmed ji,
    The details of your article on hockey in Rawalpindi truly touch sweetness of memories. I wish you had mentioned name of well dressed Sikh sitting beside the chief patron as well.
    The description of skills extraordinaire of Sunder Dass, and his victimization brought out alive the pain and suffering he would have gone through from this racist past of Indian society. It is truly a glaring shameful history of Hindu varna system. I pay homage to memory of Sunder Dass. Unfortunately this racism still exists and many talented individuals still get crushed by this evil monster.
    In the end, I like to send regards to one young prominent hockey player of Rawalpindi, resident of Koila Mandi, Mr. Shahrukh Butt, who met me in Rawalpindi, and took me to Panja Sahib on his motorbike, took me to Texala, Inman Bari, and Punjab Virsa Centre, and rode me on streets of Rawalpindi. He shared with me stories of how Balbir Singh Olympian Indian Railways visited his house during Indian hockey teams visit to Rawalpindi. But this friendliness and mixing of Balbir Singh was not liked by Indian officials. Shahrukh Butt later joined Pakistan Customs and played hockey with them. I am talking about my visit to Rawalpindi in November, 1979. I lost contact with Shahrukh, however I prize one of his photographs that I still have of him. I am still saving several of his letters with me.
    I salute Hussain Ahmed ji for preserving a piece of wonderful history of hockey life in Rawalpindi and related nostalgic details.

    • Hussain Ahmed says:

      Dear Harkinder Singh,
      Thanks for the comments on my article.
      I do not remember names of all the players in the group photograph. I only knew some which I have mentioned, including my uncle and father.
      My nephew, Zahid Mumtaz, has confirmed some names from Mr Anis Ahmed, now 85 years old. I will try my best to find out the names of well dressed Sikh sitting next to the Chief Guest and Sikh player standing in the rear.
      Best regards,

  24. Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, USA says:

    What a tour de force of hockey in Rawalpindi. A treat to read this account. Kudos to Mr. Hussain Ahmed for sending this write-up. Hope to read more such articles from him.

  25. Kanwar Jit Singh Malik says:

    When our Maker created our world there were no religions. It is the religions which created the PROBLEMS of hatred but not their makers? How Peaceful was my memory of Rawalpindi (Nostalgic) and its coexistance. ALL RESIDENTS OF PINDI DISTRICT TILL 2 March 1947…I was born youngest son of Malik Mukhbain Singhji (Bar-at-Law) in 1930. I was born in our Nehru Road house, later shifted to our bungalow at Chowk Asghar Mall.
    I played all games ut excelled in none. Studied at KHASLSA HIGH SCHOOL till 10th. Studies interrupted due to madness of riots first in March 1947, later in August 1947 CREATION OF PAKISTAN……MY HAM WATTAN PINDIWALLAS I WOULD LIKE TO ASK YOU THAT A TEAM CONSISITS OF 16 players in Hockey, 11 playing and 5 extras, Pindi also had some well known Hindu and Siikh players. Could add some players’ names too.
    District Rawalpindi had distinguished itself in producing maximum Generals in Army and maximum recruits in Army during World War II. Amongst prominent families of Pindi were BEDIs, KHUKRAIN and MALIKs. Malik MOHAN SINGH earlier member, later Vice President eventually Presidet served the Muncipal Committee for 17 years. Pindi got its WATER WORKS during his tenure.
    My father MALIK MUKHBAIN SINGH also was a Member of Rawalpindi Munniciple Committee. During his tenure Pindi got its Bus Service.

    SARDARAN da BAGH WAS THE CONTRIBUTION AND THE FAMOUS GHRDIAL LIBRARY were the contribution of S HARDIT SINGH CHADA father of S Sohan Singhji who used to reside there.
    My Pindiwals, my father visited Pindi twice. He was received and driven off from Wagah to Lahore, Pindi, Murree, Campbellpur and many other places. He was such a personality amongst people that whole of Pindi knew him.
    In my next write up, I will give you a tour through PINDI as I remember. Any takers?

  26. Raja Muhammad Ahmed says:

    Great memories with stylish writing remind us healthy activities of that times promoted by Britshers…..

  27. Haider Mumtaz says:

    Dear Editor,
    Hussain Ahmed has mentioned in his article that organized club level hockey started in Rawalpindi around 1925. I would add that in other parts of United India it started much earlier. Hockey became popular when the British introduced it in the British Indian Regiments. The first hockey club was formed in Calcutta in 1885-86 followed by Bombay and Punjab. The Bengal hockey was the first hockey association in India formed in 1908. The second was founded in 1920 in Karachi by the name “Sind Hockey Association”. In 1930s popularity of hockey increased manifolds as for the first time, team of United India participated in Olympic of 1928 at Amsterdam and won in the finals, defeating Holland 3 to nil.

  28. Hussain Ahmed says:

    Dear Editor,

    I would like to mention two events, which may be of some interest to the hockey lovers.

    1. During Silver Jubilee Hockey Tournament in 1955, in addition to local clubs other teams even from outside the country were invited. Pakistan Railways’ team was star-studded having players like Habib-ur-Rehman, Latif-ur-Rehman and Khawaja Aslam. Spartans consisted of former winners of Agha Khan Gold Cup in 1945 in Bombay and its stalwarts were close to forties. A very tough match was played between Railways and Spartans. It remained goalless draw for five days, a unique match. Finally the Railways won by five goals. Although Spartans lost, yet the people praised them a lot.

    2. Mr. Elliot, GM of Attock Oil Refinery, was a keen hockey fan and promoter. He used to regularly attend hockey tournaments. After Silver Jubilee he thought of launching an Attock Oil Hockey Club. After hectic efforts he succeeded in establishing AOC and picked up players like Naseer Bunda, Zaka-ud-Din (Zaka) Olympian, Nasim, Jamil, Aqil Mirza, etc.

    In those years it was a tradition that when a team for Olympic was selected it visited big cities to play exhibition matches. Mr. Elliot was a resourceful man; he approached Pakistan Hockey Federation to allow AOC team to play with national team. Also requested that Naseer Bunda though selected for the national team be allowed to play for AOC. Permission was granted but restriction was laid that Bunda will not play as a half which was his regular position in AOC. Reason given was that his scoring power will be affected as he was selected as a forward in the national team.

    It was tough from the start: within ten minutes Bunda scored a goal against the national team. It was quite embarrassing for a team which was going to Rome to contest for gold medal. The lead of one goal remained even after half time. When last seven minutes were left Hamidi made a solo effort. On top of “D” he tapped the ball in the net and scored a goal; using his squash expertise. There was a sign of relief for the national team. The match left the wonderful memories for AOC as they were not defeated by the national team.

    • Brig (R) Aslam Khan (33 PMA) says:

      Dear Hussain Sahib,
      Thank you once again for adding important details to your original narration. What a great treasure trove passed on by you. Pindiites and hockey lovers are especially indebted. God bless you.

  29. Hussain Ahmed says:

    Dear editor,

    Thanks for uploading my memoirs of hockey in Rawalpindi. I am delighted and satisfied to see the comments of people even from abroad. I have remembered few more things which I would like to share with the fans of hockey. (I hold myself responsible for mentioning any incorrect name, place or event)

    I would like to mention that Brig CHB Rodham rendered great services to sports including hockey. I vividly remember him present during all hockey tournaments sitting on beach stick. What a great sports lover! Field Marshal Ayub Khan used to address him “Sir”. Brig Rodham created a history in athletics in Pakistan. Due to his genuine and dedicated efforts Pakistani athletes brought many laurels to the country in 1960s. His efforts required to be highlighted separately.

    Major Gen Shahid Hamid, Master Gen Ord (MGO), was another hockey lover. He made MGO Eleven by picking up stars like AG Khan Olympian, Azam Senior, Noor Alam Olympian, Azam Jr, Mutiullah uncle of Samiullah and many more. Team remained very active till 1961 but its performance deteriorated after his retirement.

    Sheikh Khurshid Ahmed was another passionate hockey player and patronizer. He played as right half for Spartans Hockey Club. He has great contribution in uplifting the game of hockey in Rawalpindi, specially organizing the Silver Jubilee Tournament of 1955. He was supported by his younger brother Iqbal Ahmed (Bali), an umpire of international fame.

    It will not be out of place to mention a few names which I remember. These players had strong passion for hockey and enthusiastically participated in tournaments. Mahmood Ahmed Khan (my uncle), Said Ahmed Khan (my father), famous Chacha Amin, Sheikh Rehmatullah, Ghulam Mursaleen, Yahaya Siddiqi, Gulzar Bata, Ch Lal Khan, Ch Abdul Razak and Mr. D.S Alwyn.

  30. Anis Ahmed Choudhry says:

    Dear Editor,
    Another player recognized in the group photo. Standing left to right. No 6. KHURSHAD ELLAHI, younger brother of Noor Ellahi, chief guest in the photo and Khan Bahadur Fazal Ellahi. Khan Bhadur Fazal Ellahi was the eldest brother. Please add the name in the group photo.
    My name is Anis Ahmed Ch. I was born in Haatta Fazal Ellahi, Saddar, Rawalpindi in 1930. Did my Matric from Denny’s High School in 1945. At that time headmaster of school was Bawa Moti Singh. When I was a teacher in the Denny’s High School, 1954-55, headmaster was Sheikh Muhammad Mumtaz.
    If I recall correctly, somewhere in 1920s there was also a “Coronation Hockey Club” in Rawalpindi. Names of players as I remember:
    1. My father, Abdul Majeed.
    2. Sh Mahboob Ellahi father of Sheikh Ikram Ellahi( late) and Sheikh Aftab Ellahi, Advocate.
    3. Ahmed Khan (goalkeeper), father of Naseer Bunda and grandfather of Muhammad Shafique, all belonged to Hatta Fazal Ellahi, Saddar , Rawalpindi.
    I vividly remember that Dhyan Chand played an exhibition match in Rawalpindi in the ground, just outside present Army Hockey Stadium.
    I will share more about the history of hockey in Rawalpindi as I remember. Now I am about 85.
    Anis Ahmed Choudhry
    (Choudhry Printing Press, Saddar, Rawalpindi)

  31. Zaheer Babar Chishti says:

    Interesting. Written in a simple and natural style.

  32. Prem Sarup (Chicago, USA) says:

    I have read with great interest the complete narration of the Memoirs of Mr. Hussain Ahmed, about the famous hockey teams of Rawalpindi, which functioned in the thirties and forties of the previous century. I have also read all the comments offered by well-informed persons, some of whom had been directly associated with those teams. It is highly commendable that Hussain Ahmed Sahib has such a sharp memory about the hockey events, which took place about 70 years back; so much so that he could not only recall the names of dozens of the accomplished players of the teams but also those of their patrons and benefactors. Having born in a family of great hockey players, such as his father and uncle, contributed to his deep connection with the game of hockey, major teams of the era, their respective players and even the locales of the grounds where they played. It is sad that an excellent player, named Sunder Das, could not be accommodated in 1932 Olympics on flimsy grounds. However, on viewing his individual picture close to the one that of Late Dhayan Chand the Wizard.

    It will not be out of place to make a mention of another promising hockey player, who was right there at Rawalpindi at those times, but perhaps could not find access to the teams quoted in the Memoirs. He was my own brother-in-law, eldest sister’s husband. He used to play hockey during his high school days and achieved proficiency in the game. Later, he, after competitive test, joined Mayo School of Arts at Lahore. On completion of his studies at the Institute, he got an Arts teacher job at Gujrat, where he also played hockey and became the Captain of hockey team of the school. Sometimes in late thirties, he moved to Rawalpindi as an Arts teacher at D.A.V. School and D.A.V. College simultaneously. There he became the Coach of the combined hockey team of the two institutes. I believe his team must have played inter-school/college hockey tournaments. He might not have got opportunity to play with the leading teams mentioned in the Memoirs; but we know that in spite of having talent, an individual’s circumstances and luck also play their part in making or unmaking of a person’s future identity.

  33. Sajid Hussain says:

    It was really sad to read the article of Hussain Ahmed. What was the standard of hockey in Pakistan, particularly of Rawalpindi and what it is now? Administration and schools/colleges are responsible for that. There are hardly any grounds available to play hockey. I would recommend to promote hockey in Rawalpindi, Capt Ameer Ud Din (R) and his brother Sheikh Aftab should patronize hockey in Rawalpindi like their father Sheikh FE Naseer Ud Din. Similarly the grandchildren Khan Bahadar Muhammad Ismail should look after the game of hockey like their grandfather.

  34. Yunus Ghaznavi (43rd PMA) says:

    A lovely article on hockey and we had stalwarts from Pindi, Gordon College areas around it, brother Maj Yahya Ghaznavi wrote on it, after taking interviews with old veterens, when he was working on sports in Army and made a photo gallery too, inaugurated by Gen Musharaf, well Hockey is deep in SHIT now, SAD as are affairs of Pindi Cantt, courtesy corruption all around us. SAD.

  35. Sheikh Taimur Nawaz says:

    It was a fun read and surely a very informative one as well. My name is Sheikh Taimur Nawaz and I am glad to read about my late father Salik Nawaz. My father was passionate about hockey and I distinctly remember my father’s friend Mudassar Asghar who later on represented Pakistan in Olympics in Hockey.

  36. Mahrukh Mumtaz says:

    Very informative article. It’s really good how you’ve glued your memories in bringing about the history of hockey to let the new generation know about our ancestors.

  37. Capt (Retd) Amir-ud-Din Sheikh says:

    Hussain sahib is not only family but is a treasure of information. In fact he could have done a favour and written a book on Rawalpindi. He and me were born before Pakistan and saw this country being made when hockey was a passion. My father Sheikh F.E. Naseer-ud-Din despite being founder member of Muslim League and freedom fighter in and out of jail fighting Congress and British was never found wanting when it came to encouraging sports and helping those in need. The difference of his and today’s politics was he sold properties to fight elections and for welfare of people where as today’s politicians invest to make money and properties.
    I as a son followed in his footsteps only my passion was cricket and squash. Muddasar and me were together in Army. Naseer Bunda was my tenant and all hockey players of Pindi deserve kudos for bringing laurels to Pakistan hockey. Lt Col Zahid you are a true selfless son of the soil. Hope Pindi players can contribute to make Pakistan’s hockey team come out of the dismal state it is in presently. The freedom fighters sacrificed there liberty and properties so that we may live in freedom.
    Capt (retd) Amir-ud-Din Sheikh Am Anglo School and College, 11FF

  38. Syed Ahmed, Canada says:

    Hussain Ahmed Sahib,
    A lovely article which flashed before my eyes like a video. Those beautiful days will never come back.
    Thank you, Col Cheema (Editor, Native Pakistan) for this wonderful website.

  39. Lt Col (R) Zahid Mumtaz says:

    An excellent article.

  40. Major Mujib Aftab (Retd) says:

    Nostalgic. How beautifully you have drawn the picture of the past. I remember to have met Naseer Bunda in 1960. I was in class 8 at that time. He used to live in a Aahata near Railway Station. Col Mudassar Asghar was my class fellow. Col Shahid Jaffery was a class junior to me. There was one more name who played hockey at Army level & that was Col Farhat Ullah (Gordonian). His brother Brig Mussarat Ullah, my course mate, was Secretary Pakistan Hockey Federation.
    Really enjoyed reading your article about Rawalpindi.

  41. Brig (R) Aslam Khan (33 PMA) says:

    Dear Hussain Ahmed Sahib,
    A very educative narration. Thank you so much.
    Being a hard core Pindiwal who studied in S.t Mary’s and in Gordon College as well as being a hockey player/fan, I loved the details. Oh yes, Pindi was a very special town in many many respects. As a British Army hub, it embraced a lot of modernization while retaining the old sub-continent culture. I used to pass by Denny’s High School twice daily on cycle on my way to and from my school on Murree Road and sometimes stop by to chat with friends at Denny’s.
    At present I am abroad. InshaAllah, will be in Pindi in October and would love to meet you Hussain Ahmed Sahib. If you can send me your phone No, it will be easy for me to connect with you. Thanks again.
    And, thank you immensely Col Cheema (Editor) for the pains you take for the good of all of us. God bless you, indeed.

  42. Maj (R) Hasan Jawaid (USA) says:

    Hussain Ahmed saheb,
    Although I am not from Pindi but have been a regular visitor and have spent many of my school/college vacation days there. I have been lucky to have witnessed exhibition matches where Khawaja Aslam, Habib-ur-Rehman, Latif-ur-Rehman, Kiddie, Brig Hameedi, Maj Shakoor, & many other towering personalities you have mentioned had participated. Actually number of games I had played where umpiring was done by Shafqat Baghdadi in Pindi and Habib-ur-Rehman in Karachi.
    I had read about Sunder Das but never knew what kept him out. It was unfortunate and unfair but such were the beliefs that permeated in the sports as well in the form of separate tea rooms and revolved around caste system.
    Thanks for sharing wealth of information.

  43. Thank you for such a well-written read. Though not a Pindiwal, I still got pleasure form reading it.

  44. Maj (R) Aziz-ur-Rehman (15 War Course) says:

    Hussaini lala, as he is commonly called by the old residents of Rawalpindi, has a fantastic memory. He is a very loving person and remains always cheerful. It’s always refreshing to converse with him. Where as he has dugout names of many people, we never heard of, in the context of development of hockey in Rawalpindi, I feel he inadvertently missed Attock Oil Company, which served as nursery for grooming future hockey players. Secondly, Mohalla Shamsabad/Koaila Centre in Saddar area also contributed in grooming players for Rawalpindi Zone.
    May you always, along with your brothers, Mr. Aziz Ahmed and Iftikhar Ahmed (Paari) always remain so jovial, contended and healthy as I had seen you, few years back. Ameen.
    For the information of readers, Iftikhar (Paari) was expert in mimicking and was a versatile artist, singing parodies. He preferred to stay abroad.

  45. Brig (R) Ahmed Salim (34 PMA) says:

    Thank you so much for the trip down the memory lane.

  46. Tariq Masud says:

    Commendable initiative by Hussain Ahmed sahib. I was in Denny’s High School during 1949-52 and in Gordon College in 1952-57. I did not play “A” class hockey as I was rather small but watched it most enthusiastically. Islamia School was the main rival of Denny’s High School.
    In my times Seth Tahir, Khwaja, Aqil, Mumtaz Shah and Naeem Quraishee were prominent forwards and in college Naeem and Shamim Zaidi distinguished themselves.

  47. Lt Col Masood Alam (retd) 2nd SSC says:

    Thank you sir for tracing the history of hockey in Rawalpindi. I being a sportsman and a hockey player myself, it has been very knowledgeable information for me. Thanks a lot and regards.

  48. Maqsood Choudary, Austin, Texas, USA says:

    Mr. Hussain Ahmed,
    Thank you for bringing back the good old memories. I remember all these well kept hockey grounds and city and cantonment of Rawalpindi. There was another hockey ground near MH, just across from OR family quarters. May be that has become AFNS Mess. Then behind MH, there was a ground which was both hockey and soccer field (side by side to each other). It later on became associated to Amy Apprentice School. Across from it used to be an MT company. I think that is where now sits AMC Officers Mess and BOQs. I was very young and used to visit these grounds with my uncle Bashir Kalim (a civilian employee of the GHQ and a hockey player). Chacha Amin, I remember him well from days as Gordon College faculty. He was patron saint of Gordon College hockey team. May he rest in peace.
    Things have tremendously changed. During my last visit to Pakistan in December 2014, I went around to see all those wonderful places where I had spent my adolescent years. It was not the same Rawalpindi of 1950s with neat and clean roads and a city of broad shoulders. One had to see the majestic days of GPO, Cantonment Board Office, and the Mall. It was not even the Rawalpindi that I left in 1980s. I also visited Gordon College and tears came through my eyes to see its plight. Things just fall apart.

    • Maj Mujib Aftab (Retd) says:

      Mr. Maqsood Chaudhry,
      You mentioned a name Chacha Amin, this reminds me of an old timer, skinny person who used to accompany the hockey team every where, & was found all the time in the hockey ground of Gordon College. He had a typical style of smoking & he used to live on College Road towards Murree Road. Thanks.

  49. Afzaal Khan says:

    So sad to see Pindi once a gem of a city ruined by incompetance and corruption of the Cantonment Board to carve out business plots.

    • Mrs mustafa says:

      My father seth mashar hussain khas worked in GHQ .
      ..anyone knowa anythng about him will be appreciated…lived in saddar ahata fazal haq

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