Indian Oil wins Beighton Cup

The victorious Indian Oil team.-S. PATRONOBISH

Once considered the Holy Grail of Indian Hockey, the 119-year-old Beighton Cup today has lost its lustre. The Governor of West Bengal, Keshari Nath Tripathi, recalling the glory days of the event, said: “As a young boy, I aspired to play hockey and bought a hockey stick. But my first outing was a disaster and I got seriously injured. Since then I have remained a keen follower of hockey and would eagerly wait for the results from the Beighton Cup.”

The Governor added: “I have come here to have a first hand experience of this great tournament that once attracted the biggest stars of Indian hockey.”

In the recent event, Indian Oil pocketed its fourth crown in front of empty stands at the SAI Eastern Centre. Bengal Hockey Association, the oldest hockey association in the country, has been running the tournament since 1895, but has failed to preserve the essence of the championship. The absence of a dedicated astro-turf hockey stadium in Kolkata has robbed the tournament of its sheen.

The legendary Dhyanchand had once rated the Beighton Cup as the best organised hockey event in India and the tournament went on even when the world was busy fighting the two World Wars.

“We have known this as one of the best tournaments in the country but sadly now it’s been reduced to a secondary event,” said the Indian Oil captain and former international Deepak Thakur.

The Beighton Cup offers only Rs. 2-lakh as winner’s purse and survives only on personal invitations and requests.

“Bengal Hockey Association is the oldest association of the country, but it has failed to popularise the sport in the State, where hockey originated in this country. To run a tournament properly you need to have the support of the people, which is sadly missing here,” Thakur observed.

Indian Oil beat Punjab National Bank in a thrilling final. PNB, making its second final appearance, conceded the equaliser three minutes from the hooter. The oil-men then triumphed in the tie-breaker to secure the title.

The stars of Indian hockey stayed away from the current edition, as most were busy with the Champions Trophy in Bhubaneswar.

Amitabha Das Sharma

The results: Final: Indian Oil 5 (2) (Harman Singh 7, Roshan Minz 67) beat Punjab National Bank 4 (2) (Hardeep Singh 17, Damandeep Singh 33) via tie-breakers.

Semifinals: Punjab National Bank 2 (Damandeep Singh 40, 57) beat Army XI 1 (Pawal Lakra 21); Indian Oil 4 (Gagandeep Singh 20, 40, Deepak Thakur 50, 65) beat Air India 2 (P.K. Aiyappa 15, Sameer Dad 55).