1932 Tokyo Olympics: Indian hockey team a ‘typhoon out of the east’

At the interval, we were leading by ten goals to nil. Incidentally, the twenty-four goals scored was a world record for us. I scored eight, Roop Singh ten, Gurmit Singh five and Pinniger one. The lone American goal was scored by Bodlington.

Dhyan Chand in action against the United States at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. India won the game by a record 23 goal margin.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

We played our first match on August 4 against Japan and as anticipated we won easily by eleven goals to one. Our performance was a little less impressive in the sense that in the 1928 Olympics not a goal was scored against us although we had played against better-known hockey nations than Japan and the United States, who had taken up hockey only lately. I cannot account why and how the goal was scored against us, and of all persons a goalkeeper like Allen was beaten. We took the match rather lightly because we had met Japan in Tokyo on our way to the United States and we knew their strength, but Japan played much better during the Games. I have forgotten to mention one thing: almost every day when we were practising at the university ground, we saw the Japanese hockey players watching us minutely. In this very short time, the Japs copied our style of play fairly well. Hamada, their diminutive goalkeeper, had a hectic time defending his goal. We scored four goals in the first half. The Japs’ solitary point was scored in the second half, Inochora, their outside-left, converting a penalty corner with a shot that surprised our defenders. It was a quick flick and just entered the net between Allen and, as far as I remember, Tapsell. The Japs seemed content to hold this score down, playing a truly defensive game throughout. Roop Singh and Gurmit Singh each scored thrice, Dickie Carr once and myself four times.

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On August 8, the United States lost to Japan by two goals to nine. The Americans were heavily outclassed. Inochora was the top scorer with four goals. On August 11, we met the United States in the deciding match in the tournament. It was a cakewalk for us and we won by twenty-four goals to one. Certain American papers had suggested that in order to make it a contest, the Indians ought to play left-handed or wear snowshoes. (We did play left-handed once against a team composed of the fair sex in Prague.) At the interval, we were leading by ten goals to nil. Incidentally, the twenty-four goals scored was a world record for us. I scored eight, Roop Singh ten, Gurmit Singh five and Pinniger one. The lone American goal was scored by Bodlington.

READ | 1928 Amsterdam Olympics: The hockey champions of the world

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One Los Angeles paper commenting on the final observed: “The All-India field hockey team, which G. D. Sondhi had brought to Los Angeles, to defend their 1928 Olympic title, was a typhoon out of the east, as it trampled under its feet and all but shoved out of the Olympic stadium the 11 representing the United States.”

Immediately, India’s flag flew for the only time over the peristyle to proclaim our victory. About five thousand people watched our match against the United States, including almost the entire Indian colony.

Excerpts from Chapter 11, ‘Deluge of goals in Los Angeles,’ of Dhyan Chand’s autobiography, Goal. You can buy the book here

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