Friday, July 20, 2012

Any excuse to play hockey...

By Dil Bahra
20th July 2012

   Wansbrough is a well known name in Australian hockey circles. Father Colin used to be the Australian manager and son David was a highly successful player for Australia. 
     What no one knew was that Colin Wansbrough played against the great Indian centre forward Balbir Singh.  This was only revealed when we ran our story  'Hockey at Royal Opera House' earlier this month.
    Our item  pointed up that Balbir is one of 16 great Olympians whose personal stories are featured as part of The Olympic Journey: The Story of the Games at the Royal Opera House in London's Covent Garden from Saturday 28 July until Sunday 12 August.
    Colin, now aged 76, was Vice President & Treasurer of the Australian Hockey Association from 1984 to 1993. He writes:
    "You may find this hard to believe, but I actually played against Balbir Singh in a practice match between my club Camberwell and India prior to the '56 Melbourne Olympics.
    I took the day off work, illegally, to play at Elsternwick Park, and they beat us 13-0. I was centre half, and Balbir led the Indian attack.
   He scored eight goals. The Indian goalkeeper played for us in second half. Balbir presented me with his stick after the game - how good was that ! . 
   That night the Camberwell team were the guests of the Indian team for dinner at the Olympic Village in Heidelberg -- my first very hot curry. Charlie Morley organised it, and Mike Craig, Ric Purser, Bill Horman, Ron Legg, Al C, etc all played.  
    The next day there was a photo of Balbir and I in a newspaper. I was unaware of,that  and got caught out as I was supposedly at my grandma's funeral"