1975 hockey WC heroes to relive memories on 38th anniversary

Updated: Mar 14, 2013, 22:17 PM IST

New Delhi: India`s 1975 hockey World Cup winning team members will assemble in Betul, Madhya Pradesh tomorrow to revisit the glorious chapter they had written 38 years ago in Kuala Lumpur.

It was exactly on March 15, 1975, when the Indian hockey team created history by lifting its first and only World Cup by beating arch-rivals Pakistan in the final.

And the living members of the side has planned to celebrate the day by revisiting the memories in a theatre in Betul.

Accusing the national federation of giving a cold shoulder to their achievements, the members of the 1975 World Cup-winning team have arranged a get-together on their own in Betul tomorrow.

Ashok Kumar, who scored the winning goal in the final, made his displeasure obvious by stating that the World Cup-winning side did not get its due recognition.

"Our hockey officials should recognise our achievement. They must do something to restore the past glory. After all, we have the lone World Cup for India," said Kumar, son of legendary Dhyanchand.

"We have got the full recording of the final match against Pakistan played on March 15. We have booked a cinema hall and will see the full match on big screen. All the 13 living members of the World Cup team are coming. There will be a small get together where we will remember that historic win," he said.

Cash awards and sponsorships might be the order of the day for sportsperson excelling in international arena today, but Kumar said players of their generation were only hungry for recognition and not financial rewards.

"I got two increments of Rs 50 each from my employer Indian Airlines where I worked for 37 years

"How many know that we won the WC on 15th March? How many know about the team members while every single achievement in cricket is glorified. We did not follow the path and I am afraid that future generation will forget our achievement," Kumar added.

Captain of the 1975 World Cup-winning side Ajitpal Singh feels that they did not get due recognition for their achievement because of the absence of technology in those days.

"There was really tough competition in hockey those days so our win was a great achievement. It is our bad luck that TV, internet or other mediums were not there in those days. People don`t even know us by face. Today, in the era of TV, internet, facebook, twitter it is all so easy," he said.

Aslam Sher Khan, who had sored the all-important equaliser in the dying moments of the semi-final against Malaysia, too rued the fact they did not get due recognition for their feat.

"I still remember the match against Malaysia. A national holiday was declared that day and there was instruction for Indians based in Malaysia to support the host team," he recollected.

"Our biggest prize was the love and respect we got from the countrymen but it is unfortunate that despite winning the World Cup, not many of our teammates were considered for Arjuna award," he said.

Malaysia was leading 2-1 when Aslam came in for Micheal Kindo and scored the equaliser eight minutes from the hooter. India eventually went on to win the match 3-2 in extra time.

"After that match, a number of Indian supporters came to greet the team outside our dressing room. Even a lathi charge by police could not dampen their spirit," Aslam recalled.

"We were welcomed like heroes at Madras airport and after that we visited 13 cities throughout the country and played exhibition matches. Stadiums used to be jam packed in those matches. I remember that Raj Kapoor had once offered me lead role in his upcoming movie when we played against Bollywood team at the Wankhede stadium," he said with nostalgia gripping his voice.