1956 Olympic Games. The story of one of the most legendary matches in the history of Indian hockey
December 6, 1956, was a momentous day in the history of Indian hockey. On this day, despite the injury of Balbir Singh, who was the main skipper of the national team, the team was able to win gold at the Olympics competing with its main opponent – a team from Pakistan. This Olympic gold was the sixth in a row, but the victory was not easy for the Indian team.
At the moment, 64 years have passed since that day. One of the greatest victories of the Indian team began to be forgotten. People less and less recalled that amazing game when the team was able to win the sixth gold in a row at the Olympic Games. However, thanks to the rapid spread on the Internet, this story got a second life.
This story has become one of the favourites for hockey fans. In this match, the Indian national hockey team beat Pakistan with a score of 1:0. The match was played at a cricket ground in Melbourne. Since then, this story has become a kind of fairy tale.
This whole story happened due to the injury of Balbry Singh. However, the Indian team at that time was very united, so his co-commanders Leslie Claudia, Udham Singh, Randhir Singh Nezhny, Raghubir Lala and many others supported Balbri. As a result, the team was able to win.
However, the story itself began after the game of the first league. It was then that the course of the history of Indian hockey changed.
The campaign began as best as possible for the Indian team. In the first match, they defeated a team of opponents with a score of 14:0. However, this match was overshadowed by a terrible event, which was one of the decisive. During the game, the defender of the Afghan team dealt a strong blow to Balbir Singh. Balbir Singh was a very important and indispensable game of the team. In that match, he scored five of fourteen goals. But his professionalism has become a stumbling block. It is precise because he was an excellent striker that the players of the opponent team always followed him. This time, one observation did not work, and Balbir received a serious finger injury.
The blow was so strong that after the hockey player was surprised how he could stay on his feet. Immediately after the match, Balbiru took an X-ray shot of his hand. He confirmed the fears. The injury was really serious.
The team, however, was not confused. The national team was able to successfully beat the United States with a score of 16:0, and then they beat Singapore, without conceding a single goal 6:0. It was after this that the question arose how to play further. After all, it was not possible to play in the final without the main scorer.
At this moment, the leadership of the national team faced a serious problem. To solve it, a meeting was organized. Everyone who attended this meeting over time has become important figures in the history of hockey. After long negotiations, it was decided that Balbir would not play in the rest of the league. His injury was so serious that no one wanted to risk his health.
But the Indian team was not going to give up so easily. Management developed a plan that was supposed to help psychologically influence the enemy team.
The plan was that absolutely everyone aware of Balbir Singh’s injury was forbidden to talk about it. In particular, players had to comply with this rule. The doctor’s report on Balbir’s injury was kept strictly secret. To avoid suspicion, the hockey player was told to wear only an Elastoplast on his finger, which was damaged. He also had to keep his hand in his pocket constantly. One of the conditions was that he did not want to shake anyone’s hand at a meeting. During the handshake, he could have caused severe pain. Then Balbir could not fail to react and would give out his injury.
Balbir was such a good game that the opposing team put two hockey players on him. This is exactly what the strategy of the Indian team was based on this time. The idea was that while the players of the team of rivals will be concentrated on Balbir, the striker will be able to go through the holes in the defence and come closer to the goal. This was supposed to give India an advantage during the match.
If the opponents learned about the serious injury of the hockey player, they would leave him unattended and focus on defence in other parts of the field. Then Udham Singh could not come closer to the goal. Namely, he was a key figure and hope in that match. Thanks to this strategy and an endless desire for victory, the team was able to get gold at this Olympics. In a match with the Pakistan team, Udham scored the only and decisive goal.
The hockey team of India at those Olympic Games did not miss a single match. The total score of the entire campaign is 38:0. In the history of Indian hockey, this happened when India won its first gold in 1928.
Interestingly, the Pakistan team did not understand that Balbir had a serious injury. The relish of the team and leadership helped mislead the opposing team. Therefore, these Olympic Games are legendary for the history of Indian hockey.