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True-blue Joe, on and off the field

TRIBUTE: Arthur Hakel

True-blue Joe, on and off the field


By Susilough de S Wijeyeratne


I came to know Arthur Hakel by name as a kid watching cricket, seated on a Arthur Hakelsuitcase by the boundary at St Joseph’s College grounds in the later parts of the 1960s, when he opened bowling for the college First XI cricket team under Lalit de S Wijeyeratne and Brian Obeyesekere.

Arthur not only played cricket, he was a multi-talented sportsman and took part in athletics where he captained in 1968 and played soccer under the captaincy of Mahen Cruze. Arthur won college colours for cricket and athletics and still held the college under-19 javelin throw record since 1968. He also held the Public Schools javelin record for some time. He worked hard for his success.

Throwing the javelin helped him become a quick bowler with a quick arm action and helped his captains to have early breakthrough of the opponent’s batting, Arthur had taken a hat-trick against Richmond College, Galle, and since that day he was given the nickname Hat-trick Hakel by his teammates. Arthur was never a batsman, however he valued his wicket and would not throw it away; on the field he was one of those quickest throwers of the ball – it was like a javelin to him. After leaving St Joseph’s, he played cricket for the Colombo Cricket Club, while working for BCC.

St.Joseph's College athletics 1966

In soccer, Arthur played in the last line of defence and was a real asset to the goalkeeper.

Arthur was one of the many Josephian sportsmen who had spent day in day out at the college grounds. When I met him last on his hospital bed closer to his death, he was always talking about St Joseph’s and its sport. He was a great lover of Josephian sport.

I came to know Arthur personally after leaving school and when both us were invited to the college cricket committee, and that year St Joseph’s College organised a highly successful T20 tournament. Arthur was always there to help everything fall into place; he went out of his way as always to see whatever was entrusted to him was done in the correct manner. We served on the cricket committee for five-six years and had very good times together. Then we were together in the Past Cricketers Association where he headed this and had many successful events with the past cricketers. He headed the committee for the joint Josephian-Peterite Dance and the cricketers’ dinners for the 75th Josephian Peterite cricket encounter, and now it has gone from strength to strength.

Arthur was fully involved with the quadrangular tournament, and was duly recognised last year when he was made the Guest of Honour, and I know the quadrangular schools will miss him greatly too.

He also was the chairman of the College Athletics Committee – a sport he captained at college. Arthur wanted to bring the standard of athletics to greater heights, as he had been in era where Josephians were dominating this sport.

Arthur also was the secretary of the Nationalised Services Athletics Association, while he was working at the BCC.

He was friendly and a humble person, and always with a smile, he went out of his way to help any person in need. His loss is irreparable to family and friends, and many would agree with me.

God Bless Arthur! Till we meet again, and may you Rest in Peace

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