Ken de Joodt, Trinity College captain of 1957/58, was one of the key players in the Havelocks Sports Club’s glorious run in local rugby from 1960, kicking the winning goal in 1961 to clinch the Clifford Cup. Here, the famous Sri Lankan back division player, and deserving life member for his contribution to the club, writes about Havies’ grand plans to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
Exciting celebration plans for the Havelocks Sports Club’s 100th anniversary in August were revealed recently to a gathering of media and invitees at the Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo. Kicking off proceedings at the launch, former Sri Lanka rugby winger Chandrishan Perera set a scorching pace, as he did on the field, as a witty, versatile compere to introduce the purpose and significance of this occasion.
It is a fact that Havelocks Sports Club had been through some financial difficulties over the last decade due to its players receiving better monetary offers from some other clubs. This was a drain and strain on the financial resources of the club to retain their “star” performers. However, thankfully, this changed with the help of former Sri Lanka, Thomian, and CR & FC fly half, Asanga Seneviratne, who as the head of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union, changed the face of Havies’ rugby over the last few years, by helping them find sponsors through companies he controls. This amazing move by Asanga helped lift the standards of the club on and off the field. In addition, a new stadium was built with beautiful spectator stands around the grounds and
a splendid pavilion which has a ‘big-as-life’ inscription from the Bible “I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me” on the wall facing the playing area. Most of the ‘Home’ games are played under floodlights. Havelocks won the league season in 2012, defeating Kandy Sports Club the champions for the preceding 10 years. Before bringing together the vital statistics and historical information, the Havelocks Sports Club, chairman of the Centenary Celebrations Sub-committee Bentley Barsenbach announced the Celebration Week would blast off on Friday, August 28, with a “Centenary Club Nite” and conclude with a “Beer Morning” on Sunday, September 6. Romesh Abeywickreme is the active secretary assisting in this whole project.
A series of exciting events will be staged during the week, with a singalong on August 30 followed by the President’s Night” on September 1. On September 2,
the piece de resistance and much-awaited traditional rugby battle (like in the “old days” of the famous era of the ‘60s) between the current teams of the CR & FC and Havelocks will be played under floodlights.
Finally, on Friday, September 4, the Havies’ Dinner-Dance at the Kingsbury Hotel will be the grand finale to the 100th anniversary celebrations. Many past Havelocks stalwarts and players from abroad and around the country are expected to attend.
Havelocks Sports Club was founded in 1915 and has since then playing rugby
for well over 90 years – carrying forward a proud history of a super sports and
social club. The club has produced champion teams in the years gone by and continues to serve Sri Lanka rugby with top-class players and coaches. Havies first played football, hockey and cue games –before venturing out to bigger and better goals on the football and hockey fields. Today, Havelocks has reached an undisputable status of being an established “power-packed” rugby club, winning many rugby tournaments on the way. One of the premier rugby clubs, Havelocks has a rich history of fine traditions and is ranked as one of the oldest clubs in the country. More importantly, Havelocks was first local rugby club to extend credit facilities to the members! Historically, Havelock Park was established in 1901 to honour Sir Arthur Elibank Havelock (1844-1908) – the 17th British Governor of Ceylon (1890-1895) – by the Colombo Municipal Council. This land was the Havelock Golf Club earlier, which in the course of time was relocated at Buller’s Road (now Bauddhaloka Mawatha), on the land where the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) is built (in 1975) and includes the Borella cemetery and extends over to the Colombo Golf Club.
Havelock Park was originally a sandy pitch (4.5 acres) in area but in 1905 the CMC purchased an additional six acres and had it ready by September 12, 1907, for an international rugby union match between the New Zealand All Blacks and
an All Ceylon team. Since then, Havelock Park became the home of several sporting clubs, such as the Havelock Sports Club, Burgher Recreation Club and Colts Cricket Club – all developed and used to this day. At the northern end of Havelock Park was the public area named after the national hero, Captain Duenuge Edward Henry Pedris (1888-1915), who was executed by British officials for alleged incitement of racial riots in 1915, which were later proved false. It now functions as the Pedris Park Sports Stadium – which mainly caters to basketball, netball, athletics and other sports.
Current Havelocks president Lal Silva said in his opening speech, the club was initially conceptualised on enthusiasm and comradeship, and it still remains the
foundation of the club. In 1915, when the club was under the founding presidency of Dr V.R. Schokman, a young schoolboy named Roy Joachim, banded together with other youngsters between the ages of 12 to 16 years – with a vision to organise them into a sports club. In the early years, sporting activities were restricted to popular games such as softball cricket, rugby football and soccer. Lal Silva emphatically said; “Their unrelenting leadership and vision is the reason we see the greatness of the Havelocks Sports Club today.” In later years, Hockey became a popular sport too, with Havelocks participating in leading Tournaments and eventually winning many between 1955 and 1961, such as the Andriesz Shield in the “A” Division and De Hoedt Cup in the Pioneer Knock-out Tournament. Freddie White, a younger brother of Duncan White, Ceylon’s first Olympic Medallist, turned out for Havelocks and the country. Freddie was ranked as Asia’s best hockey goalie in his era of playing for the country and Havelocks.
Havelocks entered the inaugural inter-club Clifford Cup tournament in 1950
under the captaincy of Ian Labrooy. They proved their might and created a
sensation rugby by winning the Clifford Cup in the inaugural year, and again in
1951, beating the better-known teams. This unique 1950/51 team was spearheaded by the four Aldon brothers, Hugh, Fred, all of whom were three-quarters. Among the others were Dr Larry Foenander, Comdr. Eustace Matthysz,
and Dr Robert Sourjah. Maj. Basil Henricus, H.E.V. Metzeling, S.B.Pilapitiya, V. Kelly, Allan Drieberg, I. Bartholomeusz.