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The Times of India, Aug 17 2015
Unearthed 1946 ticket shows English football stars played on Doon soil
The chance discovery of a ticket to a football match, buried at the bottom of a trunk for over six decades, has unveiled a glorious piece of Dehradun's history . Not many football enthusiasts were aware that in 1946, an all-star cast of footballers -including Ted Ditchburn, who represented the England football team, along with Robert Jack Robinson and Johnny Morris (who also played for Manchester United) -challenged the Dehradun Area team at the city's famous Pavilion Ground.
The English team was called Tommy Walker's XI, and also included footballers who represented other famous clubs like Spurs, Glasgow Rangers, Leith Athletics, Nottingham Forest, and Rutherglen Glencairn among others, as well England and Scotland in international championships.
Stars such as Cyril Trigg, the highest goal scorer for Birmingham City in the 1946 and 1947 seasons, and Eddie Rutherford, who would eventually play in the Scottish national team, were among its members.
The ticket was discovered by UK resident Mick Clarke, whose father Victor served with the Royal Mechanical Engineers in British India.According to Mick, after serving in Burma during the Second World War, his father was possibly at Deolali in today's Madhya Pradesh, waiting to return to England, when the match took place on February 22. He either came all the way from Deolali or was near Dehradun around the day and dropped in to catch the match.
In an email reply to a football enthusiast in Dehradun, Mick said, “I had no idea about anything to do with the match until I found the programme in an old box that my father had kept from his time in Burma and India. He did say about the holding camp and how there was nothing to do while they waited for repatriation. I have no doubt that the match took place as surviving relatives of the players have confirmed knowledge of it.“ His father, he said, played football at a local level but was a very keen supporter of Luton Town and Arsenal.
Significantly , the match was played between teams from the army , and such matches were organized to lift the morale of soldiers as there were limited entertainment activities for armymen at the time. The Dehradun XI comprised players from different army units including the Indian Military Academy .
Police station-cum- school
At the Prem Nagar police station here, ‘history’ is more than the record of a criminal’s past. Numbers don’t just tot up thefts and murders, and letters are as much about apples and birds as the different subsections of the penal code. If you don’t believe it, drop by before 9.30am, when a soft-top van chugs in with children from the Nanda ki Chowki slum across the Tons river.
In no time at all, the police station forecourt turns into a cheerful little school with a mixed bag of students aged 4-12 years taking their places on a durree spread between potted plants. The classes go on for six hours, till 3.30pm, and the subjects vary with age and learning levels of students.
The children have never had any formal schooling, so some of the older ones also need a primer in Hindi, English and arithmetic. Those who can read well are taught history and geography, too.
The school now has 51 students, but when it started in March there were only 10. It didn’t have a sheltered site. Volunteers of Aasraa Trust, a Dehradun-based NGO, taught them on a pavement along the busy Chakrata Road, opposite the police station. Station officer Mukesh Tyagi was concerned about the children sitting so close to the traffic, so he took the school under his wing.
Police ‘protection’ helped the school bloom. Knowing the students would be safe, more people started sending their children. Someone committed Rs 5,000 a month for the van to pick up and drop the children. Someone else chipped in with free school bags. Small, regular contributions from the station’s 50-odd staff and outsiders ensure that the children get a banana or a samosa, or even a meal every day.
‘Cops too teach children in their spare time’
As the number of students has increased, we do three sessions every day. Each session is of two hours,” said Rakhi Verma, who is associated with Aasraa Trust and teaches the students.
For Archana, 5, the school is a blessing. Her father sells plasticware from a cart and can barely meet the expenses of his family. “I had never been to a school. Now, I enjoy coming for the classes,”she said. Gayatri, 6, used to beg to help her father, a ragpicker. Now, she studies at the Aasraa school.
The cops, especially the 10 women personnel, are enthusiastic about teaching themselves. “We have not asked them to teach, but whenever they have spare time, they teach the children,” said Tyagi.