Brief History of Mercantile Hockey Association
By M.H. Yakeem
The Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) inaugurated the Hockey Section on 17 July 1952. The first President was R. Van Twest and Secretary A.E. de S. Wickramatileke. M. Anthony had the honour being the first Mercantile Captain. In 1956, a team comprising Hugh Aldons (Capt.), V.G. Prins (V.Capt.), V.S. de Kretser (Jnr), Ivan de Kretser, C.T.A. Shaffter, Dennis de Rosayro, A.D. Costa, T.S. Adahan, P. Wright, K. Sampanthan, Denzil Perera, Chandra Silva, D. Henricus, Rienzie Perera, H.Mahamoor with E. Wickramatilleke as Manager, toured South India, and was the first team to register victory on foreign soil. Mercantile - performance at Senior and Junior Nationals In the first ever Senior Nationals in 1956, Mercantile emerged Joint Champs with Matale after the game ended in a 3-all draw. Mercantile was captained by Hugh Aldons.
Thereafter, they emerged Champs on 10 occasions (1957, 1959, 1968, 1969, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1990, 1995), Joint Champs on 6 occasions (1956, 1962, 1970, 1975, 1991, 1992), and runner-up on 3 occasions (1998, 2003, 2005). In the Junior Nationals (inaugurated in 1973 as an Under-23 tournament and from 1996 as U-21), Mercantile emerged champs on 4 occasions (1974, 1982, 1985, 1989), and was Joint Champ with Matale Maroons in 1994. Mercantile created a unique history in 1982 when both the Seniors and Juniors bagged the Championships organized by the Galle Hockey Association. For the first time the game was played at the Galle Esplanade.
The seniors beat Matale 1-0 The team comprised: Sarath Wimalasinghe (Capt.), Quintus Fernando, (V. Capt.), M.F. Laheer, A. Dharmasiriwardena, M. Jahn, R. Hewathanthri, K. Soundaranayagam, B.L.V.S. Perera, Kingston de Silva, M. Manoharan, S. McLelland, C. Poopalasingham, J. Fernandopulle, A. Passela, Joy Anthonypillai and M. Jaldin. The Juniors beat Sri Lanka Schools 5-0 at the Police Ground, Bambalapitiya. The team comprised Joy Anthonypillai (Capt.), S.H.M. Kuthubdeen, A.K.M. Rizwie, A. Dharmasiriwardena, J. Fernandopulle, L. Ittapana, D. Jayasena, Kingston de Silva, Ravi Hewathanthri, M. Jahn, M.H. Yakeem, H.L.D.C. Pushpakumar, N.D.K. Perera, S.H. Uvaisul Karnain and C. Poopalasingham.
Both teams were coached by Dennis de Rosayro. Dennis de Rosayro played a vital role in Mercantile Hockey serving as President for 30 years (1978 – 2008). The dedication and commitment of this gentlemen to the game and the Association cannot be described in mere words, as his actions speak for themselves, and which rightly should end up in the Guiness Book of Records, as a leader who inspired and displayed great charisma in completing the MHA calendar with clockwork precision on time amidst his other activities.
He has been the heart and soul of this well-run, well-managed and well-disciplined MHA machinery. With the passage of time, being the gentlemen he is, he made it known the mantle has to be passed to the younger generation, and handed over the leadership in March 2008 after performing a yeoman service to Mercantile Hockey. Thus ended a 31-year leadership. Few well known cricketers who also represented Mercantile Hockey at the Senior and Junior Nationals are: C.T.A. Shaffter (1956), T.M.S. Saldin (1964), R. Heyn (1965), David Heyn (1966), Anura Tennakoon (1968), H. Jeganathan (1975), Ranil Abeynaike (1975), Ishak Shahabdeen (1976), S. Jeganathan (1977), A.J. Rumy (1977), A.K.M. Rizwie (1981), S.H.M. Kuthubdeen (198) and S.H.Uvaisul Karnain (1982).