Playing sport "Out East"

Tony Selman
7th June 2006, 12:16
I suppose it must be the onset of the World Cup but I suddenly thought this morning about the various attempts we had to raise sporting teams on ships when we were a goodly few miles from home.

I am a rugby man myself and I have reported elsewhere how Mike James and I played rugby for Colombo Hockey and ?? Club which was abbreviated to "C.H." This was in the dying days of the Raj in Ceylon and two such lowly beings as MN Officers would never been allowed to sweep the changing rooms let along change in them 10 years before.

I suppose it was because we spent so much time there but most of my memories relate to playing sport in Colombo. The Mission tried valiantly to get inter-ship football matches going and I can remember playing in several whilst spending time there. The main problem was, of course, the shortage of even relatively fit human beings that either had the wind or the desire to play two halves of football. If you take away the Old Man and the Chief Engineer who were most likely too old to play anyway just numbers alone would dictate we would struggle to raise a team. Nonetheless various ships did muster teams and as far as I can remember it was good fun. Matra played Manipur in Colombo in either 64 or 65 and it was a very low skill draw from memory. The next match was against a Hansa Line ship that took it a lot more seriously than us, they were fitter, more organised and had more people to choose from. We had them worried for long periods (??)before slipping to an unlucky 2-0 defeat. The main point I can remember from this match was that our left back (who I am fairly sure was the 2nd Engineer) had been a good footballer in his time but now perhaps not in the peak of fitness, regularly beat people ran for a few yards passed the ball and nipped off the pitch for a quick beer. The count was that he had 10 or 12 beers during the game. The Germans could not quite believe what they were seeing. No subs in those days of course and we ended up with 8 or 9 men quite often due to various forms of exhaustion. We also played a Russian side that gave us a good hiding as well. The honour of the Merchant Navy was retrieved when Canberra arrived on a World Cruise and their first XI played a Ceylon representative side and won 5-0 or 5-1 and their 2nd XI played the reigning cargo ship champions (who were I think the Russians) and won 8-0. I watched the 1st XI game and Canberra were very good but then again they had a lot of people to choose from.

Oddly enough I don't seem to remember playing sport in most of the other ports that we went to and can't ever remember being involved in a cricket team, which seems odd considering how keen the locals are on cricket. I do recall kickabouts amongst ourselves on the quay at such exotic locations as "Estadio Massawa" or "Assab Nou Camp". I am sure others will have tales to relate from their travels.

7th June 2006, 12:47

Search the forums for my 'Sporting Prowess' story.
This describes another footballing outing.



Tony Selman
7th June 2006, 13:14
Hi Malcolm

Thinking about it I did play football once in the States like you. I was on Mahsud in 1969 and we were in some small port somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico and we were challenged by a German ship. As usual we struggled to raise a side and eventually we lost 8-0 but conceded 6 goals in the last 10 minutes when we changed goalkeepers. We regarded that as 2-0 really. We had the Germans on board that night and had a good time, they were really nice people. Can't remember the ship for the life of me.

7th June 2006, 15:01
We played football a cuople of times.One I rember was off the Maihar 1956
in Calcutta against a german ship,Hansafels I think.We lost but had great time on board their ship lots of beer and sausage.Anyone remember this?


Tony Selman
7th June 2006, 15:32
It's amazing what you can drag up when you start to think about it. Whilst not strictly Brock's as such this relates to a trip on Lucigen after Brock's had taken over Moss Tankers in 1965 and there were several other Brock's men on board, including Donald Macleod who has just joined this board.

Unebelievably our first two trips from the Gulf were to ... India. Both ended up in Calcutta but on the second trip we went to a place I bet not too many of you have been lucky enough to visit - Kandla. This spa town is north of Bombay and is a good number of miles up the Gulf of Kutch, that is the real name and it is quite appropriate. What a dump and it is probably the only port I have been to that is as bad as it's near namesake Chalna. (Note post modified to correct geographic errors by TS)

The point of the story is that we tied up in the middle of the street in this absolute dump and before long we had been challenged to a game of football by the local fire brigade. I have no idea why it was the fire brigade perhaps because they were on safety watch as we discharged. Unlike the Brock's ships with Asian crew the Moss Tankers had European crews so we had a lot more men to choose from. We had sailed from Birkenhead so naturally we had a good few scousers on board and as it turned we weren't too bad a team (by ship's standards).

That's the story really, we won playing on an apalling pitch (?) and it is a lot easier to raise a team when you have got twice as many men to choose from.

Did anyone else have the pleasure of visiting Kandla?

Ron Stringer
7th June 2006, 20:06
... on the second trip we went to a place I bet not too many of you have been lucky enough to visit - Khulna. This spa town is south of Bombay and is a good number of miles up the Gulf of Kutch, that is the real name and it is quite appropriate. What a dump and it is probably the only port I have been to that is as bad as it's near namesake Chalna....Did anyone else have the pleasure of visiting Khulna?

Thoroughly confused. The Gulf of Kutch is well north of Bombay/Mumbai in Gujerat state. The only Khulna I know is a jute processing centre, the 3rd biggest city in Bangladesh, not very far from the lovely port of Chalna of your fond memories. I was never lucky enough to go to Khulna but the twenty-odd apprentices off the City of Lucknow were taken there by fast launch from our anchorage at Chalna. A garden party and dinner-dance were the objectives, all laid on for the dear boys. The rest of us sweated it out on the Pussur, loading jute and keeping an ear open for changes in the path of the latest cyclone, in case we had to up-anchor and head for the sea.



Tony Selman
7th June 2006, 21:12
Ron, very well spotted. I typed this thread this morning in the office and named the port from memory. I have no real idea why I named it Khulna because I know that is in Bangladesh because I have actually been there. The actual name of the port is Kandla but the description still stands. I am now somewhat confused myself because I have always remembered that Kandla was south of Bombay but never really checked it on a chart and just did it from memory. It would appear that I am not having a very good memory day. D'Oh. (MAD)

I will go back and change the original wording which will no doubt confuse some people but they can sort it out if they follow the thread.

Tony Selman
8th June 2006, 15:49
I thought I might have had a bit more flak over the above blunder. Obviously everyone is being kind in this nice weather?