Trip Down Memory Lane

1971 Nehru Hockey Final: When Indian Airlines Rode on Inam-Ur-Rehman’s Brilliance to Pull the Plug on Great Britain

The prestigious Senior Nehru Hockey Tournament has been a witness to numerous fond memories that will be cherished forever. And one match that is still talked about glowingly even today is the 1971 Senior Nehru Hockey Tournament final between Indian Airlines (considered one of the country’s top domestic sides at that time) against a formidable Great Britain side.

Great Britain dished out a power-packed performance in the run-up to the final and set up a final date with Indian Airlines, who had the likes of 1975 World Cup final match-winner Ashok Kumar (son of legend Dhyan Chand) Inam-Ur-Rehman and Aslam Sher Khan in their ranks. Indian Airlines put up a superlative performance to defeat Great Britain 2-0 to clinch the Senior Nehru Hockey Tournament only for the second time (they were earlier declared Joint Winners alongside All India Police in 1968 edition).

Madhya Pradesh lad Inam-Ur-Rehman hogged the limelight, scoring two first-half goals to ensure Indian Airlines had the last laugh over the redoubtable Great Britain side. “The Great Britain side had defeated top teams such as Punjab Police and Northern Railway en route to the final and everyone was nervous whether Indian Airlines would be able to halt the winning run of Great Britain. But we played good tactical hockey to prevail over them. I used to tell Ashok Kumar who used to have amazing ball control, to hold ball possession for lengthy periods so that our defence will be under less pressure and all our plans worked to a nicety. I was fouled following which we were awarded a penalty stroke which I converted. I also scored the second goal – I took the ball from near our ‘D’ and ran with the ball and scored a solo goal, dodging three Great Britain players along the way besides their goalkeeper,” recalls Inam-Ur-Rehman in a chat with Hockey Passion from Bhopal.

The 1968 Olympian forward elaborated on an interesting anecdote on the eve of the final match. “I still remember during that time the Mohan Meakin owner had announced a cash award of Rs 1,500 for Ashok Kumar, who was in great form at that time. And after witnessing my performance in the final the Mohan Meakin owner again announced a cash award of Rs 1,500 for me,” he says barely able to control his excitement reminiscing the memories of the 1971 Nehru final.