Indian men hockey team’s stranglehold over world hockey is well documented – so much has been written about it – a stupendous run of six consecutive Olympic gold-medal finishes starting with the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, was halted by arch-rivals Pakistan at the 1960 Rome Olympics. Although India exacted sweet revenge by pipping Pakistan to regain the gold at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the slide of Indian hockey steadily started in the subsequent Olympics, with the team finishing outside a podium finish at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, where they finished seventh. For stats-minded, India’s 8th Olympic gold win came at the 1980 Moscow Olympics in a depleted field with many top nations led by USA, boycotted it in protest against the late 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
For a country that have won eight Olympics gold medals, it was hard to see them finish outside of the podium, which of course became a trend after the Moscow Olympics glory. Since India’s gold win at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, it took 57 years before India for the first time had the dubious distinction of finishing last in any international tournament.
This not-much-to-cheer-about scenario greeted the Indian men’s hockey team at the Four Nation Hockey Tournament held at Amstelveen, Netherlands in June 1985. The Indian team captained by fullback Vineet Sharma, featured alongside hosts Netherlands, Great Britain and Germany. India were handed a 0-8 thrashing by the Dutch – their biggest defeat against the Orange brigade so far. India went down 1-4 to Germany and were nosed out 1-2 by Great Britain. India could score only two goals and leaked 14 goals to settle for the wooden spoon in any international tournament for the first time in history.