Thakar Singh Kullar (1899 – 1975)

Thakar Singh Kullar was born on 12 June 1899 in Sansarpur, Punjab, India.

He joined the British Indian Army, aged 18 on 6 June 1917 and served with the 1st Battalion, 4th Prince of Wales's Own Gurkha Rifles.

He was a member of the Indian Army Hockey Team that toured New Zealand and Australia in 1926. This trip, the first ever by an Indian hockey team, begins the story of Indian hockey internationally and Sansarpur's rich hockey heritage.

The team of 17, led by Captain David Tenant Cowan MC, of 1st Battalion 6th Gurkha Rifles, included four English Officers, one Sikh Officer and twelve Indian Soldiers. Naik Thakar Singh was one of three senior Non Commissioned Officers on this tour and had the added responsibility of looking after the welfare of the young soldiers, all of them on their very first visit overseas. One of these young soldiers was a 21 years old Sepoy Dhyan Chand of the 4th Battalion, 1st Punjab Regiment.

Dhyan Chand had joined the Army on 29 August 1922 at the age of 16 and was posted with the 1st Brahmans Regiment based in Delhi. Following the reorganisation of the Indian Armed Forces in 1922, the unit was designated as the 4th Battalion, 1st Punjab Regiment.

Thakar Singh's Battalion had been posted to Bakloh on 23 May 1923 from Waziristan and Dhyan Chand's Battalion had been posted to Waziristan on 20 December 1923 from Delhi. Both of them had served at the same location but at different period. They had something in common.

Dhyan Chand had a brilliant tour, playing as centre forward and instantly became a house hold name in New Zealand. His performance led to his selection for the Amsterdam 1928 Olympic Games where India earned her first Gold Medal. He went on to play at two more Olympic Games, earning Gold at Los Angeles 1932 and Berlin 1936, where he was the captain.

Naik Thakar Singh was in good company with another Gurkha Officer, Captain L A Alexander of 2nd Battalion, 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles in the squad.

Captain David Tennant Cowan MC, who served in the British Indian Army from 1915 - 1947 rose to the rank of Major General and commanded the Indian 17th Infantry Division in the Burma Campaign during World War 11. Early in 1945, his son was killed whilst serving in his old regiment, 1st Battalion, 6th Gurkha Rifles.

David Cowan had a very successful Army career. He retired from the Army in 1947 as a Major General.

Thakar Singh played as a centre half in this Army team. At the end of the New Zealand tour, an interesting ceremony was held on July 18 at the Evelyn Firth Home, Parnell. On behalf of the Auckland Returned Soldiers' Association, the president, Mr. S. A. Carr, gave each man a silver medallion, specially struck as a souvenir of the New Zealand tour.

Each Indian player was also presented by Mr. L. 0. Kent, President of the Auckland Hockey Association, with a silver badge, as a souvenir of the visit to Auckland.

One interesting story on this tour was reported in Gisborne Times (New Zealand) dated 31 August 1926:

"Here's an incident from the stay of the Indian Army Hockey Team in Auckland. On the day when the team left the Dominion, one of the side, Thakur Singh, a Sikh, gave "Billy" Williamson, the President of Canterbury Hockey Association, who was up there for the test, a Sikh knife as a souvenir. "Billy", not to be outdone in generosity and to return the gift, rushed up town and bought a gramophone, and handed it to Thakur Singh as the men went up the gangway".

Gurdev Singh, Thakar Singh's son, and Kulwant Singh, Thakar Singh's grandson, fondly remember this gift and state that the gramophone was a precious family possession for a long time.

Thakar Singh left the Army after completing 23 years' service on 31 December 1939.

He died on 19 September 1975 in Sansarpur, Punjab.

His son, Gurdev Singh Kullar was also born in Sansarpur,  Punjab.  He represented India at Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games where India won the Gold Medal. He scored two goals in his first appearance at Olympic Games, against Afghanistan in India's 14 - 0 win. He was India's Captain at the at the Jakarta 1962 Asian Games where India won the Silver Medal. He represented India at the Tokyo 1958 Asian Games where India won the Silver Medal.

Gurdev studied at Cantonment High School in Jalandhar and made his mark while a student in Jullundur. He represented India at the Youth Festival in Poland in 1956.

He joined Punjab Police in 1956 and played for Punjab Police and Punjab from 1956 to 1967.

In 1961 he was a member of the Indian Wanderers Team that toured New Zealand.

He was  a member the Gold Medal winning Punjab Team in National Hockey Championship in Bhopal 1962 where he was the Captain and Bombay 1965; Bronze Medal in Hyderabad 1961, Madras 1963 and Delhi 1964.

He was a member of the Gold Medal winning Punjab Police Hockey Team in All India Police Games in Gwalior 1956, Calcutta 1959, Hyderabad 1961, Trivandrum 1962, Jaipur 1964 and Guwahati 1966. He was in the Bronze Medal Team in Delhi in 1960. He was in the Punjab Police team that won the Beighton Cup in 1966, scoring the winning goal against Signals team.

Gurdev had many interactions with Dhyan Chand in the late fifties and early sixties. Dhyan Chand was a selector and a coach during this period.

He retired from international hockey in 1967 and immigrated to the UK where he currently resides.


Hockey Legend Balbir Singh Senior remembered

by Dil Bahra
3 June 2020

I first met Balbir Singh Senior at the Champions Trophy in Amstelveen, Netherlands in 1982. I was with a group who had earlier gone to the Bombay World Cup in that year. Whilst we sat down in the lounge after the match, having our drinks, Balbir, who was the coach of the Indian team at that tournament, was passing through the lounge on his way out. He noticed our group and came over to talk to us.

Four years later, we had the Hockey World Cup in Willesden, London. I was one of the members of Phil Appleyard's organising committee and was delighted to hear that Balbir Singh was invited as a guest at the World Cup. Balbir attended every day without fail and was always seated in the VIP area of the main stand. Phil Appleyard had asked me to personally look after Balbir. Phil Appleyard made a point of greeting him personally everyday as well. It was during this period that I really became to know Balbir as a person. It is here that I learnt that he was a Police Officer in Punjab in his early days. As I was a Police Officer, I made this fact known to my colleagues who were on duty at the stadium and he was greeted by them every day after that. He presented me with his book, The Golden Hat Trick, which he signed (dated 10.10.1986). He used to travel from Hounslow to Willesden by public transport. He met several hockey supporters in the Centenary Club Lounge after the day's matches and also attended The Khalsa Centre Tooting with my wife Pami and me. The congregation which included hockey players, old and young were delighted and he was invited to speak to the congregation. He was an excellent speaker, both in English and Punjabi. He was quick to notice that most of the people in the congregation were from East Africa and told them how proud he was of their achievements and how he followed hockey in East Africa.

After the World Cup in London I kept in contact with him, occasionally meeting him during his stopovers in London.

Trafalgar Square, London 2005
In January 2005, when London was bidding to host the 2012 Olympic Games, I was invited to be a member of the ‘Vaisakhi in London Steering Group' and given the task of identifying all Sikh Olympians living in the UK to celebrate their achievements and to support London's bid to host the 2012 Olympics.  As a result of my extensive research, with assistance from Patrick Rowley, Bill Colwill OBE and Peter Luck of the Hockey Writers' Club, I was able to compile a list of all Sikh Olympians and establish that most of the Sikh Olympians living in the UK were hockey players though there were also three wrestlers and a weightlifter. It was our fortune that Balbir Singh would be passing through London to his way to Canada around that time and arrangements were made to include him in our celebrations.

In company with Malkit Singh Sondh, the Ugandan Olympian (Munich 1972), I visited Balbir at his sister's house in Hounslow and informed him of my proposal. He immediately agreed to be our chief guest and to make a speech at a dinner event for the Olympians and guests at the Indian Gymkhana Club in London.

The invitation list to this invite only function of about 150 people included Patrick Rowley, who was the Chairman of the Hockey Writers' Club at the time, whilst I was the Secretary. Pat, one of the most senior hockey writers in the world and now honored with a BEM, was also asked to speak at this function. He started his speech by recollecting "My first Olympic Games was in 1948. I was only a schoolboy but I persuaded the sports editor of the local paper, the Middlesex Chronicle, to include some words of a schoolboy's view of the 1948 Olympics. I could have used all the few words at my disposal on India's over whelming victory over Britain in the final. I and GB were mesmerised by the Indian centre forward, Balbir Singh. My love of hockey started - that day". Pat went on to say how much he had admired seeing Balbir play over the years.

The Officers of the Hockey Writers' Club, knowing that Balbir was in London that week, took the opportunity of making him an Honorary Life Member of the Club. As Secretary of the Club I was involved in the process and present at the awards function at Southgate Hockey Club.

The successful dinner event was followed a week later with London seeing the biggest ever gathering of Sikh Olympians in Trafalgar Square on Sunday 24 April 2005. Balbir was one of the players to grace the occasion. And as we all fondly remember, London did win the bid to host the 2012 Games.

Mike Hamilton, the well-known hockey journalist from New Zealand, who saw a photograph of Balbir and me in a Hockey Writers Club newsletter contacted me to tell me that he remembers Balbir as a young boy when Balbir stayed at their house in the mid-fifties. He asked me to pass on a message to Balbir, which read "my love for the game of hockey all started through my parents and your visit to Christchurch in 1955 as leader of the Indian Wanderers team. Balbir, you were kind enough to give my father, Keith, a pocket patch from a blazer of the team and I have kept it all these years. I am delighted to see you looking so fit and well in the photograph." I passed this message to Balbir who was obviously delighted and wrote to Mike. Sadly Mike Hamilton passed away in 2011.

As a result of all the information gathered, I decided to research further into the contribution made by Sikhs in hockey all over the world. I had noticed that all records were not recorded.  As part of my research, I travelled to the IOC Library in Lausanne and with the assistance of my fellow members of the Hockey Writers' Club, I had a comprehensive history and record of Sikhs in hockey at the Olympic Games. By the time I went to Chennai for the Champion's Trophy in December 2005 my records were nearly complete. Two of my good friends, Prabhjot Singh of the Tribune and Pargat Singh, the Hockey Olympian, who were both in Chennai convinced me to visit Punjab in February for the India v Pakistan series. Pargat, who was also a Police Officer and Director of Sports in Punjab at the time, offered to host my visit.

In order to obtain more information, I travelled to Chandigarh in February 2006. I met Balbir, Sushbir, his daughter and his son in law Retired Wing Commander Malvinder Singh Bhomia at the hockey stadium and Balbir invited me to his house for lunch the following day. He also introduced me to Tarlochan Singh Bawa, his teammate at the London 1948 Olympics. Prabhjot had also invited Balbir and me to the Tribune Offices later that evening.  I was so pleased to note that at his house Balbir had a framed photo of him and me at Trafalgar Square in 2005.

The series with Pakistan moved to Jalandhar and Balbir Senior put me in contact with Balbir Services who lived in Jalandhar. Balbir Services invited me to his house for breakfast before the hockey match that afternoon. I saw the Jalandhar match with both the Balbir's and they introduced me to several Sikh Olympians who were at the match.

It was during this period that I truly realised the achievement of Balbir Singh Senior in the hockey field. I consulted him on many occasions, particularly in relation to names and identifying photos from the past. He was always very helpful despite phone calls at all times of the day, bearing in mind that he was either in Canada or India. I had a comprehensive history of all the Sikhs world over who had played hockey at Olympic Games.

Top Sikh Hockey Player of all time.
In April 2006, I was invited by journalist and author, Sundeep Misra to be a member of a select panel to choose "the Top ten Sikh Hockey Stars of all time".   My fellow judges, in New Delhi, were the former Indian Supreme Court Chief Justice J S Verma (Chairman); four-time Olympic Medallist Leslie Claudius; three-time Olympic Medallist Col Haripal Kaushik; two-time Olympic Medallist R S Bhola; Former Sports Editor of The Press Trust of India K Jaganadha Rao; Hockey Writer of The Hindu S Thyagarajan; Hockey Writer of The Tribune Prabhjot Singh and former Indian Hockey Federation President I M Mahajan.

Ashwini Kumar, the former President of the Indian Hockey Federation, was the Chief Guest at a ceremony at The Ashok, New Delhi on 26 April 2006. Ashwini announced Balbir Singh Senior as the top Sikh Hockey Player of all time and the top Ten Sikh hockey stars were all felicitated. Ashwini was able to tell me, first hand, the contribution Balbir had made to hockey and I had an opportunity to cross check a few facts with him.

On his way to Canada, Balbir stopped over in London as he always did.  On hearing of his award, The East African hockey players living in London decided to hold an event to honour Balbir for being selected as the top Sikh Hockey Player of all time. The event, organised by Malkit Singh Sondh, at Shalimar Hotel in West London on Sunday 14th May 2006 was attended by over 150 guests, which included over 100 past and present players including several Olympians.

I was invited to be the Master of Ceremonies.  Balbir Singh in his speech recalled the fond memories he had of London and shared his stories of the 1948 Games. Whilst making a presentation to Balbir Singh on behalf of the Sikh hockey players, Malkit said how proud he was to make the presentation to a hockey legend who was a role model to so many players throughout the world. He was given a truly remarkable, honourable applause. Palwan Singh, a former Indian International wrestler, who fought under the name Prince Mann Singh, recalled how as a youngster he had to queue in New Zealand in the fifties to have a glimpse of the great Balbir Singh.

Gurdev Singh Kullar and Joe Gallibardy
I retired from the Police Service in January 2007 after 32 years and on retirement I set up my Sikh Hockey Olympians website, as I was now able to dedicate more time to hockey history. Balbir's ten days visit to London that summer was a memorable one. He was accompanied by a film crew and I was requested to co-ordinate the trip. It included filming at Milton Keynes Hockey Stadium, Wembley Stadium where we were granted entrance to the stadium although it had been rebuilt since the London 1948 Olympic Games, Park Royal where he had scored 6 goals against Argentina, a trip to Buckingham Palace to watch the Guard Change from the Palace Forecourt.

There was also a trip to Northants on 2nd July 2007, where a reception had been arranged by Midlands sporting fans in honour of Balbir and his sporting achievements. Gurdev Singh Kullar, who was Balbir's team mate at Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games, Punjab Police and Punjab, was also invited and I had the pleasure of being the Master of Ceremonies at this event and inform the audiences of the achievement of these two hockey greats. This also gave me a unique opportunity of hearing the experiences of these two great players first-hand. They talked about the good old days and I was privileged to listen to these stories.

Two days later we met Berlin 1936 Indian Gold Medallist, Joe Gallibardy, at his house in East London. Joe recalled his experiences at the Berlin Games and also checked my records together with Balbir. Hearing the two discuss their training and playing days and the sacrifices they had to make, was a real privilege and to see the mutual respect they had for each other.

His ten days visit concluded with a gathering of his supporters and friends at Indian Gymkhana Club, London.

In August 2008, Balbir wrote to me saying "Your web "sikhhockeyolympians.com" is one more encyclopaedia by you on internet. The first was on paper. I have been reading it frequently. I read the details regarding the 1936 Berlin final. Information printed by you is correct.  The facts recorded by FIH on their website are incorrect.  Can you do anything about this?", he asked. I promised him that I would do all I could.

Delhi World Cup 2010
I attended the Delhi World Cup as the Media overseer for AIPS Hockey Commission and the FIH. Pat Rowley and I were hosted by journalist Sandeep Nakai at his residence. I had informed Balbir that I would be attending the World Cup. As happens during such major events, invitations to many functions are received and one of these invitations through Sandeep was to "A Salute to Indian Hockey", organised by Sunil Yash Kalra. Pat and I attended this event with Sandeep with the intention of staying only for half an hour. On reaching the venue hall, I was asked to go out as the Guest speaker wished to see me. I then found out that Balbir Singh Senior and K P S Gill were the Chief Guests. I accompanied Balbir to the hall and after the speeches he came and sat down with Pat, Sandeep and me for dinner and the whole event from there on revolved around our table - the photographs and the autographs etc.

A couple of days later, Sunil arranged for a recording of a discussion about Indian hockey between Balbir Singh, KPS Gill and me at K P S Gill's residence.

I met Balbir on a daily basis at the hockey stadium and we had a long pre-arranged meeting about the inaccurate FIH records with Leandro Negre, President of the International Hockey Federation, whom I knew very well from my appointments as the FIH Media Officer and Secretary of The Hockey Writers' Club. Leandro, an Olympian himself, took personal responsibility of getting the FIH records checked and corrected.

Leandro Negre, true to his words, ensured that the error was rectified and that the correct results were recorded by the FIH. Balbir was informed personally of this by letter with a copy to me.

The FIH, in that written correspondence on 24 February 2011, confirmed that "The record of the most goals scored in an Olympic final belongs to India's Balbir Singh Dosanjh 'Senior,' who scored five goals in the 1952 final in Helsinki on 24th July 1952, when India defeated Holland 6 - 1."

London 2012 Olympics
The Olympic Journey: The story of the Games was a free and unique experience specially created by The Olympic Museum in collaboration with the Royal Opera House and BP, and was part of the London 2012 Festival. It showcased some of the incredible artefacts and images from The Olympic Museum in Lausanne and told the story of the Olympic Games from its creation in 776BC through to the London 2012 Olympic Games. 

The stories of the representative 16 athletes were told through interviews, historic footage, photographs and artefacts.  Each story tells of human strength and endeavour, of passion, determination, hard work and achievement and demonstrates the values of the Olympic Movement; respect, excellence and friendship. Balbir Singh was one of the 16 athletes chosen, the only one from India and hockey. I was thrilled that Balbir was one of these athletes chosen.

I acted as the co-ordinator/liaison officer for Balbir and attended the first filming at the Royal Opera House. After this interview, we met Mike Sharrock, Partnership Director, London 2012.

I was one of the founders of the Hockey Museum which had been set up a year before and as the webmaster at the time and after the interview I wrote an article on the Museum website: "Hockey at the Royal Opera House".

The Royal Opera House and BP have joined forces with The Olympic Museum in Lausanne to create a unique exhibition telling the Olympic story through the endeavours of ancient and modern Olympians. Hockey is represented in the Olympic story by the experiences of Balbir Singh 'Senior', the triple Olympic gold medallist, who is one of 16 iconic Olympians featured in this free exhibition.

Mike Sharrock wrote to me that evening: "It was a real pleasure to meet the Great Balbir Singh this afternoon and to hear his wonderful story first-hand.  We are all very proud to be able to include him as one of the 16 athletes whose stories will be featured in the exhibition during the Olympics.  The special historical significance of independent India winning its first gold medal against Great Britain will be especially interesting for visitors to the exhibition in London. I look forward to the opportunity to show you and Mr Singh around the exhibition in a few weeks' time".

I visited the exhibition three times with Balbir and Mike Sharrock always made it a point to personally see us despite his busy schedule. I also accompanied Leandro Negre, President of International Hockey Federation to this exhibition.

David Christison, a FIH colleague and Hockey Writers Club member based in Australia read the story on the Museum website and wrote to me saying he had tweeted my museum piece earlier that morning and received a response from former Australian captain David Wansbrough which I would find amusing. His father, Colin, was long-time president of the Australian Hockey Association.

Colin, aged 76 (in 2012), who was Vice President and Treasurer of the Australian Hockey Association from 1984 to 1993 wrote: "You may find this hard to believe, but I actually played against Balbir Singh in a practice match between my club Camberwell and India prior to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. I took the day off work, illegally, to play at Elsternwick Park and they beat us 13-0. I was centre half and Balbir led the Indian attack. He scored eight goals. The Indian goalkeeper played for us in the second half. Balbir presented me with his stick after the game. How good was that?"

That night the Camberwell team were the guests of the Indian team for dinner at the Olympic Village in Heidelberg. This was my first very hot curry. Charlie Morley organised it and Mike Craig, Ric Purser, Bill Horman, Ron Legg, Al C, etc. all played. The next day there was a photo of Balbir and I in a newspaper. I was unaware of that and got caught out as I was supposedly at my grandma's funeral."

When I told Balbir this story he replied: "You have shown me some interesting information about me. No wonder you are an encyclopaedia in more than one aspects of hockey. I wonder how you have so much information about hockey"

Prior to the Olympic Games, I was present with Balbir during his interviews at BBC World Service in White City, BBC at the Olympic Park, "Words of Olympians Patrimonial Collection of Filmed interviews of Olympic Athletes project of the Olympic Museum", and several other interviews. I also arranged a visit for him at The Hockey Museum where he Met John Peake, the Great Britain Olympian who played against him at the London 1948 Olympic Final.

Balbir was invited to the FIH Lunch at Grange Hotel, St Pauls during the Olympic Games to which I had also been invited. Leandro Negre ensured that Balbir was well looked after.

One of Balbir's highlight of the London 2012 Olympic Games was when Leandro Negro accompanied him to the pitch at half time during a match for him to be interviewed live on TV. He received a fantastic ovation from the crowd.

I kept in contact with Balbir regularly, meeting him on his stopovers in London when he was travelling between India and Canada.  Several meeting and interviews were arranged during these visits - like Richard Sayer coming to Balbir to check facts for his book "Master Sportsman - the story of Norman Borrett". Norman was Great Britain's captain at London 1948 Olympic Games.

In 2015 when my family were planning a visit to India and he was in Canada, he made sure that Chandigarh was in the itinerary. Unfortunately he was unable to make it to Chandigarh during our visit but never the less we visited his home to the delight of his daughter Sushbir and grandson Kabir.

I was fortunate that I was able to speak in person with Great Britain Olympian, John Peake who played in the Final of the London 1948 Olympics at Wembley  (12 August 1948) where Balbir scored two goals and his team mate also scored one goal at this match, Tarlochan Singh Bawa.  And I had the opportunity  of talking in person to the late Sir Derrick Day, the Great Britain goalkeeper,  about the  semi-final match at Helsinki 1952 Olympic Games  (20 July 1952) where Balbir scored all the Indian 3 goals. For the Melbourne 1956 Olympics, his team mate Gurdev Singh Kullar, with whom I am still in contact, was able to give me a first-hand account. Mike Craig, the former Australian Captain, who was a commentator during the Melbourne Olympics also shared his wealth of information of the Games with me from his accurate written records.

I last spoke with Balbir via video link on 14 April 2020. It was Vaisakhi day and he wanted to pass on his Vaisakhi greetings personally. We chatted for about half an hour and talked about hockey and our families.  He seemed in good spirits as always.


Kenya Sikh hockey players remember Legend Jack Simonian in London

by Dil Bahra
17 March 2020

Former Kenya and Sikh Union Club Nairobi players celebrated the Life of their former colleague, Jack Simonian at an invite only event held at Indian Gymkhana Club London on Sunday 15 March 2020.

Although the evolving situation of coronavirus prevented many from attending, the event organisers decided to carry on. Suzie, Jack's daughter, who was due to fly from Sardina, Italy especially for this event was one of those who was unable to attend following Government advice.

The commemoration event started with a minute's silence, remembering Jack who passed away in Sydney, Australia on 23 December 2019 aged 84. Jack Simonian was Kenya's triple Olympian, Kenya's former Motor Cycle and Rally Champion and dashing goal-keeper. Nicknamed "Simo" in motor sports circles and Jack Singh in Sikh Union circles, he was a well-loved sports legend. Only a month before he died Jack had attended this same venue with the same players to pay a glowing tribute to Surjeet Singh Panesar (Jr), who had died a month earlier.

Dil Bahra of sikhsinhockey.com presented a 100 page slide show which started with a message from Jack's daughter Suzie:

"It is with a heavy heart and deep regret that Italy is now on lock down, travel restrictions are in place which means we are not able to fly to UK. This is such a sad situation, for many reasons - more so that you have organised such a wonderful event in honour of my Dad, that I will now not have the opportunity to see you all and thank you in person for all your warmth, hospitality and kindness. I sincerely hope this won't be our only opportunity to meet. You all meant the world to Dad and I can vouch that in his heart, he was one of you. My deepest apologies and do hope you have a wonderful celebration of "Jack Singh" who forever remains with us. Much love and blessings to you all"

Then followed slides featuring Jack from St Mary's Senior Boys School in Nairobi in 1953, his days in The Kenya Regiment Training Centre in Lanet, near Nakuru in 1955.

Many slides from his early motor cycle events in the late 1950s in Kampala, Langata, Limuru and Sikh Union Grass track in Nairobi were shown.

Dil Bahra mentioned how hockey really took off in Kenya in 1959. Until then there were only four international matches in Kenya, one in 1951, one in 1954, one in 1957 and one in 1958.

1959 saw the start of the East African Championships which were played in Kampala, Uganda in March. Then followed a tour of Kenya by the Indian team, Olympic Champions at the time, in late June, July and early August.  Rhodesia also visited Kenya for a 3 test match series in September. For the record Sikh Union Club Nairobi won the M R D'Souza Gold Cup for the first time in their history.

It was during India's visit that Jack was selected to represent Nairobi X1 in a match against India. A team photo and team sheet of that match was displayed and the story of how Jack came to be selected for that match which started his international career was told.

Photos of the various teams Jack played in were shown. They included a photo of Parklands Sports Club who were the winners of Craig Cup in 1960; Kenya's Rome 1960 Olympic Games team on board HMS Royal Ark; Kenya's tour of Rhodesia in 1961.

The slide for 1962 recalled some historical facts. This was the year when Jack drove the first of his thirteen East African Safari rallies. The first one was as a navigator for D.M Simmons in a Morris Oxford Mark V1, car No. 68;  Sikh Union Club Nairobi won the Gold Cup for the second time in April; Kenya won the East African Championship in Zanzibar in July; Pakistan (Olympic Champions) tour of Kenya; Avtar Singh Sohal being selected as captain of the National team in July, a week before the  first test match against Pakistan in Nairobi (Avtar remained as captain until 1972); Kenya tour of Pakistan and Jack joining Sikh Union Club Nairobi.

Then followed slides of the Pakistan tour.

The Sikh Union team photo of 1963 produced a lot of interaction.  Gurdev Singh Sandhu, now 83,  who was a member of Sikh Union's Gold Cup winning team in 1962 recalled how when Jack joined Sikh Union in 1962, the team went on to win the M R D'Souza Gold Cup for five successive years. M R D'Souza Gold Cup was the Blue Riband of East African Hockey from 1952 to 1983. It was played during the Easter weekend, the same time as the East African Safari Rally. With winning the Gold Cup went the title of unofficial East African Champions.

The slides of Kenya's tour of India in April 1964 sparked a lot of interest. A slide showing the team list of the 5th test match against India on 26 April 1964 at Jabalpur, which Kenya won 3 - 0 generated a lot of interest. This was India's biggest defeat at home at the time - in 184 international matches. Three months later, India went on to win the Gold medal at Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games. Many recalled that Jack spoke about this match at our November 2019 event.

Slides of Kenya's tour of Europe in 1966 which included the Hamburg International tournament and Kenya's tour of Zambia in 1966 followed.

Several other slides of Sikh Union Club teams in which he played were shown.  These slides sparked a cascade of anecdotes with interactions between those present.

Photograph of Jack and his co-driver/navigator, Peter Huth in car No 11, a Ford Cortina GT was displayed and nearly everyone present recalled how Jack and Peter were leading the East African Safari Rally in 1967 until the final stretch when they unfortunately hit an Impala which put them back to 4th position overall.

The slides showing Kenya's team photos and squad for Mexico 1968 Olympic Games generated a lot of interest and interaction. The discussions on the teams tour to Pakistan in January and later India's tour to Kenya in September before the Olympic Games were discussed and the Kenya's last pool match against Pakistan at the Games where Kenya needed only a draw to qualify for the Olympic Games semi-finals (Kenya 2 - 1).

Slides of Jack with Sikh Hockey Olympians in Trafalgar Square, London in 2005 when London was bidding to be the host city for 2012 Olympics. Jack's presence at hockey events at Slough Hockey Club in 2017, Spencer Hockey Club 2018 were shown to show how he kept in contact with his former colleagues.

It was highlighted during the presentation that in the 1960s, which was Kenya's golden period in hockey, both the National team and Sikh Union had the best defence. With two great full backs, Avtar Singh Sohal and Kirpal Singh Bhardwaj and a dashing goal keeper, Jack Simonian, during this period, Kenya were amongst the best teams in the world and they played India and Pakistan regularly, both at home and away. It was therefore fitting that when Kirpal died in 2013, it was Jack who gave the eulogy at the funeral.

The presentation included slides from the Memorial Service held at Sikh Union Club Nairobi on 1 February 2020, the family Mass held in Rugby on 7 February 2020 and a photo of Jack on a motor cycle which is displayed at Denbigh Arms in Rugby.

The last Slide in the presentation was a special "Thank You" to two people who had assisted with photographs for the presentation.  John Davis, former vice chairman of Kenya Regiment Association, for his help with St Mary's School and Kenya Regiment photographs and background information. Ivan Smith, a lifelong friend of Jack and a fellow motor cycling legend in Kenya for the motor cycling photographs and motor sport information. Ivan also shared the platform with Dil as guest speakers at the Memorial Service at Sikh Union Club Nairobi on 1 February 2020.

Former Kenyan captain Surjit Singh Rihal then read a message from Suzie Simonian:

"My deepest apologies not to be with you all in person today, to celebrate the incredible life of my Dad, Jack. My family and I all send our sincerest thanks for your longstanding friendships you shared with Dad, of which he held each one of you very close to his heart. Aside from his sporting achievements, so modestly held and hard working ethics, he was the kindest, most giving and loving man and father, who gave his all to us four children after my dear Mum's passing in 1982. Dad was a people person and went out of his way at every opportunity to help those in need, seeking no reward or recognition, and I hope some of his traits have been passed on to us.

I am truly honoured to call myself his daughter and have learnt many new things about him over the last few weeks. He was a humble, honest man with many layers that we are still unfolding and sure will continue to do so for a long time to come.

Our hearts are broken and a huge void remains forever, while we can also smile and remember the many anecdotes he loved to share and filled any room with love and laughter. This, is how I hope you will remember him.

I do hope we have another opportunity to meet and talk. We were so looking forward to this celebration and to hear more stories from you all and learn more about the legend that Dad leaves behind.

But for now, please keep a place in your hearts and we thank you for this amazing tribute.

Keep well and safe and we wish you many blessings. Thank you"

At the last event on 17 November 2019, Jack ended his tribute to Surjeet Singh Panesar by saying "As we celebrated Guru Nanak's 550th anniversary, it is fitting that Sindh joins his maker. Wahe Guru Wahe Guru Wahe Guru"

Surjit Singh Rihal concluded the evening with everyone saying Wahe Guru Wahe Guru five times in memory of Jack.

The Olympians and internationals present were Amarjeet Singh Marwa (Mexico 1968 and Munich 1972); Harvinder Singh Sibia (Munich 1972); Surjit Singh Rihal (Munich 1972); Ravinder Singh Laly (Barcelona 1971 World Cup); Tajinder Singh Marwa (Kenyan international); Sutinder Singh Khehar (Sikh Union Nairobi and Great Britain) and Jaswant Singh Bansal (Sikh Union Nairobi and England Masters).

The event concluded with a vote of thanks to Indian Gymkhana Club for hosting us and the excellent catering, enjoyed by all.