St. Anthony’s College, doyen of Kandy soccer | Daily News

St. Anthony’s College, doyen of Kandy soccer

St. Anthony’s College, Katugastota was one of the first schools in the hills to take up to football, at a time when first preference was given to cricket and hockey. Football was a neglected sport at that time. In 1908 the Antonians who were using Barracks Square (present Police grounds) for their sports activities, when they were housed at the present St. Sylvester’s College building. It was due to the help of the military men the Antonians started football.

In 1908 when the Military Barracks Square was closed to civilians, the Antonians lost the only ground they had access and had to stop practices and matches. Efforts to secure a plot of land at Bogambara had failed. After much difficulty the Antonians were able to get a plot of open even land, where the Municipal Workshop and the demolished Wales Theatre housed. Now it is the public car park.

Again in 1911 the Barracks Square was made available. And the Antonians got a break to use to and took up to football seriously. In 1912 the Antonians played a football match against Kingswood College at the Barracks Square, which the Antonians won 2-0. Some of the players who played for the Antonians were Charlie Hamilton at the age of 12, Cyril Perera, Melville Taylor, Vincent Silva, Willie Anghie and Cecil Wittachy. From 1913 to 1920 football took a back seat as more attention was paid to cricket. In the mid 1920’s a renascence was dawned for football in Kandy by the Kandy District Associaiton Football League and during that time the Antonians gave off their best for the sport.

In 1925 they emerged champions after beating teams like Police FC in the semi-finals, and Kandy SC in the final. The champion side had players like S. Moomin (goalie), G. R. S. Baie (Capt.) and Bede Perera (full backs), Gren Meynert, Edwin Perera and R. V. Selliah (halves), R. Kandiah, Walter Perera, Willie Ratnapala, William Meynert and Joe Brough (forwards).

With football taking a good place at St. Anthony’s in 1927 the Old Antonians SC was formed and in 1928 they entered a team to play in the Kandy League tournament and won the championship by beating eight top teams. They also entered for the famous Times of Ceylon Football Cup competition. In that tournament they defeated St. Michael’s FC in the first round, but was eliminated in the second by the Government Services XI which later won the cup with a team which included the finest barefooted players.

In 1929 Antonians were runner-up in the Millers Cup and also played matches against St. Benedict’s and St. Joseph’s. That year the Old Antonians emerged champions for the second year.

In 1930 the Old Antonians once again won the championship and became runner-up in the league and won the Rev. Fr. Robert M. Perera Cup.

The outstanding players were Bob Wright, G. R. S. Baie, George Macky (Capt.), Willie Ratnapala J. T. Hubert, Colvin Silva, J. Wanigasekara, V. Ramasam, Berry Perera, S. M. Sheriff, Charles Macky, Alex Goonaratne, Vincent Selliah, S. Pillai, Bill Hudson, Walter Perera, Francis Perera and M. S. Deen.

That year the Old-Antonians, side represented Up-Country Ceylonese vs the Europeans in a Poppy day match in Kandy.

In 1931, the six-year-old Kandy Football League received a cup for a new tournament from P. Goodall. The trophy was called the Winchester Cup and was won by the Old Antonians for the first time. The other top teams at that time were the famous Kandy SC and the Gampola Chums.

In 1933 once again the Old Antonians won the Winchester Cup outright. With the outbreak of the war in the east, the grounds were taken over by the military and playing football came to a standstill. But once more in 1946 football was revived. In 1947 the Antonians played in the Anthonisz Shield competition organised by the Kandy League for the schools of the district. In the following year they emerged unbeaten champs.

1927 to 1933 was the golden era of football at St. Anthony’s due to the great efforts of Rev. Fr. Robert M. Perera who later founded St. Sylvester’s College. Some of the top class footballers St. Anthony’s produced were G. R. S. Bahie, A. H. Kiyad Omar, S. Moomin Khan, M. S. Deen, S. M. Sheriff, T. O. M Deen, T. A. M. Cooray, H. A. Samaradasa, Edmund Cooray, Samson Premaratne and W. Premaratne to name a few.

In the 1940’s, 50’s and early 60’s football was a top sport and in the late 1960’s they gave up the game again. In 2007 they resumed the game and at present maintaining a high standard having teams from under-14 to senior level.