Even after 35 years, the goal scored by Ashok Kumar against Pakistan in the 1975 World Cup final is clearly etched in the memory of legendary Malaysian hockey umpire, G. Vijaynathan. And quite understandably so, as because of that goal, he had to face a lot of flak from Pakistan. It was the goal that paved the way for India’s only World Cup hockey final triumph.
Even now Pakistan cribs that due to Vijaynathan’s bad umpiring, they lost the World Cup. The man himself claims he was right. “The goal was clean and there shouldn’t be even an iota of doubt,” he said.
Recalling the goal, Vijaynathan said, “Ashok took the shot from a rebound and it hit the inside of the post. It was a clean goal…when it was scored I was watching the proceedings from a vantage point. The Pakistanis said the ball had not crossed the goal line. But I upheld the goal.”
Vijaynathan, who traces his roots to Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, said the behaviour of the Pakistani players was “nasty”. Recalling the turn of events after it was scored, he said skipper Islahuddin and others “created havoc”. “Later, they even alleged that I had awarded the goal to India under pressure. It was a preposterous allegation.
“Never in my long career as an umpire has anyone levelled such petty and baseless charges. I think Pakistani players are bad losers,” he said.
“I am happy that I was later honoured by the Pakistan Hockey Federation for my contribution to the game, though some players and hockey writers still dub me a villain.”
Once in an interview to this writer at the Shivaji Stadium, the Meerut-born Islahuddin had claimed that the ball had hit the goalpost and not crossed the goal line even for a fraction of a second.
Veteran commentator, Jasdev Singh, who was doing commentary of that final on AIR, had said the behaviour of the Pakistani players was “shameless to say the least”.
Vijayaynathan, who has the rare honour of umpiring the final matches of two World Cups, is now fully involved in the affairs of Malaysian hockey.
During his visit to Delhi to attend the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas (PBD), he had said that though most of his time was consumed by hockey, he still loved to read Tamil poetry and short stories in his leisure time.
Sam Vellu, a top leader of the Indian community in Malaysia, said, “We always look to him for advice when we are in trouble.