Family fulfils English footballer’s dying wish, scatters his ashes in Mizoram
A soldier with British Army’s medical corps, Herbert Winston Vaughan was posted in Mizoram in 1944. He soon started playing in the Assam Rifles ground in Aizawl as a goalkeeper and became popular as Jumbo for his skills.india Updated: Nov 07, 2016 16:42 IST
It took 10 months and a journey of over 9,350 km from Sheffield in England to Aizawl in north-east India for Herbert Winston Vaughan’s last wish to be fulfilled.
It happened on Friday evening when 25 members of the former British Army soldier’s family scattered his ashes at the Assam Rifles Lammual ground in Mizoram’s capital.
“My father’s dying wish, which he asked my mother to fulfill, was to have his ashes scattered on the field where he used to play most of his football during his days in Mizoram,” Herbert’s son John told Hindustan Times.
A soldier with British Army’s medical corps, Herbert was posted in Mizoram in 1944. He soon started playing in the Assam Rifles ground in Aizawl as a goalkeeper and became popular as Jumbo for his skills.
A year after his arrival, Herbert married Rokamlovi, a Mizo girl from a prominent political family from the state. Though most British people left India after Independence, Herbert decided to stay back.
“He left British Army and started working with Burma Oil and kept playing in Mizoram. My mother left with the children for Sheffield in 1963 and was joined a year later by my father,” John said.
Though they left Mizoram, Herbert, who was a fan of Sheffield United football club, kept abreast of the game’s developments in the state. When Mizoram won the Santosh Trophy in 2014, he sent a congratulatory message.
The Vaughans were married for 70 years before Herbert died on January 19 this year in London, aged 89.
The couple had 10 children, 23 grand children and 29 great grand children. On Friday, 25 family members including his wife Rokamlovi who is now 91 were present in Aizawl to fulfill Herbert’s wish.
“Herbert played for Aizawl Eleven and was known as the best goalkeeper in eastern India in those days. Some say he introduced the art of diving among goalkeepers in the Northeast,” said Lalnghinglova Hmar, secretary of Mizoram Football Association.
Herbert’s family contacted MFA earlier this year and it was decided to hold a tribute ceremony during Mizoram Premier League, a popular local football tournament.
On Friday, a minute’s silence was observed in his memory before the start of a match and during half-time Rokamlovi and other family members scattered his ashes near the ground.
“After the match, we played a 20-minute match between the Vaughan family and MFA officials. It ended in a 2-2 draw. Later we scattered some more ashes near the goalpost,” said John.