The Royal – Thomian - 130 Years on

By Gayathra Manamendra
Old photographs are hard to come by. The Royal Thomian teams that played in the match 100 years ago in this picture is from one such photograph in the hands of two young Thomians because they happen to be the great grand sons of the Thomian Captain of that year.
In the picture are "Left to right, standing are warden W.A. Stone, H.E. De Silva, T.Wambeck, W.Bartholomeusz, L.Bulankulame, P.De. Silva, A.E. Chirostoffelsz, H. Daniels, S. Jackson, W.Leembruggen, E.Seneviratne, H. Samarasekera, Mr. L.Lewis Walker, seated on chairs are E.Samarasinghe, F.B. Smeaton, J.M. Arunachalam, (capt RC.) A.Tennakoon (capt S.T.C.) V.R. Gunasekara, E.Wanduragala and seated on ground, T. Collinson, C.W. Van Veyzel, A. Goodawardena, C. David, H.C. Gunasekara." Royal College won the match.

(Life member – Royal College Union and the group of '76)
The most looked forward to sporting and social event in the calendar for both past and present Royalists and Thomians is the Royal-Thomian big cricket match also known as the "Battle of the Blues" will be played for the 130th time on the 12th, 13th and 14th March 2009 at the SSC at Maitland Crescent.
S. Thomas' College Mount Lavinia, a private Anglican school has about 2400 students on its roll while Royal College Colombo, a government run non denominational school has approximately 8000 students.

History records S. Thomas' College Colombo (first in Mutwal and later in Mount Lavinia) as the first school to play cricket in Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was then known). In 1864 S. Thomas' has played the first match against the Small Pass Cricket Club in Colombo, the result is recorded was an eight run victory for the college.

More importantly this 1864 match has gone down in history as the first recorded Ceylonese cricket match played in the country. From 1864 to 1877 S. Thomas' has continued to play matches against the clubs – including the elitist European dominated Colombo Cricket Club – as there was no other school played cricket during that time in Ceylon. The sub-Warden of the college Reverend Felton Faulkner, a Cambridge 'Blue' has rendered Yeoman service to develop cricket at S. Thomas' during those initial years. A pioneer of cricket in Ceylon Rev. Faulkner has coached the college boys and was the Thomian Cricket Captain for several years.

Mr. Ashley Walker also a Cambridge 'Blue' arrived in Ceylon in January 1877 to take up duties at the Colombo Academy in the Pettah (later renamed Royal College and shifted to Reid Avenue). Mr. Walker started coaching the Academy boys and organized the first Academy cricket team in 1878. The very first "College vs. Academy" cricket match (as the Royal-Thomian was then called) was played in 1878. Incidentally this is the first cricket match played by the Colombo Academy, thus becoming the second school to play cricket in Ceylon.

Although the scores are not given the result is recorded as a win for the college team by an innings and 3 runs. The second match in 1879 has ended in a win for the Academy team by 56 runs. But both these matches are not taken into account as masters played in both teams.

The first schoolboys only "College vs. Academy" match was in 1880. The result was a 62 runs win for the Academy. J. W. de. Silva captained the Academy and F.W. McDonnell led S. Thomas.
Since the 1880's these two schools have churned out world class cricketers such as -Dr. C.H. Gunasekera, Sargo Jayawickrema, Col .F.C. De Saram, Sathi Coomaraswamy, C.I. Gunasekera, Gamini Goonasena, Ranjan Madugalle from Royal and A.C. Amath, D.L. de Saram, S. Saravanamuttu, Vernon Prins, Michael Tissera, Dr. B.G. Reid, Anura Tennekoon and Duleep Mendis – for S. Thomas’.
The first All-Ceylon cricket captain Douglas Lee De Saram (1922) who's also the first Ceylonese to get his name in the cricketers 'Bible' the Wisden (1912) played for S. Thomas' from 1898 to 1902. Famous sports writer S.P. Foenander has said: "D.L. De Saram is the finest all-round cricketer and the most popular in the history of the game in Ceylon. For sheer stroke production and power he has never been surppassed and his presence in the cricket field has made him a cricket personality second to none in the history of the game in the island."

Even Sri Lanka's national leaders have played in the 'Battle of the Blues' President J.R. Jayewardene played for Royal in 1925. The 'father of the nation' right Hon. D.S. Senanayake played for S.Thomas’ in 1901 and '02. Sir John Kotelawala has played for Royal in 1914 and 15. The Hon.Dudley Senanayake played for S.Thomas' in 1927/ 28 and '29. National hero Edward Pedris has turned out for S.Thomas' in 1907 while the only Ceylonese to be awarded the Victoria Cross for valour Basil Hosfall was a bit unfortunate to be named the 12th man, in the Thomian team.

Not many know that the time-honoured match is played for the most coveted D.S. Senenayake challenge shield.

So after 129 'Battles" the score according to Royal records, stands at:Royal College won 33 matches while S.Thomas has won 34 matches. But according to S.Thomas' College statistics the tally is: Royal College won 33 and S.Thomas'- 35 won! The difference is obviously due to the controvertial 9 run match played in 1885. The Royalists say the match was drawn, but the Thomians record it as a win! Since then the fierce tussle for supremacy between the arch-rivals has brought out the very best in 'Royal Courage' and the famed 'Thomian grit' on the field and off it as well. When asked to comment on the relationship between the two schools former Royal College Principal Mr. Bogoda Premaratne has had this to say: "There is no Royal without S.Thomas' and no. S.Thomas' without Royal!"

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