The sad news of our very dear dear friend and team-mate Maurice Anghie’ s recent demise came as a shock to all of us who knew him. No sooner than the news reached us, some of us, who enjoyed his excellent company on and off the field, foregathered at Ken Balendra’s residence to reminisce over [...]


Maurice Anghie – Brilliant and Adventurous, on and off the Field!


Maurice Anghie

The sad news of our very dear dear friend and team-mate Maurice Anghie’ s recent demise came as a shock to all of us who knew him. No sooner than the news reached us, some of us, who enjoyed his excellent company on and off the field, foregathered at Ken Balendra’s residence to reminisce over him and to honour his memory by observing two pregnant minutes of silence.

Maurice Lee Anghie, to give his full name, was born in Kandy on 9th March 1942 and was the youngest of four siblings; Tony, Dr.Trevor and Maureen; the progeny of Mr. B.C. Anghie, a highly respected, legendary school master at Royal College, and Alicia, who had lovingly played foster mother to the hostellers when Mr. Anghie was the Warden of the revived Royal College Hostel in the 1940s. His two elder brothers Tony and Trevor were great sportsmen, representing Royal at many games (Tony at cricket, rugby and boxing and Trevor at rugby,athletics, boxing and tennis). Coming from such a sporting background, and also with his paterfamilias, having been at different times during his tenure at Royal, the master in charge of rugby, boxing and swimming and as rugby coach as well, it is small wonder that young Maurice would take to sport as a duck would to water. He represented Royal Primary School, (RPS-a separate entity then from Royal College),at cricket, football, (which team he captained in 1952) and athletics and was the Head Prefect. He was also awarded the coveted Prize for the Best All-Round Boy of the Year in 1952. However, at Royal, quite unlike him and unlike his elder brothers, he opted to focus on playing rugby, though he did play some cricket and tried his glove at boxing, too. Yet, it was for rugby that he was best known. Playing as centre for Royal at just 14yrs and 2 months, under Lionel Almeida in 1956, he became probably the youngest player ever to represent Royal at rugby.

Thereafter, he played as fly-half under two captains, to wit, Ratna Sivaratnam (1957) and Dudley Fernando(1958), before eventually captaining the Royal team with distinction in 1959 at just 17 yrs. plus,showing an abundant rugby maturity, well beyond his years. He could have played for two more years for Royal had he remained in school. He left to play for the Havelocks and eventually for Ceylon at 19 years. He would certainly have continued to regale us with his rugby skills but for an injury that ended an otherwise promising rugby career. Maurice was a strong, daring and adventurous, centre cum fly-half, mercurial in attack and fierce in defence. With a low centre of gravity, woe be unto anyone who dared to tackle him. He was so strong that one would rather hit against a rock than against him. Often he was seen deceptively slipping through many tackles to feed essential good ball to his centre three-quarters and,at times,taking two or three opponents clinging onto him.

As a captain he always led from the front. He led Royal to win the Bradby Shield in 1959. His daring leadership qualities came more to the fore in the Royal-Zahira rugby encounter played at Longden Place that year. Zahira College had just revived their rugby that year and for reasons best known to them, the Zahira players threw themselves at everything in sight ever so dangerously, risking life and limb of their opponents; attacking more the players than the ball. As a result,three Royal three-quarters were carried off the field with no replacements possible. One remembers with great reverence how Maurice led his team to victory, he himself playing in a daze, for a better part of the game, as a result of much more than a few stunner, deadly tackles. His erstwhile scrum-half the omnipresent Raja Potuhera gamely kept him company, himself carrying a badly injured arm! Maurice was all over the place inspiring the rest of his players in a do or die effort,eventually to bring a memorable victory for Royal. As one of his early team-mates from 1956, star flanker, Ralph Wickremaratne (RW), so aptly describes, Maurice was a “no-nonsense” man and a “dare devil” in fact. It was RW, who got an early inkling in the late 1940’s of Maurice’s dare devil spirit, when he discovered a little Maurice Anghie creeping out of a storm-water drain from near an RPS class room , having entered it from somewhere near the hostel! Frighteningly, once one entered this drain there was no turning back! Shocked though he was, RW never could guess then that, eventually, this ‘daring little chappie’ was going to be his team mate in the future! It just showed that Maurice loved challenges. It is this same adventurous , daring spirit and love of challenges that Maurice displayed, on the filed with his superlative rugby prowess, as well as off it, when, while being an articled clerk at Alles, Martin & Co, he ventured into a successful restauranting business with his cousin David Gyi running the ‘Chopsticks’ in the Fort. He then joined his friend, Rajan ‘Bole’ Phillips at American Lloyd, which became a successful travel company. His restless spirit later impelled him to moveonto Hong Kong to do shipping business with his friend Ten Chu. But the true Maurice Anghie really burgeoned when he migrated to Perth, Australia, in the mid-seventies. Here he began from scratch as an articled clerk at McLaren & Stewart, where he completed his chartered accountancy studies,while simultaneously obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Business, from Curtin University. Fairly soon his acumen enabled him to become a partner in that firm.

When Mclarens eventually transformed into Bentleys MRI, a national chartered accounting firm, Maurice became their partner for audit and corporate services. As such Maurice had been responsible for the audit of many large public companies in Western Australia in the 1980s and 1990s. After his retirement from public practice, Maurice continued to serve as a director of Wollongong Coal Ltd and was on the board of some other of the firm’s client companies. Not surprisingly, Tony Anderson and Hillary White (HW), two of Maurice’s close, long-standing friends in Perth assert that Maurice was very generous with his time and assistance to a lot of migrants from Sri Lanka through employment in that firm, in settling them in, as well as in helping them to pursue a career in Accountancy, including his old principal from his articled clerk years in Sri Lanka.

Humble as he was about his own achievements ,Maurice was really proud and pleased that his father, the legendary school master, first at St. Peter’s College and then at Royal, was deservingly honored with the award of a Trophy in his name for the annual Royal-SPC rugby encounter and that his son, Michael, not only represented Western Australia schools at cricket and, in fact, opened batting with Justin Langer, the current Australian coach, but, moreover, followed Maurice into the accountancy profession, reaching the position of a Managing Partner of Ernest and Young in Perth.

Though very much settled in Perth, Maurice scrupulously continued his contact with his friends scattered over in many distant places, especially his former team mates. He was a very caring friend. As RW rightly reflects on behalf of all of us: “our friendship remained strong and grew in strength. Occasionally meeting him after many years was a thing of great joy, indeed. He stood for what was right never bothering about the harm this may do to him personally.”

Maurice will be missed greatly by his family and friends. He was a devout Catholic and apparently was very fond of a sing-a-long stacked with Irish songs. Indeed, one agrees with HW that it is most apt to say Au Revoir to our very caring, daring and adventurous friend,with the following Irish Blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you,

May the wind be always at your back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

May the rains fall soft upon the fields,

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of
his hand.

-  ULK


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