When fun won at the SJAM awards function

The Sports Journalists’ Association of Mumbai (SJAM) held a felicitation function for sportspersons who excelled in 2012-13 at Cricket Club of India’s CK Nayudu Hall last evening. What scored the highest there was candour. The speeches evoked mirth and they, like all good matches whichever way they go, had their moments. 

Merzban Patel,  Sachin Tendulkar and Nandu Natekar
Lifetime achievement award winner Merzban Patel (hockey coach) speaks to Sachin Tendulkar while chief guest Nandu Natekar (left) looks on at the Sports Journalists’ Association of Mumbai function. Pic/Atul Kamble

Chief Guest Nandu Natekar, former badminton champion drew laughter when he recalled: “I was offered (in 1952), two endorsements so to speak. Brylcreem (a hair product) offered me Rs 600 a month and six bottles of Brylcreem to endorse them. Vicks Vaporub offered me Rs 400 a month and four bottles of Vicks Vaporub.

Though I was inclined to take up the former offer, an official told me not to. In those days we listened to sports officials, but, I have suffered because of
that.” Chess Dronacharya award-winner Raghunandan Gokhale, said that once he was addressed as “Dronacharyaji” not as a mark of respect but probably because the person addressing him had forgotten his name.

He called V Anand the consummate player and gentleman, while former chess champ Pravin Thipsay labelled Magnus Carlsen a streetfighter and V Anand a master. Both chess analysts spoke about the forthcoming Carlsen vs Anand match in early November at Chennai this year.  Finally, Sachin Tendulkar took the microphone. Never a man of many words, he surprised the audience with his eloquence and wit.

He also had some rousing words for the Gen Next of Indian sport. “Go with your instinct, do not be bogged down by what people say,” he said pumping a fist for emphasis.  It was an evening which proved that former champions with microphones in their hands can be as effective as they were with bat, racquet or chess pawns.

The journalists’ association honoured Tendulkar for his century of international centuries. The last time he was feliciated by the SJAM was 25 years ago when he and Vinod Kambli put on a record 664-run partnership in schools cricket. Tendulkar remembered coming to the function at the Willingdon Catholic Gymkhana in a rickshaw.  

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