PIETERMARI-TZBURG businessman who is in possession of sporting items of historical importance, is lamenting the decision not to go ahead with the establishing of a “Hall of Fame” to remember great sports personalities of the past.
Nad Pillay, who has a treasure trove of sporting artifacts belonging to his late grandfather Veeramuthu Arumugam, who was popularly known as V Aroo in the early 1900’s, said among his collection are arti-cals dating back to the 1950’s when the the Maritzburg and District Indian Football Associ¬ation (MDIFA) and the Maritzburg and District Indian Cricket Union (MDICU) dis¬cussed plans to establish the “Hall of Fame.”

“If that had been done, the memories of our past sporting greats would have served as in¬spiration to future generations,” said Pillay. An indication of how his grandfather was admired, is an article in his possession which describes Arumugam’s skill as being su¬perior to English soccer wiz¬ard, Sir Stanley Mathews.
Arumugam started his soc¬cer career with Oriental Stars, the club which helped to form
the MDIFA in the early 1900’s, which in one season provided the inter-town team with ten players. When Oriental Stars disbanded in 1910, Arumugam founded the Higher Grade School Football Club where he multi-tasked as player, secretary,
president and eventually, honorary life president.
He represented Maritzburg in the junior division for five consecutive years and went on to retain his position as a right wing for 17 consecutive years in senior competition.

Natal honours came his way in 1913 when he won acclaim as the best footballer during the Sam China Tournament According to an original letter from the Natal Indian Football Association in Pillay’s possession, the letter informs him
of his selection and points out that Owing to the paucity of funds the Association has decided to pay only one half of your train fare.” The letterhead shows MK Gandhi as patron of the Association.

Other interesting memorabilia in Pillay’s possession are several original photographs, letters, souvenir brochures and invitations, including the souvenir brochure of the All India vs South Africa second Test at Currie’s Fountain on June, 23, 1934.
Arumugam had the honour of refereeing the third Test between South Africa and the visiting All India team at the Fitzsimmons Road Grounds in Pietermaritzburg, which is believed to be the only game the visitors lost in the three-tour series. The South African team in the brochure reads as P Nadasen, George Singh, C Kundsamy, E Sallie, G Raman, RA Naidoo, P Nulliah, P Naraidoo, G Ramruthan, N Father and Cassim Akbar. One interesting advert in the sou¬venir brochure was one from Amod Haffejee of 99 Field Street, Durban, who offered suits made to measure for two pound and fifteen shillings.

Pillay also has in his possession a silver trophy that was competed for in the five-a-side tournaments organised by MDIEA 98 years ago and which was won 12 out of 16 times by his dad’s team.

By Shan Pillay
Source : Sunday Times Extra