GUWAHATI, June 25 � The Judges� Field enjoyed the status of the main playground of Guwahati till the inauguration of the Nehru Stadium. This field was particularly more sought after between the 1950s and 1962.
It was developed by the colonial British rulers as a playground and an open space in the heart of the Guwahati town between the 1870s and 1880s. It had a vast area then, as it also covered the area which is now known as the Nehru Park. But later, it was divided into two separate fields in the early 1900, when the Station Road was laid through it. This road is now known as the Lakshminath Bezbaroa Road. The part separated from the Judges� Field on the western side became known as the Church Field and it has now become known as the Nehru Park, said noted writer Kumudeswar Hazarika while talking to this correspondent.
The Judges� Field was initially controlled by the Gauhati European Club (now Guwahati Club) and it was kept open for the common people for five days a week. On Saturdays and Sundays, it was reserved for the Gauhati European Club. This club had only three Indian members, namely Syed Sir Sadulla, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and Prof PC Roy of Cotton College. But they did not have voting rights.
This denial of voting rights to the Indian members led to refusal of Rai Bahadur Kanaklal Barooah, Dr Jyotish Das, Bishnuprasad Duara, Prafulla Guha, among others, to join this club. They formed the Indian Club (now India Club) in the mid-1930s on a government plot of land on the south bank of the Dighalipukhuri. When Kanaklal Barooah became a member of the Governor�s executive council, the government allotted this plot of land to the Indian Club at his request.
The cricket match between the Gauhati European Club and the District Magistrate�s Eleven, which used to be held on December 24 and 25 every year at the Judges� Field till the Second World War, was a main annual sports event of Guwahati. Here, the Manik Chandra Barooah Football Tournament, the first invitation football tournament of the State, was held between 1917 and 1950.
The New Field, which was developed in 1902 for Cotton College and Cotton Collegiate School, on an Ahom era Pilkhana (elephant stockade), was the venue of the Lower Assam School Tournament. This tournament was also an important annual sports event of Guwahati. It created a number of renowned footballers like Sarat Das (the lone Assamese player to lead the Mohun Bagan Club of Kolkata as its captain in 1946-47), Pilik Choudhury, Kunkun Choudhury, Nip Barua, Hemanta Guha (later captain of Bhawanipur Club, Kolkata, in 1940), Jiten Choudhury (Putu), who was the first captain of the Assam team in Santosh Trophy, among others.
In the cricket match between the Gauhati European Club and the District Magistrate�s Eleven, the star players were Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed (who scored one or two centuries) and playwright Prabin Phukan, a fine fast bowler who induced fear in the hearts of the batsmen of rival teams. Perhaps, for his speed, Prabin Phukan remains unsurpassed as a fast bowler.
Judges� Field was handed over to the Gauhati Town Club by the then Premier of Assam, Gopinath Bordoloi, in 1948. Since then, it became known as the Gauhati (now Guwahati) Town Club Ground or GTC Ground, said Hazarika.