GUWAHATI, Sept 23 - Some of the spectators of the football or cricket matches held at the Judges� Field were funny characters. The on-field behaviour of those people in the 1950s and the 1960s was hauntingly weird, said noted writer Kumudeswar Hazarika while speaking to this correspondent.
Though they were very much enthusiastic sports lovers, those spectators were highly biased towards the teams they supported. Some of them were �blind supporters� of their favourite teams, Hazarika said.
Many of them ceased to be spectators when the Judges� Field was made redundant after the Nehru Stadium came into being as a major sports venue.
Those spectators behaved in their own set patterns, always occupying their particular places, mostly when football matches of their favourite teams were held. Some of them used to keep on standing, while some others used to sit at their self-designated places when the matches were on. They hardly changed their places.
There was a century-old teak tree on the eastern boundary of the Judges� Field. That part of the field had a barbed-wire fence. Under that tree, some spectators either used to sit or stand to witness the matches. Among them, late Holiram Das (popularly known as Holi Babu) of Naojan Road (now Sati Radhika Shanti Road), was a prominent figure. He was a blind supporter of Gauhati (now Guwahati) Town Club. In the 1950s, he was a septuagenarian and always carried a walking stick.
Whenever the players of the opponent club entered the penalty box of the Town Club, he used to draw the attention of the referee shouting, �Off-side referee, off-side,� pointing his walking stick towards the Town Club penalty box. He continued shouting in that manner until the Town Club penalty box was free of the opponent players. Holi Babu used to shout, �Penalty, referee penalty,� whenever the Town Club players entered the penalty box of their opponent team, pointing his walking stick towards the opponent�s penalty box. Thus, Holi Babu was a source of immense amusement for his co-spectators.
On the north-west corner of the Judges� Field, there was a wooden gallery reserved for the members of the Gauhati Town Club. Those who used to occupy that gallery were naturally passionate supporters of the Town Club.
Some of them, like the well-known actor late Nirada Kanta Bhuyan, well-known social worker late Titaram Kakati, the two close associates of Lokabandhu Dr Bhubaneswar Borooah late Dr Kirti Ram Barua and late Guruprasad Barua (Guruprasad Koka) and proprietor of the Delhi Cloth House late Verma, were so blind in their support for the Town Club that they behaved in more bizarre ways in the event of the defeat of their favourite club.
In the houses of late Nirada Bhuyan and late Titaram Kakati, a complete blackout was observed whenever Town Club was defeated in any of its matches with the Maharana AC. The residence of Bhuyan was located near the Kumar Bhaskar Natya Mandir and that of Kakati was located at Happy Villa.
Moreover, there used to be a two-day ban on consumption of non-vegetarian food in these two houses whenever such �tragedies� occurred. Both late Bhuyan and late Kakati also used to vandalise their own houses on such occasions and going a step further, Bhuyan used to yell at and curse his neighbour late Pilik Choudhury, who was incidentally a player of the Maharana AC.
One of the spectators late Gobinda Kalita, a lawyer by profession, used to interpret each of the on-field actions according to the sections of legal procedures, whenever Town Club was defeated. For the debacle faced by Town Club, he always used to hold the referee responsible. He used to shout loudly under which section of the penal code the referee was to be held guilty. He always used to make loud announcements that the next day he would move the court against the referee. But those proclamations proved to be quixotic.
Three sofas were placed by the Gauhati Sports Association on the western side of the Judges� Field. They were reserved for the senior members of the Sports Association and invited guests.
Those sofas were usually occupied by Lokabandhu Dr Bhubaneswar Borooah, late RG Baruah, late Phanidhar Dutta (founder Registrar of Gauhati University), late Prabodh Das (father of renowned footballer late Sarat Das), among others.
In front of them, some young boys, including Kumudeswar Hazarika, used to sit on the ground. But late Prabodh Das impulsively kept on kicking the boys sitting in front of him whenever the football matches were in progress.
Most of the spectators sitting on the western and southern sides of the Judges� Field were supporters of clubs other than the Town Club.
One of the spectators, late Hari Barman of the Panbazar Barman Cabin, used to come to the Judges� Field only when late Bharat Choudhury was the referee. Bharat Choudhury, a handsome and famous footballer of the 1940s and the 1950s, later earned reputation as a good referee too.
There was a tamarind tree on the northern side of the Judges� Field. Those who used to witness football matches from that side, had late Nanda Sarma (popular as Nanda Dighla � Nanda the tall man), among them. He was a blind supporter of the Uzanbazar Hindu-Muslim Club.
Whenever the Hindu-Muslim Club played, Nanda Sarma used to warn the referee to be impartial or face dire consequences.
There were some spectators who always preferred to witness the football matches either from the rooftops of the Assam type Judge Court buildings or from atop the century-old trees of the Judges� Field. Late Guruprasad Barua ridiculed them as �upper class spectators,� said Hazarika.