Top football fan fare is on the cards when St.Joseph’s College meet St.Benedict’s College in the annual football encounter for the Rev. Fr. Peter A.Pillai Trophy on September 4th at 4.00 p.m at the Sugathadasa Stadium.
The 2017 U18 Division I Schools’ Football Championship organized by the Sri Lanka Schools’..
Incidentally this is the opening match of the 2017 All Island U18 Division I Schools’ Football Championship organized by Sri Lanka Schools Football Association. As the two schools were included in the same group the traditional Joe-Ben encounter which has a history of more than 120 years has been resurrected.
One of the oldest sporting event in the schools’ calendar a while back, the Josephian – Benedictine Football match was the glamour match in the schools’ football season and was a much look forwarded to encounter.
As per records the inaugural match between the two schools was played in 1896 the year St. Joseph’s College was founded. Several members of the staff turned out for both schools which used be the norm for school sports events during this period. The inaugural match was won by St. Joseph’s.
For the first 32 years of its existence, St. Joseph’s reigned supreme in the school soccer season including a run of eight consecutive inter-school championships in the 1920s. Their run was finally broken in 1928 when St. Benedict’s beat them at the Tamil Union grounds by 2-0.
St.Joseph’s College begins their championship defence against St.Benedict’s College…
In fact, up to World War II, the Benedictines were able to defeat their Darley road counterparts only thrice which was in 1928, 1932, and 1935. Post World War II it was the Benedictines who dominated schools’ football and they recorded several victories in the annual soccer encounter.
St. Joseph’s recorded their greatest margin of victory (6-0) in 1914 which is the biggest win in the annual football encounter, although St. Joseph’s had a 7-0 win in a Rockmount Cup fixture in 1963. They also won 5-0 in 1915, 1934 and 4-0 in 1964. Other good wins (3-0) registered by the Joes were in 1921, 1922, 1927 and 1957.
The greatest margin of victory for St. Benedict’s was (5-1) in 1961 to be followed up by a similar victory in 1965. They won 4-0 in 1959 and 4 -1 in 1967 and also had three other (3-0) good wins in 1945, 1963 and 1968. Most other games were evenly matched with the decision going one way or the other by narrow margins.
The Chevalier John Rodrigo Memorial trophy was awarded for the first time in the history of the encounter in 1964 and the Joes led by Hesketh Kuruppu won this encounter by 4-0.
How could one forget the players who graced this annual fixture in the days of late V. A. Sugathadasa, N. H. Keerthirathna, Sarangapany brothers, Jayawardena brothers, Albert Fernando, Denzil Wailes, Eric Perera and Rozen Rodrigo of St. Benedicts and Anthony Abeysinghe, Herbert Wittachi, Peter Ranasinghe, Durand Perera, Bagoos Saldin, Joy and Berchman de Alwis, Terrance Kuruppu and Calistus Pillai of St. Josephs to name few.
Unfortunately, from the latter part of 70’s until 1994, there were no annual soccer encounters between these soccer giants as the schools concentrated more on tournaments rather than friendly fixtures.
The annual fixture was revived again in 1995 and was played for Rev. Fr. Peter A. Pillai Trophy with the match ending in a 1-1 draw. The 1996 encounter which was the centennial encounter between both teams was well organized to raise the profile of the encounter as in past. The match was played under lights at the Sugathadasa Stadium with a large crowd in attendance.
The Josephian team which was one of the successful school teams of all time trophy wise, as they had won the All Island Schools’ Football Championship, National School Games Football Championship and Brazil Cup in the 1995/96 season went on to win by 4-1 to crown their season. Unfortunately, again from the late nineties the annual encounter hasn’t been played up to now.
The Soccer Advisory Committees of both schools hope to revive this great football tradition from this year onwards and to play the matches annually irrespective of results. They stated that in the days gone by a healthy rivalry has existed between these two great Catholic colleges and that this year will be no exception. From next year, onwards Junior matches as well as an Old Boys match are planned to be held along with the main U19 match.
This year, the soccer encounter is sponsored by Renown SC one of the leading football club in Sri Lanka. The Peiris brothers owners of the Club and benefactors of St. Benedict’s football in the past and St. Joseph’s presently are honoured to revive this great encounter again as they have close contacts with both schools.
They are all Old Benedictines while Albert Fernando, Edward Jayawardena and Edward Wickramasuriya the main past coaches of Renown SC are products of St. Benedict’s College as well. Whereas the second generation of the family are mostly Old Josephians with Sritharan Peiris being a member of the centennial big match team of 1996. A new trophy will be launched this year and will be donated by Mr. Crispin Peris an old Benedictine.
This year’s encounter should also be a close one with both Joes and Bens fielding strong outfits. The Joes and Bens will be led by 3rd year coloursman Jason Fernando and Stephan Pillai respectively.