Sporting fraternity bids farewell to a local legend

Former Johor and national cricketer Datuk Dr Harjit Singh (left), Gurucharan (third left) and Yogeswaran paying their last respects. — Malay Mail pic
Former Johor and national cricketer Datuk Dr Harjit Singh (left), Gurucharan (third left) and Yogeswaran paying their last respects. — Malay Mail pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 19 — Family, friends and former teammates of double international, Mike Shepherdson, who died on Saturday, came out in force to pay their last respects at the Church of Our Lady Fatima in Brickfields yesterday morning.

The church he frequented over the years was filled to the brim with those who wanted to say farewell to a man much loved by all who knew him.

Shepherdson, 85, was known for the distinction of being the only Malaysian who captained both national hockey and cricket teams. His brothers, Christie, Dennis and Vivian, were also cricket greats.

Dennis, 80, said his eldest brother was always humble about his success and never one to boast about the many achievements to his name.

“He was passionate and committed to both sports which gave him success. At the same time, he was a cheerful man accepting triumph and defeat in the same manner.

“However, his only disappointment was people in sports lacked passion, dedication and commitment in achieving their best,” he said of the sports great who died after a brief illness.

Shepherdson’s passion and commitment made him unchallengeable in the centre-half position in the national hockey team that went to the 1958 
Tokyo Asian Games and the Jakarta edition in 1962 when he was already in his 30s.

Former RTM radio presenter Chris Syer, in his eulogy, praised Shepherdson as a leader who demanded the best from his team.

He said Shepherdson was always well-dressed, both on and off the field, carrying himself with utmost dignity.

Also present were his longtime cricketing buddies Gurucharan Singh, 1975 hockey World Cup captain Datuk N. Sri Shanmuganathan, Olympian and hockey coach Datuk R. Yogeswaran, former Malaysian Hockey Federation secretary Datuk G. Vijayanathan, former Asian Football Confederation general secretary Datuk Peter Velappan, rally driver Karamjit Singh and former cricketers Ronald Quay and Clarence Samuel. Olympic Council Malaysia president Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja'afar was also present.

Former national cricketer Hector Durairatnam said Shepherdson was the man who taught him the ropes in the game.

“During my younger days, he was my mentor. Under him, I learnt much and it was an honour to be able to play by his side,” he said.

Datuk Dr Alex Delilkan, also a former national cricketer who played alongside Shepherdson for much of the 1960s, was proud to be on his side when facing visiting foreign teams.

“Mike was a pure example of homebred talent. He was naturally gifted in both hockey and cricket, unlike many who are ‘manufactured’ through the system today,” he said.

Shepherdson leaves son Aubrey, and daughters Brenda and Jacqueline.  

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