Football was once the most popular game in Kerala. Grounds spread elsewhere in the state never missed the clamour and claps of football mavericks. Today when Kerala blasters as a home team play in Indian Super League, one man named hat-trick Mani recollects the golden years, when he was at the helm of that energetic game.
Mani was the star in 1973 Santosh Trophy game. He was the captain. Before December 1973, Kerala was nothing but a footnote in the country’s footballing episode. One match and three goals later, they were the best in the land.
T.K.S. Subramanyan was called by his Co players as Mani , hails from Thalikkavu, Kannur. When he started to play for FACT team, he became Fact Mani and when he attained hat-trick gain in Santosh Trophy, he became Hat-trick Mani.
He was directly invited by M.K.K. Nair, CMD of FACT to play in FACT team, which was one of the best teams at that time. Olympian Simon Sundar Raj was his coach. Later Mani appointed as FACT Sports assistant. So he shifted from his native place to Manjummal, Ernakulam. Within no time, Mani and FACT team earned fame. FACT team was honoured by Golden cup of Thrissur Chakolas, G.V.Raja Trophy, Mammen Mappila Trophy, Nehru Trophy etc under the leadership of Mani. From 1977 he was the team coach.
He was really blessed with fast legs and was ever a nightmare for the opposing teams. He was one of the fastest players, Kerala has had. In his words, “It was because of the chemistry with my Co players, I could gain goals”.
Now, he is out of the grounds. Once hat-trick Mani was everything to the football lovers and he was the last word around about football. But, now nobody notices him. Having health issues, he is staying with his son in Edappally, Ernakulam. He is bedridden for a long time. The family had to spend lakhs of rupees for his treatment. Further treatment too requires huge amount. Sports council or Government did not extend a helping hand to the veteran player.
Sports journalists and football fans regularly came to meet him when Santosh Trophy seasons arrived. Now they also keep away from him.
He recollects the golden memories of seventies and eighties. “On those days, lots of football clubs and players were in Kerala and lots of football matches too. The players were invited by houseful gallery. Football was a passion then. Our kicks were sharp”.
The man sacrificed everything for his great passion, lives with the colouful memories kept not losing in the grounds he roamed once.
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