TWO GREAT SPORTSMEN OF A BYGONE ERA – by Quintus de Zylva
SHANE WARNE met EDDIE GRAY and I at the Tullamarine airport many years ago. Shane was on his way to Sri Lanka to play cricket and we travelled on the same plane that day.
SHANE was amazed at Eddie’s sporting achievements and he was fascinated with Eddie’s blazer. He was also interested in the fact that Aidan and Ryan ( my grandsons) attended Mentone Grammar – a school that Shane attended in his formative years.
EDWARD IAN GRAY (21 December 1918 – 21 September2004) was educated at Royal College Colombo where he was a Senior Prefect and Captain of the Athletics Team, Boxing Team and Rugby Team. He joined the Ceylon Police Force and his first duty station was in Kandy. When World War 11 broke out Eddie was the OIC at the Koggala Police Station where the RAF was situated and served as a critical base for Allied operations in the Indian Ocean.
Eddie went on to become the first Ceylonese to head the Police Stables as its OIC. On the morning of 22 March 1952 Eddie was riding at Galle Face Green with Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake when the Prime Minister suffered a stroke and then fell off the police mare “Chitra”. Eddie took the Prime Minister to a nursing home where he subsequently died some hours later. Eddie’s defence of “Chitra” was a great moment in history when the press suggested that the horse was to blame for the Prime Minister’s fall much to the hurt that Eddie felt – he insisted that there was nothing wrong with the horse. Eddie went on to receive the Ceylon Police Medal for Meritorious Service, Defence Medal (1939-45), Ceylon Police Independence Medal and the Service Medal of the Order of St.John. Eddie represented Ceylon in the lightweight boxing competition at the 1950 British Empire Games in Auckland.
“The important thing in life is not the victory but the contest, the essential thing is not to have won but to have fought well” Baron Pierre de Coubertin 1863-1937