1972: ME, MYSELF, AND OHCHI NAKAMURA
I cannot help but recollect the year 1972 when the name Ohchi Nakamura was mentioned. This was during the auspicious Time-Cobra Invitational 10s 2004 Press Conference, recently at the PJ Hilton on 9th August 2004 by our YB Dato’ Azmi Khalid, the Organising Chairman. He speaks proudly of this one singled out Japanese Player that Cobra had in the Seventies.
In early 1972, I first joined to play for Cobra. I had just finished my High School Certificate at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar and awaiting application to further studies at ITM, when a senior MCOBA member Shahid Majid, introduced me to the Club. Shahid had befriended me during the previous year’s 1971 Old Boys Weekend, when he played for the Old Boys against our Present players in a Rugby game. He played Scrum Half and I, Hooker.
It was also during the first training with Cobra at University Malaya Rugby Field that I made a drastic change in my playing position to the back line. I tried out Centre, Wing and Full Back (where later I ended up comfortably as an Outside Centre). After the training I and another student member Alex Liew, were invited by Dato’ Aziz Ismail to his house, just outside the Campus for a drink. That was our induction to the Club.
Dato’ Aziz Ismail then confided in me if I knew anyone who could play Srum Half because Shahid had fractured his leg, and he needed a reserve player for his Selangor and Malaysian Team. Mind you, 1972 would have been Dato’ Aziz Ismail’s 17th year playing for our National Rugby Team. So, that’s how I managed to convince my ex-classmates, Azmil Zainal Abidin (Mok), a Scrum Half, and Zainol Abidin Darus (Non) to join Cobra the same year. Non and Mok were our Captain and Vice Captain respectively, in my 1971 MCKK School Team.
To cut the story short, Cobra in 1972 had 3 teams. Two teams, Cobra Yellow and Cobra Blacks, participated in the Division One League and Cobra Fangs in the Division Two. Touring 15-a-side games would be the Annual Games against Penang All-Blues in Penang and Singapore Blacks in Singapore. Later, the game against Kuantan Tiger in Kuantan was added. Carnival games would be the Cobra 10’s and Jonah Jones at KL Padang, Penang 10’s at Penang and the NS Sevens at Seremban. Cobra would play together in one team when touring and of course with plenty of reliable players by the sideline. Those were the days.
The story that most of us are very fond is of Ohchi Nakamura. He worked and lived in Malacca. He would sometimes come for training with us at UM Field and play competition games. Cobra President then was the late Kim Tai, who owned “The Bistro” in Jalan Gasing and “The Cellar” in Jalan Barat, where Syed Restaurant now located. The Cellar had a basement disco and a ground floor restaurant. So those were where most Cobra members used to hang-out after a training or game.
In one incident that year, 1972, Ohchi had made an earlier arrangement with Kim Tai, for the bus to pick him by the roadside, near the Old Road off Malacca junction, on our way to play Singapore Blacks. Kim Tai may have forgotten or could be that the journey started late, that he had directed the bus to go a different route. And only after we arrived at Singapore, did we realise that Ohchi had been left behind and could still be waiting by the roadside. But in those days, there was no way we could make immediate contact to Ohchi. Kim Tai gravely admitted his mistake and considered nothing more could be done that night and instead continued with organising the squad for lodging and next day’s plan.
Come next day and whilst we were preparing to play at the pitch, in walked Ohchi with his baggage and that “for-ever smiling face”. He made light of the incident and continued to enjoy the game. He was a jovial and fun-loving person to be with; who would sometimes brought the guitar along to entertain the team during tours.
Most of us could still never figure out until now, where he stayed in Petaling Jaya, whenever he was here with us for trainings or games. But one thing we do remember strongly about him was that he broke one tooth in a game he played for Cobra.
Ohchi Nakamura also went to play Penang 10’s with Cobra, when we had two participating teams. In fact, in 1972, he was everywhere we went and the fondest person in our Cobra Club. He could even be our first Japanese player that we had.
So, to Ohchi Nakamura wherever you are, we Cobra still love you!
(I attach here a photo of Cobra at the 1972 Penang Tens, played at Penang Free School. Ohchi sent this picture after he left us and went back to Japan.)
The picture has in it: the late Ashroff (Cobra 1st President), the late Brian Pestana (who died in the plane crash with the late Kim Tai), the late Busu, Dennis Pestana, Kai Yong, Zainol Darus, Ronnie Yeoh, Safa, Ohchi, Harris Beh, Jack Lee, Rosli, Ahmad Mahmud, Jagjit, Benny, etc, etc….
Story told by Rosli Dato’ Mohd. Ali.
Ohchi Nakamura with the COBRA Team at the
PENANG TENS 1972, played at Penang Free School.