Categorized | In Memoriam

Burly Anton Perera no more – a legend at St. Peter’s College

Posted on 21 February 2014 by admin

News has just reached us of the passing of ANTON PERERA – a legend of the late fifties and early sixties. Anton was in a coma for the last 2-3 weeks in a Los Angeles Hospital, arising from a complicated medical condition. Sadly, he passed away this morning (Feb.20th) in hospital surrounded by his beloved wife Marlene, only son Yohan (Joey) and daughters Sharlene and Sheryl . Anton has lived in Southern California since 1962, one of the early settlers to the U.S. from Sri Lanka.

Anton Perera was a celebrated Peterite sports icon.

Anton-Perera.jpgAnthony V. Perera, fondly known as "Anton" was a legend at St. Peter's College. He was one of the most celebrated sports icons who left an indelible mark on the Peterite landscape. . He was a prolific athlete, exceptional cricketer and also played rugby until his coach Jackie Van Twest advised him not to play as it would hurt his athletics. Anton was also a good Tennis player and I am not quite sure if he played for college, at the Public Schools Championships. His father was a Tennis player of national repute.


In athletics, Anton was a Publics School champion in the Discuss, Javelin and Putt Shot. He did the 100M, Long Jump and the sprint relays as well. This was a time the Peterites had a crack athletics team. He captained the Junior Athletics Team in 1957 which went on to win the Junior Tarbat at the Public Schools Championships in 1957. Other athletes in this team were Desmond Moraes, Rontjen Perera and Linus Jayawardane (since departed). Some other names of prominent Peterite athletes during his time that come to mind are Ranjit Wijeyesekere, Ranjit Weerasena, Felix Shockman, David Van Dort, Errol de Silva, brothers Andrew & Godfrey Goonetilleke, Rontjen Perera, E.L. Fernando, N.B. Wilson, Didacus de Almeida, Roger Wright, Kevin Ruberu, Vinitha Rakajaruna, Neville Salvador, Elmo Perera, Carlyle Rudolph, Ranjith Alwis, brothers Winston & Stafford Tambimuttu, and a host of others of repute who later went on to join Ace Athletic Club or CT & FC.

Anton dabbled with Rugby and played for college as a wing three-quarter – much to the displeasure of Jackie Van Twest (Athletics Coach).

But it was Cricket that Anton was best known. His baptism into the First XI was in 1957, at the age of 15 – under the captaincy of Jayantha Fernando. In the big match, Anton clean bowled opener Claude Perera and then took out two prolific Josephian batsmen Priya Perera and Tissa de Soysa. He had match figures of 3 for 69 in his first big match that was drawn. Anton played from 1957 to 1960, both years included. St. Peter`s were captained by Russel Duckworth in 1958, Brian Seneviratne in 1959, and Premasiri Athukorale in 1960. I cannot remember which year, but Anton caused a sensation at the SPC V. Ananda game one year. He took 8 wickets for 21 and at least six Ananda players were injured. At this time, he was rated the fastest Schoolboy bowler in Ceylon with Ananda`s Sonny Yatawara a close second.

Anton's opening partners were Maurice Deckker (1960), Desmond Dharmaraja (1958 & 1959) and Anton Paulpillai (1957). Anton best partnered with Maurice Deckker when the Peterites had the most fiery opening bowling attack at the time in school cricket.

Cricket at St. Peter`s enjoyed a great period in the 50s and 60s – there was a galaxy of stars who played for college. Anton`s team mates who played alongside him in the four years are shown below:

  • 1957David Muthumani, Nihal Wijesena, Darrel De Silva, Jayantha Fernando (Capt.), Brian Seneviratne, Russel Duckworth, Lakshman Serasinghe, Premasiri Athukorale, Christy Marthalingam, and Anton Paulpillai.
  • 1958 – Nihal Wijesena, Randy Layman, Russel Duckworth (Capt.), Brian Seneviratne, Premasiri Athukorala, Darrel De Silva, Adiel Anghie, Christy Marthalingam, Desmond Dharmaraja, and Elmo Gunasekara.
  • 1959Richard Alles, Mark de Silva, Randy Layman, Brian Seneviratne (Capt.), Premasiri Athukorala, Adiel Anghie, Richard Heyn, Desmond Dharmaraja, Elmo Gunasekara, Tyrone Le Mercier.
  • 1960 – Mark de Silva, Randy Layman, Richard Alles, Premasiri Athukorala (Capt.), Adiel Anghie, Richard Heyn, Maurice Deckker, Didacus de Almeida, Elmo Gunasekara, Tyrone Le Mercier.

Anton played Club Cricket for SSC whilst in school. He left for the USA in 1962, at age 20, and lived in Southern California with his wife Marlene (Primary School Teacher at college) and their three children. He was involved in developing and promoting cricket in Southern California in the sixties and played locally with Dr. Tony Don Michael (another Peterite), M.L. Idroos (STC), Dr. C. Balakrishnan (Jaffna Hindu), and a host of other players who made California their home in the post-sixties.

Nihal Perera, a Peterite of my vintage who now lives in the U.S. has sent in this comment. “Very sad to hear he is no more. Still remember him almost skittling out St. Thomas' in their 2nd innings ending at 39/9 (St.Peter's almost snatched victory from the jaws of defeat as they say) and he ended up with 7 for 11. Fr. Arthur Fernando called him on to the stage on the Monday after & presented him with a pair of boot laces (since he had constant issues with the laces coming undone during his Herculean effort). Man with a big heart.“

A Peterite colleague of Anton's – Kevin Ruberu (domiciled in Australia) says, "Anton was one of the best sportsman that we ever had. He was on top of his cricket and athletics. In athletics, he was a superb all-rounder (shot putt, javelin, long jump, 100 m sprint – he excelled at); I think he also played some tennis and rugby (not encouraged by Jackie Van Twest of course).“

Anton visited Sri Lanka often and had many friends all over the world. He was one of the most popular sportsman to emerge from St. Peter`s College. One distinct character trait that stood by Anton throughout his life is that he had a mind of his own. Most times, he was right in his convictions. He would call a spade, a spade and there was no “beating round the bush“ with him. With Anton, it was a case of `what you see is what you get`. He was a good family man, a good human being, loyal to his multitude of friends and a very good Catholic to his dying days.

Marlene was the love of his life, and they were married for just over 50 years. He worked at 3-M for most of his life in Los Angeles and stayed in the Canoga Park area of Southern California. He leaves behind his beloved wife Marlene, and three children Yohan (Joey), Charlene and Cheryl.

May his Soul Rest in Peace!

By Upali Obeyesekere – President, JPAA Canada with assistance from Rontjen Perera (California) – a close friend of Anton's.

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