Celebrations are all around for two of India’s most iconic football clubs from Kolkata, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. While the former is celebrating the centenary year of its foundation, the latter, which is oldest existing association football club in India, and one of the oldest in Asia, has joined the revelry marking the 108th anniversary of the club’s victory against the British team East Yorkshire Regiment that won them their first Indian Football Association (IFA) Shield.
As the celebrations continue across the Mohun Bagan fan clubs in the state, disappointment reins the heart of legendary Indian footballer and former club icon Gostho Pal’s son Nirangshu Pal. Nirangshu laments that being the son of the great Gostho, they were not even invited by the club to be a part of the celebrations.
On Monday, Nirangshu, along with several others braved downpours and sat below the iconic statue of Gostho Pal statue in Kolkata maidan with the sole purpose to draw the attention of the club associates.
Nirangshu is heavily disappointed to find out about the condition of awards and honours that Gostho had won and later were donated to the club for their trophy cabinet, according to his wishes.
Gostho Pal, one of the most iconic players in Indian football history and a Mohun Bagan legend, was one of the best defenders of contemporary Indian football, who was revered as “Cheener Prachir” in Bengali, which stands as the “Great Wall of China”. Gostho was honoured with the captaincy of the Mohun Bagan football team, and he remained as the club captain for next five years. In 1924, he was also appointed as the captain of the Indian national football team and was the first Indian footballer to be honoured with the Padma Shri, on April 27, 1962. He passed away in 1976, and 16 years later, his son Nirangshu had donated all of Gostho’s laurels to add it to the Mohun Bagan trophy cabinet in August 1992, according to his late father’s wishes.
However, the trophies were not treasured by the club as it were expected to be and they had to undergo gross mishandling. After keeping the trophies in the club for long 27 years, Nirangshu had urged the club to return them. But in March, when he was called by the club to take the honours back, to his surprise, he found that all the trophies and medals laid in a wretched condition, most of which had worn out. Several of the prizes were found missing; certificates were found torn by house rats, even the honorary Padma Sree award was found missing.
Gostho’s son had lodged an FIR at a police station to which the Mohun Bagan officials had replied that they would try to find out the missing trophies. Almost, five months later, nothing has been recovered, and Gostho’s family still seek the missing pieces of the glory of one of India’s first footballing great.
Nirangshu hasn’t lost hope and believes his stance will draw the club’s attention, and he would be able to recover the trophies won by his legendary father.