Remembering the 'Chinese Wall' - Gostho Pal
On the 36th death anniversary of Padma Shri Gostho Behari Pal, McDowell Mohun Bagan fondly remembers the man who captained the Mariners from 1921 to 1926.
Gostho Pal was one of the finest footballers to have ever played at the famous Kolkata Maidan. Renowned for his strong defensive abilities, he was the first Indian footballer to be honoured with the Padma Shri. Gostho Pal continues to be the beloved figure that he was during his hey days. Stories of his legend are still popular with Mohun Bagan fans.
Born on 20th August, 1896, he joined Mohun Bagan at the age of 16 and dedicated his playing career to the club. In 1925, Mohun Bagan became the first Indian team to participate in the Durand Cup. Gostho Pal had the honours of leading the club. Under his captaincy, the Mariners beat Royal Berkshire Regiment, York Lancaster Regiment and Essex Regiment, to make it to the last four. Mohun Bagan was eventually denied a shot at history as they lost to Sherwood Forest in the semifinals.
Gostho Pal was a natural leader who inspired his teammates to never stop fighting. He was also the captain of the national team during its first overseas trip in 1924. His grit as a defender earned him comparisons to the Great Wall of China. When he met Rabindranath Tagore, on a visit to Shaniniketan, the Nobel Laureate promptly remarked, "Yes, you truly are the Chinese Wall!"
The stalwart ended his career in 1935, under dramatic circumstances. In a match between Mohun Bagan and Calcutta Club, at the Mohun Bagan ground, Gostho Pal and his teammates decided to protest against the referee's biased decisions by lying down on the ground. The British Raj, which considered Calcutta Club as a symbol of its pride, was eager to take action against Gostho Pal. Protesting against the British Raj's decision, he bid adieu to the game.
On 27th April, 1962, he was honoured with the prestigious Padma Shri award. In 1984, a statue of the great man was erected at the Gostho Pal Sarani, near the Mohun Bagan ground. A postal stamp was also issued by the Government of India in 1998, to honour this legend. The famous 'Mohun Bagan Ratna' was bestowed upon him in 2004.
The lore of Gostho Pal's legacy will always resound among the faithful of Mohun Bagan and Indian football. Camp McDowell Mohun Bagan salutes the legacy of Padma Shri Gostho Behari Pal.
Image courtesy : www.iloveindia.com
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