A Dey to remember - Maidan legend's contribution recalled in his birth centenary year

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By Staff Reporter
  • Published 26.09.10

Calcutta: The present regime of Mohun Bagan may find it irrelevant to remember legendary administrator Dhiren Dey on his birth centenary year, but his friends and associates got together, on Saturday, at the Rotary Sadan for an evening seeped in nostalgia.

From the beginning to the end, the speakers talked about the man, who was known as Dhiren da in Madian. From Aveek Sarkar, who presided over the function, to former chief minister Siddhartha Shankar Ray, to former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee, everyone spoke of their long association with the man.

In between there were interesting anecdotes by Sailen Manna, Samar (Badru) Banerjee, Justice (retd.) Shyamal Kumar Sen, Gurbux Singh, Keshav Dutt, Chuni Goswami, Jaidip Mukerjea, and Chitrak Mitra.

Chatterjee, the last speaker of the evening at the jam-packed auditorium, was spot-on when he questioned whether Dey’s idea of sports — discipline and dedication — has its relevance in the present context.

“His love for Mohun Bagan and his affection for the players is something I will always remember. These days do we really have anyone who has so much passion for the game? His discipline and dedication made him what he was. And obviously when you don’t have an administrator like him, standard of the game is bound to fall.

“These days I don’t watch Mohun Bagan since I don’t find them playing attractive football. I don’t even know which player plays in which position. During my younger days I used to know everything. And that’s because of my association with Dey.

“Nowadays I follow Chelsea. I love to see Barcelona and Lionel Messi… Not Mohun Bagan or Indian football.”

Chatterjee said Dey’s had a rough exterior but deep down he was a kind-hearted person.

“He brought me to the executive committee of the club and made sure that I mention that I am a executive committee member on my letterhead. Even during his days of despair he never lost the will to fight. He never shied away from challenges,” Chatterjee said.

Chatterjee recalled how he was averse to bringing in Chima Okerie but was impressed upon by Dey. “I had asked Chuni to give me in writing that Chima’s signing would raise the standard of the game. Dhiren da had told me that it was not possible. I had always believed that tradition is bigger than trophies.”

Chuni also talked about his long association with Dey. “He used to tell me I am not a true Mohun Bagan fan despite not switching allegiance during my playing career. Only after I got married to a Mohun Bagan fan that he said, ‘Now you are a true Mohun Bagan fan’,” he said as the auditorium broke into peals of laughter.

Dey was someone who used to be always nattily dressed and Chuni said it had something to do with his liking for the British culture.

“‘So many people come to the tent every day. I have to be different from them,’ he had once told me. That was Dhiren da… Witty and on-your-face.

Aveek Sarkar recalled Dey’s passion for the game but felt, instead of bringing Pele in 1997, Dey would have done a huge favour had he brought in professionalism. “George Best was the face of Manchester United and not any official.”

Ray recalled an incident when the then President (Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed) had visited Calcutta to watch a day’s play during a India-West Indies Test in 1975.

“I wanted to show him the ground where I got a century and I made sure Dhiren da was there giving him the details. I haven’t seen an administrator like him.”

Gurbux Singh also had an interesting tale to tell. “In the 1968 Mexico Olympics, it was me and Inam-ur Rahman who were the only two Mohun Bagan players representing India. At the Games Village, we were surprised to receive $100 for each of us from Dhiren da. I will not forget the gesture,” he said.

And Mukerjea said how Dey brought him to tennis. “He was one of the reasons why I took up tennis.”

Every former player talked about Mohun Bagan’ platinum jubliee celebration in 1964.

As Chuni said: “Those days technology was not so developed. Yet from Gary Sobers to Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, every one was there”.