Anthony Patrick, a footballer who played with and for the team
If football is about fostering friendship, few could have been better brand ambassadors for the ‘beautiful game' than the late Anthony Patrick. Memories of the man will always be cherished by N. Ganesan, who watched the bubbly right half during his heyday.
“The ever-smiling Patrick deserved much more than what he got,” the senior journalist reminisced. He adds, “often sidelined, he was brought in to assist the side at the last moment. Never disappointed on being dropped, he took such setbacks in his stride. Truly a great player, a gentleman to his finger-tips on and off the field, rarely have I seen a more sporting player,”.
If the stature of the man can be measured through anecdote, Ganesan harked back to the days of the 1957 Santosh Trophy championships. Loyal fans rooted for him when Patrick was dropped. Hakeem, son of the legendary coach S.A. Rahim, was tried but failed. Afzal stepped in, but he didn't deliver either.
“Inclusion of Patrick looked like a last resort. The semi-finals against Services only showcased his calibre. He was at his fluent best, his forceful forays earned him a place in the final. When Hyderabad retained the trophy, quite understandably, the loudest cheers were reserved for Patrick during the awards distribution,” Ganesan remembered.
A quintessential team man, Patrick wouldn't mind building up the tempo for the stars to step in, who gave the finishing touches and hogged the limelight. Unlike the self-centred solos that many present-day icons embark on, Anthony never hesitated in passing the ball to a mate who stood a better chance at scoring. Much of his hard work was capitalised on by the frontline that merely converted from his pin-point passes.
If Patrick was an asset in offence for any side he turned out for, he was no less in defence, thwarting the well-laid plans of opponents with finesse and fair-play. “Not surprisingly, there wasn't a murmur of dissent when Patrick was adjudged the best footballer of the season in the 1953 Nagjee tournament in Calicut,” said Ganesan.