Like on Sunday, Mohun Bagan and their fans played a big role in the only time Subhasish Roy Chowdhury felt a reluctant footballer. Hit by a missile in the face around where Syed Rahim Nabi was hurt on Sunday, he didn't want to continue. It happened in September 2009 but the India and Dempo goalie remembers that Sunday afternoon like it was yesterday.
"I was calling to our left-back (Debabrata Roy) when the first missile came, aimed at him. It missed. The next hit me in the face and since it came from behind, I didn't see it coming," said Roy Chowdhury speaking over the phone from Goa on Tuesday. He was then playing for Mumbai's Mahindra United and this was a match in the IFA Shield against Mohun Bagan.
"The game was stopped (for eight minutes) and I and my teammates didn't want to continue. Our coach (David Booth) too wasn't keen but team manager (Henry Menezes) said pulling out wouldn't be fair. Had we done that, we would have had a case for getting full points and qualifying for the semi-finals," said the goalkeeper.
Mahindra United completed the must-win game and were eliminated from the competition because the scoreline stayed 1-1. Roy Chowdhury said he resumed in the Mahindra United goal his head swathed in a heavy bandage and said he required three stitches afterwards. "Football then was the last thing on my mind. I was scared," he said.
The fear of being hit returns every time he plays in Kolkata, the goalie said. "I look up at the galleries at Salt Lake stadium everytime I leave the players' tunnel. Once, a missile possibly aimed at me hit a teammate who couldn't play that game."
Having seen Sunday's unfinished derby on television, the India player is convinced that the referee was right in showing Okolie Odafa the red card for intimidation. That sparked off crowd unrest with a missile leaving Nabi injured.
"Had this happened with a Dempo player, he would have been taken to task by the management. We were reprimanded by the club for arguing a referee's decision against East Bengal recently," he said. Protesting in that game led to Dempo skipper Climax Lawrence getting a two-match ban from the AlFF.
Roy Chowdhury also said clubs should be more serious about educating players to respect the referee. "At Dempo, we are always told to respect whatever decision the referee takes. The management has assured us it will fight for us after the game if the referee has erred."