Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Johnny Chadda RIP

A bad week for Sligo Rovers (they were knocked out of the FAI Cup by old rivals Shamrock Rovers) turned into a sad week when Johnny Chadda, one of the pillars of the club for over fifty years, passed away. On my regular trips to the Showgrounds when I was a kid, Johnny would be everywhere, selling raffle-tickets, manning the turnstiles and marshalling the ground. One time he had noticed that a group of us had scaled the wall to get in free to a vital promotion decider against Kilkenny City and he chased us round the ground until the terraces filled up and he gave up. That anyone would devote his life so selflessly to as unfashionable (and for most of its history, unsuccessful) team as Rovers is remarkable enough. That Johnny Chadda was an immigrant from India in the bleak 1950s, and I imagine the only one in Sligo other than his wife, makes his work even more touchingly generous.

There are hundreds of thousands of people the world round that will identify with the work that goes into keeping sports clubs of little or no means alive, and the fact that Sligo Rovers still exist after eighty years is in large part due to Johnny Chadda and others who worked alongside him down the years. The club went from being almost wound up in the late 1980s to being run as a successful co-operative while enjoying some domestic success in the 1990s. There are few people that can claim to have been associated with a club for so much of its history and Johnny Chadda's devotion to Sligo Rovers, in a league that was about as unglamorous as football can get and for practically no renumeration, is proof that football is about a lot more than just Galacticos, Golden Generations and big-money franchises. May he rest in peace.