From late 1960s till 1970s the Kolkata maidan was wowed by the talents of a handsome left winger named Pranab Ganguly. Many fans also knew him by his nickname – “Bablu”. He was born on 9th September, 1945 in Howrah. His interest in football developed from his time as a student at Patha Bhavan in Shantiniketan. His performances for his school at inter school tournaments won him many admirers. Later he returned to Howrah, joining Dinabandhu school. Pranab Ganguly ably balanced football and his studies.
Despite being younger he participated in inter-college tournaments. Power League, a tournament which included both senior and junior footballers and gave birth to many football legends was the tournament where he made a breakthrough in 1962. The following year he started playing in Calcutta League for Howrah Union. After four years he joined his favorite club Mohun Bagan in 1967. It was a dream come true for him. In the second match of Calcutta League that season, he provided a glimpse of his talent, scoring a brilliant free kick to help Mohun Bagan win against Rajasthan Club. Despite being a winger, he always had a knack for scoring goals. From 1967 he spent eight seasons in Mohun Bagan, staying loyal to the club in face of other offers. He bore witness to many historic events at the club during his time. Amal Dutta, who joined Mohun Bagan as a coach in 1969, once said to him, “Why are you playing football & not cricket?”. He replied, “Football is my first love”. Pranab Ganguly passed all tests posed by Dutta, becoming a vital player in a 4-2-4 system thanks to his dazzling speed and powerful shots. In 1969 Mohun Bagan did the IFA Double by winning both Calcutta League and IFA Shield. Mohun Bagan thrashed arch rivals East Bengal in Shield final, taking a 3-0 lead within 30 minutes with two goals from Pranab Ganguly. Veteran Mohun Bagan fans still recount his performances in important matches. In 1971, a goal he scored against Mohammedan SC was compared to a goal by legendary Dalhousie and Calcutta FC player Persie Knight. 1969 during a Rovers Cup match he picked up a serious arm injury which led to installation of steel plates. But his mentality was also strong like steel, so he continued playing with vigor. With him in the team, Mohun Bagan won every major trophy – Calcutta League, IFA Shield, Durand Cup, Rovers Cup. This also includes a brilliant hattrick in Rovers Cup.
He was also successful for Bengal in Santosh Trophy, participating from 1967 to 1969 and 1971, winning the title in 1969 and 1971. In 1969 Pranab Ganguly was brilliant in the Santosh semi-final against a strong Andhra Pradesh team, scoring four times over two legs. He was a member of the Indian team in Merdeka tournament in 1969. After retirement he was involved as a coach with Calcutta Club and also several academies. With Mohun Bagan club Pranab Ganguly’s connection remained strong as ever. Be it club events or gatherings at club lawn, he was a regular face.
Sincere condolences on his demise from Mohun Bagan family.