MUMBAI: The Indian sports journalists’ fraternity lost its oldest member, Gopal Krishna Menon, well known as GK, on Tuesday early morning. At the time of passing, he was 93. He is survived by his wife, daughter and son and their extended families.
One of the founding fathers of the Sports Journalists’ Federation of India (SJFI), Menon played an active role from Bombay. Primarily he was a sports journalist who wrote on cricket from post-Independence days, for the mainstream Bombay based broadsheets including the ‘Indian Express and the ‘Times of India’. He was a keen follower of the game with a special knack to spot talent.
He also demonstrated the ability to organise events as an office-bearer of the Sports Journalists Association of Bombay (SJAM) and was the founding treasurer of the SJFI from 1976 to 1980. To top it all, Menon was a jovial person.
The old faithful in Bombay would largely give him credit for the development of fast bowler Ramakant Desai and a few more cricketers who played for the Shivaji Park Gymkhana.
Menon enjoyed personal rapport with giants of Bombay cricket of the 1950 and 60s. He covered the game when the Shivaji Park Gymkhana and Dadar Union dominated local cricket. He was always ready to discuss the technical aspects of the game with the cricketing fraternity and young sports journalists.
Menon also reported on local football tournaments and showed interest in other outdoor and indoor sports.
After retiring from active service, Menon was in touch with a handful of sports journalists in Peter Rodrigues, Raymond Fernandes and Clayton Murzello and he appeared to be in reasonably good health. But on Tuesday morning the news of his passing was received with much sadness.
Paying tribute to the departed soul, a statement from Press Club, Mumbai, said: “Menon was a top cricket writer who also played the game at club level.”
He was manager of the 1952-53 Bombay University team which won the All-India Rohinton Baria Trophy by beating Delhi University in the final at Bangalore. That side included future Test players like Chandu Patankar, Nari Contractor, Ramnath Kenny, Naren Tamhane and GR Sunderam. Menon also played an active role in the activities of the Shivaji Park Gymkhana.
“GK Menon will always be remembered as one of the founding fathers of the All-India JK Bose Trophy cricket tournament for sports journalists and as the guardian angel of the Bombay scribes team. To his colleagues, he was a man of words and deeds who had greatly fulfilled his life’s mission as a cricket writer. Farewell, GK!” wrote KNK Menon in his tribute. KNK Menon was SJFI treasurer from 1984 to 1986.
The current vice-president of SJFI, Mr. Tushar Trivedi, said: “I met GK Menon for the first time in November 1991. I was in Mumbai to meet BBC statistician Mr. Bill Frindall. One of the noted Indian commentators, Suresh Suraiya, introduced me to GK Menon in his own style. ‘My dear GK… here is a boy from Gujarat who is a scorer and statistician as well as a sports journalist like you.’ GK calmly asked me to sit beside him. I told him, Sir I am very young and have just started to learn A B C of sports journalism. He said don’t worry I am not too ahead of you. Keep moving forward we will meet before I reach Z. What a man he was!”
The SJFI and all its member units paid rich tributes to GK Menon for the services he rendered to the profession and to the federation. “We have lost a doyen of Indian sports journalism,” bemoaned SJFI president Subodh Malla Barua.