Joey Pathak
Joey Pathak
Joey Pathak
● Joey Pathak, 1985 (SNS)

born in India

Rajiv Pathak was born on Friday, 22nd December, 1961, in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

The 5' 8 (10st 0lbs) midfielder signed for Benny Rooney's Thistle on Tuesday, 1st October, 1985 (after a trial period), having most recently been with Long Eaton United.

Aged 23, he made his debut appearance on Saturday, 3rd August, 1985, in a 2-0 friendly defeat away to St Johnstone.

There were no goals for Joey during his time with Thistle.

He played his last game for the club on Saturday, 29th March, 1986, in a 2-0 defeat at home to Hamilton Academical in the SFL First Division, having appeared as a Jag on 16 occasions.

Joey's club-list included Santos Khalsa, Notts County, Long Eaton United, Partick Thistle, Stranraer, Albion Rovers and Shettleston Juniors.

Bio Extra

The feed below comes from our β€œPartickle”, From Madras To Maryhill β†’



From Madras To Maryhill

by Andrew Maclennan, William Sheridan & Stuart Deans
From Madras To Maryhill
● Joey Pathak at Firhill, 1985. (SNS)

12th October 1985 officially marked the fifth coming of an Indian-born Partick Thistle man, RAJIV "JOEY" PATHAK, when he made his competitive debut in Scottish senior football for Partick Thistle at Bayview. We were dreaming of an exciting new era back then, but in reality Benny Rooney's Jags were in the doldrums, and it was a tough ask. Jags were jointly second bottom of the First Division at the time and, although some improvement was made, one season after another was anticlimactic as the 1980s progressed. We look back at Joey's story, and ponder the questions; Why haven't there been more like him? Who will be the sixth, and will they make it big with Thistle?

A SLEEPING GIANT?

It's the second-most populous country in the world, and yet India consistently sits outside the Top 100 in the FIFA rankings, and this remains a great conundrum. There's a school of thought which says the European club which unearths the star Indian footballer will reap the rewards in terms of publicity and a widening of the supporter base, and it's a compelling one. Why don't they make it in any significant number? A great many reasons have been touted. The I-League has not continued to improve upon the standards in the modern era, despite being backed by corporate sponsors. The game is wrought with financial instability, and attendances are very low per capita. The timings of the matches are absurd, given that India is a hot and humid country, with many of the games even kicking off in the midday sun! There are poor facilities at grassroots level ("what grass?") and there's a lack of exchange programmes between traditional footballing countries. Cricket, of course, remains the national sport. In 2009, Sunit Chhetri famously missed out on the chance to represent QPR (Coventry & Celtic were also interested) as the British government denied him a work permit on the grounds of India's poor FIFA ranking. His 3-year-contract could have been a watershed moment, but instead a vicious circle continued to turn, literally represented in the first 12 spokes of the Ashoka Chakra.

PIONEERING INDIANS

From Madras To Maryhill
● Jimmy McMenemy tapes Mohammed Salim's feet, August 1936. (WIK)

Mohammed Salim (1904-1980) is celebrated as the first Indian to play in British football. The remarkable winger, who played without boots, made the long journey from India to Scotland in August 1936, almost as if to prove a point that Indians could indeed play and compete in the heartlands of the beautiful game. His two appearances for the Celtic reserves that month mesmerized everyone, and they were desperate to keep him, but, amazingly, he turned down a very lucrative offer. Apparently homesick, he made the return journey to India in September, as suddenly as he'd arrived. And that was that; a real enigma.

The essence of his unmissable story external-link.png is captured in the remarkable adjacent photograph, which shows Celtic's trainer, Jimmy McMenemy, taping Salim's feet bandages in preparation for a game.

It's also remarkable that Jimmy McMenemy was depicted in that renowned photograph, for he was a former Jag and, in reality, Partick Thistle had two Indians playing some 50 years earlier than the famous claim! James Ward, born in West Bengal, played for Thistle in 1881. His younger brother, George, born in Faizabad, also played for the Jags in the late 1880s. Trivia fans may be pleased to know that, as current knowledge has it, India is the third-known country (after Scotland & Northern Ireland) to have birthed a Jag. Later, there was Les McDowall, born in Gangapur, who played with Thistle in 1942. Now it may be fairly argued that the aforementioned three weren't Indians by heritage, lineage and culture. In that regard, we need to look to Bangalore-born Paul Wilson, who had a season with Thistle in 1979-80.

From Madras To Maryhill
● George Ward, Les McDowall & Paul Wilson, Thistle's 2nd, 3rd & 4th born-Indians. (HA/VIF/TIF)

So, as you can see, going into the 1980s, Partick Thistle's history was no stranger to the horizontal tricolour of saffron, white and green. It was, however, still regarded as highly unusual to see and hear of new players from that part of the world breaking into the Scottish game, and so the arrival of Rajiv Pathak in 1985 certainly piqued everyone's curiosity.

THE EARLY YEARS

Born in Madras (now Chennai) India, in 1961, Rajiv - or 'Joey' as he was nicknamed - moved to England as a child. Although he classes himself as a Leeds United supporter, as a teenager he was living in Derby when he began his football career playing for Santos Khalsa, an amateur team from the city's Sikh community playing in the Derby Sunday League. The name of Pathak appears in Santos teams from 1977, when Joey would have only been 15 years old, but this does appear to have been him, as the misspelled name "Joey Pasak" is given in a report later that year. In February 1978, Pathak was named in a youth squad representing the Derby Sunday League in the Derbyshire FA County Youth Cup.

By this time, Joey had already come to the attention of Notts County, and during the 1977-78 season was also turning out for their 'A' team in the Midland Intermediate League. He doesn't appear to have played for them again the following season, although Notts may have retained his registration in some form. He was still turning out for Santos Khalsa in 1978-79. For the following season, he stepped up to senior non-League football, joining Long Eaton United, who were members of the Midland League.

Joey got his chance in an away game at Spalding United on 21st August 1979, with Long Eaton missing most of their first team due to injuries, work commitments and holidays. Long Eaton's shadow squad won 2-1 and Joey, playing in midfield, was one of the players particularly praised by manager Ray Berresford. He continued to appear regularly in Long Eaton team lineups in the first part of the season, but less frequently into 1980. His name disappears from reports thereafter, and it was at this point he gave up football due to his involvement with the family clothing business.

JOEY PATHAK FOR FIRHILL

From Madras To Maryhill
● The cosmopolitan Benny Rooney with his new boys, Scots-born South African goalie Nelson Still (left) and Anglo-Indian midfielder Joey Pathak (right) circa August 1985. (DR)

The business expanded into Glasgow's south side, hence Joey's relocation to the city. He got married to Seema and they had their first child, Rahit, in April 1985. On the footballing front, it had been over 4 years since he had last played at any decent level, but he was missing the game and felt that he still had something to offer or, perhaps like Mohammed Salim before him, that he had a point to prove. Just two months after his son was born, contact was made with Partick Thistle manager Benny Rooney who offered Joey training facilities. A lengthy trial period ensued - just over 3 months - before Rooney took the decision to offer the player a contract in early October: "He has done well in the reserves and is now signed 'til the end of the season". 6 days later at Shawfield, Joey celebrated the good news by scoring two exquisite goals in a 3-3 draw with Clyde in the Reserve League.

From Madras To Maryhill
● Joey Pathak at Firhill vs. Kilmarnock, 9th Nov 1985. (MP)

1,016 were at Bayview on 12th October 1985 to see Joey, in the number 10 shirt, make his competitive first-team debut. Thistle were second bottom after match day 9 and were desperate to try and kick-start a revival. It was a game of two halves, the Fifers deserving of their one goal advantage, but Thistle dominated the second period. Pat Kelly had a good goal disallowed, the ref being sympathetic to the 'keepers claim for a foul. Minutes later, Ian McDonald rounded the 'keeper to level with 20 minutes to go. Thistle really went for it now. Joe Carson deftly (!) beat the home sides annoying offside trap to set Joey up, but Gordon Marshall pulled off a stupendous save from point blank range to deny our man a memorable debut winner. In the very last minute, a powerful drive by Paul McKenzie looked to finally have Marshall beat, only to rebound square off the post. Only 1-1, but much better.

For a little while it looked like Thistle might just have turned a corner - they went 7 unbeaten in the League - but it all went pear-shaped on the 30th November when ex Jag Jimmy Gilmour came back to haunt Firhill with a brace; Partick Thistle 1, Falkirk 2. To make things worse, Joey was subbed off for Gordon Dalziel. Yes, that wage thief! With back to back 3-1 defeats at Morton and Montrose in January, the clouds of doom hung low and very few escaped criticism. Joey was dropped, the early promise unfulfilled. Joey would play 3 further games in March, but never did break his scoring duck. By contrast, back in the reserves, he was knocking them in as relaxed as you like.

Joey was regarded as a skilful midfielder and, athough slight of build, showed that he was tigerish in the tackle. We seen glimpses of the evidence, but those qualities didn't show consistently enough in the Thistle first team, although, to be fair, the mojo was generally low at Firhill at that particular time. His stated ambition in 1986 was to get Thistle back into the Premier League. We'd be several times more round the sun before that was ever to happen and by then Joey was transformed into some sort of master chef.

POST-FIRHILL

Post-Firhill, Joey had initially signed for Stranraer in August 1986, but it seems the deal was aborted and, instead, he stayed closer to home with Shettleston Juniors. Some sort of contact must have been kept with Stranraer, for he appeared there once in the following season. 157 were at Stair Park on 31st October 1987 as the home side went down by two goals to nil against Berwick Rangers in the League, Joey's sole appearance for the Blues being from the bench in the second half. Again, he seems to have had a long break away from the football, but did make one final appearance in the senior game, turning out for Albion Rovers in a 3-2 League defeat at Forfar Athletic on the 6th February 1993.

CHEF PATHAK

From Madras To Maryhill
● Hot stuff in July 1995; Joey Pathak standsby at Bristow Heliport in Aberdeen with a curry destined for hungry offshore workers. (APJ)

Clearly, he was drifting away from the football in these years. He was pursuing his love of cooking at this time, spurred on by his Mum who was a great cook. He was working at the Indian Cottage in Kirkintilloch, perfecting his trade on the job. Before too long, he opened the first of his many restaurants - the Prestige of India - in Parkhead. At some point, he took a course at Glasgow's Metropolitan College, further enhancing his skillset. An unusual opportunity came his way in 1995 when Gardner Merchant - an organisation serving meals to a million customers a day - contracted him to supply hungry North Sea oil rig workers.

The workers had been polled and curries were #1 on their priority menus. It was a great compliment to Joey's growing reputation that he was chosen as the specialist who could best tantalise the taste buds. Mum's family recipes had been incorporated in his signature dishes and were being put to good use.

mh-quote.png

Life on the rigs can be a pretty lonely affair and the men really look forward to their food. The majority of them are high earners and as such are pretty discerning diners, so it is only fair to give them authentic cuisine. Feeding 200 to 500 men in the space of a couple of hours is a fairly daunting task, but they are appreciative and it is worth every moment. I suppose it must have been difficult trying to order a takeaway from the middle of the ocean.

In June 2006, Joey cooked his way into the grand final of a competition to find the best South Asisan chef in the UK, by virtue of winning the Scottish title in Glasgow. "I didn't expect to win. I just entered for fun because I know Indian food inside out." He was one of six to make the final, held in Yorkshire in November 2006. We're not sure how Chef Pathak fared (he had previously finished runner-up), but it's bound to have been delicious.

By this time, Joey was doing very well for himself. Now a father of two, he was living in Cumbernauld, with a number of business interests in Glasgow. He was a hotelier and now had two restaurants in Parkhead - Prestige of India & The Gallery. As well as this, he was chef proprietor of Fullarton Park Hotel in the east end. Further ventures were also in the pipeline.

THE SIXTH COMING

It's always great to see our former Jags doing well in life, and Joey has certainly done that. It's even better to see them doing well at Firhill, and there was a real hope back in '85 that Thistle might just emerge as the pioneering club where a talent from the Desi diaspora made that big breakthrough. We await the sixth coming with interest. Will he come from India? Or maybe he'll be from Pakistan, and they'll get one up on their neighbours. Of course, it'd be helpful if maybe one day we could live in a country whose government is unequivocally receptive to talent from abroad. FIFA rankings are for World Cup draws! All are welcome at Firhill and, for all parties concerned, opportunity knocks at the Stadium of Dreams.



Publishing date An original Thistle Archive publication, 12-Oct-2022.
Latest edit date Latest edit version 12-Oct-2022.




Β© The Thistle Archive 2015-2024. All rights reserved. Third-party trademarks and content are the property of their respective owners, and subject to their own copyright terms and conditions. See the website links provided in each case.