13 noviembre, 2010




On Sunday, April 11, 1971 two important events took place in the world of sports in the city of Chimbote, Perú.

Both are sad remembrances.

That day, at the Stadium Vivero Forestal of Chimbote, my local soccer team, José Gálvez Football Club (José Gálvez FBC), faced The Red Devils of Chiclín (a town in Trujillo, Perú) for the 1971 regional stage of the Perú Cup.

In this match the Chimbotan team could have won or drawn to qualify for the Grand Final in Lima. But against all odds, they lost.

That very same day Don Honorio Gozzer Pizarro died of a heart attack. He was a man involved with the José Gálvez FBC from its inception (as Manuel Rivera Club) in 1951.

These two facts were closely linked.

On Sunday, April 11, 1971, Don Honorio was in the stadium. And the general idea is that a sudden heart attack ended his life while his beloved club was being defeated on the soccer pitch.

Even the next day, a national newspaper published a story of both events with the headline, "Goals that kill."

At the time I was ten years old and I was in the stadium, too.

But, my memories of the events have always differed from the version that has been accepted by people in general through the years.

That day I was watching the game from the South Popular Stands, and I remember that in the intermission a rumor hit the stadium. The rumor said that a “Galvista” committee member was dying of a heart attack in the Preferential Stands.

From my location in the South Popular Stands I could see some unusual bustle in the Preferential Stands. Wanting to witness what was going on with my own eyes, I made my way towards the wire mesh that separated the two stands. Then I tried to climb it, but I couldn’t because of the dense population of people that crammed into the stadium that day.

Towards the end of the game the local radio stations confirmed that the “Galvista” committee member had died in a local clinic.

But over the years, it has been continuously repeated that the man died at the stadium, and that his death was a direct result of the “Galvista” defeat.

I had never been too clear on this point.

That’s why, during my last visit to Chimbote, late last July and early August, one of the highlights of my personal agenda was to clarify the details of the death of Don Honorio Gozzer Pizarro.

With that goal in mind, for several days I visited “La Quinta Gozzer” (The Gozzer’s House) on the seventh block of Chimbote’s José Olaya Street, and talked with several of his relatives.

In particular I had long hours of conversation with Don Santiago Gozzer Pizarro, one of Honorio’s younger brothers who now, at 84, keeps his mind and memories in superb form.

What follows is a synthesis of the life and circumstances of the death of the late “Galvista” committee member.

Don Honorio Gozzer Pizarro was born on July 31, 1924 in the Manuel Ruiz Street’s third block in the city of Chimbote, Perú.

His father was Don Roque Gozzer del Pratt, a citizen of Austrian origin and son, in turn, of Giovani Gozzer Bandini, who was born on March 7, 1872 in Fierozzo, Trento, Austria.

Honorio's mother was Doña María Clotilde Gonzales Pizarro, a native of Chimbote.

Honorio had nine siblings, and they were: Ana María, Juan Raúl, Víctor Santiago, Domingo Jacinto, Elisa Alejandrina, Olinda Emilia, Víctor Antonio, Santos Brucela and Walter Augusto.

Also, Don Roque had two more children with Doña Tomasa Luzmila Teruel Amesquita: Roque Arístides Gozzer Teruel and Nelly Constanza Gozzer Teruel.

In 1928 the Gozzer Pizarro family moved from Manuel Ruiz Street to the seventh block of José Olaya Street.

Don Roque Gozzer del Pratt, father of Honorio, worked as a mechanic on the braking systems of freight trains for the railway company that later became the property of the Peruvian Corporation of Santa. And then, years later, he worked as a stevedore in the port of Chimbote.

Meanwhile, Doña Clotilde Pizarro Gonzales stayed at home and was responsible for all of the household chores.

The young Honorio first went to school at Fiscal Elementary School No. 313, located in the third block of Chimbote’s Francisco Bolognesi Avenue.

Years later, the young Honorio joined the Peruvian navy, and later on worked as a butcher, which was his main occupation for most of his adult life.

On January 6, 1967, in the city of Trujillo, Honorio married Flor de María Gonzales Rodriguez, a Trujillan woman born on September 12, 1938.

Honorio and Flor de María had three children: Wilfredo, Eduardo and Patricia.

In 1951, Don Honorio and the Gozzer Pizarro family actively took part in the formation of the Manuel Rivera Club, the embryo that later gave rise to José Gálvez FBC.

In 1963, Don Honorio and other members of his family were part of the first board of The Red Stripe Team (José Gálvez FBC). For Honorio, that involvement would last until the day he died, and for his family remains to this day.

Unfortunately, in his adult life, Honorio Gozzer developed heart problems, and before 1971 two heart attacks had already struck him.

For this very reason, Honorio’s doctors had forbidden him to participate in emotionally charged events such as soccer games, or to listen to radio broadcasts of them.

And also, for similar reasons, his brother Santiago used to help Honorio to sleep with a ten milligram dose of valium whenever the José Gálvez FBC played a game of "life or death."

Well, on Sunday, April 11, 1971, The Red Stripe Team played a "life or death" game against The Red Devils of Chiclín at the Stadium Vivero Forestal of Chimbote.

But on that day, Don Santiago was unable to help his brother Honorio fall asleep, and so Honorio went to the stadium.

Once in the stadium, Honorio was devoted to helping at the Preferential Stands box office to sell tickets for the match. That day the stadium was completely full, and during the first minutes of the game people were still buying tickets and entering the sports arena.

Towards the end of the first half of the match, Honorio gathered the money raised and started walking towards the Preferential Stands to meet with Dr. Marco Antonio Cavero Solórzano, and to give him the proceeds.

But, suddenly, Honorio didn’t feel well, and for a little while took what he meant to be a short break sitting on a lot of corrugated asbestos sheeting that was stacked on the ground next to the box office.

A person who at that moment was next to him, ran to warn Honorio’s relatives, who were watching the match from the Preferential Stands.

Thus, Víctor Antonio (another of Honorio’s younger brothers), Rubén Carbajal Pizarro (Honorio's uncle), and the pharmacist Luis Díaz Romero came to him.

Honorio complained of severe chest pains.

The family immediately took him in the direction of the down town San Carlos Clinic.

When they arrived there was no cardiologist in the clinic, and Honorio was seen by a gastroenterologist.

This doctor diagnosed that Honorio was suffering from ulcers and prescribed some medicine for this condition. Furthermore, this medicine was discontinued and was not even available in the local pharmacies.

Meanwhile, at the Stadium Vivero Forestal of Chimbote the second half of the match began and the score remained nil-nil.

With this score, José Gálvez FBC would still qualify, but the team was not playing well and the match was not over.

At the clinic, a radio was transmitting the game, but Honorio couldn’t listen to it. He was unconscious. Honorio, actually, was not the victim of ulcers but he was in the throes of a heart attack.

And coincidentally, in that instant, a cardiologist entered the clinic.

In the stadium The Red Devils of Chiclín had the lead, and over the first part of the final half charged persistently against the “Galvista” goal.

At the clinic, the cardiologist tried to help Honorio.

In the soccer grounds, the constant Trujillian attack finally found its target. Lorenzo “Lolito” Paredes Alfaro scored the match’s only goal, and The Red Stripe Team could not recover.

The sound of the play-by-play announcer shouting “GOAL!” on the radio echoed in the clinic. But Honorio Gozzer Pizarro never heard it.

He was no longer in this world.

The game of Russian Roulette that his heart had been playing was over. His heart had stopped beating. And as fate would have it, his beloved team would lose on the soccer pitch.

A blanket of sadness had dropped on Chimbote.

Forty-eight hours later, war drums would ring in the Stadium Lolo Fernandez of the "U" (Universitario de Deportes Club) in Lima. What happened was that The Red Devils’ win gave them the same number of points as Gálvez, forcing an extra match to see who would qualify for the final.

On this war field, The Red Stripe and The Red Devils teams would meet again in a tiebreaker game.

A day before this match, in Chimbote, a human sea of people accompanied the funeral of Don Honorio Gozzer Pizarro, and his remains were carried on the people’s shoulders from the seventh block of Olaya Street to his final resting place in Chimbote’s Divino Maestro Cemetery.

In the extra match tiebreaker played in Lima, José Gálvez FBC defeated the Red Devils of Chiclín and qualified for the Grand Final of the Copa Peru.

The win was a posthumous tribute to Don Honorio Gozzer Pizarro.

And this piece of writing is an attempt to keep his memory alive.

New Hampshire, USA
November 2010

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2 comentarios:

  1. Eduardo, This is a wonderful story of something you witnessed when you were a kid. I enjoyed reading your articles so much because through them I get to know more about Chimbote and your culture.

    During our last trip to Perú don Santiago Gozzer Pizarro, Honorio's brother, was very nice and helpful to you when you were researching information for your story.

  2. que bueno haber encontrado gente de mi tierra Chimbote city muchos saludos para todos