Mariners From Bangalore : Thirteen long years without that coveted trophy, previous five years without any trophy, Mohun Bagan was standing on the brink of history. The mariners needed just one solitary point to be crowned as I League Champion of 2015.
However, it was not a fairy tale set-up, after losing back-to-back matches to teams that were bottom on the points table, the task looked improbable. While we started getting skeptical, the million-dollar question was – “I-League ki asche?” (Is the I-league coming?)
We came back strongly in Round number 18 and 19, won against Royal Wahingdoh and Sporting Clube de Goa respectively, thus making the Bengaluru FC and Mohun Bagan game an absolute humdinger!
It was a week like no other. The last match at Kanteerava turned out to be a huge event for Mariners present at Bangalore. As Somtirtha Singha Choudhury from Bangalore said,” It reminds me of Durga Puja celebration, we started preparing for the D day since one month, by raising funds, preparing champion jersey, flexes, banners, cut outs and what not. From receiving the team from airport to felicitating them in practice, it was a festive mood all over the air and all these activities were helping us to sideline the huge tension building inside at least for some time.”
The build-up was perfect; Mohun Bagan arrived in the Garden City ahead of time on Thursday, 28th May, 2015. A large number of Mohun Bagan fans in Bangalore went to welcome the team in Bengaluru International Airport a and escorted them to team hotel
As per Debarghya Ghosh who works in an IT company in Bangalore, “Leaving office early and attending practice sessions became customary. A sense prevailed within our team that the decisive factor would be anything but an away game “
On 29th May Friday, Mohun Bagan practiced at Kanteerava where supporters were present in numbers to boast the morale.
By the time, supporters from Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Delhi, Kolkata started arriving at Bangalore as the weekend was already started. The next day practice saw a huge number of supporters with flags, huge cutouts of Chingri (Prawn) and Nouka (Boat). Players were also surprised by the overwhelming turnaround of supporters in practice.
The effort to give the team a homely feeling and not to treat this as an away match was in full swing.
Mariners from all over the country on 30th May Practice
The pre-match press conference saw an undeterred coach Sanjay Sen looking for a win, “Though we need just one point against BFC’s three, it is always uncertain if you play for a draw, let me tell you that we are looking for 3 full points!
A confident Sanjoy Da stressed about mental pressure and summed, “We have toiled hard to reach at this position; should not look back henceforth”.
Huge influx of green and maroon supporters started from Saturday, 30th May midday onwards. As per Debashish Bhattacharya who came from Kolkata “After the Sporting Club De Goa match, I felt like booking the ticket for Bangalore. 19-year-old Dip Maity had joined me; we did not get the reservation and travelled for 33 hours to be part of the history. Once we have reached Bangalore, fans in Bangalore took complete care of us”
The night of 30th May probably be the longest for all Mohun Bagan fans across the globe. In Bangalore, many supporters spent the night giving final addition to all the activities those were planned for the next day.
D-day – Sunday, May 31, 2015. The air was tense and the tension in the room was palpable.
As per Subhajyoti, “We left home early, joined by wife and our 9-year old son, who has been accompanying me in football matches since the age of 4. The journey from home to Sree Kanterava Stadium took longer than ever, the sky looked heavy and dull, adding more to the drama, and how I wished to chuck my match reporting duty for a seat with all the away fans”
As per Sayantan,” It was pouring since morning and we were running from one temple to other temple, we did not want to leave no stones unturned. A night before we shifted to our newly bought house, everything was just dumped hastily and I was on the street from morning. Any married man can imagine the scene at home quite easily”
As per Debashish, “We reached the stadium at 3:30. Almost 2000 fans of Mohun Bagan were present from all over India. It started pouring suddenly, but our spirit was indomitable, we kept our chanting amongst the huge pool of BFC fans and put flags in the gallery. Mariners@Bangalore did a great job in decorating the stand.”
It would be quite pointless to take you through the game as it has been well documented. In the eyes of a 9 year old mariner, Suhan Banerjee, “As the game went on, in the 38th minute Sony Norde had hit the crossbar which had bounced back into play but against the run of play in the 41st John Johnson rose to the occasion and scored to make it 1-0 to the home team. If it stayed like that it would be BFC who would be the champions. Mohun Bagan got chance after chance but thy were not able to capitalize. It looked like Mohun Bagan have just slipped the title. But we all did not lose hope, in the 87th minute an in-swinging ball from Sony Norde from a corner to Bello Razaq and he made no mistake in heading it past the goalkeeper. And Mohun Bagan were in the driving seat. The referee blew the final whistle, the match ended 1-1 and The National Club Of India were crowned I-League champs!”
Once the match official blew the whistle, all the supporters took out and put on the Champions T-Shirt, specially designed by us for the occasion, the players were straight headed straight to the away fans stand, and joined the green and maroon folks.
Victory, finally… We danced as if there was no tomorrow!
The Celebration- As we Saw
The next thing 30 minutes was in total trance – lucky to witness the history and luckier to see the champion team so closely. Entire team was on the field, gearing up for the presentation ceremony.
Subhajyoti, who was in the press, spotted captain Shilton Paul, after exchanging pleasantries, something stuck his mind, instantaneously removed the Champions T-Shirt that he was wearing, and requested Shilton to put it in.
We were ready for the occasion. It was sheer joy to see captain lifting the I-League Trophy sporting Champions T-Shirt.
It was a gala night. The emotional outburst of 13 long years was fierce from Kolkata to Bangalore to Mumbai to Delhi and even outside India. There was a huge celebration at team hotel for the whole night.
May 31, 2015 – Mohun Bagan winning I-League, certainly the best day of any mariner’s life!
Flashbacks of all insult, pain, agony, tears of last thirteen years, which were engulfing our brains, all, salvaged by 87th minute header, by a Nigerian, Bello Razaq.
By Mariners From Bangalore