Mohun Bagan 6 – 1 Dalhousie Club
This is perhaps the first football trophy won by Mohun Bagan and it had it elements of drama.The match was played in Chinsurah,a suburban town close to Calcutta.Dalhousie had just won the IFA Shield ,the most prestigious tournament of the time,pipping Calcutta Football Club(CFC) 4-3 in a nail-biting final.As Indian teams were barred from participating in the IFA Shield this match generated tremendous interest among the local people as it pitted the IFA Shield Champions against the emerging giant of football–Mohun Bagan.Dalhousie fresh from their triumph against CFC,an awesome team in the pre-independent era,were the more fancied side.On the day of the match both the teams boarded the same train from Sealdah station.On seeing only seven opponent players a MB player naively asked their captain about the remaining four players.”Only 7 men are enough to beat you natives”, came the reply.The arrogance of the answer sparked within the Mohun Baganis an indomitable zeal to beat the English side.Dalhousie fielded their full squad–the same one that had won the IFA Shield–the other 4 players arrived via Howrah.The Mohun Bagan players took the field with a lot of fire in their bellies and with the irrestible urge to give a fitting reply to the arrogant British for casting a racial slur on Indians.Mohun Bagan literally toyed with Dalhousie and drubbed them 6-1.Shibdas Bhaduri scored the first two goals.This win sparked wild celebrations among the Indians.It gave them a platform to give vent to the rebellious spirit that was gaining momentum against British oppression.The game transcended the boundaries of an ordinary sport and became symbolic of the fight of the valint sons of Mother India against the British despots.This match holds a very special place in the annals of history as it heralded the arrival of a new star on the horizon of India-Mohun Bagan–a star that still shines with dazzling brilliance 115 years down the line.
This match marked the initiation of Mohun Bagan into the mainstream of Indian nationalism and the club became a burning symbol of Indian patriotism.Mohun Bagan became symbolic of the aspirations of millions of Indians. While the Britishers were determined to divide India along racial and religious lines the nascent spirit of Mohun Bagan started a counter revolution of sorts embracing people from all over the land and bringing them under the Green and Maroon banner.Mohun Bagan’s triumphs and failures became synonymous with the vicissitudes of India in its quest for freedom.The arrival of the club unlocked the dreams in the hearts of the Indian people long suppressed by imperialistic forces and gave them wings to fly high and free.Thus when barefooted men in green and maroon took the field against any English side the match transcended the barriers of an ordinary game and became symbolic of India’s fight for freedom.The heroics of the players on the field became the stuff of legends and folklores and contributed to the mounting rebellion against the British.This rich history and legacy is what sets Mohun Bagan a class apart from all other clubs especially those who clung to geographically localised and religious identities.Just as our national falg is sacred our national club Mohun Bagan is also sacred as it has been consecrated by the sweat and blood of the Green and Maroon warriors who fought against the British on the field and inspired others in their fight off the field.”If we can beat them on the field we can also beat them off the field”—-MB’s triumphs infused this powerful message into the collective psyche of a nation languishing in ill-conceived notions of inferiority.It awakened them from years of slumber and instilled in them a sense of national pride.This is the contribution of Mohun Bagan to the cause of Indian history.Can any club beat that?
Composed: Joydeep Bhattacharya – Nov 2004