The Beginning – 1889 to 1909
|It was year 1889. The Indian independence movement against the British rule was spreading rapidly after the uprising of 1857 Sepoy Mutiny. It was a period of growing political awareness, manifestation of Indian public opinion, and emergence of Indian leadership at national and provincial levels. The spontaneous and widespread rebellion fired the imagination of the Indian nationalists throughout the country. Under these circumstances, the birth of Mohun Bagan club on 15th august 1889 is not only organizing a football club but a step forward towards promoting a patriotic feeling, an awakening spirit in Bengali hearts. Mohun Bagan is not only a club, it is a national institution.The pioneer of Mohun Bagan Sporting Club, as it was named, was the then eminent lawyer Bhupendranath Basu, who later on became the president of Indian National Congress. The Basu family, the Mitra family, and the Sen family bestowed equal efforts towards the foundation of the club. The first meeting of the club presided by Basu himself, was held at his residence at 14,Balaram Ghosh Street of North Kolkata .The Secretary was Jatindranath Basu. That historical day witnessed the presence of many distinguished persons who were involved in many social reforms. Among them were –
1.Bhupendra Nath Basu
2.Jyotindra Nath Basu
3.Maharaja Durga Charan Laha (Maharaja of Shyam Pukur)
4.Maharaja Rajendra Bhup Bahadur (Maharaja of Coochbehar)
6.Jyotindra Nath Mitra
7.Sir Bhupendra Nath Mitra
8.C.C Dutta (I.C.S)
10.Hem Nath Sen (better known as Fonbabu)
12.Roybahadur Chunilal Basu
15.Dr.Manindra Nath Basu
16.C.K Sarkar (Architect)
17.Pramatha Nath Chattopadhyay
18.Sir Brajendralal Mitra
19.Satish Chandra Mitra
20.Susheel Chandra Mitra
21.Sarat Chandra Mitra
22.Sir Nripendra Nath Sarkar
23.Sir Prabhash Mitra
24.Dr.Ganendra Nath Mitra
27.Hriday Krishna Ghosh
28.Sir Rajendra Nath Mukhopadhyay
29.Major S.K Ghosh (I.C.S)
The first ground of the Club was inside the famous marble palace, owned by Kirti Mitra of the Mitra family, known as Mohun Bagan Villa. It was situated at Fariapukur street of north Kolkata. But as a football ground this was not sufficiently large. It is believed that Mohun Bagan played the first match on this very ground against the students of Eden Hindu hostel. The players of the initial team included1.Girin Basu
2.Pramatha Nath Chattopadhyay
6.Hem Nath Sen (Fonbabu)
9.Manindra Nath Basu
About providing new membership for the club, the management preferred students with due permission from their respective parents. Jatindranath Basu took special attention towards etiquette and education.
On the eve of first birthday of the club, some students of Presidency College, who were also the members of Mohun Bagan, invited their Professor, the famous Grammatologist Prof. F.J. Rhow. Professor asked whether the club organizes any kind of Riffle shooting or angling activities Knowing that there are no such activities of the club, he suggested that instead of ‘Sporting’, the word ‘Athletic’ will be more appropriate . The members agreed and changed the name to “Mohun Bagan Athletic Club”. The 2nd anniversary assembly was presided by Sir Thomas Holland who later on was appointed as the member of Governor General Council.
In 1891, with the help of the Maharaja of Shyampukur, Durga Charan Laha, club ground was relocated to his ground at Shyampukur. That place is now known as Shyampukur Laha Colony. Later, with the help of Mr. Harry Lee, the chairman of Kolkata Corporation, the ground was again shifted to Shyam Square. The ground was shared with the Aryans Club and Bagbazar Club. The first tournament of Mohun Bagan was Coochbehar Cup, which was held in 1893. Mohun Bagan’s first opponent team was the European team, the ‘C’ Company of Sussex Regiment. At that time, the opponents of Mohun Bagan were National AC, Town Club, Aryans, Calcutta Medical College, Shibpur B.E College. St. Josephs College, Kumartuli, Ft. William’s Arsenal and the famous Sovabazar Club, founded by the father of Indian Football Nagendra Prasad Sarbadhikari. In 1895 and 1898, Jatindranath Mitra and Bhupendranath Mitra became secretary of the club respectively.
From 1890 onwards, sufficient information regarding Club’s works is not available for some years.
In 1900, Subadar Major Sailen Basu took the charge of the secretary of the club. He paid highest attention for the physical training and fitness of the players of which he had earned experience during his service at the Army. And that showed great results. 100 years ago Mohun Bagan won Coochbehar Cup, in the year 1904, which was its first trophy. The year 1905 witnessed Mohun Bagan as the winner of Coochbehar Cup as well as Gladstone Cup . At the final of Gladstone Cup,Mohun Bagan defeated Dalhousie (winner of that year’s IFA Shield) by 6 goals to 1 .From 1906 to 1908 Mohun Bagan set a new record by winning the Trades Cup for consecutive 3 times. At that time, Trades Cup was the next prestigious tournament after IFA Shield. In 1906,Mohun Bagan also won in the Minto Fort Competition by defeating Calcutta Football Club.That year Mohun Bagan missed the chance of participating for the IFA Shield because P K Biswas, who had played for National also played for Mohun Bagan in the same year.This was considered as illegal by IFA and Mohun Bagan was declared disqualified for that year.In 1907 and 1908 Mohun Bagan also won the Gladstone Cup and Coochbehar Cup. In 1909 Mohun Bagan won the Laxmibilash Cup for the first time.Club Secretary Subedar Major Sailen Basu was the First and Highest Ranking Indian Officer of the 49th Bengal Regiment. Basu’s role for the club and team making is remarkable. Such as the arrangement for a new club tent, a new ground, making a good football team and increase the number of Club members. In 1900, Mohun Bagan became the partner of Presidency College and shared the same ground at Kolkata Maidan (Ground). Mohun Bagan continued to play here for 15 years. Then in 1915, Mohun Bagan got the ground of National AC. On this ground, Mohun Bagan played till 1963. In 1915, that ground was stretched east–west. But afterwards, it became north–south like the other club grounds in Kolkata Maidan. Presently, that ground is occupied by one of the oldest clubs of Kolkata, the Aryans Club, who shares the ground with the East Bengal Club. Membership fee for ordinary members was 8 Annas (Anna – unit of Indian currency at that time. 16 Anna = 1 Rupee), and 4 Annas for the students. There was no discrimination regarding collection of membership fee from the rich to the poor. But the fund was not sufficient to build club premises on the Ground. It is known that a meeting was held among the Officials of the club. Jyotindra Nath Basu, Sailen Basu, Dwijen Basu, Sir Bhupendra Nath Mitra and Dr. Girish Ghosh were present. The meeting was regarding the construction of Clubhouse. Surprisingly, after some days, one fine morning people noticed a clubhouse inside the Mohun Bagan Maidan premises . There is no evidence of this in the financial records of the club.The donors remains unknown to us till date.The first opportunity to participate in IFA Shield came in 1909.At that time,the participation in IFA shield itself was an honour because not all teams were allowed to avail the opportunity. The other lucky four teams were Shovabazar, Townclub, Heir Sporting and Chinsurah Sporting.But Mohun Bagan was eliminated in the 2nd round after being defeated by Gordon Highlanders by 3 goals to nil.In the next year,after winning Laxmibilash Cup and the Asanulla Cup, Mohun Bagan lost to Rifle Brigade in the 2nd round of IFA Shield.