I league and Us

It’s not every day you wake up with that wonderful feeling in your heart. Not Stomach, not brain, but your heart. A morning when your heart says that you have conquered it all. A time when you no longer have that tension of catching up. A moment when you can sheepishly walk towards your door to find the newspaper. The newspaper, in our daily lives, is the harbinger of all things, good and bad. But that day, that morning, that moment, it echoes forever. When the newspaper headlines scream at you that your team, your passion, your religion and your life has won it all. They have come up the ladder, vanquished all and etched for themselves a position which is embossed on the wall. The champions. The winners of I League 2019-20. 

Now, let’s be honest. What is a single trophy more for a club which has amassed 250 plus trophies in its 130 years of existence? A club which is known by the laurels of representing the nation when it mattered, as a token of revolution against the British Empire or the club which got inducted recently in the “Club of Pioneers” deserved it anyway. But it mattered. It still mattered to show the world that Mohun Bagan has the fight in itself to conquer the race and achieve the top prize with 4 matches to spare. Especially when the league it plays in, suddenly was relegated to the 2nd tier to suit the monetary needs of the select few. 

Mohun Bagan had beaten the East Yorkshire Regimen in 1911 to lift their inaugural IFA shield. What many know but don’t acknowledge that it was actually Asia’s first international tourney before the likes of intra continental club competitions came up in Asia. It is even more pitiful to realize that the same thing is a mere reason for butt of the jokes from a club which serves as the next door neighbors and rivals. Their sole claim to an International trophy is when they won the ASEAN cup. Sure, we appreciate the success and we feel great in our hearts that a rival, formed in 1920 by officials who walked out of our temple over creative differences, managed to bring a top honor. Problem is, they behave like kids when confronted with this matter. Kids have a tendency to massage their egos by proclaiming themselves as the only and first ones to lay the claim to fame and likewise. Many of my learned colleagues in the Mohun Bagan family gear up for defending our honor. However it comes across as very funny as honor can be defended against tyrants or rivals, but not with kids who either don’t have the sufficient knowledge or the maturity to process the same.

But, was that it? Was it just to prove a point repeatedly, twice in fact, against our so called rival kids or against other newbies who consider themselves as behemoths just because they name themselves after Premier League Fan bases or they have more facebook worshippers at hand? Because attendance wise, Mohun Bagan still raked in the moolah this season. Or to just show a handful of fans and their perpetrators than brand Bagan will still live on even after the football team stake is sold out to a franchisee which can pay and sustain our heritage ?

It was an eclectic hodge podge of all the realities stated above. Whether it’s the kids or the newbies or to live up to its own hallowed reputation, we needed to win the league and that we did. With 4 matches, still to go.

I was always an ardent Mohun Bagan fan, though I am not a regular in the field. After switching on and off through a maze of self righteous fan bases, I found my luck with Mariners Base Camp. It was different. No more the fan club business, no more the socio economic bruises, no more the hanky panky related to the inflated egos of many a regular supporter who ultimately thought of himself to be larger than the club. My apologies, but many of them started this infinite plethora of activities in the aforementioned group to suit their needs. As a wise man once said, and more so by our current respected chief minister of West Bengal, change is constant. It comes to hit you right in the face when your own deluded & degenerated ideas come back to haunt you. But then, once the change is consolidated and the heirs apparent take over the reins to give fruitition to the promise, true success is revealed.  That has been the story of more or less all entities that have expanded into the conglomerates by and far and have inculcated in them a determination in them to fight along every single moment for the team, for the club, for the belief, that gave their life the truest meaning of enlightenment. Mariners Base Camp is no different. It’s a pride of lions, young and new, both from the vicious past and the throes of the new age, which have stood apart from the nitty gritties of daily life and activated a bonding to support the team which lasts for generations. It follows an ultras way of life. It initiates an environment by moving TIFOs, smoke bombs, gallery activities and chants to stay behind the team for good times and bad and encourages the team to conquer all impediments, come hail or high water.

We have other band of such wannabes in our rival kids as discussed above who try to enact the same activities to show a rebellion, but so far, they have ended up as cheap imitations of the pioneer, that is us, in base camp. I guess time does the trick. You learn, you execute, you fail and you achieve success. That’s been the focal point on the success story that is Mariners Base Camp. However, if you do the above three, and don’t learn to cheat failure, well you have the result of the last 18 years at a glance for a particular entity.

Mohun Bagan did not play exemplary football this season. It was not excellent either. In comparison to the La Liga and Premier League matches we catch on TV nowadays. It was fluidic. Team Mohun Bagan , led by the enigmatic Kibu Vicuna and team, knew just the right spices in exact proportions to cook the awesome supper that is the I league triumph. We did not have the reserve bench nor the financial buying power of the ISL teams, but we still managed to keep our basic objective of winning every game, alive. On the field, the team played. Mariners Base Camp egged them on continuously from the stands. Be it songs, chants, several varieties of TIFO or the corteo led by the Capo before the match, all were executed with a touch of magic. It became such a phenomena, that Carlos Volpe the famed Video Logger from Venezuela dropped in to participate as a cameo in our very own corteo. Some say that ultras are hooligans and I just smile. A group of hooligans unfurling the national flag in the Durand Cup Match against Indian Navy goes on to prove a long way about the pedigree and patriotism of their members.

With Sanjiv Goenka acquiring 80% shares of the football team, speculations are rife whether the brand Mohun Bagan will be lost forever in the maze of entertainment and business. Supporters are scared that their passion and love will be affected as Mohun Bagan dons new colors and new aesthetics for plying their trade in next season’s ISL as part of a merged entity with ATK. Now let’s be honest, again. What does the charisma of a 130 year old club has to lose? Lose out on fan base? Nah, that’s not gonna transpire into something way out of the blue, because, truth be told, there were around 20 fans welcoming the team at the airport after they won the ISL and Morning shows the day. Even we take that out of the equation; we are left with empty seats and food packets. And furthermore, a business tycoon like Sanjiv Goenka has the power to promote, power to market and an aim to make the entity rake in its maximum profits, which he failed to do with his “Baccha” franchisee ATK. He could not because fans are not bought. Fans are born. Fans are baptized in the Mohun Bagan way of life be it an Indian or a foreigner.  With this merger, comes the money, comes the power to showcase the prestige that is rightfully deserved for Mohun Bagan.

Amidst all this lockdown due to the Corona outbreak, we are all at home without movement, without our daily chores outside and most importantly, without football. Mariners Base Camp has decided to open its doors to all who seek to participate in their passion and inculcate in them the power to believe that their team, their club, in thick or in thin will be always encouraged to move ahead and cross every obstacle. This goes out to all fans of MB & ATK, to rejoice the current league win and look forward to the new season with new faces and an unprecedented vigor to conquer the clouds. Joy Mohun Bagan.

Shayak Ghosh