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In centenary year, past perfect, future tense for East Bengal

Jaydeep Basu

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East Bengal have launched their cenetenary celebrations with much fanfare.

New Delhi: As East Bengal Club step into their centenary year at the end of this month, memories flood back on the journey of the red and golden brigade, who enjoyed an inseparable role in shaping Indian football history.

It is often said “don’t feel entitled to anything you didn’t sweat and struggle for.” East Bengal’s voyage since 1920 is no different.

By conservative estimates, East Bengal have won more than 130 trophies till date. But the beginning was humble. Like it happens in any honest soccer system, in 1921, the Indian Football Association (IFA), West Bengal’s football governing body, inducted East Bengal in the second division of the Calcutta league.

In 1925, they were promoted to first division amid a flurry of activities that effectively changed the face of Calcutta football.

Make no mistake. It was done purely on merit. No participation fee changed hands. Yet, the story of East Bengal’s promotion and the backroom politics involved in it remains fascinating read. In British-ruled India, East Bengal fought gallantly to bring curtain down on racism in sporting arena.

The Calcutta Football League (CFL) first division remained strictly out of bound for Indian clubs even after Mohun Bagan’s historic IFA Shield triumph in 1911. The door was finally opened for locals in 1915, only partially.

For the next 10 years, Mohun Bagan and Aryans enjoyed the status of first division clubs. The rest were European civil and military sides.

In 1924, Cameron B and East Bengal finished on top in second division with 37 points. The British regimental side emerged champions because of better goal difference. But they couldn’t be promoted as their A side were already playing in the top division.

To add to it, South Wales Borderers withdrew their team from the senior division. Smelling the opportunity, East Bengal pressed claim. It kicked off one of Indian football’s biggest controversies in the pre-independence era.

Sir Manmathanath Roy Chowdhury was East Bengal’s president from 1925 to 1936.

East Bengal president then was Sir Manmathanath Roy Chowdhury, the Maharaja of Santosh, a highly influential “bhadralok” from society’s upper tier. Under his leadership, East Bengal submitted two demands in writing. One, removal of “racist law” on restriction of Indian clubs in first division. Two, promotion for East Bengal.

There were lobbying and counter-lobbying, articles in favour of and against it in leading dailies (The Statesman included), heated debates in IFA meetings. In April 1925, the league committee’s general body approved East Bengal’s promotion. A few days later, the same committee’s special general body shot down the previous decision.

East Bengal reacted sharply. They withdrew from the second division, too. Interestingly, while Indian clubs in the committee voted against East Bengal, European outfits stood behind them. The matter reached a flashpoint when all European clubs withdrew from the first division in protest, leaving only Mohun Bagan and Aryans in the fray.

Finally, in May 1925, the IFA relented. Heads rolled in the body; honorary secretary HE Medllycott, representing Customs, had to put down his papers. East Bengal were promoted. The racist law was scraped.

In a White dominated society, it was a bigger victory than winning the league or the IFA Shield.

Jump cut to 2019. On one hand, East Bengal are busy celebrating their centenary year. On the other, they are effectively back in the second division at the national level since I-League has been diluted.

In 1925, East Bengal were lucky. They had a parent body, which did not look down on its clubs with a hostile stare. More importantly, it believed in merit, not in money. Neo-racism was yet to be introduced.

In his famous poem “For the Fallen”, British poet Laurence Binyon spoke about those who died in the First World War. “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:/Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn/At the going down of the sun in the morning/We will remember them.”

While celebrating their hundred years of mighty presence in Indian football, East Bengal fans can recite the Binyon poem in memory of those never-say-die club officials in 1925. But can the present set of officials running the club match their predecessors?

Only time will tell.

East Bengal’s squad in 1924

Goalkeepers- M.Talukdar and D.Gupta
Backs- J.Sen, S.Sen, M.Dutta Roy, P.Chatterjee and S.Chatterjee
Halfbacks N.Dey, S.Nag, N.Gossain, S.Roy, D.Roy and Ohi
Forwards- H.Bose, M.Mullick, S.Mitra, J.Talukdar, N.Bose, Haran Saha,
N.Chakravarty, Guha Roy, R.Dutta, A.Bhowmick, M.Dutta, C.Bose, S.Sen,
S.Das and P.Bardhan
Captain- H.Bose.
East Bengal became member of the IFA’s governing body and also owned
their tent at the Maidan. East Bengal qualified for the First Division.

East Bengal’s squad in 1925

Goalkeepers- Purna Das and M.Talukdar
Backs- M.Dutta Roy,D.Guha,P.Chatterjee, P.Bose and Chaudhuri.
Halfbacks B.Sen,N.Gossain,Haran Saha,M.Das,D.Roy and S.Ganguli
Forwards- M.Dutta, M.Mullick, S.Mitra, H.Bose, J.Sarkar, J.Sen,
D.Banerjee, A.Mukherjee, S.Chakravarty, N.Chakravarty and P.Bardhan
Captain- M.Dutta

Squad information: eastbengalfootballclub.com

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Jamshedpur rally to beat debutants Odisha FC in ISL

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Action during JFC's match against Odisha FC.

Jamshedpur: A 10-man Jamshedpur FC overcame the odds and put up a spirited display to defeat Odisha FC 2-1 in a thrilling Indian Super League match.

Farukh Choudhary broke the deadlock in the 17th minute fortuitously, but the lead was put in danger by a red card that Bikash Jairu picked up with 10 minutes to go for the half-time whistle.

Aridane Santana stuck soon after to restore parity for Odisha FC but a fighting second-half culminated in Sergio Castel finding a winner in the 85th minute for the home side at the JRD Tata Sports Complex.

The two teams looked to get on the scoresheet early and it was Odisha FC that threatened first. Xisco Hernandez fed Jerry Mawhmingthanga down the right flank and the winger’s floating cross was headed just wide by Aridane Santana.

The re-branded Bhubaneswar-based side continued to push and went close again four minutes later. Xisco split the Jamshedpur defence to send Jerry free down the right flank but the winger’s curling effort ricocheted off the post.

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‘Ageless’ Cristiano Ronaldo not ready to retire yet

Press Trust of India

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Turin: Cristiano Ronaldo reassured Juventus supporters and his legions of fans worldwide that at 34 he’s not ready for retirement yet.

“Age is just a number. It does not mean that at 34, 35, 36 you are at the end of your career,” Ronaldo said at a news conference ahead of Juventus’ Champions League match against Lokomotiv Moscow.

“I can show that with my performances, how I play, the way I play, the way I still feel good, sharp, thinking about the game, more mature. This makes the difference.”

In the second season of a four-year deal at Juventus, Ronaldo had sparked concern among his fans when he said in an interview published a few weeks ago that he was starting to enjoy seeing himself “outside of football, so who knows what will happen in the next year or two?”

Ronaldo recently scored his 700th goal as a professional while on international duty with Portugal and has been nominated for a record sixth Ballon d’Or award which would break his tie of five with Lionel Messi.

But Ronaldo said he’s more interested in winning a treble with Juventus.

“We want to win Serie A, we want to win the Cup, the Champions League,” he said. “Juventus should think big. … We are going to try to win all the trophies, we know it will be difficult, especially the league and the Champions League, but I think it is possible. Everything is possible.

“In terms of individual, I have nothing to say as this is individual. It is not the most important thing,” Ronaldo added.

“The most important is the collective awards. If you win the collective awards you have more chance to win the individual awards. … The Golden Ball is for me in second place.”

While retirement may not be on Ronaldo’s mind yet, family time is a big part of his life now.

“To win games, to score goals, to enjoy myself, to arrive home and see my kids happy and say, ‘Congratulations daddy for scoring a goal.’ That makes me happy,” he said. “This is my motivation to come to train, for the games, to entertain people and the fans with my passion.”

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Messi to battle Ronaldo, Van Dijk for Ballon d’Or award

Press Trust of India

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Paris: Lionel Messi will have Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk as rivals for the 2019 Ballon d’Or award. But not Neymar.

When the long list of 30 candidates was announced where Neymar has played for more than two years at Paris Saint-Germain the Brazil star’s name was missing from the nominations by a global voting panel of journalists.

Messi and Ronaldo’s 10-year grip on the individual award organised by France Football magazine was broken by Luka Modric last December.

Modric is also absent one year after he swept the Ballon d’Or and FIFA best player awards after a stellar 2018 with Real Madrid and Croatia.

World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe is favored to add a Ballon d’Or to her FIFA award won last month.

The United States star is joined on a 20-woman list by teammates Tobin Heath and Alex Morgan. Defending her title is Ada Hegerberg, winner of the inaugural women’s award, from Europe’s dominant club team Lyon which has six nominees.

Neymar has twice placed third in Ballon d’Or voting, both times finishing behind Messi and Ronaldo. Moving out of Messi’s shadow in Barcelona, where they won a Champions League title together in 2015, has not delivered the personal acclaim Neymar sought.

Messi won his sixth FIFA award last month, edging Van Dijk who starred in Liverpool’s Champions League-winning team.

Van Dijk would be the first defender topping the poll since Italy’s World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.

The Liverpool center back was among seven teammates nominated, including Alisson Becker and Roberto Firmino. They also won the Copa America with a Brazil team that managed without an injured Neymar.

Van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum also figured in the five nominees from a resurgent Netherlands team. No Dutch player has won since Marco van Basten in 1992.

Liverpool forwards Sadio Man and Mohamed Salah are among a six-strong African challenge, including Man ‘s Senegal teammate, Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

The only Asian player on the list is South Korea forward Son Heung-min of Champions League finalist Tottenham.

The awards ceremony is December 2 in Paris.

___

Men’s list: Sergio Ag ero (Argentina, Manchester City), Trent Alexander-Arnold (England, Liverpool), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon, Arsenal), Alisson Becker (Brazil, Liverpool), Karim Benzema (France, Real Madrid), Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium, Manchester City), Frenkie De Jong (Netherlands, Ajax/Barcelona), Matthijs de Ligt (Netherlands, Ajax/Juventus), Jo o F lix (Portugal, Benfica/ Atl tico Madrid), Roberto Firmino (Brazil, Liverpool), Antoine Griezmann (France, Atl tico Madrid/Barcelona), Eden Hazard (Belgium, Chelsea/Real Madrid), Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal, Napoli), Robert Lewandowski (Poland, Bayern Munich), Hugo Lloris (France, Tottenham), Riyad Mahrez (Algeria, Manchester City), Sadio Man (Senegal, Liverpool), Marquinhos (Brazil, Paris Saint-Germain), Kylian Mbapp (France, Paris Saint-Germain), Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Juventus), Mohamed Salah (Egypt, Liverpool), Bernardo Silva (Portugal, Manchester City), Son Heung-Min (South Korea, Tottenham), Raheem Sterling (England, Manchester City), Dusan Tadic (Serbia, Ajax), Marc-Andr ter Stegen (Germany, Barcelona), Donny van de Beek (Netherlands, Ajax), Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands, Liverpool), Georginio Wijnaldum (Netherlands, Liverpool).

Women’s list:

Kosovare Asllani (Sweden, Link pings/Tacon), Sarah Bouhaddi (France, Lyon), Lucy Bronze (England, Lyon), Pernille Harder (Denmark, Wolfsburg), Ada Hegerberg (Norway, Lyon), Amandine Henry (France, Lyon), Nilla Fischer (Sweden, Wolfsburg/Link pings), Tobin Heath (United States, Portland Thorns), Sofia Jakobsson (Sweden, Montpellier/Tacon), Sam Kerr (Australia, Perth Glory/Chicago Red Stars), Rose Lavelle (United States, Washington Spirit), Dzsenifer Marozsan (Germany, Lyon), Marta (Brazil, Orlando Pride), Lieke Martens (Netherlands, Barcelona), Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands/Arsenal), Alex Morgan (United States, Orlando Pride), Megan Rapinoe (United States, Seattle Reign), Wendie Renard (France, Lyon), Sari van Veenendaal (Netherlands, Arsenal/Atletico Madrid), Ellen White (England, Manchester City).

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