The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The bridge, the river and kids' play. Brilliantly captured by Sujay Kumar Das.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bablooda changes guard

He has served his club for seventeen years (1974- 1991) with a loyalty that is no short of a legend and unmatched till today. All the more so because his club, Mohun Bagan, is one of Kolkata football's Big three and among the top clubs in Indian football. His car was maroon- one of the colours of Mohun Bagan jersey. The competitors of his club desperate to poach him have invariably faced the deepest of frustration whenever he had turned down the most tempting of offers. The name of this rock-solid defender will be embossed in history of Indian football and in the heart of every football-lover in Bengal no matter where his/ her loyalty lies.

His undying love for his club translated into active association even after he hung up his boots, as he moved into a coaching career. Under his guidance Mohun Bangan claimed the national league title twice besides one runner-up finish in the most glorious of his three stints as coach. His success as a Mohun Bagan coach is not matched by too many of his peers.

He is Subrata Bhattacharya, among the alltime best of Bengal's football talents.

And then came the dark phase. After a few disappointing games, he was accused of foul-mouthing his boys, alarmingly losing popularity among them and resistant to any advice and intervention of club officials in selecting players. He was sidelined in his club and unceremoniously dropped as a coach. The treatment he got in his own club post his career as a footballer will find few parallels in Indian football.

And when he finally made up his mind to join Mohun Bagan's arch rival East Bengal during the last two days, it created a stir. "How, just how, could Bablooda (As he is popularly known) do this to us?", fumed Mohun Bagan supporters. Finally yesterday he visited East Bengal tent among ecstatic East Bengal supporters to collect the confirmation letter and attend a press conference. What the East Bengal officials have done is no less than a recruiting coup, the answer to the one Mohun Bagan did long back as they poached Manoranjan Bhattacharya, who was East Bengal's answer to Mohun Bagan's Subrata till he switched loyalties.

I wonder what those who feel betrayed or let down are up to. The logic, rational or emotional, is too strong to defy. On a rational point of view he is a professional coach, and a professional coach doesn't look at personal loyalties in joining a club. East Bengal needed, going by the new AIFF guidelines for all teams taking part in the first professional league set to start this year, a coach with a coaching license. And Subrata has one, unlike Subhas Bhowmick, one of the other names discussed in the meeting to select the coach. And on an emotional point of view, how many miles does one walk holding the hands, when the insults from the loved one refuses to stop?

I am sure there are many Mohun Bagan fans who buy this logic and are not feeling 'betrayed'.

Wish you a great time Bablooda, do better than what you've achieved so far. And prove your worth to those who reposed faith in you. And I said all this being a Mohun Bagan supporter.