Most of these clubs have been around for ages but have rarely been in the limelight.
The Calcutta Football League (CFL) is considered by many as the birthplace of Indian football and is the oldest league in Asia, running for the last 120+ years. The league started during the British Raj and is pretty much prevalent till date.
Apart from East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting Club, the league has been graced by age-old sides like Calcutta FC, Dalhousie and Durham Light Infantry and Black Watch. Although. most of these sides are non-existent now, new teams have come up and left their mark on the league, but have been denied the limelight.
We try to put five of these comparatively lesser-known clubs into perspective.
5. George Telegraph Sports Club
George Telegraph was founded back in 1925 and started their journey from the 4th division of the Calcutta League. It took 21 years for the Georgians to reach the Premier Division. In the same year they reached the final of the very prestigious IFA Shield but, due to riots the final couldn’t be held and they were declared as joint winners along with Mohun Bagan.
The club went through a bad phase thereafter. But. now the Georgians are coming back to their usual selves as they stormed their way through to the Premier Division this season. They were the group leaders in Group B last season and will lineup along with the elites of the CFL this time around. They had an excellent season in Group B last year and another good campaign is expected from coach Ranjan Bhattacharya and his men.
4. Tollygunge Agragami
Tollygunge Agragami against Mohammedan in the Calcutta Football League
Tollygunge Agragami finished in fifth position last season. Agragami showed immense character and passion and played their heart out as they faced the likes of Mohun Bagan East Bengal and Mohammedan SC. The club was founded back in 1943 as Russa Agragami Samity and was later renamed as Tollygunge Agragami in 1955.
This term, Agragami are expected to push themselves even further and may look to challenge the big boys in the group. Former Churchill Brothers forward Anthony Wolfe led their attack last year with three goals and coach Supriyo Das Gupta will hope that he finds someone like him to lead the line this year too.
The club finished in the lower half of the Premier Division Group A last term and will play in Group B this year. The club was formed in 1945 and apart from sports, they are also active in other cultural activities. They gained affiliation from the Indian Football Association (IFA) back in 1959 and were not much into football until the turn of the millennium.
From 2007-08 onwards they came out of the shadow of their neighbours Agragami to establish themselves as a major force in Kolkata football. This period also coincided with a conglomerate FrontLink International taking over the reins of the club.
Peerless SC is a well-known club among the Kolkata football fanatics and the club was pretty impressive last time out as they finished just behind the big three (East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan). The team is very well-known for their capability to upset top teams and is considered a tough nut to crack.
Peerless finished in fourth position and coach Fuja Tope will look to replicate the previous that campaign time as well. The burden to score goals was addressed by Ivorian forward Leonce Dodoz. The Ivorian scored three goals and impressed so much that he got picked up by Aizawl FC and had a pretty good season with the former I-League champions.
Celebration of Pathachakra players (courtesy: United SC)
Pathachakra is the sister club of the famous United Sports club and their performance in last year’s CFL was exemplary because of the number of youngsters they had in their ranks. Coach Partho Sen marshalled his troops pretty well and did just enough to survive in Group A among the big boys.
The team has a knack for nurturing young talents and developing them into next level players. Players like Provat Lakra, Santu Singh, Monotosh Chakladar played in the Santosh Trophy last year while Lakra and Singh caught the eye of Gokulam Kerala and featured for them in the I-League last season. Meanwhile, Monotosh Chaklader and Ranajit Majumdar represented Bengal in the Santosh Trophy this year as well.
The team somehow managed to stay on Group A as they escaped the relegation zone by a whisker. They look to make a strong comeback this season and impress the spectators even more with their young talented prospects.