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Golden Eagles: An Indian football fan's noble doctrine

Written by: Punit Tripathi

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Beautifully crafted and illustrated it takes you through the layers of silhouettes football in the country has overseen in the last fifty years...

The Golden Eagles is not a book, it is a journey and a lesson. Afflatus and a genuine hunch which turned into a success story, the book encapsulates the half-a-century long journey of Indian football’s most decorated club, Dempo. Based out in Panjim, Goa, the club innovated the game within the national boundaries and catapulted the limelight from the forever over-hyped Kolkata poets to the Goans modern scripters. The book was released on May 23rd, completing fifty years of the club. 

Written and researched by long time Dempo FC follower and Times of India Sports Editor (Goa edition) Marcus Mergulhao, the book has a hierarchal story-telling with club and group director Shrinivas Dempo leading the line. India’s and Dempo’s most successful coach Armando Colaco follows, and his articulation of the tragic incident involving Cristiano Junior is tearful and yet, footballing-ly glorious.

Continued by Marcus himself, the chapter ‘Raising the bar’ tells us why Goa people love the club, and why Mateus Mergulhao and Caetano Gracias are parallels of Sudheer and Chaudhry Abdul Jalil in the beautiful game. Perspectives from legends like Socorro Coutinho (1969-83), Nicholas Pereira (1974-90), player-turned-coach Mauricio Afonso (1984-99 and 2016-current), Clifford Miranda (2000-15) and Samir Naik (1999-2017) completes the experience, and you feel like begging for more.

The book starts off on the right note, highlighting the details of the formation of the Dempo Souza Sports Club and why it did not materialise. Started by Michael D’Souza and Vasantrao Dempo, the book moves you from the generic Wikipedia page of Dempo Sports Club to the nitty-gritty of India’s finest, its formation and its transformation, something which has never been documented in the past.

Written in a formal and semi-formal manner, excerpts from elusive rival Shabbir Ali and general secretary Wilfred D’Souza are pure gold. The opponent glorifies why Dempo was regarded highly by even the Kolkata clubs and why the possession-based football is not just a trend but an ingrained philosophy in the Goan horizon. Shabbir Ali’s encounters with the Eagles were ferocious, easily understandable by the use of words from the Mohammedan Sporting legend.

Not one chapter in the book looks out of place. Easily traversing from one to the next, Dempo highlights why the Midtjylland FC project was a failed experience. The first big-name European landed in India in 2012. Rohan Ricketts, having rubbed shoulders with the likes of Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira, was signed only after a trial. This move proved that irrespective of the name, the club always maintained its line of decision-making and footballing abilities were always held in the highest regard.  

The book also has a pictorial journey at its end, similar to Sir Alex Ferguson’s Autobiography. In a peregrination from 1916-2017, Marcus has done a brilliant and we’re sure, a very hard job in agglomerating the photographs and the data associated with each of them. In the pictorial entourage, 50 best players selected by a panel of experts have found space, with a detailed insight on each.

This is one of the best references of Indian football written in a long, long time. It, understandably, took a long time to put together a comprehension this aptly researched and detailed. Every question on the journey is curbed by the writer, who seems to have taken an 'answer all questions' approach before publishing, a massive positive. A MUST READ. 

Marcus Mergulhao's experiences in writing the book:

"I had written a book for Salgaocar last year when they completed 60 years of their existence and to be asked to put together a book for another of Goa's biggest football club -- Dempo SC -- when they celebrated its Golden Jubilee, was another huge honour. It wasn't difficult to research the history of the club; the former players were cooperative and since we were documenting the last 50 years, our job was much easier."

Note: The book is not for sale, at least for now. But I (Marcus) guess fans interested in reading the book can write to the club and, hopefully, land a copy at their addresses.

 

Published: Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:52 AM IST

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