East Bengal: The story of Indian football's perennial bridesmaid
Written by: Sabin Castelino
If one had to bet their life on a certainty in Indian football they would bet on East Bengal never winning the title to survive.
Although, they are one of the enigmatic clubs of the country, before ranting about East Bengal let's look at the meaning of the word enigma.
- a person or thing that is mysterious or difficult to understand.
This is what defines the club known as Kingfisher East Bengal Football Club. This club is one of those who has a following of millions of ultra-faithful supporters who are ready to lay down their lives without blinking. But, what do they get in return? A millennia of pain, disappointment and Calcutta Football League trophies.
East Bengal have never ceased to be the champions in the CFL and it is a league that they take very seriously; as seriously as they take finishing just below the mark in the I-League. Since the I-League’s inception, East Bengal have won it as many times as Liverpool have won the Premier League.
Although they have been champions of the National Football League on three occasions, they have never won the re-designed version of it even once. This is mainly due to their nightmarish way of losing grip of the situation even when they are ruling the roost.
The Red and Gold Ultras have remained composed with their yearly quota of CFL trophies each year
Just to give you an analogy, they behave like that uncle of yours, who gives you the best advice when he is on his first Kingfisher and then loses his way, many times making you feel embarrassed that you even know him. Hmm! Maybe this has got something to do with the branding of the team?
Coming back to the great champions (only of people’s hearts), East Bengal have time and again proven to be the inconsistent mooncalf that they are, to the extent that even if they had Cristiano Ronaldo partnering Lionel Messi in the attack and Sergio Ramos manning the defence with Diego Godin, they would still manage to finish just below par on the table and then fire almost the whole squad for it.
This season too things did not turn out any different. After having let go of major chunks of their squad, East Bengal hired the then I-League-winning head coach, Khalid Jamil and almost all of the top players from his Aizawl FC team. They even went to the extent of signing one of the main cogs in the wheel of their rivals, Mohun Bagan, Katsumi Yusa. With these signings, it could have been predicted that the new Champions for the 2017-18 season of the I-League wOULD going to be East Bengal.
But, the Red and Gold proved their worth as perpetual stumblers twice this season over the two legs of the Kolkata Derby. In fact, in the whole of the year of 2017 and their first clash of the year of 2018, EB never defeated the Mariners and managed only two draws in six matches. To understand the depth of the statistics, know this, the now-defunct Mumbai FC had a better record against the Mariners with two draws in the 2016-17 season and were only defeated at Cooperage twice by the Green and Maroons since 2010.
It's not over yet. The failure of this many years and still they possess the audacity to claim they have been adding quality to Indian football and are the most vital piece to the footballing scene of the country. They very well could be, because, like every other decent league in the world, we too deserve a side to laugh at when it's cold, dark and lonely outside. We could use the phrase "Oh, how the mighty have fallen!" but sadly the word 'mighty' will not be an apt adjective to use for East Bengal at this time.
Disclaimer: This article is meant to be a satirical article and the author's views do not reflect that of Khel Now.
Published: Fri Apr 20, 2018 06:54 PM IST