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“The Green and Maroon Legacy: Mohun Bagan’s historic IFA Shield win” 

Let me tell you about one of the best underdog stories in Indian football. Yes I’m talking about Mohun Bagan’s IFA Shield win in 1911.

Back when India was under British rule, no one gave the local players a chance against the colonial masters.

But Mohun Bagan said “hold my chai” and shocked everyone by beating the crazy talented British teams to become IFA Shield champs!

It was a David vs Goliath story for the ages. These desi ballers went from zeros to heroes in the eyes of the entire nation with their unreal skills and never-say-die attitude.

The biggest underdog victory India had ever seen!

Mohun Bagan’s historic IFA Shield win of 1911.

On 29th July 1911, Mohun Bagan did something crazy awesome – they became the first Indian team to win the big-deal IFA Shield tournament!

But before we get to that epic final, let’s rewind and look at the history of the competition and the context leading up to this match. 

History of IFA Shield: 

Back in 1893, the Bristishers started up the Indian Football Association and kicked off this big tournament called the IFA Shield.

It was one of the oldest football competitions in India.

At first, only British teams could play in the IFA Shield. The Indian clubs didn’t get any invites to the party. It was a total colonial vibes scene.

But this was also around the time when the whole nationalist movement was heating up in Bengal. People were getting fed up with British rule and started supporting their own local teams instead.

One of those local clubs that popped up was Mohun Bagan. These guys didn’t just want to play football – they wanted to rep India and show the colonial bosses what they were made of.

So you can imagine the hype when underdog Mohun Bagan finally got the chance to crash the prestigious IFA Shield tournament! It was about to go down…

History of Mohun Bagan 

Back in 1889, three big-name Bengal families – the Mitras, Basus, and Sens – got together at the Mohun Bagan villa and started up a new club called Mohun Bagan Sporting Club.

Bhupendra Nath Basu was the first president.

For their first anniversary, they switched up the name to Mohun Bagan Athletic Club. Proffessor F.J.Rhow of  Presidency College suggested that instead of ‘Sporting’, the word ‘Athletic’ would be more appropriate. 

The iconic green and maroon jersey? That was designed by Priyanath Mitra and stitched by a fancy European tailor.

Mohun Bagan promoted young talent and kept things strict. No boozing or smoking allowed, and you had to keep your grades up or you were out!

Their goal was to create excellent sportsmen while upholding cultural values.

At first, they played at the Mohun Bagan Villa grounds. But after teaming up with Presidency College in the 1900s, they moved to the legendary Maidaan.

The Appointment of Sailen Basu: 

Before the 1900s hit, Mohun Bagan was struggling on the field. That’s when they made Subedar Major Sailen Basu the new president.

Basu brought some army discipline to the club. He enforced strict rules and implemented hardcore European training tactics and strategies.

It worked! In 1904, Mohun Bagan finally won their first major trophy – the Cooch Behar Cup.

The next year in 1905, they did it again – another Cooch Behar Cup win. But they were just getting started.

In the Gladstone Cup final, Mohun Bagan went beast mode on the reigning IFA Shield champs Dalhousie. They smashed them 6-1 to claim the title!

From 1906 to 1909, Mohun Bagan was unstoppable. They won the Trades Cup four years straight, which was the second biggest tournament in India at the time.

IFA Shield Invitation: 

With Mohun Bagan balling out, they finally got invited to play in the prestigious IFA Shield tournament in 1909.

They accepted, but things didn’t go too well their first two years. Mohun Bagan got knocked out in the second round in 1909 and 1910.

Those early exits lit a fire under them. Captain Shibdas Bhaduri switched from center forward to winger to better use his speed and skills.

For the striker role, Mohun Bagan brought in this young, physical beast named Abhilash Ghosh. Abhilash had only started playing to impress a girl, but little did he know he was about to make history.

Mohun Bagan’s Iconic 1911 IFA Shield Campaign 

After a few tactical and positional changes, Mohun Bagan started their  IFA Shield Campaign on 10th July 1911, and the first match was held against ST. Xavier’s College.

1st Round: 

The match was about to begin, but instead of excitement, there was tension in the dugout. It wasn’t for the opposition but the two main players of the first team, Sudhir Chatterje and Kanu Roy were not able to reach the ground.

Mohun Bagan started the match with 10 men by adding a substitute player.

Abhilash Gosh scores the first goal of this match and of this tournament and despite being 1 man down, Mohun Bagan wins the match 3-0.

2nd Round: 

Now it was time for the second round, the date was 15th July and the opposition was Calcutta Rangers. In the previous 2 IFA Shield campaigns, Mohun Bagan never got beyond Round 2.

The match starts and Mohun Bagan concedes 3 penalties, but Goalkeeper Hiralal Mukherjee saves all the 3 penalties and Mohun Bagan wins the match 2-1.

Now gradually people in Calcutta have started noticing the performance of Mohun Bagan and the anticipation for the next round is increasing, and such is the excitement that the ground is filled with spectators hours before the match.

3rd Round: 

Rifle Brigade is facing Mohun Bagan in the 3rd Round and for the first time, Mohun Bagan has made it this far in the tournament.

Before the match Bhupendra Nath Basu gives a pep talk to the entire team and Mohun Bagan wins the match 1-0 and makes it to the Semi Finals.

Now there was not only excitement among the fans but also a belief that Mohun Bagan could win the trophy by defeating the Britishers. All eyes were on the Semi-Finals that were to be held on 24th July. 

Semi-Finals:

Mohun Bagan faced Middlesex Regiment in the semi-finals. 

Middlesex Regiment led 1-0 for most of the match but Kanu Roy scored a late equalizer. Back in the day, there was no extra time or penalties, in case of a draw the match was replayed. 

The next day Abhilash Gosh was in his full flow and after a clash with him, the goalkeeper of Middlesex and a defender got injured.

Mohun Bagan won this match 3-0. Against All Odds, Mohun Bagan reaches the Final while playing barefoot in the slushy wet outfield in the heavy rain.

The Final:

The buildup to the Final: 

July 29, 1911 – the day of the epic IFA Shield final between underdog Mohun Bagan and the big bad Yorkshire Regiment.

The hype was unreal. Back then, Calcutta only had a population of around 1 million people. But over 100,000 of them crowded the grounds and surrounding areas to witness this historic match!

Fans were traveling in from all over – Assam, Bihar, nearby cities. The East Indian Railway Company even ran special trains so people could pack the stands.

Tickets that normally cost 1 or 2 rupees were going for 15 rupees on the black market. Total ticket sales hit almost 7,000 rupees!

One side was reserved for the British elite, the other for VIPs. The two open sides filled up lightning fast. People started climbing trees, telegraph poles, rooftops – anywhere they could to catch a glimpse.

They even planned to fly colored kites to signal the scoring – black for Yorkshire, green for Mohun Bagan. So even those not at the grounds could follow along.

Before kickoff, the entire Mohun Bagan squad visited Kalighat Temple to receive the gods’ blessings. They were ready for war.

The Match: 

A massive crowd of 80,000 packed the stands as the historic final kicked off. Things started rough when Mohun Bagan conceded an early free kick that let Yorkshire take the lead.

A black kite flew overhead, signaling the Yorkshire goal. The crowd went silent for a moment, holding their breath.

But the silence didn’t last long! Captain Shibdas Bhaduri equalized for Mohun Bagan with a clutch goal. When the green kite rose, the fans erupted in cheers.

With only 3 minutes left, the score was knotted at 1-1. Then Bhaduri played a slick pass into the box to Abhilash Ghosh, who buried the go-ahead score!

Ghosh had scored Mohun Bagan’s first goal of the tournament, and now he netted the last – the winner that made them IFA Shield champions and the first Indian team to claim the iconic trophy!

The crowd went absolutely bonkers. History was made on that legendary day.

The Celebrations:

When Abhilash Ghosh scored that winner, Calcutta absolutely lost its mind!

The British had tried to divide the city along Hindu-Muslim lines, but that day, everyone came together as one to celebrate Mohun Bagan’s legendary victory.

Even fans of their rival club Mohammedan FC were going crazy, cheering just as loud for the history-making underdogs.

Mohammedan would then go on to achieve a Similar feat when they became the first Indian team win the Durand Cup in 1940.

Religious boundaries didn’t matter – this was a moment for all of India to rejoice.

Aftermath: 

This match became the talk of the town and it was on the newspapers all over India, 

The Englishman wrote, “What the Congress failed to achieve, Mohun Bagan has. In other words, they have succeeded in degrading the English.” 

This is also true because it seems that the British now understood that the Bengalis would no longer be under their control and hence the capital was shifted to Delhi.

When Mohun Bagan celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1989. The then Prime Minister MR. Rajiv Gandhi named Mohun Bagan as the National Club of India.

After the IFA Shield victory the eleven players who played in the final namely: 

Captain Shibas Bhaduri, Abhilash Ghosh, Bhuti Sukul, Bijaydas Bhaduri, Hiralal Mukherjee, Manmohan Mukherjee, Rajendra Sengupta, Sudhir Chatterjee, Habul Sarkar, Kanu Roy and Nilmandhab Bhattacharya.

All of them were known as Amor Ekadosh i.e. the immortal 11 and they also received the Mohun Bagan Ratna award.

FAQ

Who won IFA Shield in 1911?

July 29, 1911 – Mohun Bagan made history, becoming the first all-Indian team to win the prestigious IFA Shield. The 2-1 upset over East Yorkshire Regiment, led by coach Sailen Basu, was an iconic underdog triumph.

Why is 29th July 1911 very important for the Mohun Bagan team?

On 29th July 1911 Mohun Bagan AC became the first all-Indian side to win the IFA shield by defeating East Yorkshire Regiment by 2-1. Thus 29th july is a very historic day in Mohun Bagan’s history.

Who was the captain of Mohun Bagan team in 1911?

Shibdas Bhaduri was the Captain of Mohun Bagan in 1911. He also scored Mohun Bagan’s equalising goal in the 1911 IFA Shield final.

Conclusion: 

Mohun Bagan’s 1911 IFA Shield win was more than just a trophy. It was a massive underdog story that inspired an entire nation fighting for independence.

From the humble grounds they trained on, the “Immortal Eleven” didn’t just shock the colonial bosses by winning the prestigious tournament. They sparked a flame of pride and belief in all of India.

This legendary triumph went way beyond soccer. It became a defining moment in the country’s struggle for freedom from British rule. Mohun Bagan’s iconic green and maroon colors represent the power of uniting together with one dream, one goal.

Their victory forever etched their names in history as symbols of what’s possible when you never give up on your aspirations, no matter how unlikely the odds.

What do you think?

Written by TackleFromBehind

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