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Srinjoy Bose: Mohun Bagan, East Bengal are rivals, not enemies

Srinjoy Bose, Mohun Bagan AC
Srinjoy Bose, Mohun Bagan AC

Photo Courtesy: I-League Media

The coveted Hero I-League trophy booked its first flight to Kolkata on May 31, thanks to Mohun Bagan AC, the football establishment which made their name synonymous with Indian football since the baby hours of the game in the subcontinent. Be it a spat with the prolific foreign striker or demur on players’ salary, the Mariners have seen many a wobbly day throughout. But, their endeavour, hardship and outright perseverance earned the coveted silverware, which is nothing but a mouthful to their critics who questioned the Mariners time and again.

Srinjoy Bose, Assistant General Secretary, Mohun Bagan AC, shared his views with I-League Media on various issues spanning from deployment of Sanjoy Sen to the aftermath of Saradha scam. He could not resist his disappointment on state government’s coyness over felicitating the Hero I-League conquerors while the Chief Minister showed no way to mince it garlanding other sports fraternities from the city.


East Bengal did not show any misery while congratulating Mohun Bagan in the open forum. Is the rivalry cut down to only 90 minutes?
Mohun Bagan & East Bengal are flag-bearers from Kolkata, the powerhouse of Indian Football. It’s a common practice of congratulating the counterpart on their triumph. Anyways, we did not pay any heed to quite a few East Bengal numbers, who were utterly irked with our success. No matter what we achieved, a chunk of East Bengal fans wholeheartedly cheered for Bengaluru FC on 31st May. On the other hand, I second it to some extent. This bitter rivalry, cutthroat antagonisms are the oxygen to Indian Football. They are last individuals to be best buddies among themselves, but they are rivals not enemies.

Barring Mohammedan SC and United SC, Sanjoy Sen had little experience of managing clubs with higher brand value. Was appointment of Sanjoy Sen as the gaffer just filling up the gap?
Of course not. The connoisseurs fell short of words while applauding Biswajit Bhattacharya, Subrata Bhattacharya, who had earned little plaudits until they took the hotseat of Mohun Bagan. Sanjoy Sen, akin to these blokes, was the right chap to fit the bill after Subhash Bhowmick. He grabbed the opportunity with both hands and the magic happened.

According to a recent interview, Sanjoy Sen sorted it out with the management about his zero tolerance policy in technical affairs. Does it imply that Mohun Bagan management poke their nose into technical matters?
With all due respect to everyone, I’m absolutely unaware about this. Do you think the supporters would give the management a warm reception if Mohun Bagan lose 6 successive matches? But the same set of supporters won’t spend a single word for us if the team accomplish many a feat. Look, we leave no stone unturned to loathe the management, no matter how much they are brainstorming to build the team, to run the show smoothly. I would like to quote one eminent ex-mariner who told to media that this victory came because of the players and coach exclusively, no one else could claim share of the pie. Does he mean that the players and coach will be held sole offender during the rocky phase? I won’t object but would like to remind that the management strive day in and day out to make the sponsors come, to persuade the players to sign the contract. After their gruelling efforts, if they reprimand a player on certain issues, if they would like to discuss a few shortcomings- does it seem to be end of the world? Don’t they have this tad right as the aficionados of the club?

Come 1st June, zillions of zealots stood up to receive the Marines at the airport. Albeit there was no Bollywood or Tollywood personality on an open top bus, the fanatics didn’t feel shy to come out in support of their team. Do you think the dying support of Mohun Bagan will be surging again?
Momentarily yes. The onus is on the team to keep the momentum. Bello’s header not only clinched our maiden Hero I-League trophy, but revived our support. The support for Kolkata clubs among youngsters took a sharp nosedive of late which is bound to resurrect once again. Mariners’ fans outnumbered the home supporters almost everywhere including Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore. It is a great sight to behold while green & Maroon flag is flapping at Kanteerava and believe me, they have gone absolutely crazy while the players took the Hero I-League trophy towards the stand. They might cheer for Manchester United or Real Madrid; but the affinity towards Mohun Bagan, East Bengal is churned in their blood, the zest and passion is garnered deep down, which can’t be denied any day. A presence of a reel hero can’t emulate this spontaneity. In a discussion with FIFA General Secretary, I stated that India lag an idol in Football. After Bhaichung Bhutia, we are still googling for an out-n-out star in Indian football. Once the gap is filled up, football could think of giving cricket a run for their money. Nevertheless, AIFF have a pivotal role to play. They have to make some stern decisions; AIFF have to come up front to lead by example on certain aspects.

Media have reported the salary issue quite a few times; especially the dispute with Garcia’s landlord hit the news for all the wrong reasons. How could you cope up with it to keep the team spirit afloat?
We are a family. Could you show me one single family which has never encountered a hiccup? While media runs out of story, they come up with such fancy anecdotes to upsurge their circulation. Was it possible to clinch the silverware lest the team spirit was dented heavily?

The Saradha scam hit Mohun Bagan severely. How could Mohun Bagan overcome that predicament to plunder the historic Hero I-League trophy?
I can’t figure it out how we could do it, but yes, we achieved it finally. We are not denying that Mohun Bagan was aided by the chit fund company. If we are liable to pay the pennies back, aren’t the movie houses subject to follow the same rule? Aren’t they supposed to stand in the same line?

Barring one solitary tweet from CM, Mohun Bagan were not felicitated from state government on their grand success. Don’t you think political colour has played its foul game?
Had we been associated with Shahrukh Khan (sighs)! Frankly speaking, we are gutted to see the shyness from the state government who spontaneously came up to host extravaganza while Kolkata Knight Riders, Atletico de Kolkata won IPL, ISL respectively. One of the team is owned by Mumbai-based movie stars while other is having a bandwagon of prominent business heads, where is the legacy? Mohun Bagan, the national club, is nothing less than a part and parcel of Bengali life. Don’t the boys deserve an acknowledgment from the government so that they could feel the adrenalin flowing within themselves? We expect more cooperation and synergy from the ministers and other political personnel to run a smooth show. Political personalities, who are known to be East Bengal supporters, come forward more spontaneously in support of the club whatsoever be the aspect compared to their counterparts who are branded as Mariners. We also hail from the same city; we too sweat it out to keep the flag flying high. Why are we stranded at the receiving end of wrong prejudices?

Bengaluru FC, Pune FC have shown how to popularise the game among city dwellers. Right from merchandising to setting up official pub, they have done everything right to create a positive vibe around the team. Why are Mohun Bagan, in spite of being a rich and veteran club, yet to come up with such projects?
Kolkata fans have a different mindset altogether. East Bengal set up the cafe, but how well did it run? We are working on a project akin to Manchester United’s ‘One United’, which I admire very much. Although the remuneration and subscription fees are yet to be finalised, there will be discount in match-day tickets, merchandise and other added benefits.

Are you keeping a close eye on the revenue model through this fan engagement project?
Not literally. It’s a project primarily devoted to the millions of fans, who are scattered all over India, even abroad. Even if the supporters aren’t being able to turn up on the match day, their tweets, posts over Facebook would create a positive vibe, a buzz- which would provide the added boost to the players. I’m not denying the revenue, but it’s not the solitary goal which we are looking to accomplish.

(Report & Photo courtesy I-League Media)