BENGAL POLITICS IN HILL FOOTBALL: Football back, memories also – Gurkha gold cup kicks off – the all India Brigade of Gurkhas suggests the Gorkhas are all foreigners in India, Bengal or Bongal being culturally arrogant and haughty, obviously ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHHETRI
Darjeeling, Nov. 12: The All India Brigade of Gurkhas Gold Cup kicked off today after 25 years, bringing back a bygone generation’s memories, many of which are part of the folklore in this football crazy town.
“The craze for this tournament was mind-boggling. The stands would always be packed and even when I went to other parts of the country to play football, players used to enquire about this tournament,” said Mahendra Subba, a state level player who also played in the Darjeeling tournament.
Old timers recalled how people would come in droves, sometime even on horsebacks, from places like Bijanbari, 35km from town, with a hamper to watch the show. “It was a common site to see people carrying a foldable mini-table so that they could enjoy their meals properly during the match,” said Suraj Lama, an octogenarian from Darjeeling.
The blue ribbon tournament, which used to see the participation of the country’s best footballers of those times, had started in 1975 with the Brigade of Gurkhas (British Army) based in Hong Kong presenting the trophy to the Darjeeling District Sports Association.
“Such was the energy among the spectators that during the inaugural tournament, the then chief minister of Bengal chose to kick the ball towards the stands, and not the goal post, while declaring the tournament open,” recalled Lama.
Today, P.M.K. Gandhi, the Darjeeling district magistrate, declared the tournament open. The tournament was last played in 1985, when East Bengal emerged as the champions.
“At times we could not see the match on the other side of the field because of dense fog. But many of us always carried a radio and used to listen to the running commentary on All India Radio, Kurseong,” said Dawa Rai, an old timer.
The inaugural match between Darjeeling XI and the Indian Football Association (IFA) XI today, too, had its share of excitement stored for the spectators who braved a rather chilly evening and fading lights to watch the match. The Darjeeling team consolidated its position early in the game scoring a brace through Subesh Rai and Pranesh Dewan in the first half.
Although the Darjeeling team displayed a better show, they missed a couple of opportunities to seal the game, only to see Surajit Das of the IFA XI scoring two penalties in the second half to equal the score sheet in the normal time.
The lights were fading and K. Banerjee, the match referee, decided to play the extra-time to get a result. At the dying moment, Nikash Tamang of Darjeeling scored a stunner and after a few moments, the IFA players started complaining of the lights. The referee would have none of it and the game was awarded to Darjeeling team, two minutes before its scheduled end.
Zakhir Hussian Malla, manager of the IFA, said: “I had told the referee at the end of the normal time that there could be problems with lights . He, however, told me that everything was fine and he ensured that the game ended despite bad light. We have no plan to file a complaint against the organisers.”
Club eyes trophy for Calcutta league – the Gurkha Gold Cup just a political excuse to score psychological brownie points ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY BIRESWAR BANERJEE
Siliguri, Nov. 12: Techno Aryan Football Club is aiming to take home the All India Brigade of Gurkhas Gold Cup so that the team’s morale goes up ahead of four crucial matches left in the Calcutta Premier Division Football League.
East Bengal currently leads the Calcutta league table with 33 points and Mohun Bagan comes second with 31. Techno Aryan is the third team in the league with 28 points. Both East Bengal and Techno Aryan have four matches left in the league.
“We are looking forward to lifting the cup as it will inspire our boys to play better in the rest of the matches in Calcutta league,” Raghu Nandy, the chief coach of Aryan, told The Telegraph today before his departure for Darjeeling.
Techno Aryan is the sole Calcutta club to take part in the All India Brigade of Gurkhas Gold Cup which kicked off in Darjeeling today.
This is the second time Nandy is visiting the hill town as a football coach and is aware of the ground condition and the weather. He had been to Darjeeling about 10 years ago when he was the coach of George Telegraph, a team based in Calcutta.
“We have come to play in Darjeeling to increase the morale of our boys. Although we are unbeaten in 12 successive matches, the club is third in the league. There are four matches left to be played by us in the league. If our boys perform well in the Darjeeling tournament, I think that will help them play better in the rest of the league matches in Calcutta,” said Nandy.
The average age of Techno Aryan’s players is 21. Goalkeeper Shivram Dey and stopper Anupam Sarker are the only team members who are in their 30s. The club also has two Nigerian strikers — Baba Tundey and Stanley, who have scored eight and five goals respectively in the league matches so far.