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THE BEGINNING OF THE JOURNEY : 1889–1903

Near Shyambazar area, there was the famous marble palace, named “Mohun Bagan Villa”. The Villa belonged to Mr. Kirti Mitter, father of Mr. Priyanath Mitter, who was a rare specimen of health and strength. The Villa and its extensive grounds were surrounded by what were and/or are now known as Fariapukur Street on the north, Upper Circular Road on the east, Kirti Mitter Lane on the west, and Mohun Bagan lane on the south. A medium sized ground was there in front of this building. The villa itself was massive having been built all over in marble, the quadrangles of which were used by those among the club members who were fond of skating. In fact so extensive it was, “we did not dare to go inside for fear of losing our way out of it” is what old surviving members have confessed in an effort to recapture its size!! The villa, however, was demolished a long time ago, soon after the death of Kirti Mitter, the owner, which occurred almost immediately after the house-warming party. On the site of that grand Villa, along with its gardens, stand today scores of residential buildings. At that moment, the players of “Dukhiram Mazumder Student’s Union” used to play in this ground. But Mr. Mazumdar then shifted to Laha’s field at Shyampukur area due to some unavoidable reasons and changed the name of “Dukhiram Mazumder Student’s Union” to “Aryans”. Some players from Mohun Bagan Villa went to Shyam Square where “Bagbazar Club” was established under the leadership of Young brigade from Sen’s House of Bagbazar. But still no club was there for the players who were still continuing to play in the ground of Mohun Bagan Villa. They were not able to compete with the rest of the local clubs of that time at that circumstance. So to provide back up to these players three famous family of Kolkata — Basu Family, Mitra Family and Sen Family came forward.

Then came the very expected day of 15th August, 1889. A meeting was organized in the house of the then famous lawyer Mr. Bhupendranath Basu (who later adorned the president post of Indian National Congress) at 14, Balaram Ghosh Street of Shyambazar area, north Calcutta. After the meeting a decision was taken that a club would be formed named “Mohun Bagan Sporting Club” with the existing players playing in Mohun Bagan Villa.

Basu Bati

Basu Bati at 14, Balaram Ghosh Street: The Birth Place of Mohun Bagan Club

The first President and Secretary of Mohun Bagan Sporting Club were Mr. Bhupendranath Basu (1889-1924) and Mr. Jyotindranath Basu (1889-1894). Maharaja Durga Charan Law (1889-1904) was the first patron of the club. Some of the famous persons who were present on that very auspicious moment—

  • Bhupendra Nath Basu
  • Jyotindra Nath Basu
  • Monilal Sen
  • Jyotindra Nath Mitra
  • Roybahadur Chunilal Basu
  • Sir Nripendra Nath Sarkar
  • Maharaja Durga Charan Laha (Maharaja of Shyam Pukur)
  • Dr.Manindra Nath Basu
  • Sir Brajendralal Mitra
  • Major S.K Ghosh
  • Maharaja Rajendra Bhup Bahadur (Maharaja of Coochbehar)
  • Sir Bhupendra Nath Mitra
  • Dr.Ganendra Nath Mitra
  • Sir Rajendra Nath Mukhopadhyay
  • C. C. Dutta
  • Pramatha Nath Chattopadhyay
  • Ram Goswami
  • Sir Prabhash Mitra
  • Prafulla Basu
  • Nalin Chandra Bose
  • Hemnath Sen
  • Girin Bose
  • Upen Ghosh
  • Monmohan Pande
  • C. K. Sarkar
  • Sir Brojendralal Mitter
  • Satish Chandra Mitra
  • Sushil Chandra Mitra
  • Sarat Chandra Mitter

Pioneers

Mr. Bhupendranath Basu, Mr. Jyotindranath Basu and Durga Charan Law

So, after establishment of Mohun Bagan Club the first playground was the ground inside the famous Mohun Bagan Villa (1889-1892). As both Mr. Bhupendranath Basu and Mr. Jatindranath Basu were very eminent personalities of that time, so many people showed interest to be a part of Mohun Bagan Club. The ideals that the founders had set themselves were high. At the inception, it was the convention to accept only students as members, except for a limited few on the top, and each applicant for membership for which there was a probationary period of six months had to produce his guardian’s permission for club joining the club. The executives of the club saw to it that each member combined the development of the body with that of the mind and prescribed a high moral code. Old members informed that J.N. Basu used to suddenly line up the younger members of the club and test their educational progress in school and college. As for the strict discipline maintained it is enough to cite an instance when a young member was expelled because he had found smoking. Even few members lost their membership as they were caught in position of act of stealing coconuts from the coconut trees inside Mohun Bagan Villa. Mr. Bhupendranath Basu used to speak “Discipline is the backbone of the team and it should be observed”. The ideology of Mohun Bagan club was “Play the game in the spirit of the game”. The subscription in the earlier days having been annas eight per quarter, and that for students having been only annas four!! This was the subscription that even the richest amongst the members, including Indian Ruling Princes, were permitted to pay.

One of the first football matches that the club played on the Mohun Bagan Villa ground was that against the Eden Hindu Hostel. That year, among others, the following played for the club -

  • Girin Bose
  • Pramatha Chatterjee
  • Sachin Banerjee
  • Ram Goswami
  • Sarat Mitter
  • Hem Nath Sen (Fon Babu)
  • Nalin Basu
  • Upen Ghosh
  • Manindra Nath Bose
  • Monmohan Pande
  • Provas Mitter
  • Manilal Sen

Time ran swiftly and there appeared the first birthday of Mohun Bagan club. The members were also enthusiastic to celebrate the first year birthday with great arrangement. Club officials put all the responsibility to the young guns of the club. Most of the members of the club were students of Presidency College. Mr. F. J. Rowe, the professor of Presidency College and the famous grammatologist was very popular among the students, and so the members of Mohun Bagan club invited Mr. Rowe to preside in the programme of first year birthday celebration. Mohun Bagan villa was nicely decorated with flowers. Mr. Rowe came, observed everything and then enquired whether there are any activities like shooting or angling amongst the club activities. On receiving the answer in negative, Prof. Rowe suggested that, in that event, it would be “happier” to call the club “Mohun Bagan Athletic Club” instead of “Mohun Bagan Sporting Club”. All the club members showed positive response regarding this matter and the suggestion was given effect immediately and that is how the club came to be known as “Mohun Bagan Athletic Club”. Incidentally, the second anniversary of the club was presided over by Thomas Holland, who was later knighted and had the honor of being a member of the Governor-General’s Council.

Shortly after the second anniversary in 1891, the club ground was decided to shift from Mohun Bagan Villa to the Shyampukur grounds as with increasing member number and activities the ground of Mohun Bagan Villa was not sufficient. That time the only large ground around Shyambazar area was the Shyampukur ground, which belonged to Maharaja Durga Charan Law and his brothers, and it was through the efforts of Raja Joy Gobind Law, C.I.E., and the co-operation and help of harry Lee, I.C.S., then Chairman of the Calcutta Corporation, that the use of the Shyampukur grounds was available to the club. This way club ground was relocated to Law’s field (popular name of Shyampukur ground) - the second playground of Mohun Bagan (1892-1894). Records of the activities of the club in the 1890’s are meager, but besides football, cricket and hockey were being played regularly. Perhaps few of the pioneers had dreamt that club would attain great fame one day, perhaps also the records that might have been maintained in the dim past were lost, and in any event, newspaper reports of the sporting engagements at the time, except of absolutely first class ones, were few and far between. The club continued playing friendly matches against other Indian teams, such as Sovabazar, the National A.C., Town Club, Aryans, Calcutta Medical College, Shibpur Engineering College, St. Josephs’, Fort Williams Arsenal and Kumartuli.

In 1893, Mohun Bagan invited the European team Sussex Regiment “C” Company for a friendly football match. Main aim for organizing this match was to learn some good techniques from the foreign team. Although, Mohun Bagan tasted a demoralizing defeat but the actual target was fulfilled.

Mohun Bagan played their first tournament in the year 1893 in Coochbehar Cup, but they did not perform well. The morale of the players was in a very low level but the club officials came forward and backed up the players.

After that time, Mohun Bagan participated in lots of tournaments like Coochbehar Cup, Trades Cup but was unable to get the all-important victory. Later, with the opening of the Shyam Square, a public park under the Calcutta Corporation, a share was obtained on the Shyam Square also, along with Aryans and Baghbazar Club. Thus Shyam Square was the third playground of Mohun Bagan (1895-1900). Some administrative changes took place that time. In 1895, Jyotindranath Mitra became the Honorary Secretary and Jyotindranath Basu became the Vice-President. Sir Bhupendra Nath Mitra took over the charge of secretary from Jyotindranath Mitra in 1898 and continued until 1900. Mohun Bagan club officials again felt the need to change the ground and that time they decided to move to Kolkata maidan area. That time it was very difficult to get a place in maidan area, but due to their candid effort they were able to manage a place for the club. It was in the year 1900. After that Mohun Bagan started to share the ground and tent along with Presidency College (1900-1915). In 1900, Subadar Major Sailendranath Basu took the responsibility of secretary post of the club. Since 1900 up to 1914, he adorned the secretary post of the club. Mr. Basu was very strict about the rules and regulations of the club. He was very careful regarding the physical training and fitness of the players and took all the needful steps for the betterment of the football team. That time the players who were present in the team are —

  • Prabodh Das (Goalkeeper)
  • Dr. Girish Ghosh (Back)
  • Annada Das (Back)
  • Prafulla Roy (Half Back)
  • Donga Dutta (Half Back)
  • Khitish Singha (Half Back)
  • Bhola Ghosh (Half Back)
  • Anath Das (Half Back)
  • Ramdas Bhaduri (Forward)
  • Dwijadas Bhaduri (Forward)
  • Bijoydas Bhaduri (Forward)
  • Shibdas Bhaduri (Forward)
  • Dwijendranath Basu (Forward)
 
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