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FIRST STEP TOWARDS SUCCESS : 1904–1910

Mohun Bagan won its first trophy- Coochbehar Cup in the year 1904. But in the same year Maharaja Durga Charan Law, one of the patrons of Mohun Bagan club passed away. Then club officials requested Maharaja of Coochbehar, Raja Rajendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur to fill the stoicism. But he placed a condition in front of the footballers. He told that if Mohun Bagan team will again won the next year’s Coochbehar Cup, he will fill up the stoicism of Mr. Durga Charan Law. Mohun Bagan players kept their words and won the Coochbehar Cup consecutively for the second time in 1905. Maharaja was very happy and took the post of Patron in Chief of the club. Raja Rajendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur adorned the patron post of the club from 1905-1913.

In the same year Mohun Bagan reached the final of Gladstone Cup, held in Chinsurah. The opponent in the final was Dalhousie, the winner of that year IFA Shield, defeated Calcutta Football club by 4-3 in a thrilling final. Dalhousie was a very strong team that time with Prike at centre-forward and Holley, at outside right; and thus Mohun Bagan was therefore, not unnaturally, considered as “chicken feed” for the Shield Champions. There was a tremendous interest regarding this final as an Indian football team facing a British team in the final. No one believed that Dalhousie would come up with full strength. Both the teams traveled by the same train from Sealdah Station to Chinsurah (via Naihati) and some of the playing members of Mohun Bagan were somewhat relieved to find only seven members of Dalhousie’s Shield-winning team in the train that afternoon, hoping that their remaining players would be drawn from the second team. Being curious, one of the supporters of Mohun Bagan asked what happened to the rest of the players of Dalhousie. The British players replied arrogantly “Seven is good enough for Mohun Bagan”. The three other Dalhousie players, all of the Shield-winning team, had, of course, travelled to Chinsurah from Howrah by the E.I.R. route but tables were turned that afternoon at Chinsurah as Mohun Bagan players took the challenge and gave a strong answer to their indulgence. Mohun Bagan played brilliantly throughout the match and knocked out Dalhousie by 6-1. Shibdas Bhaduri scored the first two goals, both from very clever through by “Donga” Dutt just within first three minutes of the game.

In 1906, Mohun Bagan got more success. This year club grabbed Trades Cup, Gladstone Cup and Coochbehar Cup. These achievements made Mohun Bagan the most prestigious Indian club. In the same year Mohun Bagan participated in Minto Fete Tournament, which had been specially organized under the patronage of Her Excellency Lady Minto, wife of the then Viceroy of India, in aid of a fund for providing nurses to India. This tournament was mainly for the British and Army football teams, only Mohun Bagan among the Indian clubs got the invitation to participate in this tournament. First match of Mohun Bagan was against the very strong team, Calcutta Football Club. Mohun Bagan won the match with a solitary goal in the extra time, but due to some idiotic protest from Calcutta Football Club, tournament committee scratched Mohun Bagan. For having played P.K. Biswas who had earlier assisted National A.C. in the season proper of 1906. Biswas was pressed into service in the last moment as “Donga” Dutt, one of the regular full backs, could not come down from Benaras for the match and nothing was thought about it as the Minto Fete was not a regular tournament but organized for a great cause. But people protested against this unfair decision, and ultimately Mohun Bagan got the chance to get reentry into this tournament. Calcutta Football Club withdrew their name from the competition. But Mohun Bagan did not manage to move a long distance.

In 1907 Mohun Bagan again won Trades Cup, the next prestigious tournament after IFA Shield and Coochbehar Cup of that period.

In 1908 Mohun Bagan created a new record by winning the Trades Cup for consecutive three times. Bagan also won Coochbehar Cup and Gladstone Cup in this year.

1908 Trades Cup Winning Team

1908 Trades Cup Winning Team of Mohun Bagan

First Row: B. Dukshi, Hiralal Mukherjee, Sudhir Chatterjee (L-R)

Second Row: Nilmadhab Bhattacharjee, P. Roy, K. Sinha (L-R)

Sitting: G. Ghosh, Danu, B. Bhaduri and H. Mitter (L-R)

Mohun Bagan got the first chance to participate in IFA Shield in 1909. During that time, participation in IFA Shield was an honor because only few teams were permitted to participate in this prestigious tournament. The other four lucky teams were Chinsurah Sporting, Sovabazar Club, Town Club and Hare Sporting. In the first round, Mohun Bagan defeated YMCA (1-0) but lost to Gordon Highlanders’ by 0-3 and eliminated out from IFA Shield. It has to be noted that the club’s decision to participate in IFA Shield was considered much too ambitious by sister Indian Clubs of the time and the amusing tale is told that when the club lost Gordon Highlanders’ some very humorous pamphlets were published and circulated to point out the folly of “aiming too high”. Mohun Bagan had, however, the satisfaction and distinction of avenging its Shield defeat by beating the almost identical Gordon Highlanders’ Shield winning team by 1-0 in the final of Lakshmibilas Cup by a solitary goal of Mr. Shibdas Bhaduri and that too after five drawn games!! And yet the story goes how, in spite of the defeat, a few of the disappointed and enraged Highlanders snatched the Cup away from the victors, but only for a while!! Mohun Bagan also won the Trades Cup for the fourth time this year.

In 1910, Mohun Bagan again was unable to show its excellence in IFA Shield; lost the first match to Eastern Bengal Railways team which included the great centre-half of the name of Churchill. Although this year Mohun Bagan won Lakshmibilas Cup, Nawab Ashanullah Challenge Shield and Bengal Jimkhana Shield, but captain Mr. Shibdas Bhaduri was really upset after getting out from the first round of IFA Shield. During this time, Mr. Sailendranath Basu stood on the side of Mr. Bhaduri and handed over all the responsibility of football team over Mr. Bhaduri. Mr. Bhaduri then reshuffled the total team in a new format. For instance, Sukul, the great fullback, had joined the club in 1909 as a forward and Habul Sarkar moved up to the inside right position from centre half, which berth was filled up by Rajen Sen with great credit. It is of interest that the Sarat Sinha had been playing at centre forward, but Abhilash Ghosh was preferred to Sarat Sinha for Gosse’s great dash and speed. At goal was Hiralal, who did his duty very well indeed, and Sudhir Chatterjee who partnered the invincible Sukul at full back, was a master of positional play. The two wing halves Nilmadhab Bhattacharjee and Monmohan Mukherjee were really admirable. Kanu Roy at outside right was brilliant and on the other flank was the great Shibdas and his brother Bijoydas- one of the finest combinations in the forward line that has ever been seen.

 
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