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CREATION OF HISTORY : MOHUN BAGAN THE CHAMPION OF
1911 IFA SHIELD

“All honour to Mohun Bagan, those eleven players are not only a glory to themselves and to the great nation to which they belong, they are a glory to the game itself”- this was the report that was published in The Empire regarding the historic 1911 IFA Shield win of Mohun Bagan. Mohun Bagan was the first club of India to win the IFA Shield in 1911 defeating the British team East Yorkshire Regiment. We Mohun Bagan supporters still feel proud when we discuss or even think about this great victory, which not only acted as a stimulus for the popularization of football in Bengal but also acted as a tonic for the freedom movement against the British supremacy. The founder Secretary Jatindranath Basu commented on the 1911 success: “That win was not accidental, but had to be worked inch by inch through contests with some of the strongest teams in India”.

Let us now share the story of how our club Mohun Bagan managed to grab the IFA Shield in the year 1911. The Mohun Bagan team for 1911 IFA Shield was -

  • Hiralal Mukherjee (Goal)
  • Bhuti Sukul (Right-back)
  • Sudhir Kumar Chatterjee (Left -back)
  • Manmohon Mukherjee (Right-half)
  • Rajendranath SenGupta (Center -half)
  • Nilmadhab Bhattacharya (Left-half)
  • Jitendranath Roy (Kanu) (Right-out)
  • Srischandra Sarkar (Habul) (Right-in)
  • Abhilas Ghosh (Centre-forward)
  • Bijaydas Bhaduri (Left-in)
  • Shibdas Bhaduri (Left-out)

1911 IFA Shield Winning Team

Standing from left: Rajendranath SenGupta, Nilmadhab Bhattacharya, Hiralal Mukherjee, Monmohan Mukherjee, Sudhir Kumar Chatterjee, Bhuti Sukul

Sitting from left: Jitendranath Roy, Srischandra Sarkar, Abhilash Ghosh, Bijaydas Bhaduri, Shibdas Bhaduri

The first round match of the 1911 IFA Shield was played on 10th of July against St. Xavier’s at the Ranger’s ground. Mohun Bagan played with 10 men as Rev. Sudhir Chatterjee, the defender was absent as his employer refused him a time off. Jitendranath Roy was also absent in that match and Sri N. Ghosh played in his absence. Mohun Bagan presented a “fast and tricky” game and thrashed the opponent by 3-0. Mohun Bagan could have scored more goals, but Rose and Grecni in Xavier’s defense were rock solid and averted numbers of dangers for their team. Abhilash Ghosh scored the first goal in the middle of the first half and in the second half Bijoydas Bhaduri scored twice to end the Xavier’s odyssey. The ten brave soldiers who played in that match are: Hiralal Mukherjee, A. Sukul, Nilmadhab Bhattacharjee, Monmohan Mukherjee, Rajendranath Sen Gupta, Habul Sarkar, Shibdas Bhaduri, Bijoydas Bhaduri, Abhilash Ghosh and N. Ghosh. With this win Mohun Bagan qualified for the second round and faced Rangers Football Club on 14th July.

Rangers were one of the toughest teams of that time, but “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going…” a dream to win, a dream to conquer and the immortal eleven was walking a glory road. It was a ‘no’ going back anymore, kill to win was the mantra, but the opponents were tougher, the ambience was supporting but the situation was cruel. Mohun Bagan faced the Rangers at the Customs ground. Heavy shower during the match made the pitch demanding, it was slippery and not suitable for fast football, but “in spite of the threatening weather a record crowd turned out to see the encounter”. Accurate kicking and shooting was not really possible due to the heavy ground condition, but still the crowd witnessed a very swift and interesting match. Mohun Bagan took on Rangers with their full strength; Reverend Sudhir Chatterjee joined the team after gaining the permission from his office. Mohun Bagan also obtained the full service of Jitendranath Roy in that match. Both the team started the match with positivism and both wanted to conquer. Their similar strength made the match even and a treat to watch. The tricky ground condition could not hold back the Indian forwards to combine and play mesmerizing football. It was quoted, “The Indian forwards showed better combination and were quicker and trickier than their opponents”. The first half was marked with great attacking and counter–attacking football, the defense on either side stood strong. Rangers started playing rough football but Referee Hoskins controlled the situation tactfully. The Ranger’s attacks were not up to the mark and they missed couple of easy sitters. On the other end, Bhaduri brothers along with Rajendranath Sen Gupta and Jitendranath Roy took the responsibility for leading the attack. Ranger’s half Cody with Allen played brilliant football. Mohun Bagan ultimately drew the first blood of the match courtesy Captain Shibdas Bhaduri, “Some up and down game followed and at last a miss kick by Chandler (back of Rangers) gave S. Bhaduri a chance of scoring and he steered the ball into the net amidst the jubilations of the Mohun Bagan supporters, a few minutes before half time”. Mohun Bagan increased the lead soon after the first goal, “The success infused fresh vigor into them and almost immediately after Roy sprinted along the touch line and cleverly evading defensive ranks centered and S. Bhaduri scored from a melee. Soon after, half time was called, leaving Mohun Bagan leading by two goals to nil”. Rangers started the second half with fast football and created more pressure and earned a free kick, but the set piece could not be converted. Referee Hoskins also started to show more sympathy towards the English team and gifted an improper penalty to them!! The divine intervention or a pure show of talent? The demigod, goalkeeper Hiralal Mukherjee brilliantly saved the penalty. During the dying moment of the match, Rangers committed in more attacks and ultimately Allen got the consolation goal for his team. The final whistle declared the all desired Mohun Bagan win, 2–1 was good enough to take the immortals to the next round.

In the third round match on 19th July, Mohun Bagan faced Rifle Brigade. The crowd was much more than the last match against Rangers. A loud roar welcomed the green and maroon brigade. Rifle Brigade dominated the first half with numbers of good attacks, but the “weak and erratic shooting lost them many splendid openings”. Mohun Bagan team mainly tried to regroup themselves in the first half and defense in particular delivered a phenomenal performance. “They developed magnificent defensive tactics which upset the combined efforts of the Military front line”. Mohun Bagan attack was off colour in the first half, as Bijoydas Bhaduri was not in his true state. He was upset with the loss of his best friend, Mr. Prankesto Ghosh, who breathed his last on that very day. But in the second half, the total scenario was transformed. Bijoydas started to concentrate on the match after getting the consolation and inspiration from Mr. Bhupendranath Basu during the lemon break. Mohun Bagan started to raise one after another attack in Rifle’s box. Kanu’s shot was brilliantly saved by Norton and just after few minutes, Shibdas’s shot went outside after kissing the crossbar. But the most coveted goal came within five minutes, Shibdas got the ball and passed to Bijoydas, who brilliantly powered down Clark, dribbled past Maden and then placed the ball to the right side of goalkeeper Norton. Norton had nothing to do but just watch the ball crossing the touch line. This was the winning goal for Mohun Bagan and with this win Mohun Bagan moved to the semi finals of the IFA Shield.

Mohun Bagan faced Dumdum Based 1st Middlesex Regiment in the semifinal and the match was played on 24th July at Dalhousie ground in front of huge crowd, “the biggest crowd that has ever attended a football meeting in Calcutta. Dalhousie ground wore a unique appearance with the bubbling sea of humanity with which it was thronged on all sides. There was not to be found a single look of vantage which was not occupied. Enthusiasts were to be found on the tops of trees, people squatted on the ground, just beyond the touch and goal lines”. Clayton was the referee for this match. Sgt. Piggott won the toss and elected to defend the Red Road end goal. Mohun Bagan kicked off the match. It was Middlesex who started in an offensive mode and tried to lift numbers of attacks in Bagan box, but Bagan defense was alert; more specifically Rev. Sudhir Chatterjee who averted couple of dangers for his team. But after a spell of attacks, Middlesex had to move to their own box, as this time it was Bagan who started to show good moves that proved dangerous to the British team. Shibdas Bhaduri was in the lead getting equal efforts from Rajendranath SenGupta, Jitendranath Roy and Bijoydas Bhaduri. In a move, Shibdas Bhaduri got the ball from Bijoydas and took the shot that was nicely saved by Piggott. After a few minutes, Shibdas Bhaduri again got a chance to score but the ball went far away from the target. Middlesex was not in a mood to retreat and thus they again came up with good moves and from such an attack they got the lead; though the decision from referee was quite controversial. Mohun Bagan team took the decision sportingly but the crowd reacted furiously as was expected. On the restart, Mohun Bagan attacked, Bijoydas Bhaduri got the ball and went past Middlesex defense line, but again Piggott appeared as the savior for his team by timely collecting the ball. At the end of the first half, Middlesex was ahead by one goal to nil. In the second half, Bagan started in a furious mode to get the coveted equalizer. The game turned into a fast and exciting game and both the teams kept the pressure and match was filled with attacks and counter attacks. Both the custodians, Mukherjee and Piggott delivered their best in this half and averted couple of dangers for their teams. Mohun Bagan earned a free kick when Daw handled the ball, but no fruitful result was achieved from the free kick. Mohun Bagan in this half made a small change in the tactics; Shibdas Bhaduri moved into the central position, Jitendranath Roy moved to left wing and Abhilash Ghosh in the right wing. This strategy worked well and Roy scored the equalizer for his team from a long ranger amidst the huge jubilation. After that both the teams tried their level best to get the lead, but the match ended in a stale mate. The decisive match was declared to be played on the next day. Two interesting incidents of that match were: the damage of the Middlesex cross bar that was done by Abhilash Ghosh by his powerful long ranger and the fracture in the left leg of Uthen (the then best player in Middlesex midfield) in collision with Abhilash Ghosh. Uthen missed the decisive match next day.

On 25th July, the replay match of the semifinal was played. The match was witnessed by a record crowd and Dalhousie ground was packed. Not a bit of space was available; the heavy shower before the match disappointed the Mohun Bagan supporters as it was believed that rain was unlucky for Bagan. Scientifically the fact was simple, Bagan players used to play bare footed. The heavy pitch will definitely become a hindrance and keeping strong hold on the ground will be a challenge itself. The natural game of Bagan was thus not expected and this demoralized the crowd. Mohun Bagan actually started the match with great vigilance; major share of attacks in this half was drafted by Middlesex. The tournament was marked with brilliant performance of the Bagan defense and on that day they were able to keep all the attack at bay. Middlesex midfield created number of chances for their forwards, but hesitation and unnecessary short passes in front of Bagan box deprived them from some sure goals. The remarkable incident of this half was the injury of Piggott, the goalkeeper of Middlesex. He suffered an eye injury during the replay, Piggott was the best goalkeeper of the tournament so far, and he already saved nine sure goals including couple of penalties before the replay match. Abhilash Ghosh was really angry with the rough and tough play of the military team and also with the quality of referring; during the last few minutes before the lemon break, in a collision between Abhilash and Piggott, the later got a serious eye injury that left him dazed for full thirty minutes of the play. The match moved into the lemon break without producing any fruitful result for both the team. The exchanges during the second half was very much in favour of the Dumdum squad, but Mohun Bagan defense put up a jolly fight. With the time elapsing, the military players started to loose their temperament as Bagan started to play a fast and “tricky” football by swapping their position frequently; Bhaduri brothers started to surprise the military defense by their recurrent flank changing. During the last ten minutes of the second half, Mohun Bagan team just walked over the military defense and scored three goals in quick succession. First goal was scored by Captain Shibdas Bhaduri which was greeted with huge jubilation. “A unique scene of excitement followed and before the prolonged cheers had hardly died down, Bagan increased the lead by Habul Sarkar, this practically sealed the fate of the military team who now looked like a tamed horse”, and then just after few minutes, Jitendranath Roy hammered the last nail in Middlesex coffin with a fine ankle-shot. After conceding these three goals, military team was morally upset but still tried to revive their glory with an immense fight. They devoted everything they had and forced so called the last effort and sketched a numbers of attacks in Bagan box; but Bagan defense was invincible and they fought steadily to keep the military from achieving anything but success. The match ultimately ended 3-0 in favour of Mohun Bagan and the eleven along with thousands of countrymen made that awaited statement. The message was simple and effective, “Stop us if you can”.

“An Indian team has reached the final of IFA Shield” - this news created a great revolution among the Indians and every one started to pray for the fulfillment of the dream which they have dreamt for a long time. But on the other hand East Yorkshire Regiment also qualified for the final after defeating the Calcutta team, the best team of that time.

The final turned into a battle between the “natives” and the “white skinned masters”. All the people of Bengal were excited regarding this match. Whole nation was waiting for the particular match. Describing the excitement among the Calcutta people just before the day of the match, ‘The Times of India’ Illustrated Weekly of Bombay reported “On Thursday and Friday every Bengali carried his head higher and the one theme of conversation in the tramcars in offices, and in those places there babus most do congregate, was the rout of the king’s soldiers in boots and shoes by barefooted Bengali lads”.

Ultimately 29th July, the all-important day came. All roads ended to Calcutta Football Club ground. Expecting the huge gathering East India Railway arranged for some special trains between Howrah to Burdwan. Additional steamer service was provided to bring people from Rajganj and Baranagar. Maidan-bound tramcars from Shyambazar and Chitpur were loaded to their utmost capacity. People came to Calcutta from far eastern districts of Bengal, even from distant Patna and from Assam, just to watch the match!!! About 80,000 people gathered around the CFC ground by 11o’ clock. The kind of soccer fever that gripped people in Calcutta on the day of the match can be best explained by the fact that a special meeting called by an academic body like the Vangiya Sahitya Parishad for the same evening for condoling the death of Indranath Bandyopadhyay fell through, as recorded in the minutes; for poor attendance of members gone to see the football match.

In one side of Calcutta Football Club ground, there were members’ seats and on the other side was booked for B. H. Smith Company. Rest of the two sides was open for general people. At these two sides there were huge gatherings. There was not a single space even on treetops!!!! The craze was so much that a 2 rupee ticket fetched to 15 rupee and even vendors of refreshments charged high prices and The Pioneer reported that one small boiled potato was sold at one paise. The most popular among the devices employed to help the spectators see the match was the wooden boxes, for which fantastic rates were charged. Under the circumstances, as some of the newspaper reports of the time pointed out, very few of the 80,000 gathered on the maidan could possibly have had a sight of the match. The vast assembly was however, kept informed of the progress of the game by flying kites. Thousands of people came there and they were praying for the all-important victory of Mohun Bagan. On the other hand the British people also came with their arrangement in huge number to support their team. They came with effigy of Mohun Bagan and the paper made IFA Shield. ‘The Empire’ installed a temporary telephone connection with CFC ground for relaying the final result to people all over Calcutta. The match was played in aid of charities, and a sum of about 6,194 was collected from the “paying spectators”.

On the morning of the final match, Mohun Bagan players went to Kalighat temple to pray in front of the goddess of power - MA KALI. Mohun Bagan players stepped in the field with red tilaks on their forehead and blessed flowers in their pockets. Even Sudhir Chatterjee who had his belief on Jesus followed the same rituals as his teammates. The captain of East Yorkshire team was Sergeant Jackson and the match referee was H. G. Pooler. The final of 1911 IFA Shield then started. At 5:30 pm sharp, the whistle declared the start of the ever eternal match. The first half marked brilliant football by the Regiment and superb fight from the Bagan eleven. Attacks and counter attacks were witnessed frequently. Two times Bagan defense cleared serious danger, once it was Rajendranath Sen Gupta and another time it was Sukul, who averted the danger. Bagan also continued their counter attack; mainly Shibdas Bhaduri and Bijoydas Bhaduri were there to lead from the up front. But military defense came up and neutralized the Bagan attack with good interception and defending quality. Jitendranath Roy and Bhaduri brothers propelled themselves into prominence by their individual excellence which elicited applause from the “native team” supporters. So, “both the goals were attacked in turn and the custodians were quite up to all claims made on them”. The match went into the lemon break with out any score on either side. With the start of the second half, Yorkshire started to keep a vigorous and well-sustained pressure on Mohun Bagan defense. In order to foil such a Yorkshire attack, Rajendranath Sen Gupta leaped to clear the ball and committed a foul against Regiment’s Jackson. The free kick was converted by Jackson himself and Yorkshire regiment took the lead on the 15th minute of the second half. The British spectators were overwhelmed with this goal. They started to celebrate this goal by igniting the effigies of Mohun Bagan!! The Mohun Bagan crowd was shocked by the goal and by the celebration of the British. The regiment took advantage of the situation and created pressure on the Bagan defense. Yorkshire Regiment pulled three consecutive corners and maintained the pressure on the Bagan eleven. Trust and belief was the mantra of the all natives of Bagan. The crowd support, decades of dominance and tyranny by the British was enough to boost up the Bagan squad. Immortals attacked, built pressure but in vain. The equalizer was not coming. Kanu Roy, Habul Sarkar, Bijoydas Bhaduri and Shibdas Bhaduri were excellent on the field. Ten minutes to go, Captain Shibdas Bhaduri received a pass and dribbled to reach the opponent’s goalmouth. The clever powerful shot, the dancing net and the roar announced the long awaited equalizer. Two minutes to the final whistle, Abhilash Ghosh collected a spectacular pass of Shibdas Bhaduri, the trigger was pulled, and the shell shot trounced the Yorkshire goal keeper. Goallllllllllllllll, the winning goal was scored at last. After a few minutes, a long whistle pronounced the new IFA Shield Champion. Mr. Frank W. Cartar, the then president of Calcutta Football Club handed over the IFA Shield to Mohun Bagan captain Mr. Shibdas Bhaduri. Mrs. Watson also appreciated the members of winning team with gold medals.

What an environment this was on that moment!!!! Celebration started with crackers. Everyone was in a mood of enjoyment. The British supporters slowly and silently left the ground. The dream to defeat the British was fulfilled on that day. Mohun Bagan supporters started to chant “Hip Hip Hurray, Three cheers for Mohun Bagan”.

Mohun Bagan footballers then went to the club tent, but they did not have much time to take rest after returning to the tent because there was an arrangement for a procession for these “National Heros”. A phaeton well decorated with flowers was ready there for the procession. Some over enthusiastic young told at the beginning of the procession “Today we people will pull the phaeton, not the horses”. The procession gradually moved towards Dharmatala. Shibdas Bhaduri was in front on the phaeton; other teammates were there behind him. Ultimately when the procession reached the crossing in front of Tipu Sultan Masjid there was a huge gathering. The Mohammedan brothers joined in front of the procession with a band party.

When the procession reached near the temple of goddess KALI at Thanthania, a Brahmin came out and stood in front of the phaeton. He was the worshipper of the temple. He told that “Yesterday whole night I prayed in front of Goddess for the victory of Mohun Bagan and after being satisfied “She” has made Mohun Bagan the champion in IFA Shield. So now players have to take the blessed flowers of the Goddess.” The brave lads did not hesitate. The worshipper came forward and put red tilaks on the forehead of the players. All the players came down from the phaeton and moved inside the temple to show their obeisance in front of the goddess. Amrita Bazar Patrika wrote an editorial regarding this victory and designated these players as “Immortal XI”. The procession ultimately ended at Shyambazar after reaching in front of the house of the then secretary Mr. Sailendranath Basu. Next day many people came to the Basu residence to have a look at the Shield, many touched the same reverentially. The day took the shape of national celebration and the same night at Mr. Bose’s residence the Adi Arya Saraswata Natya Samaj put up a special performance of Bhishma-vijaya before a large assembly. Every newspaper published in details the report on the historic victory of Mohun Bagan. Not only in India but also the overseas newspaper took this event with proper respect. All appreciated the skill and fight of the eleven players of Mohun Bagan.

Captain Shibdas Bhaduri with Major Subadar Sailendranath Basu

Captain Shibdas Bhaduri and Major Subadar Sailendranath Basu with the trophies

The British newspaper also provided importance to this victory.The Reuters News Agency sent the following cablegram to England about the final played in Calcutta, “For the first time in the history of Indian football, an Indian team, the Mohun Bagan consisting purely of Bengalis, has won the Indian Football Association Shield crack teams of English Regiments.” “At the final today there was a scene of extraordinary enthusiasm and it is estimated that 80,000 Bengalees were gathered on the Calcutta maidan. The vast majority saw nothing of the game…. They were informed of its progress by flying kites.” “When it was known that the East Yorkshire Regiment had been beaten the scene beggared description. The Bengalis tearing off their shirts and waving them. The absence of all racial spirit was noted. The European spectators were good humored and then Bengalees cheered the losing team”

The Daily Mail’ of London reported as, “It was a notable victory, gained over the best British Regimental teams, and not even the sweltering heat of Calcutta, to which the Bengalees better insured than the white man, can discount it.”

The Manchester Guardian reported in commenting on the game in its issue of 4th August, said, “A team of Bengalees won the Football Association Shield in India after defeating the crack teams of three British Regiments amidst the applause of 80,000 of their countrymen. There is no reason of course of being surprised. Victory at Association Football goes to the side with the greatest physical fitness, the quickest eye, and the keenest wit.”

The correspondent of The Singapore Free Press wrote as follows, “Never in the annals of Indian Football has there been such a crowd as gathered this afternoon to watch the final in the match of the Indian Football Association Challenge Shield between East Yorks and Mohun Bagan. At a modest competition it is believed that the crowded numbered 1,00,000. Thousands who came never saw anything of the game. The crowed was very orderly, the Bengalees specially being well behaved. The game itself was a splendid display of football. The Yorks playing up to their reputation scored the first goal amidst a roar that could have been heard a mile away. At the close of the first half the military led. In the second half Mohun Bagan played like demons and within ten minutes of the call of the time they scored a goal, thus equalizing. At this the Bengalee spectators nearly shouted themselves hoarse. Within two minutes of the call of time Mohun Bagan scored the second goal amidst a scene that baffles description. Thus the Bengalee team won the Football Association Challenge Shield for 1911. The general opinion was that the better team won. They had to play at the top of their form to beat such a team as the East Yorks. Throughout the game, the play was clean.”

The Bengalee’ published a poem on 30th of July in honour of Mohun Bagan. It said, “Thanks my friends of football renowned, For bringing the British teams down, A victory grand to behold, Serene and noble-bright and bold”- “The Mohonbagans.”

From the following it is evident that Mohun Bagan’s success was hailed as an Indian success, irrespective of classes, castes, or communities. In support of the fact the following reproduced from two Muslim journals which showed the deep satisfaction Mohun Bagan’s win gave to the Muslim community.

The Comrade of which Maulana Mohamed Ali was the founder and the editor at the time said “We hereby is in the chorus of praise and jubilation over the splendid victory of Mohun Bagan. The team did remarkably well through out the tournament and won the Shield by sheer merit. This has been acknowledged by all who are competent to express views on the merits of the team, and we are glad to notice that no body has tried to take away from the deserts of Mohun Bagan by suggesting that they owed anything to luck”.

The Mussalman, a leading Muslim weekly of the time, wrote as follows, “The victory of Mohun Bagan, the indigenous team, in the above competition, held on Saturday last, has not only been the cause of universal jubilation in the country, but has demonstrated that Indians are second to none in all that manly games… The success of Mohun Bagan has turned over a new leaf in the history of manly sport in Calcutta. The remarkable skill, courage, and, in fact, all that constitutes a good game, and of which Mohun Bagan has given unmistakable proofs cannot fail to evoke the sincerest applause from all lovers of manly sports…It is worthy of note in this connection that although Mohun Bagan was a team composed of Bengalee Hindus, the jubilation in consequence of its success was not confined to any particular race or creed. It was a sense or universal joy, which pervaded the feelings of the Hindus, the Mohammedans, and the Christians alike. The members of the Muslim Sporting Club were almost mad and rolling on the ground with joyous excitement on the victory of their Hindu brethren.”

In a special article, The Empire wrote, “Even now, about 48 hours after the great and glorious victory of Mohun Bagan over the East Yorks, the significance of the event has not been fully realized. It was a fine achievement, the finest indeed in the annals of football in India. Not only was it the first occasion that an Indian team ha come into the final of the IFA Shield tournament, but what is of far greater importance, it was the first occasion when the Shield had been won by an Indian combination. Why Indian? It is a purely Bengalee team, each member of the eleven being born and bred in Bengal, and a couple of them being only 19 years old…. All honour to Mohun Bagan, those eleven players are not only a glory to themselves and to the great nation to which they belong, they are a glory to the game itself. They are a glory to Calcutta football in more sense than one. The honour of Calcutta was at stake; all local civilian and military teams had been beaten, and there remained only Mohun Bagan, and it was they that went to the rescue. It was Mohun Bagan, who upheld Calcutta’s reputation, of all civil and military teams.”

It was but natural that supporters and admirers of the club should have wanted to fete Mohun Bagan and requests to that effect, both to the club direct and through the press were not few. There were those who offered to send the team to England at their own expense. But the club was quite unwilling to accept such offers and did not like the idea of the club being lionized. Even so, requests were persistent and insistent and in the end secretary Sailendranath Basu, wrote to The Statesman as follows:

“To,

The Editor of the Statesman

Sir,

As it is impossible to reply to the numerous letters I have received, I beg leave to offer through the medium of your paper my hearty and grateful thanks to the large number of our friends and admires who have so kindly thought fit to encourage the players of the club by their congratulations and offer of entertainment etc. At the same time it is the decision of the Management of the club that it is not desirable to make a fuss over last Saturday’s success., as the club in general and the players in particular look upon it as the result of practice and study of the science of the game under the guidance and with the help of their numerous friends both European and Indian.

It is hoped, therefore, that it would not be misconstrued if the players had to decline with great regret (which they do through your paper) any offer of entertainment in any shape, though they gratefully appreciate the same.

Yours,

S.N. Bose

Hony. Secretary

Calcutta, August 2, 1911”

It is also interesting to learn that many enterprising people tried to reap a quick harvest out of Mohun Bagan’s exploit. The Standard Cycle Co., 59, Harrison Road, tied up with the Amrita Bazar Patrika to distribute copies of halftone pictures of the victorious team along with its issue dated July 31; the same firm distributed gratis a further 1,00,000 pictures from their shop. M/s Hald and Chat of 79, Ahiritola Street offered, effective for two months only, their own factory made harmoniums at 10% discount. M/s S. Ray and Co. another Calcutta firm, urging young aspirants “to preserve and try your best to win for yourself a place” in the Mohun Bagan team, offered “complete balls” from Rs. 4.37 to Rs. 12.00 only. On a more aesthetic plane, The Great National Theatre of 9-3 Beadon Street introduced their latest production with the by-line: ‘Mohun Bagan’ has won the Shield! “Bajee Rao” has gained the victory!! Karunanidhan Bandyopadhyay wrote a special elegy entitled Mohun-Bagan in the pages of the Manasi applauding the “great sons” of “Mother Bengal”.

After winning the 1911 IFA Shield Mohun Bagan completely changed the total scenario of Bengal in Indian context. This brought an astonishing agitation not only in Kolkata, but also throughout the Bengal. People of India then started to consider Mohun Bagan as the “NATIONAL TEAM” of India. Those freedom fighters dreamt for the independence of India, Mohun Bagan fulfilled their dream in the field. Indian citizens then started to believe that once we have defeated the British in the field, we are then able to through them out from our country. Thus the 1911 IFA Shield winning of Mohun Bagan boosted the freedom movement.

To pay honour to this Immortal eleven, Government of India published a postage stamp in the year 1989. It’s the first time in India that a postage stamp has been published for a club. So it’s a great honour for the National Club of India. On the same day of stamp publication, Mohun Bagan was declared as the “NATIONAL CLUB OF INDIA”.

Publication of The Postage Stamp

Publication of The Postage Stamp, on the dais from left, Dhiren Dey, Sailen Manna, Umapati Kumar, Santoshmohan Deb and Priyaranjan Dasmunshi

Besides the Shield the other trophies to have been annexed by the club in 1911 were Gladstone Cup, Nawab Ashanullah Challenge Shield and Bengal Jimkhana Shield. The club also qualified for the final of the Coochbehar Cup Tournament, but the final had to be abandoned owing to the untimely death of H.H. Maharaja of Coochbehar, who was the Patron of the club and also the donor of the cup.

 
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