Mohun Bagan: Top 5 title triumphs

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Mohun Bagan AC is all set to enter a new journey after the merger of their football team with Indian Super League (ISL) side, ATK cometh the 2020-21 season.

The big pockets of the ATK owners in the RPSG Group are expected to drive Mohun Bagan to greater heights in years to come.

The merged side will represent the Green and Maroon faithful as ATK Mohun Bagan in the top division of Indian football, the ISL.

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The Mariners, as Mohun Bagan are known, have been one of the greatest Indian football clubs of all time.

With dominant performances in national and state competitions over the years, the Green and Maroon will bring a new dimension in the franchise tournament.

Here, we look at Mohun Bagan’s top five title triumphs in their illustrious 130-years of history.

#5 Calcutta Football League – 1939

The 1930s was not a very pleasant period for the Mariners. The club lost top veteran players like Sailendra Nath Basu and Sibdas Bhaduri in the early part of the decade.

Mohun Bagan were defeated by York and Lancashire in the 1933 IFA Shield, and the Mariners kept on losing important games.

With the deaths of eminent players and officials such as Rajendranath Mukherjee, Bijoy Das Bhaduri, Bhupendranath Mitra, Dr JN Basu, and Jatindranath Mitra, Mohun Bagan struggled to run the operations at the club with the usual swift.

However, with proper scouting in the next few years, the Mariners ended up clinching the Calcutta Football League in 1939. They finished ahead of their Indian rivals – East Bengal, Mohammedan SC and Kalighat MS.

The rest of the teams were British Regimental sides from Kolkata. The 1939 edition of the Calcutta Football League also featured the walkover from East Bengal Club in the Kolkata Derby.

Bagan also ended the five-year winning stint of Mohammedan SC in the Calcutta Football League.

The title was the sign of things that Mohun Bagan could win major accolades even without their primary club officials.

#4 Federation Cup – 1981-82

Mohun Bagan lost to ITI Bangalore in final of the inaugural edition of the Federation Cup in 1977-78.

The Mariners made it to the final in the second season as well, but the game with East Bengal ended with a 0-0 scoreline. With no provision for a tie-breaker, the trophy was shared.

The Green and Maroon and the Red and Gold met again in the 1980-81 edition of the Federation Cup but the trophy was shared for the second time between the two Kolkata giants after the game ended at 1-1.

The Mariners eventually became the standalone champions of the Indian version of the FA Cup for the first time in their history in 1981-82.

It was a Kolkata Derby yet again but this time against Mohammedan SC. The Mariners got the better of the Black and White with a 2-1 scoreline. Mohun Bagan reached the final with a 2-0 win over East Bengal in the semi-final.

The 1981-82 Federation Cup win was a watershed moment in Mohun Bagan’s history. The Mariners became the ‘Champions of India’ and had started to show traits of a club which would rule Indian football for decades to come.

Mohun Bagan have won the Federation Cup for 14 times, more than any other Indian club by a country mile.

#3 National Football League – 1997-98

After failing to qualify for the Championship round in the maiden edition of the National Football League in the 1996-97 season, Bagan hired the late Amal Dutta as their head coach.

The infamous 3-4-3 diamond formation surprised the Bagan adversaries in the first few fixtures. However, East Bengal, under the late PK Banerjee, decimated Amal Dutta’s Mohun Bagan 4-1 in the Federation Cup semi-final in 1997.

Mariners managed to win just the DCM Trophy and the Calcutta Football League that season. As a result, Bagan fired Amal Dutta and brought in TK Chathunni to change their fortunes.

Mohun Bagan began the 1997-98 campaign with a shaky 1-0 win over Air India before clinching a competitive 2-1 win in the second game against Churchill Brothers. The Mariners then made it three wins out of three with another victory over Indian Bank with a slender 1-0 scoreline.

Mohun Bagan also got the better of East Bengal in the Kolkata Derby, and their good form continued with a 10-match unbeaten run before falling 1-0 to Salgaocar.

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Bagan then suffered a late-season setback after drawing 2-2 with Dempo SC away from home, with the Mariners just needing a point to seal the deal on the final matchday at the iconic Salt Lake Stadium against Mahindra United.

Helicopters showered flowers on the Mohun Bagan squad before the game, and 70,000 fans thronged into the stadium in the hopes of witnessing their beloved team lift their maiden national league title. The Mariners did manage to seal the deal with a win, courtesy of a Chima Okorie hat-trick.

Mohun Bagan finished three points clear at top of the league table ahead of runners-up, East Bengal. The 1997-98 National Football League triumph was a redemption for the Mariners after their below-average performances in the previous seasons.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) was taking baby steps to professionalise the game in the country back then and Mohun Bagan’s triumph in the second season of the league showed that the Mariners were there to stay in the thick of things in Indian football.

#2 I-League – 2014-15

After 12 years of no glory in the Indian top division, Mohun Bagan looked like losing relevance in the country’s football scene.

The Goan trinity of Dempo, Salgaocar and Churchill had virtually halted the Kolkata giants at the national level, with Mohun Bagan last winning a league title in the 2001-02 season and the Federation Cup in 2008.

It was a tough decade in Mohun Bagan’s history, but tables turned in no time in the 2014-15 football season. The Mariners brought in Sanjoy Sen to replace Subhash Bhowmick as their head coach.

The Mariners failed to win the Calcutta Football League and the Federation Cup before the I-League season, with the club managing just one win the domestic cup competition.

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The tables had to be turned in no time to silence the angry fans, and the Mariners began their league campaign with a 3-1 win over Mumbai FC. They got the better of heavyweights like Pune FC, Bengaluru FC, East Bengal, Salgaocar SC and Dempo SC with comprehensive 1-0, 4-1, 1-0, 3-1 and 2-0 wins respectively.

The Mariners were in excellent form, spearheaded by Sony Norde and looked favourites to run away with the league title. However, a sudden drop in form saw the Mariners win just one out of five games in the business end of the season.

They lost to Royal Wahingdoh, Bharat FC and Sporting Goa with 3-2, 1-0 and 2-1 scorelines respectively in the space of a single month. The Mariners needed a draw on the final day of the season at Bengaluru FC to clinch the I-League title.

The Blues, on the other hand, needed to beat Mohun Bagan to win the title. Bengaluru FC went ahead, courtesy of John Johnson in the 41st minute, and looked favourites to grab the title.

However, the Mariners hit back three minutes before the full-time whistle through a Bello Razaq header to snatch the I-League title from the hands of Bengaluru FC.

More than 5000 Mohun Bagan fans were in attendance in Bengaluru on the fateful night of 31st May 2015, and the Kanteerava Stadium went chaotic after the final whistle.

Mohun Bagan had just overcome their seven-year trophy drought on the national level and also ended their 12-year wait to lift a national league.

#1 IFA Shield 1911

The 1911 IFA Shield victory over East Yorkshire Regiment of the British Indian Army was more than just a football match.

With the call for dominion and self-rule on the rise throughout India, Mohun Bagan had their part to play to show the British that Indians were just as good or even better than them in any sphere.

Mohun Bagan, who were invited to play in the 1911 IFA Shield, reached the final and were up against the Britishers. Fans from in and around Kolkata travelled in thousands to witness the finale.

It was a chance for the Bengalis and Indians to show that they could be better than the Europeans in a game invented by the British, that too with no boots on their feet.

Eastern Railway and Hooghly Ferries had to run additional services to accommodate the travelling fans from the nearby villages. Kites were flown with scorelines written to keep the fans, who failed to enter the field and remained outside, up to date.

East Yorkshire Regiment went ahead though Sergeant Jackson and the Mariners looked down and out of the game with just 15 minutes remaining on the clock.

However, Shibdas Bhaduri and Abhilash Ghosh scored twice in less than 15 minutes to turn the tables and the fans went crazy in the Maidan ground. The neighbouring Mohammedan SC Muslim faithful also joined in the celebrations of the success of their Hindu brethren.

The 1911 IFA Shield win turned into folklore and is the basis for the native fans in Bengal to support Mohun Bagan.

The Shield win is celebrated as the Mohun Bagan Day to this day on 29th July every year.

Also Read: ATK-Mohun Bagan merger shows ISL is going the I-League way

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