Kolkata people did a Sourav Ganguly a century ago: Report

Kolkata: When Sourav Ganguly took off his shirt and waved it at the Lord`s after winning the Natwest Trophy in 2002, he probably did not know that people of his city had done the same thing a century ago -- to celebrate a historic football victory in 1911.

On July 29, 1911, a barefoot bunch of 11 Indians, representing Mohun Bagan, defeated fancied East Yorkshire Regiment team to lay their hands for the first time on the then coveted IFA Shield.

An international news agency report on that day said, "When it was known that East Yorkshire regiment had been beaten by two goals to one, the scene beggared description, the Bengalees tearing off their shirts and waving them."

The report, which was reproduced from an anthology of news articles published by Press Club, Kolkata, says, "The vast majority saw nothing of the game and was informed of the progress by flying kites."

There was also no racial overtone. "The European spectators were good humoured and the Bengalees cheered the losing team," said the report.

A newspaper said: "It was a sense of 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."

Even a pro-British newspaper, The Empire, wrote two days after the victory, "Those eleven players are not only a glory to themselves and to their club and to the great nation to which they belong; they are a glory to the game itself."

Though established on August 15, 1889, Bagan had first participated in the IFA Shield tournament in 1909 as all teams were not allowed to avail the opportunity.

To reach the final, Bagan had defeated St Xavier`s 3-0 in the first round, Rangers in the second by the same score, Rifle Brigade in the third by 1-0 and went on to defeat Middlesex Regiment 3-0 in the semifinal, according to the club`s website.

After a barren first half in the final, East York captain Sergeant Jackson drew first blood. But Bagan skipper Shibdas Bhaduri equalised within five minutes.

Finally, just two minutes before the long whistle, Abhilash Ghosh netted the ball following a Bhaduri pass and history was scripted.

To commemorate the historic event, Mohun Bagan has planned a year-long programme which began on July 29 here.

Before 1911, Bagan had won the Trades Cup three times in a row from 1906 to 1908. At that time, Trades Cup was the next prestigious tournament after IFA Shield.

In 1905, Mohun Bagan had defeated Dalhousie, winner of that year`s IFA Shield, by 6-1, the club site said.