East Bengal

Supporting East Bengal, living an unparalleled madness.

March, 2015. East Bengal lost a crucial point in dying stages of Ileague, which almost throw them out of championship fight. Every one of us were frustrated. For years, it been the same story for us, East Bengal supporters. Coming so close to winning the title and then losing the way somehow. The repeat of same incident again and again just made us lose our mind. I was angry. I was livid with everything. I hastily remarked on our WhatsApp group, that I will no longer take interest on East Bengal’s matches. Few supported me. But a young boy Rony Adhikary replied “Bro, you know my sister has suffered a miscarriage. And I was still in the stands to support my team. Without us team can’t reach anywhere. Yes, we may lose. But we will always be East Bengalian. So never speak about not supporting team, again.” There was moment of silence. Yes, East Bengal finished in 3rd position, that year. And even in the subsequent year too East Bengal failed to win the Ileague title. But we still support our team, celebrate our victories, share our agony in defeats, but we are always together as in a huge family. 

Last year, Abhishek Dutta had to stay in office overnight. He had a presentation next day. He did the presentation. After that attended a client meeting. He was exhausted. He got out of office early and went straight into Kalyani for the final encounter of Kolkata League. I enquired that from where did he managed such huge amount of energy. He replied that he would not miss the last match of the spring season even for his life. 
Soumitra Ghoshal da, he lives in Asansol. It’s not possible for him to attend every match in Kolkata. But he finds his time to attend few of the matches. He spends about 6 hours in train. Then bus journey to the club tent. And after that an hour ride to Yuva Bharati. And then same route back home. About 15 hours journey to watch a match of 90 minutes. Any news of East Bengal is available to him. 
Sandip Sarkar stays in remote area of Jhargram. Where even the basic necessities are hard to meet. Power cuts are very common. But these diversities fail to stop him to stay updated about East Bengal. If you have failed to witness any East Bengal match and you need the goal videos, he is the guy to talk. 
Samrat, youngest of our lot. He is in college. But you will seldom find him in the classrooms. You will either find him in Fossils concerts or East Bengal ground. 
Subhajit Paul, just ask him anything in the name of the team. Be it arranging 30 feet long red and gold flags with team banner or red and gold smoke bombs, Subhajit got that. Rain or thunders will hardly stop him from going to ground in team matches. 
Bhaskar Lahiri da, is in London. Nalinava Sengupta da in Oslo, Norway. But ask them anything about East Bengal. You will have the answers. 
These are madness. And just consider this amount of passion for a team ranking second or third in India, country which ranks anywhere from 95 to 195 in FIFA ranking. But yes, you cannot judge us on basis of any ranking. These love, these madness, these passions cannot be judged. 
When a physically disabled young man comes to the field in wheelchair. 
When a father reaches the ground after performing last rites of his son. 
When a civil engineer Swapan Ball, sacrifices his career for the love of the team. When a lower middle-class lady Yamuna Das spends her entire life with East Bengal, selling candies to the supporters and becomes Logens Masi, words are not enough to describe these passions. 
We are mad branch of people. We live and die for our team. We may be hungry but our stands will never stay empty during our matches. And most astonishing thing about us is we don’t choose the team, we are born as supporters of East Bengal. 

Bengal is divided into two ethnic group of people, one those who are original inhabitants of West Bengal known as “ghoti” and the second group who used to live in the Eastern Part of undivided India and settled in West Bengal after partition known as “Bangal”. East Bengal club represents the second group of people as the name suggests. So, for people who had their ancestry in Eastern part of undivided Bengal for them supporting East Bengal comes as heritage. So, being supporter of East Bengal is like religion to us. 

A group of people who once lost their relatives, their property and their every last resort had to look up to the East Bengal club for their self-esteem. Being defeated in every sphere of lives they put all their emotions in stake for the fight of 90 minutes on field. The burning torch, which is the logo of the club represents the fight of millions of people. 

For a personal experience, after graduating in 2008 there was not much job available for me as we were facing a huge recession. East Bengal was also not winning against arch rival Mohun Bagan in many matches. I was quite low emotionally at that point of time. I lacked the courage to fight. At that time another match took place between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. Right from the start East Bengal coach Subhash Bhowmick was signaling the crowd to chin up. Rahim Nabi scored twice, Sunil Chettri too scored. And East Bengal won 3-1. Subhash Bhowmick kept signaling the crowd to chin up. This match was a turning point in my life. I got the belief in me back. I started to put my “Chin” up and kept fighting my way. 

And we are all still fighting. We will never stop. Because we are East Bengal supporters, supporting East Bengal itself is a unique and unparalleled brand of madness.