An Epic Tale: Mohun Bagan’s win Against East Yorkshire Regiment

Bare-footed against a stronger side, they established an epic tale in 1911

The year was 1911 and India as a country was still under the command of the British Raj. It was an era when India was fighting its own battle of liberation against the Britishers. The freedom was achieved after 36 years in 1947, but an Indian football club from the city of Kolkata (Calcutta) showed a British side that India cannot be tamed anymore in any aspect. It’s the epic tale of Mohun Bagan Athletic Club’s victory over the East Yorkshire Regiment team of the British army.

Mohun Bagan, India’s oldest football club formed in the year 1889, was summoned to participate in the Indian Football Association Shield (IFA Shield). At that time, the club was only 22-years-old and being under the British regime; the club had no or little fund compared to other British clubs. From football kits to support faculty and training equipment, the team of Mohun Bagan were inferior against the mighty rich British sides. It was a club which could not even afford to purchase football boots for its players.

Nonetheless, the club boasted a memorable performance throughout the tournament. The team defeated Xavier’s Institute by 3-0, followed by a sweep against the Rangers FC. In the quarter-final, Mohun Bagan thrashed Rifle Brigade by a scoreline of 1-0 to join the semi-final where they humiliated Middlesex Regiment by a massive 4-1 last score.

Coached by disciplinarian Sailen Basu, the club with bare-footed players defended itself in the first 45 minutes of the final match. In the second half, Yorkshire Regiment club began to show aggressive football as a shot from Sergeant Jackson in the 75th minute resulted in the back of Mohun Bagan’s net. Determined to not lose the match, captain Shibdas Bhaduri immediately scored back to equalize the game. Within the next 15 minutes, Mohun Bagan and Indian football created history as centre-forward Abhilash Ghosh scored the match-winning goal. 1911, Mohun Bagan became the first-ever team to lift the IFA shield as football went onto become a symbol of nationalism which further fuelled the freedom movement and revolution.

To pay a tribute to that legendary team, Bengal film director Arun Roy did a film by the title ‘Egaro, The Immortal Eleven’ in 2011. Later on, all the players from that winning team were rewarded the prestigious Mohun Bagan Ratna award, posthumously.

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