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The bare-footed Mohun Bagan clinched the victory by defeating the British Club, East Yorkshire Regiment 2-1 on August 18, 1911.

Written by Arnab Mitra | New Delhi |
Updated: December 16, 2018 1:16:23 pm
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To mark the historic victory in the 1911 IFA Shield, FIFA will honour Mohun Bagan by selling tickets for the Under-17 World Cup from May 16. The Federation has planned to start selling tickets for the mega event at exactly 19:11 hours (7:11 PM) on Thursday.

The victory for Mohan Bagan against East Yorkshire on July 29, 1911 was a moment of triumph for the Bengal club which left an indelible mark on the football history of the country. It was also a symbolic victory against the British Raj.


It was 1889, two decades after the 1857 Indian rebellion against the British, when the Mohun Bagan club came into existence. The Cub was coincidentally established on August 15 by Bhupendranath Basu with the aid of Kirti Mitra and Nilkanta Sen. But on its first anniversary, the name of Mohun Bagan Club changed to Mohun Bagan Athletic Club, on the words of Professor FJ Rowe.

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The 1905 declaration of the partition of Bengal by Lord Curzon outraged the Indians and sparked a huge resentment among the countrymen. The Indians who tried a failed revolution in different parts of the country were said to have been motivated by the winning spree of the local club. The club played its first match in the Cooch Behar Cup in 1893. The club though participated in various tournaments like Trades Cup, Gladstone Cup, but remained unsuccessful.

The League of extraordinary gentlemen: A mural of the 1911 IFA Shield champions. (Source: Subham Dutta)

Eleven years later, Sailen Basu , a subedar major in the Brtish Indian Army was appointed their coach. The club began its victory march with the win of Trades Cup, Gladstone Cup and Coochbehar Cup in 1904. Soon, the people counted the victory of the club as their victory against the British Raj.

Tracing India’s football history, writer Vivek Menezes writes, “In 1911, (Mohun) Bagan’s barefooted Bengalis defeated the British Army’s East Yorkshire Regiment, firing two goals in the last five minutes to win the Indian Football Association Shield. That real-life Lagaan moment played out in front of 60,000 delirious fans. The newspapers exulted, ‘Mohun Bagan is not a football team. It is an oppressed country rolling in the dust, which has just started to raise its head.”

How the victory sparks the Indian Independence movement?

In those tumultuous years, Mohan Bagan reached the final of the IFA Shield in 1911. “To see the final match, the British government expects a crowd of one million people in Calcutta,” said Lt. Governor of Bengal William Duke. According to various newspapers, an estimated one lakh people arrived in Kolkata to witness the final match on August 18, 1911.


The bare footed Mohun Bagan team clinched the victory by defeating the British Club, East Yorkshire Regiment (2-1). Capain Shibdas Bhaduri and Abhilahsa Ghosh were the scorers.

With the second goal entered the post at the eighty-seventh minute, Bengalis cheered with tearing off their shirts and shouting slogans ‘Vande Mataram’, reported the Reuters News Agency. The official website of the club thus wrote about the historic win, “The players were taken on a public procession atop a horse driven carriage. Both Hindus & Muslims came out with band parites. The procession reached Wellington Square after evening ! Ladies in the houses blew their conchs & lit their ‘diyas’ ( lamps) in honor of the brave lads.”


Historian Boria Majumdar writes, “For a brief moment with 1911 the inner craving among Indians to come out winners in the struggle for self-assertion became a tangible reality. The status of Mohun Bagan as the national football team made them a fighting unit in India’s battle against the imperialists. Mohun Bagan had become synonymous with the national battle cry for Vande Mataram, Their matches against European teams were perceived as battles against the Raj and the match between Mohun Bagan and Calcutta Football Club came to be seen in that light.”


The newspaper Englishman (now Statesman) in his report mentioned , “Mohun Bagan has succeeded in what the Congress and the Swadeshiwallas have failed to do so far to explode the myth that the Britishers are unbeatable in any sphere of life.”

The nationalist sentiment was raised into its peak, said Boria Majumdar. “It was reported in one vernacular newspaper that in the immediate aftermath of the match the European parts of the city wore a dark and deserted look reflecting something mournful. The Englishman reported that the ‘Saheb’ localities of Calcutta were engulfed by gloom after the defeat. Some Europeans even responded with bitterness,” writes Boria.
Celebrating the victory, singer Karunanidhan Bandhophyay composed a song which was published in the September-October issue of Bengali magazine ‘Manasi’ in 1911.
Jegeche aaj desher chele pathe loker bhir

(The sons of the soil have awken: the streets are crowded)

Antopure futlo hasi banga-rupasir

(The bengali women have broken out in smiles)

Goal diyeche gorar gole bangalir aaj jeet

(We’ve scored against the whites; it’s a triumph of the Bengalis)

Akash cheye uthche udhao unmadonar geet

(The air is filled with song of rejoicing)

Aajker aei bijoy bani bhulbe nako desh

(The motherland will never forget today’s victory)

Sabbash Sabbash Mohun Bagan khlecho bhai besh

(Hail! Hail! Mohun Bagan you have played very well)

The League of extraordinary gentlemen: The winning team of the 1947 IFA Shield tournament. (Source: Subham Dutta)

The club made the country proud on several occasions – from 1948 London Olympic to 1962 Asiad.

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First published on: 01-05-2017 at 08:36:09 pm

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