January 24, 2021

Kolkata Derby: Fans gear up to cheer for their respective clubs in ‘New Normal’

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The ‘new normal’ has been harsh on the football fans of Kolkata but they will still cheer for their respective clubs from back home…

The year 2020 has brought both joy and sadness for the Kolkata football fans.

While on one hand, the Kolkata giants entered the Indian Super League (ISL) this year, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the football-crazy fans of the city will not be able to watch their clubs making their debuts in the top tier league in person as the league is being held in Goa this season.

ISL will witness its first-ever Kolkata derby on November 27 but due to the Covid-19 situation, the titanic clash will be held behind closed doors, a first time in the history of the iconic rivalry.

A Kolkata derby without fans is unthinkable but that is sadly the ‘new normal’ this year. But although the fans will not be present at the stadiums, they will certainly back their teams from Kolkata by either organising screenings or watching together. 

Goal caught up with an ardent Mohun Bagan fan who will miss cheering for his favourite club from the stands in the team’s debut season in the ISL.

“It is extremely difficult for us to come to terms that we will not be able to support our team at the stadium especially when Mohun Bagan are making their debut in the ISL. I remember how we used to enjoy every single home game in the I-League last season and also celebrated the title,” said Subham Mondal, a member of a Mohun Bagan fan’s club named ‘Beleghata Mariners‘.

While the ‘Beleghata Mariners’ will not be present at the stadium, some of their members including Subham will watch the derby along with fellow fans. 

“We are not planning to host any screening this time. Some of us will gather at a friend’s place to watch the game. Obviously, we cannot replicate the stadium atmosphere in someone’s home but we will be taking part in the fan wall organised by the ISL. We have registered ourselves there and will try to savour as much fun as possible,” said the die-hard Bagan fan.

An East Bengal fan club in Batanagar, Kolkata named ‘Batanagar Lal Holud Paribar’ will rent a house on Friday evening to organise a screening of the derby for its members.

Srotriya Ghosh, a member of the fan club told Goal how much the Red and Golds fans will miss cheering for their team from the stands of the Salt Lake Stadium on the derby day.

“We have missed the opportunity to watch our first ISL derby in Yuba Bharati Krirangan. It’s very upsetting but to enjoy the magic of derby, we are arranging a screening of the match in Batanagar. Let’s hope to enjoy derby away from the team this season.”

East Bengal officials have organised a screening at the club’s maidan tent on Friday where fans will be allowed to come in and cheer for their favourite club. The screening, though, will be held following all state government protocols related to the pandemic.

Several other Mohun Bagan and East Bengal fan groups have plans of hosting screenings in their localities. The fans have come up with a new way in the ‘new normal’ to back their respective clubs.