Open Letter To West Block Blues From An East Bengal Fan
Dear West Block Blues,
Much has been said about the BFC vs. EB game, so much so that it could have been a trending topic had there not been the Oscar Award going on in the same weekend. Being an East Bengal fan, here are a few words that I thought is worth sharing:
1. Firstly, let me give credit to you. You folks were vocal throughout the game and kept the decibel level up even when chips were down – which shows your unshakable passion. Such passion is truly laudable. Secondly, keeping aside this game, you have done quite commendable work in a short span. You are one of the harbingers of new age fan culture that is currently finding its way in most of the teams. And thirdly, you have been mobilized in a place that had ITI or HAL, but never seen such passion. A part of it is due to initial success; nevertheless, you have done commendable work.
2. Football ground had often seen much worse intimidating tactics and your idea of being foul mouth is claimed to be one such tactic. Fair enough. Most people who visit the football gallery are not saints and neither are they there to chant shlokas from Bhagavad Gita. Having said that, there is a fine line between being vulgar and being intimidating. I watched the game in a telecast sans commentary, where the sounds of the ground were captured. Being quite thick skinned as I am, this one often stepped the other side of border – no, it was not intimidating; it was simply vulgar, and mostly irritating. Opinions are certain to differ. On a separate note, several self-proclaimed messiahs of Indian football, often time rue that football grounds fail to draw families, kids or even ladies for a plethora of reason. Investing in a culture of vulgar chants is surely going to be detrimental in the long run in spreading support base.
3. Knowing AIFF and its lack of spine, I can predict that nothing will happen for holding up of opposition team bus. I am told, such a thing is another ‘intimidating tactics’, which again, in reality, is mostly irritating. In a world of more civilized parent body, such an act will be a ‘failure to comply’ with match organization’s guidelines bringing fine and/or ban on the venue and moving future games to neutral venue – if FIFA’s guidelines are followed. Be rest assured that nothing of such sort will happen. However, you as fans need to consider if you want to tarnish your club’s repute by going overboard.
4. As on organization, BFC is often regarded as bringing much-needed professionalism. Such reputation brings responsibility, not limiting to ensuring that the score card does not change suddenly. It also means that practice times and slots for the away team be given as per FIFA guidelines. Again, in the world of AIFF, rules are meant to be broken. But if you are the torchbearers of sainthood, your piousness need to be measured in gold. Mistakes happen; as the makers of La La Land will say. The beauty will be in not having a repeat.
Testing times arrive with standing by the team when chips are down. For last 97 years, we have survived because our passion has seen a handover over generations. Kids grow up seeing their elders, learning from them. As first generation supporters, your responsibility is many times more. The seeds you sow now will hopefully become a tree and bear fruits in future. Starting on a wrong note can lead to significant loss – for us or our neighbours faltering means change of course; for you faltering may mean extinction.
Nevertheless, we wish you nothing but the best in the remainder of the competition and the upcoming AFC Cup. We hope that you make us proud again. We will see you in Kolkata, and surely, the bitterness of this visit will be forgotten and you will be given the same warm welcome that you generally receive from our six-figure fan base. Meanwhile, please do send us a THANK YOU note, if you wish to, for securing your highest attendance of the season.
An East Bengal Fan