We’ve come a long way since Mohun Bagan won the 1911 IFA Shield against the East Yorkshire Regiment of the British Army. Nevertheless, it still remains the crowning glory of Indian football. Notably, the IFA Shield is the second oldest football competition in the world after the English FA Cup. It was created by and for the English troops stationed in India back in 1893. Besides, Mohun Bagan’s win could arguably be termed the most crucial political win in Indian sports history. Even after 111 years of that iconic victory, 29th July of every year is still celebrated as Mohun Bagan Day. Furthermore, Mohun Bagan’s playing eleven in the final goes by the name of ‘Amor Egaro’ or ‘Immortal Eleven’ in folklore. A 2012 movie named ‘Egaro‘ depicts the journey of this remarkable achievement.
The IFA Shield was strictly an English affair in the formative years. However, Bagan’s dominance in the footballing circuit made the English administrators pay attention to them. Eventually, they invited the Mariners to participate in the 1906 edition of the tournament. It marked the first time an Indian club took part in what was the nation’s top-most football competition at the time. Nevertheless, their transition to the big league proved a tougher task than expected. Their first five years at the event saw them on an abysmal run. However, the 1911 Mohun Bagan team changed the course of history forever.
The marvelous 1911 IFA Shield victory of Mohun Bagan as it unfolded!
The acquisition of Shibdas Bhaduri and handing him the captaincy was a pivotal move by the Indian club. He led from the front up until the winning goal in the final. Notably, Bagan won all the matches with comprehensive displays in their run to the final. Also pivotal to that was their goalkeeper Hiralal Mukherjee. In their second match, the opposition team, Rangers, were given three penalties during regulation time. However, Mukherjee defied the odds and saved all three of them to give Bagan a 2-1 win.
That match really made the population take notice of Mohun Bagan’s run in the event. And the final match, why? Thousands of people from nearby states and beyond flocked to the ground on the day of the final. Special transportation was allotted just for this single match. The organizers flew kites with club colors to keep the enormous visitors abreast of the scoreline. Besides, the contrast in the kits of the two sets of players perfectly painted the picture of the contest. The Englishmen were the first to score on the final day via Sergeant Jackson. However, Bagan’s talisman Bhaduri leveled the score within 5 minutes of the opening goal.
The match remained 1-1 till the dying stages of the game. And yet again, Shibdas Bhaduri made the difference by breaking down the field and delivering a fine cross to Abhilash Ghosh. He headed the ball into the net with only 3 minutes left on the clock. The sky was pained in the maroon and green colors of the Indian club. Mohun Bagan managed to hold on to the 2-1 lead till the referee’s whistle. The scenes right after the win beggared description. A euphoria of uncontrolled emotions was unleashed amongst the Mohun Bagan supporters. It was more than just a win on the football field. It marked a payback to the British Raj under unprecedented circumstances. There is only one thing bigger than the 1911 IFA Shield title of Mohun Bagan. And that is the pride that it generated among the Indians.