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Churchill Brothers Review: Mid-season transformation from bottom-dwellers to giant-killers

CHURCHILL BROTHERS WERE ONE OF THE MAJOR FORCES in Indian football when they had entered the national football scene.

Predominantly, Goan teams have remained a permanent face in Indian football. This year it would have been the top division without a team from Goa had Churchill Brothers not received a call up from the AIFF.


Churchill Brothers SC began under the name of Varca Club in the year 1988. Varca represented the vicinity where the formation of the club began. Even today, the Churchill Brothers have many of their practices at the Varca football ground in Margao, Goa. The club got its name as Churchill Brothers after the club owners change hands. The Goan side won the Durand Cup multiple times and also won the I-league twice.

The last major trophy for Churchill Brothers came in the season 2013-14 when they were the winners of the Federation Cup. Following the Fed Cup win, Churchill Brothers were barred from I-League in the next two seasons as the club was said to have failed to meet AFC licencing criteria. The champions were not even given a chance to defend the title.

The team was "allowed" by the AIFF to participate in the last season after the three Goan clubs namely Sporting Club de Goa, Dempo and Salgaocar SC withdrew from the competition. So after a gap of two years Churchill Brothers finally made an appearance in the top most domestic league.


Although the club was allowed back in the I-League, the time for preparation was quite less as was the case with other teams like Minerva Punjab FC and Chennai City FC who were given the nod for participation late in 2016, just about two weeks before the I-League began. Churchill has most of the players participating in the Goa Professional League which was still ongoing when the announcement of their inclusion came. The GPL would go on till the end of the year 2016. So the practices had taken a hit as all players were not available.

The worry was that of foreign player signings. Churchill, in the past, have been known for their quality foreigners. Bektur and Wolfe were said to be in talks before the season began.

Churchill Brothers: Season Review

Disappointing start

In the first four games of the I-League, Churchill were able to secure just a point losing to Mohun Bagan, Mumbai FC and East Bengal FC in the first three games. Churchill got their first win against Benglauru FC in a game that saw an altercation between Bengaluru FC players Juanan, Johnson and then Churchill coach Alfred Fernandes. The next 5 games also did not see hope of Churchill moving up the ladder of points. They went on to pick two points of the possible 15 points for grabbing.

Change of hands

 Owing to the slump of performances, the club management decided to bring in Derrick Pereira as their head coach, relegating Alfred to the assistant's role. Sooner rather than later, Derrick was brought in the mid-season time to stop the downfall of the two-time I-League champions.

The Goan was experienced having managed teams like Mahindra United, Pune FC, DSK Shivajians and Salgaocar in the past. His experience was put to use as he transformed the team into a balanced side. The first game under him was a high scoring game that saw Churchill on the losing end.

Best phase

Once Derrick, the club shot up the ladder with three back to back wins that included beating Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. The five-match unbeaten run by Churchill had leapfrogged them from being relegation fighters to mid-table hunters. Churchill had started dreaming that avoiding relegation was still possible.

Against Chennai City, the team went all out and recorded their biggest win in the season winning the game 6-1 at home. Part of the outstanding performance was the news that Mumbai would be relegated and they were in contention for the Federation Cup berth they manage to beat Chennai City.

Federation Cup

The winners of the Federation Cup before their exile from top division, Churchill were playing Aizawl, East Bengal and Chennai City in the group stage. In the first game against East Bengal, Churchill showed some fight back to draw level. But a point from that game was the only one they would gain the Fed Cup campaign as they went on to lose against Aizawl FC and Chennai City. The pain imposed by Churchill was returned back to Churchill as they ensured that the 3-1 win meant Churchill also do not make the semi-finals.

Final Word

The team that did not have any star names and with a humble budget fought its way from the bottom to finish a respectable sixth in the table. That too with just three foreigners, one of whom joined the team only in the sixth game of the season. The introduction of Derrick in mid season was key to the transformation from of a bottom-dwelling into team to giant-killers and getting them into the Federation on their comeback season.

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