THE 109TH ANNIVERSARY of Mohun Bagan's historic maiden IFA Shield Triumph is being celebrated in innovative ways, maintaining the safety COVID-19 safety protocols.
In an annual festive gathering that usually sees thousands of fans and members show up at the club premises to celebrate a mostly barefoot Indian amateur team besting the East Yorkshire Regiment on 29th July 1911, the ongoing pandemic caused the Mohun Bagan management to think of different ways to mark the day.
Instead of having a traditional celebration, the club decided to spread out the event from USA to the internet. The fans, who put on their own events sometimes in collaboration with the club management and sometimes on their own, contributed as they could to make the occasion memorable.
The commencement of celebrations was marked at the stroke of midnight in India; but it took place in Times Square, New York. The big advertising screen on the NASDAQ Tower took on the iconic green & maroon colours of the club.
The display, first of a kind for an Indian club, was organized by the Mohun Bagan management with the help of some fans living in the USA. Images of the tower sporting the Mohun Bagan emblem went viral on social media and eventually was shared by the official FIFA handle.
Meanwhile, during the night, members of a Mohun Bagan fan club called 'Mariners de Extreme' started their day by paying respects and singing club songs in front of the mural of the Immortal XI - the players who won the Shield in 1911 - situated at Mohun Bagan Sarani in North Kolkata.
Early in the morning, a small ceremony was held at the Mohun Bagan club lawn where officials hoisted the club's flag and presented the Mohun Bagan Ratna award to former cricket Palash Nandi.
Other awardees, including former hockey player Gurbux Singh and Lifetime Achievement Award winners footballer Pranab Ganguly and athlete Monoranjan Parel, along with season's awards (Best footballer Joseba Beitia, best youth footballer Sajal Bag) were commemorated remotely and their acknowledgement videos were shared on social media.
Around 11 am, Mariners Base Camp, a prominent home supporter group, released a song in commemoration of th 1911 triumph.
Sanjiv Goenka, principal owner of ATK Mohun Bagan FC - the football arm of Mohun Bagan - soon joined in on the celebration wishing everyone a happy Mohun Bagan Day via a video message.
Several former and current players like Sony Norde, Pritam Kotal and Pronay Halder, as well as football head coach Antonio Habas also issued video messages conveying their best wishes to the fans and members.
For the next 12 hours, the club's official youtube channel and Facebook page held multiple panels where players and personalities associated with the club discussed the historic significance of Mohun Bagan Day and the future path the club is taking with its move to the Indian Super League from the 2020-21 season onwards.
While many fans were still unhappy not to be able to attend the occasion in person, they responded in numbers to the memorable attempt by the club to reach out to them in a safe way keeping the ongoing pandemic in mind.