WHEN EAST BENGAL KICKED OFF their year-long centenary celebrations on 1st August 2019, the emphasis was given on the culmination.
1st August 2020, the day that would mark an exact century from the club's birth, was expected to be commemorated with a massive event at the club ground, in the presence of thousands of loyal fans.
The COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible for them to host a programme with that scale and fervour. Plus the ongoing uncertainties surrounding the Red and Golds' ISL entry has dampened the celebratory mood; even if by a minuscule margin.
As afternoon approached, a number of fans, officials, members and journalists gathered at the club premises. There was a strict policy of wearing masks, but social distancing proved to be difficult due to the crowd. But still, cautiously, officials organized the first official event of the day; the hoisting of the club flag. Fans chanted 'Joy East Bengal' as the red and gold emblem went up the flagpole...
Back in the club house, a cake was cut in celebration and pieces were distributed among everyone present.
Even East Bengal's arch rival Mohun Bagan participated in the celebrations, delivering their customary sweets and flowers to the EB officials.
Afterwords, many of the dignitaries present who included some former players as well, spoke to fans and the media about the occasion.
In parallel, a fan community called 'East Bengal the Real Power' was running an initiative called '100 Years, 100 Cities, 100 Flags' where they posted pictures of East Bengal fans proudly displaying their colours in different cities around the world.
Happy Birthday to East Bengal Club and Congratulations for completing 100 years of your illustrious journey in Indian Club Football. I am so proud to have been a part of this family. Joy Eastbengal?????
I would also like to wish a very blessed Eid Mubarak to everyone.?? pic.twitter.com/jefcqZpfFr
However, the looming question of whether or not East Bengal's efforts to enter the ISL would be successful or not was still very much the prevalent topic of conversation at the club. When reporters raised the issue with senior EB official Debabrata Sarkar, he said,
"There's no reason to feel like we've lost... those who are assuming we have lost are mistaken. The results aren't out yet... FSDL is trying to accommodate us, I can say that much."
West Bengal government's sports minister Arup Biswas, who attended the event, also expressed support for East Bengal's inclusion in the ISL,
"Without East Bengal it would lack excitement... it's up to the organizers now whether they want to have an ISL with East Bengal or without them."
The club officials also said that a bigger celebration will also be held once the pandemic has passed and the situation has returned to normal.