#FANSPEAK - An experience of a lifetime for a Hyderabad FC fan at the ISL grand finale

This is the story of Shashi, a Hyderabad FC fan and a member of the Deccan Legion, who travelled to Goa for the ISL 2021-22 playoff final match between Hyderabad FC and Kerala Blasters FC. The thrilling finale went into the penalties, leading to HFC winning their first ever national level silverware. Here, Shashi recounts the moments of joy and festivities that he and his fellow fans experienced throughout the day at Fatorda, in what has become the most memorable day for Hyderabad FC fans till date.

I reached Goa early in the morning morning at 7:00 AM. I could see Kerala Blasters fans on streets on the way to the hotel. After a quick breakfast on the way to stadium to collect the pass at BookMyShow Counter, the buzz has already started.

Mediapersons from Kerala were taking fan interviews. A girl was praying by placing yellow flowers at stadium entry gate. It was KBFC yellow everywhere. However no one knew I was HFC fan. I was wearing White T shirt.

At the ticket collection centre there were hundreds of Kerala Blasters fans already queued up, around 9:30 AM, an hour before the counter would open. I joined the queue. There were at least 3-4 media channels doing live interview of the fans. All the KBFC fans where upbeat, chanting and cheering. It felt like I was in the centre of a storm. 

A TV reporter was saying to the camera in Malayalam, “Everyone here is a KBFC fan.” (I can understand a bit of Malayalam) He was asking all the fans in the queue, “You are from Kerala right?” He was asking a few question about tickets, the match, KBFC coach and their players. He came to me and asked if I was from Kerala, I said was an HFC fan and suddenly there was silence for a moment, I felt very strange, with hundreds of Blasters fans' eyes on me. A frightening situation. 

The TV guy continued to question in Malayalam, and I didn’t understand what he asked. So he switched to English.

TV reporter: Who will the final? 

Me: Football will win and both team played well to be in the finals. (Afraid of backlash from KBFC Fans, I didn’t want to trigger them, they were high in spirits. Though they have been very good)

TV reporter: Your favourite player?

Me: Akash Mishra.

TV Reporter: Do you think Ogbeche will score today?

Me: Yes, Hope he scores. (Looking at people around)

TV Reporter: All the best.

Me: Thanks, wish you the same.

There were a few Kerala Blasters fans without tickets and enquiring about any tickets, A rival fan beside me said sarcastically “if you want tickets, go and ask HFC. They are providing Free passes.” I said, “Then why am I here to collect tickets from BookMyShow counter?” I hope he understood that a good number of HFC fans were here to support our team.

Photo Courtesy - ISL

Almost every KBFC fan took it for granted that no one was here to Support HFC. However we were around 300 from Deccan Legion who had travelled to Goa. But for some media houses it was like just KBFC were there and HFC didn’t exist.

Meanwhile, it was my turn to collect the tickets and head back to the hotel. In the afternoon, we put our jersey and scarfs on and set off towards the stadium, with a stopover for a couple of drinks and lunch.

I was now joined by a couple of fellow HFC fans, at the restaurant. While having lunch, we met  a gang of KBFC fans. At first, I had to let them know that I was an HFC fan (The yellow jerseys on both sides made things confusing at times).

We had a very good time with these guys, all excited to interact with rival fans.

On the way to the stadium at around 4 PM, all the roads were filled with the Manjapadda. We were only 4 HFC fans. Others were still on their way due to their bus being late to arrive). Walking through a sea of KBFC fans, I felt like we were piercing through the Manjapadda battalions. Most of the Manjapadda applauded us. Good Gesture. Enjoyed the atmosphere thoroughly. Best memories of my life.

Inside the stadium, everyone knows what happened on pitch. Our throats were blunt, we couldn’t speak normally, still chanting our hearts out in unison, until the police ushered us out of the stadium following the presentation ceremony.

Photo Courtesy - ISL

For me, from a stage where I was thinking of supporting teams from other cities to have a champion team in Hyderabad FC in 3.5 years is still unbelievable and a dream come true.

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