| Coach Amal Dutta with Jeremiah, who has been the key man behind Ever-Ready’s recent success
Calcutta: It’s quite an unusual picture. A bunch of players sweating it out under the watchful eyes of Amal Dutta in the heart of Salt Lake’s administrative and business district.
This is the Ever-Ready Association soccer team going ahead with its preparations for graduating into the big league, unmindful of the hustle and bustle all around. But when the veteran coach walks up to Earnest Chukwuma Jeremiah to show him how to keep a ball on target or to Surajit Chakraborty (Sr) to demonstrate how a defender should go for the final tackle, Ever-Ready’s story of being a surprise package in the local competition comes to the fore.
According to Dutta, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan’s domestic domination needs to be “decentralised” for Indian football to go ahead. Ever-Ready’s recent string of success — which includes the All India Airlines Trophy by beating Mohun Bagan — reflects his thoughts in a small but significant way.
If success is measured by consistency, Ever-Ready have shown enough of it. They thrashed Mohammedan Sporting 3-1 on their way to the IFA Shield semi-finals. They even pipped Tollygunge Agragami to fourth place in the Super Division.
Much of their success can be attributed to performances of two foreigners — Eugene Gray and Jeremiah.
Ever-Ready are one of those few clubs here to have a corporate sponsor — Officers Choice — and with their full backing, Dutta’s boys are now planning a tour abroad.
“We are leaving for a tournament in Assam this week, then comes the Bordoloi Trophy. Afterwards, we plan to go to Bangkok,” a club official said.
But Dutta feels the team will be facing a bigger challenge if allowed to play in the National Football League second division. “I’m keenly looking forward to the AIFF’s decision in this regard. If we can make it, we’ll definitely give it a try to be part of the NFL proper,” quips the coach.
Ever-Ready, established in 1927, kept plodding on for almost seven decades till a group of Maidan-regulars undertook a total revamp.
In 1994, the rebuilding process started. This involved a new home in the Kidderpore tent and forming a promising team.
The graph has been steadily rising ever since Ever-Ready made their debut in the fifth division next year. “When we had to spend one extra year in the third division (in 1998), we roped in Super Division players, as part of our progression towards the Super Division,” said a club official.
That moment of glory came last year when they got admission to the top tier of the local league by dint of being the first division group A champions. However, their maiden year in the elite league didn’t go on expected lines as they were pushed over to the relegation zone.
This was when Dutta took over and guided Ever-Ready’s rise to a force to reckon with.