Sugata Mukherjee pens a blow-by-blow account on the battle of the fans during a UNITED-LIVERPOOL showdown
The day was January 13. The time was 7pm. The event was a football match, but not just any football match. Two of the fiercest rivals in the history of football — Manchester United and Liverpool — were going head to head. Around 75 United and Liverpool supporters were just settling down inside a cafe in south Calcutta to watch their teams battle it out some 5,000 miles away. The number might seem quite small compared to the 75,501 attendance at Old Trafford, but the passion was just as high.
Manchester United Fans Club — Kolkata (MUFC-K on Facebook) were the organisers and they had invited the Liverpool fan club in Calcutta, Bengal Kop, to join them. According to Anindya Chowdhury of MUFC-K, this screening was special because this was the first time they had to decline people who wanted to be part of the screening due to lack of space.
|57th minute: Daniel Sturridge scores for Liverpool
It was not long before the banter started, and the 20-odd Liverpool fans were quickly outnumbered. Chants of “19 times, that’s a fact” and “Suarez is a Racist” had started even before kick-off. The place was filled with banners and posters and jerseys and scarves of both teams.
Kick-off: A loud roar. United get off to a great start. Every touch of the ball by Suarez is met by cheers from the Liverpool fans and boos from the United supporters.
19th minute: Goooooaaaal! Robin Van Persie! Shouts. Jumps. High-fives. The cafe authorities request us to turn down the volume. The Liverpool corner is, of course, completely silent.
31st minute: United is bossing the midfield and we fans are bossing the cafe-stadium. Shouts of “You’re next, you’re next” greet Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho when he is spotted in the stands.
HALF-TIME: Krishnendu Biswas and other members of Bengal Kop hand over a memento to Sayan Chakraborty of MUFC-K as a token of appreciation. The memento has pictures of all the eight United players who had lost their lives in the Munich Air Disaster and reads “A Tribute To The Busby Babes”. A great gesture, greeted with loud applause.
|54th minute: Robin Van Persie’s freekick from which Evra scores
46th minute: Camaraderie over, back to the contest. Antonio Valencia is on for an injured Ashley Young for United, Daniel Sturridge has replaced Lucas for Liverpool. 54th minute: Liverpool has started strong. United wins a free-kick 35 yards from goal. Captain Nemanja Vidic is in the box. “Vida will score”, I shout. Van Persie swings it on to Patrice Evra’s head and the ball is in the net. Mayhem! Someone loses his spectacles but keeps on dancing. “United! United!”. Replays show the ball had actually deflected off Vidic’s head into the goal, so my prediction had been right! 57th minute: Oh, no! Daniel Sturridge scores. Taking advantage of a lapse of concentration on the part of Rafael. The Liverpool fans come alive. “Steven Gerrard” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is the chants. Things are getting tense.
70th minute: Phew! Sturridge comes within inches of an equaliser. United fans are edgy. The Scousers are confident. The TV commentary can be heard for the first time as hardly anyone moves a muscle, let alone speak.
90th minute: The fourth official shows four minutes time added on. “Where did he get 4 minutes from?” is the popular question from the United camp.
FINAL WHISTLE: Sigh of relief followed by loud cheers, high-fives and hugs from the Red Devils. The big enemy has been defeated. The Liverpool fans are disappointed with the result but satisfied with their team’s fighting spirit.
The organisers are gung-ho with the support they have received from fans in Calcutta for this first Joint Screening and hope for bigger and better ones in future. Will you be game?!
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