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Meet knights of soccer nights, armed with tea

- Football fans are doing the graveyard shift to catch live World Cup action, no matter how late

Tea, coffee, cigarettes and midnight showers.

As the knockout rounds inch closer, crazy soccer fans in Jamshedpur are doing all they can to stay awake and watch live telecasts of late-in-the-night World Cup football outings.

For the steel city’s Bengali community, where supporters of football clubs Mohun Bagan and East Bengal turn the traditional rivalry into a religion, no sacrifice is too much for World Cup, which comes once in four years.

In Pramathnagar, a predominantly Bengali hub in Parsudih on the city outskirts, football fever is an epidemic.

Retired Telco (now Tata Motors) employee Sushil Dey (78) who has played with legendary P.K. Banerjee in Jamshedpur soccer league in his heydays, watches two matches (from 9.30pm and again from 12.30am) with his son Sudipto at his drawing room in Parsudih. And yes, sometimes, he stays up for the third.

The septuagenarian, who is a big Brazil fan, admits he “lives on tea” to stay awake. “I ensure dinner is light these days. Then, I take a stroll on the verandah of my home as a warm-up,” he said.

“Two matches are a must, but I do sometimes watch the third match in the wee hours. Watching boys like Neymar, Mathieu Valbuena, Lionel Messi and others play is something I can’t resist,” smiled the young-at-heart fan.

Dey added he left smoking “years before” to stay healthy for football. “I wake up fresh in the mornings to catch up newspaper articles on soccer. Yes, again with tea. After all, a World Cup comes every four years,” he said.

Son Sudipto (40), who gives his father company, admits he smokes off and on at night as well as drinks tea to keep awake for all three matches. “Puffs and sips keep me going, but I take my drag outside home,” said the man who runs an electrical shop. Asked if he feels sleepy in the mornings, he said: “That’s why I go for football adda with my friends. We discuss the last night’s matches to freshen up for the grind.”

Nirmal Roy (49), librarian at Shyama Prasad Mukherjee High School, Parsudih, watches two matches. “I can’t watch the third as I have to rush to school in the morning. I tell my wife to keep a stock of lemon tea ready,” he said.

Private firm employee Bishesh Kundu (45), Sidhgora resident and a big fan of Brazilian striker Neymar, is relying on quick showers to keep himself awake for matches. “Yes, I have tea and cigarettes. But a quick shower during half-time of matches keeps me cheering. I did the same during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa,” he said.

Resident of Ashiana Gardens in Sonari, Amitava Ghosh, who watches two night matches, had an interesting observation. “I’ve noticed a drop in number of morning walkers. Must be the World Cup effect,” he grinned.

What are you doing to stay awake this World Cup? Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com


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