Tollygunge break East Bengal after a tie
I put the wrong player on Srikanta Dutta: Bhowmick
IFA exposes itself again
Omollo signs for Bagan
Time to take local soccer seriously
Vereva may be hard to down
?Terms? race in Thursday card

Calcutta, July 6 
TOLLY 6 (2) E. BENGAL 3 (2)

What a match! Two hours of absorbing soccer saw four excellent goals being shared, the referee struggling to exert his authority and a pull-out threat that led to an almost 10-minute stoppage. In short, the works. But when it boiled down to the penalties, Tollygunge Agragami clinically decimated East Bengal and ended a 56-year wait for their first title with the fifth McDowell Cup.

Fittingly, it was Jayanta Sen?s shot from the spot that fetched Tollygunge the title. Small and supple, Sen had dished out some sensational stuff on the right side of the midfield to be adjudged Man of the Match.

East Bengal?s Supriya Das Gupta and Chanchal Bhattacharjee will have to live with the regret that, for all their commendable showing, they stuttered when it mattered most.

Das Gupta?s shot was saved by Tollygunge goalkeeper Bivash Ghosh diving to his right and Bhattacharjee shot out.

East Bengal?s championship bid ended with them after Ranjan Dey had converted the first penalty.

Stand-in skipper Biswarup Bishu, Rashmohan Mullick and Partha Sarathi Dey, in that order, scored with practised ease before Sen ended the shootout. Yesterday, Amal Dutta had said he wouldn?t mind another tie-breaker (Tollygunge had tamed Mohun Bagan similarly in the semi-final). Today, he showed why.

The team from south Calcutta got Rs 1.5 lakh and East Bengal took home half that amount. Losing semi-finalists Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting got Rs 25,000 each. Raman Vijayan emerged highest scorer with four goals and won Rs 5,000.

Just when it seemed Tollygunge would ground the young East Bengal team, the boys in red-and-gold fought back. And how. Down by Srikanta Dutta?s brilliant brace after the first half, they pressured relentlessly in the second to draw level through Raman Vijayan and Ranjan Dey, the equaliser coming two minutes from time.

Having contained East Bengal?s usually brisk start with more co-ordination in the midfield and playing a fluid, passing game, Tollygunge nosed ahead when Dutta scored in the 15th minute with a delectable side-volley.

The tall targetman set the move going with a short pass that freed Bishu near the left edge of the 18-yard box. Bishu?s centre deflected off East Bengal wing back Akshay Das and towards Dutta. Sensing the possibility of an on-the-run volley, Dutta shifted his weight on to the right foot and connected perfectly following a half turn.

Vijayan?s injury early in the match, after a tussle for an aerial ball with hard-working central defender Kajal Bhattacharjee, denied him the mobility a lone forward needs. With Tollygunge making better use of the wings and controlling the creative zone, East Bengal resorted to pushing men up but failed to break into the penalty area. Soon, Dutta struck again, this time from a counter-attack.

Latching on to a Moses Owira pass in his own half, the former East Bengal player raced past Akshay on the left before veering goalwards, dodging Bhattacharjee and shooting home. By the 39th minute, Tollygunge, functioned like a well-oiled machine, were 2-0 up and looked set for more.

But they cracked when East Bengal showed more purpose. At the heart of East Bengal?s efforts was Deepankar Roy, who supplanted an off-colour Amitava Ghosh, and Das Gupta. It was Das Gupta?s cross from the right that beat Bivash and Vijayan, following the ball till the end, tapped home in the 66th minute.

That sparked a turnaround. With Deepankar snatching the midfield reins, East Bengal took charge and the attacks began getting more frequent. In between, Sasthi Duley did rifle two right-footers but Gopal Das proved equal to the task.

Tollygunge?s switching into an overtly defensive mode meant traffic was one-way thereafter. Ranjan converted one of those chances, running into the defenders? blind zone and beating Bivash to take the match beyond regulation time.

Missiles rained on to the Tollygunge bench after the equaliser leading to Dutta wanting to pull the team out. The match resumed after 10 minutes.

Referee Bikash Mukherjee?s lenient supervision had earlier provoked another stoppage when Tollygunge players argued with him. Nobody was booked. Mukherjee also let both teams get away with cynical tackles.

Tonight the celebrations will be restricted to a little corner in Moore Avenue. Maybe that will change over time.


TOLLYGUNGE AGRAGAMI: Bivash Ghosh; Rashmohan Mullick, Partha Sarathi Dey, Kajal Bhattacharjee, Biswanath Mondal; Jayanta Sen, Arunava Sarkar, Biswarup Bishu, Sashti Duley (Prodyut Roy, 68th), Srikanta Dutta (Somenath Pramanick, 103rd), Moses Owira (Chandan Das, 82nd).

EAST BENGAL: Gopal Das; Akshay Das, Chanchal Bhattacharjee, Amitava Ghosh (Deepankar Roy, 31st), Ratan Singh; Amit Das, Prosenjit Pal (Supriya Das Gupta, 54th), Carlton Chapman, Ranjan Dey, Dinesh Dhoundial; Raman Vijayan (Saroj Das, 91st).

Referee: Bikash Mukherjee    

Calcutta, July 6 
In one corner of the floodlit Salt Lake Stadium, Amal Dutta was expressing his gratitude towards Tollygunge Agragami officials. In another, East Bengal coach Subhas Bhowmick was taking the blame for today?s defeat on himself.

Not known to lavish complements on officials connected with domestic football, the outspoken Dutta today said: ?I am very satisfied here. These officials are unlike the kind I have hitherto been associated with. While Mohun Bagan and East Bengal first recruit players and then appoint a coach, Tollygunge Agragami rightly did it the other way round.

?The officials consulted me before recruiting players and have given me complete freedom. Also, they arranged for training at SAI where the environment is just right. I am indebted to them.?

Training on the Maidan means sharing the ground with other clubs and that is an avoidable situation, he said. ?Once, when I was in Mohun Bagan, I even fought with my son as both wanted to practice at the same time,? the veteran coach said. Son Ashish was then with Calcutta Football Club then. He assists his father now.

Being able to deliver with a team without stars was what pleased him most, Dutta said. He explained Moses Owira was taken off because he wanted to focus on defence then and that key midfielder Chandan Das will be got back to his best by being gradually used for longer periods.

Dutta also criticised the supervision, saying his team played against ?14 men?.Senior official Mantoo Ghosh promised incentives for players, saying the amount will be worked out soon.

The EB ?mistake?

Never known to mince words, Bhowmick said he regretted having experimented with Amitava Ghosh. ?He is more comfortable in a zonal marking system. Today, I made the mistake of getting him to police Srikanta. I should never have experimented in this match.?

Having assumed charge on June 23, Bhowmick said it will take some more time before these boys play to potential. ?The team is now playing at 50 per cent of its ability.? He also said he was ?proud? of the way East Bengal fought back after being 0-2 in the arrears. Bhowmick mentioned Ranjan Dey, Chanchal Bhattacharjee and Ratan Singh for praise, adding that the ?two who missed are the team?s best penalty-shooters.?    

Calcutta, July 6 
Mohun Bagan will have to wait a while longer to begin their Super Division campaign, thanks to another exhibition of callousness and lack of professionalism by the state association.

Mohun Bagan, who were scheduled to meet George Telegraph at home tomorrow, were informed this evening that the tie had been put off.

?The IFA informed us after 7 pm that there will be no match tomorrow due to unavoidable circumstances,? Mohun Bagan secretary Anjan Mitra said tonight. ?We haven?t yet been able to inform all our players of the postponement.?

The IFA had only yesterday released July 7-15 fixtures, which stated that Mohun Bagan will take on George Telegraph on Wednesday at home. The match also figures in the official IFA notification to the media regarding next day?s fixtures.

The IFA defended its action, saying unforeseen circumstances had led to the postponement.

The government had banned matches on grounds which did not have concrete galleries following the gallery collapse at Mohammedan Sporting ground last year. ?But the home ministry, in principle, agreed to let IFA conduct matches at those grounds with spectators being allowed only on the member stands this season,? said IFA assistant secretary Debu Mukherjee. No written permission, though, was given, added Mukherjee.

The police today refused to let the IFA conduct matches without the home ministry?s letter.

Asked why IFA had released fixtures without the necessary written permission, Mukherjee said they had hoped to receive the green signal in time. That?s as ridiculous as it can get.

?We tried out level best, till the last minute, but were still forced to call off tomorrow?s match. Hopefully, by tomorrow, the problem will be solved and we?ll be able to carry on with the fixtures.? Interestingly, Thursday?s East Bengal versus BNR tie has not been called off.    

Calcutta, July 6 
Samuel Omollo, who reached the city yesterday, signed for Mohun Bagan at the IFA office today.

The Kenyan stopper-back, who had donned maroon-and-green jerseys last season too, had returned home after the National League. He is expected to play in Mohun Bagan?s Calcutta League Super Division opener, which is now likely to be on July 13 against FCI.    

Just as it has been for some time now, the Calcutta Football League got underway quietly. Not many remember when. And not many seem to care anymore.

Nothing exemplifies this more than the public galleries staying unrepaired in the Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting grounds. While Mohammedan Sporting?s stadium is in acute need of repair, the state association?s ham-handed management led to it releasing League fixtures without procuring fit certificates for even the members? stands of the two other clubs.

The green galleries, as the public stands are called, however, are yet to be repaired.

It will be interesting to know what the Indian Football Association (IFA), or for that matter, the state government has done in these past 11 months to get the galleries ready. It was in August last year that a section of the terraces in the Mohammedan Sporting ground collapsed under the weight of the club?s overflowing supporters. A lot was then said about replacing the wooden structures with more permanent ones in concrete.

Everybody associated with running the local football show then promised to do the needful. But time went by, other things took up our time and nothing got done. It was only late in May, a full nine months after that fateful Mohammedan Sporting-Peerless match, that the government funds were allocated. Nothing though is being done in concrete with repair being more of patchwork than complete overhaul.

The National League has greatly reduced the glamour of this once-popular competition. Closing out the paying public, even if it is temporary, certainly won?t help matters.

There was a time when the apex tier of the Calcutta League generated tremendous interest not only in Bengal but in rest of India and parts of the sub-continent as well. Mohammedan Sporting?s five successive League titles at the expense of English teams, were stuff legends were made of. The club became an institution and its exploits an inspiration to those struggling to break the shackles of colonial rule.

Even after Independence, players from Pakistan and the rest of India would flock to Calcutta for that is where all the action was. After all, not many other cities had an organised competition going and one which was followed with such passion. Not many do even now.

The beauty of this League was the different and difficult conditions players had to master for survival. Not everybody could. A player from south India, dubbed ?Black Stanley? by sections of the British-controlled press, failed so miserably that he had to go home quietly on a third-class railway ticket!

In those days the League would begin around when the nor?westers hit Bengal. The grounds would initially be hard and bouncy and matches often played in fierce evening storms. And just as one got used to the drier summer turf, monsoon would make football a totally different ball game.

Adjusting to such diverse conditions is akin to a tennis player?s adapting to different surfaces in next to no time. Leander and Mahesh did it in the span of two weeks and that is why they are such great champions.

Having an India-wide League is fine but it certainly does not mean we will neglect the one at the local level. Calcutta suffered the most because of the National League for it stopped the till-then unidirectional player traffic. And having to go through the grind of the Super Division, the Calcutta teams suffer most in the National League.

Local competition can be given a leg up by increasing the interaction between the Super Division teams and those from other tiers; starting inter-division play-off matches to decide who will be promoted and who stays behind. And of course, getting teams from Calcutta to play their counterparts in the districts. Little is being done by way of football promotion in the hick towns and hinterland of our state. Making the fifth division an exclusively under-16 affair won?t be a bad idea.

Since inception, the Calcutta league has survived a lot of crises. I just hope it tides over this one as well.

The National League may have altered equations in domestic football but some things never change. I am talking of our preparations for international tournaments. Few days from now, India travel to Thailand for the Olympic qualifiers. Forget arranging exposure trips or even a handful of friendlies with top Indian clubs, not even footage about our opponents could be got till Tuesday. This aspect of our preparations hasn?t changed over time.

Matters haven?t been helped by an accident virtually ruling out key midfielder S. Venkatesh for the away tie on July 17. Even Kasif Jamal, a likely replacement, is injured. Sans quality practice ties, sans long-term preparations, the boys are trying as best as they can. They are training twice a day and for over two months now.. Time will tell whether that is enough.    

Mysore, July 6 
David Tyrrel?s ward Vereva, unlucky to go down to Auctioneer in her last start, is tipped to win the 1,200m Poonawalla Estates Stud & Agricultural Farm Trophy, tomorrow. Shakti Singh partners the filly.


2.30 pm: Spanish Armada 1. Swiss Knife 2. Shathabdi 3.
3 pm: The zeal 1. Fairlight 2. You Bee Forty 3.
3.30 pm: Lady Scarlet 1. Pretty Romance 2. Thunder Flash 3.
4 pm: Amazer 1. Stolen Gold 2. Our Destiny 3.
4.30 pm: Vereva 1. Prince Zorro 2. Bessie 3.
5 pm: Octane 1. All Jade 2. Red Malibu 3.
5.30 pm: Golden Eye 1. Rock Sea 2. Guchi Gold 3.

Day?s Best: Vereva Double: Lady Scarlet & Amazer    

Calcutta, July 6 
The first terms races of the season, the Commuter Cup, features in Thursday?s six event race-card. First race starts at 1.50 pm:


1. Kilcloon Handicap, Div-II 1,400m (Cl V; Rated 00-28) 1.50 pm: Coalbrookdale 60; Island Empress 58.5; Air Command 57.5; Rheinheart 56; Altano 51.5; Volcano Top 48.5.

2. Blacktoi Handicap 1,100m (Cl V, 5-y-o & over; Rt. 00-28) 2.30 pm: Cavonnier 60; Carabineer 57; Crown Prince 56; Estrada 53.5; Tsarina 51.5; Alfa Supreme 49; Mac Blue 48.5; Hamriyah 48; Big Draw 47.5; Feather In The Cap 47.5.

3. Kilcloon Handicap, Div-I 1,400m (Cl V; Rt. 00-28) 3.05 pm: Gentle Priest 60; Unlimited 58.5; Turf Tunnel 56.5; Solid Gold 51.5; Lucky Sovereign 51; Media Star 49; Cool Down 47.5.

4. Commuter Cup 1,200m (Terms, 4-y-o & over) 3.40 pm: Star Comrade 60.5; Amyntor 56.5; Pentire 50; Transom 50.

5. Artaius Handicap 1,400m (Cl IV; Rt. 22-50) 4.15 pm: Imperial Choice 61; Blushing Grenadier 54.5; Scavenger?s Son 54; As Ever 53.5; Fringe Benefit 53.5; Timbertop 52; Prime Power 52; Knight Charmer 47.

6. Camlin Handicap 1,100m (Cl IV; Rt. 22-50) 4.50 pm: Mameena 60; Mr Chancellor 59; Dancing Fire 57.5; Marimba 57.5; Crest Star 55.5; Wind Racer 55; Storm Canyon 54.5; Persuasion 51.

Jackpot: 2; 3; 4; 5 & 6.

Treble: (i) 1; 2 & 3; (ii) 4; 5 & 6.

Track work

Stringfellows, Allspice, Firecreek and Aquaria worked well here on Tuesday morning:

Outer sand track

800m: Scavenger?s Son (Razzak) and Tabasco King (Akhtar) in 54 2/5s; (400m) 25 2/5s. Former was easy. Stringfellows (Akhtar) in 53 3/5s; (400m) 24s. Note. Allspice (C. Alford) and Abashed (Amil) in 55 2/5s; (400m) 26s. Former moved well. Firecreek (Amil) and Aquaria (C. Alford) in 56s; (400m) 25 2/5s. Both good. Constantine (Amil) and Amyntor (C. Alford) in 59s; (400m) 27s. Both easy. Hurricane Star (Akhtar) in 56 2/5s; (400m) 27 2/5s. Heaven?s Blessing (G. Singh) in 1-0s; (400m) 28s.

600m: Chicarica (Smith) in 41s; (400m) 25 3/5s. Good.

Sand track

800m: Solid Gold (Smith) and Knight Charmer (Razzak) in 54s; (400m) 24 3/5s. Both easy.    


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