Wednesday, 21 October 2015

EAST BENGAL ULTRAS: Evolution of the Ultras movement in India

It was a lazy weekend in the winter of 2013, as far as I can relate. A harsh ringtone buzzed, call from an unknown number. TrueCaller didn't exist by then, so you won't know who called, unless you receive it. I took up the call.

Me: "Who's this?"

Caller: "Hey I'm Abhik. This is about East Bengal Ultras. We need to bring the Ultras culture in India. Can I count you in?"

I started taking interest on the Western Ultras since my second year of college, and had a fair enough idea of how difficult it is to bring such a changed environment to the City of Joy.

Caller: "Trust me..we can!"

Even though I thought this guy is bluffing, somewhere inside I felt like trying out atleast once.

Me: "Yeah, I'm in."

That call, hopefully, will make history.

We met up during the East Bengal vs Bengaluru FC match on December. Argued with the police, their fans, and defeated Bengaluru by 2-0. We cheered our lungs out.

Ultras in Bangalore
But we were destined to take it to the next level. So started searching for the similar minded people. At the end of first year, we got 3 more members. Well, disappointing result, but we 5 members had been the core.

In the second year of Ultras, 2015, things started to materialize! Uttiya got in a bunch of pals who were regular to the ground. We started expanding. People started noticing us during the Calcutta League. Our loud vocal support along with drums, made us the odd one out. We started jotting down the chants, and delivered. Flares to smoke-bomb, banners to huge flags, synchronized drum beats, we had it all. Smoke-bombs used in Kolkata Derby was phenomenal!

Biggest ultras community Ultras World shared this on their FB page
Practising chants at Arghya da's terrace
Before East Bengal's Bangladesh tourney, we, around 15 to 20 guys, arrived at the Howrah Stadium, where the club was practising and made an environment which was hard to believe even to the officials. Key player Do Dong Hyun joined us at the end of the practice, and it was a sheer joy to see him shake a leg with us!
According to one of our fellow writers, Hindol: "Their (Ultras) sudden arrival, their spontaneous chants, their continuous drumbeats took the players by surprise. At the time when pomp and glamour of a circus-named-Indian-Super-League hogged the limelight, these flag-wavers, these roof-raisers, these drum-beaters, these storm-troopers stood by their club whom they love dearest."

The high point was, off-course, getting the recognition on Bengali news channel 24 Ghanta

So, you must be getting this thing in your head: WHO ARE THE ULTRAS?

I will make this thing simple for you. The ultras are essentially a group of fans of the national team or football clubs that offer loud, and often times, manic support at matches. They sing, they chant, they dance. They set off flares and fireworks and unfurl massive banners or flags in support of their team. As long as the team is playing, they do not stop and will continue making themselves heard. 90 minutes of football means 90 minutes of non-stop activity from the stands. To be an Ultra you need to breathe, live and eat football. Ultras is a culture or a movement, and definitely not a fan-club. 

The huge flag!
We are waiting impatiently for the I-League to commence, because, it will be the time when we bring the roof down! Call 7059788724 or 7890765747 to join the ultras! Till then check this out, how we inspired the players before the team went for the Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup.

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