Rumors around the Mumbai Football Circuit are all suggesting that a club which kept the Mumbai Football legacy alive will shut shop soon.
These days, the first thing I do after getting up in the morning, is going and checking how many signatures has our petition has got, a story for the last four days, and when I am writing this, the petition is still four shy of the 2000 mark.
This is perhaps the description of nearly every Yellow Brigadier in the last few days. Amidst rumors and no clarity from the owners, the only possible future we see is the closure of the club we supported, cheered and cried for. Yes, the numbers might be small, and yes we might not match the passion of Kolkata clubs, but our contribution to the club definitely counts for something. The last few days have just been about urging my friends to sign the petition, with the dimmest of hopes of saving my beloved club.
My football story starts with India defeating Syria at the 2007 Nehru Cup, when all my friends were out there supporting Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool. I decided to give Indian Football and I-League a chance. Realising, that the only two clubs from Mumbai were Mahindra United and Mumbai FC (then playing Division 2 in the 2007-08 season), it was when I decided, Yellow should be the color of my choice. I probably felt the community connect in the name itself. The story wasna��t that great either, as I was in school, I wasna��t allowed to go to the stadium to watch these games; it was only a lucky broadcast that would let me watch my team or a newspaper article about the last game. But still, I was very eager to support them.
After my boards, I decided this should be the year to watch my favorite team in the stadium, only to realize that Cooperage was to be renovated; and hence the team played from Pune that season. Around that time, Mahindra United decided to shut shop, and the sole team carrying the Mumbai flag forward would be Mumbai FC, a responsibility like none other. But the team still did well on that part, although continuously fighting relegation, Mumbai FC would still bounce back every damn time (courtesy of a certain Mr. Khalid Jamil).
Anyone can support a team that always wins, or probably has a bad season or two, but supporting a team that is always fighting to stay away from relegation, and which is a local team, and you dona��t know if the match will be broadcast or not, is a different ball game like altogether.
Still amidst all these relegation scares, I continued my support. In 2014, Cooperage was ready to host games, but another monster came around, it was the Indian Super League and Mumbai City FC. No offence to Mumbai City FC, which really did its marketing right, and did things that Mumbai FC never did, but love always was for the Yellow side of Mumbai. I did welcome MCFC, with an open mind and open arms.
I did attend a few games and also got my hands on the jersey, but it never felt like home. But at last, I did feel at home, and it was in Cooperage at F Block. I did attend a few games in 2015 and saw a few lads chanting in the stadium, but never realised what was about to begin.
It was in 2016, when I was regularly chanting with the guys in F-Block, never realising the emotion that made me really fall in love with the club. I was home, at F Block, with my family at Yellow Brigade, supporting the true club of Mumbai, and flag bearers of football in Mumbai. Yes, it always felt great, felt like a new kind of high, chanting for the boys of Mumbai and getting behind this team, who I used to follow on TV and newspaper, and now was cheering them in stands. The cherry on the cake was when the Yellow Brigade was at the Andheri Sports Complex, cheering the Indian Team with the same fervor.
When the light shines at its brightest, you should know the end is near. It was 2017, a new coach in-charge, a new vision, a new dream, a dream like no other; a dream of finishing in the top three, which by the way, also includes first (Yellow Brigade will get the reference here). And after a great start with two wins, it was all down the drain, failing to win any match for the rest of the season.
The season had begun with a 1-0 win in the Maha Derby, with a Thoi Singh screamer that I would never forget. This game would be our last home win and the next away game against Churchill Brothers, our last ever win.
The season turned sour, when we lost away at Bengaluru, also my first ever away trip, only for things to hit rock bottom. Losses and draws, and a unsavory scandal in between didna��t help. Things really hit the lowest of lows, when the team lost 5-0 away to DSK Shivajians, the same team we defeated earlier in the season. For the first time, I really understood what heartbreak felt like. Seeing my fellow fans cry, I lost all sense of my emotions. It was terrible, to say the least. The new coach didn’t help the cause either, as we ended the season rock bottom at the table.
Still, we hoped that we would play and win the second division. Hope, as people say, is the greatest and the worst feeling for a human being. And that hope diminishes when you hear rumors every day, and when the owners clarify nothing. And its this hope, that keeps us running and the hope that someone hears our voice, and the hope that the owners say that we will still continue to run this club. Hope.
A lot of dreams and emotions are attached with such clubs, like a dream where you take your kids out for a football match; where you teach them about your favorite club, grow them around that entity, take them out for games every weekend. But some dreams tend to always stay a dream, and this was one of them.
We might be a smaller sample size, with a less prestigious history, but still our passion knew no bounds; we are no different in our passion for the club from Mohun Bagan or East Bengal; or for that matter United or Dortmund. All of us have screamed and cried our hearts out for the club but it matters for nothing now.
I might be nicknamed the traitor, but still my heart always shouts, “Mumbai, Mumbai” and always bleeds yellow.
An Anonymous Mumbai FC Fan
The opinions mentioned in the above article are solely of the anonymous author and SportzDose does not attach itself to it.