With chants of ‘I-League was harder’, Bengaluru FC’s fanbase is in a buoyant mood after the team's early successes in the new league.

As Bengaluru FC flies high in ISL West Block Blues make all the right noisesBengaluru FC Facebook Page
news Sport Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 16:05

As Bengaluru FC flies high after cruising to its second straight home win at Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday, at least some of the credit has to go to the West Block Blues.

With quirky chants and dazzling banners, these hardcore supporters of the club are arguably the best-organised and ardently supportive fanbase of any football team in the country today.

A dominant performance by the Blues ensured a 4-1 romp against Delhi Dynamos and took the team to the top of the Indian Super League (ISL) table after two games. Bengaluru FC are new entrants in the ISL and are the only team to make the switch from the I-League to the ISL as the league expanded to ten teams for the first time.

Bengaluru FC players celebrate a goal against Delhi Dynamos || Photograph Courtesy: Bengaluru FC Facebook page

The team’s faithful group of supporters, West Block Blues, is relishing the chance to be a part of the ISL. Named after its occupation of the West Block A of Kanteerava Stadium, the vocal group broke into chants of “I-League was harder” and “Welcome to West Block, I-S-L” as Bengaluru FC turned up the heat on the opposition.

Even though ticket prices have increased with the switch to the ISL, it hasn’t deterred the fans from turning out in huge numbers for Bengaluru FC’s two home games so far this season. The price of a ticket in the 'West Block A' stand has gone up by Rs 200 this season. While the attendance figures were just over 10,000 for the first match of last season, 17,796 supporters turned up for Bengaluru FC’s ISL debut against Mumbai City on November 19. The number grew to 18,248 supporters for the club’s second home game against Delhi Dynamos on Sunday.

Banners displayed by Bengaluru FC supporters || Photograph Courtesy: West Block Blues Facebook Page

A section of the 18,000-odd supporters crammed into the West Block of Kanteerava Stadium and were chanting relentlessly throughout the game. A voluntary supporters’ group drives the chants and the banners displayed in West Block during Bengaluru FC games.

Combining European fan-groups’ influence with local flair, supporters in West Block sing the latest chants that do the rounds in European football stands and can just as easily follow it up with renditions of popular Kannada songs. “Anyone can pick up European football chants and copy them but we can’t just stick to that. We are a multilingual country and yesterday we introduced a chant for new player Miku to the tune of a popular Kannada song “Huttidare”. I saw people who otherwise don’t chant the English chants immediately connect with the Kannada chant,” said Vijay Bharadwaj, a chartered accountancy student in the city who helps in coordinating fans in West Block on match days.

Bengaluru FC supporters at the Tilak Maidan Ground in Goa on January 27 2017 || Photograph Courtesy: Bengaluru FC Facebook Page

The voluntary supporters’ group also prepares banners that are displayed in the stands. A banner unfurled on Sunday read “26/11 - Lest We Forget” in honour of victims of the Mumbai terror attack in 2008. Fans from all corners of the stadium broke into applause in the 26th minute of the game in memory of the victims.

The supporters’ group is connected through a Facebook page and members reach the stadium as early as four hours before the game to coordinate the chants and put up the banners. Along with the club’s famous chant, “When the Blues go marching in,” the supporters sang along to popular Hindi and Kannada songs incorporating the names of club personnel in them.

Photograph Courtesy: Bengaluru FC Facebook Page

Coach Albert Roca, for instance, was cheered with a variation of the Hindi song Jhumma Chumma De De while chants of “Abracadabra Harmanjot Khabra” and “Oh Oh Gurpreet Singh Sandhu” also rang out loud during the game. The fans also reserved a round of cheers for club captain Sunil Chhetri, who is one of two surviving players from the club’s first ever game in 2013.

Television presenter Joe Morrison joined in the festivities by making a surprise appearance in the West Block during Sunday’s game. He watched the home team take a 3-0 lead in the second half. “That’s one thing off my bucket list. Watch a goal scored by Bengaluru FC from the West Block,” he said before tweeting an image from the stadium.

While it is still early in the ISL season, the view from the West Block couldn’t get much better than this, with Bengaluru FC perched on top of the table. The club is set to continue its ISL journey with away games against FC Goa, NorthEast United FC and Pune FC, before facing Chennaiyin FC at the Kanteerava stadium on December 17, when the West Block Blues will be out in full force again. 

 

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