Tuesday 11 December 2018

The magic of Sree Kanteerava Stadium on match day

For last 4-5 years, every time I have entered in Sree Kanteerava stadium on match day, I have forgotten all my problems, no matter how big or small, personal or professional, due to my own mistakes or being done by someone outside. There is some magic there in crowd that is dressed mostly in blue. There are happy faces all around, seeing them one can’t guess how tough their day must have been.

There is 6:30 PM on clock and one is there at BookMyShow counter to redeem the online ticket. The excitement to sing “Oh When the blues go marching in” has already taken over our conscious mind. As one walks in towards Westblock Entry gate, one sees just happy faces around, saying Hi, sharing smiles, shaking hands and hugging each other, many of whom don’t even know each other’s real name and know just by face or virtual name. Group of fans start singing and chanting, rest join in, some more are called in to join and in few minutes there are 100s of us individuals chanting and singing in chorus while some with powerful vocal cords lead the chants. For outsiders or first-time visitors this is fascinating, they watch all this with big smile on their face, some recording with their mobile camera.

There are BFC’s official camera’s and ISL’s camera trying to catch all this as it unfolds, but no one gives a damn about cameras. Everyone is happy in their own; singing, chanting and jumping around. As clock ticks and it’s around 30 mins to kick off, all the singing crowd is inside the stadium. Few start to scream players names as they see them train on ground from stands and players acknowledge with a wave or clap. The teams are getting announced and BFC’s ritual of Emcee calling out first name of players and fans shouting out the last name in unison is followed. There are positive vibes all over in stands and buzz created by regular West Block Blues is attracting eyeballs from first timers who mostly prefer to sit in corners or down the rows. Meanwhile Emcee tries to do his job of making BFC chants resonate across the stadium. Crowd getting attention of TV Cameras is getting crazy each time they see themselves on giant screen placed opposite to West Block stand diagonally.

Substitutes and support staff walk in at far side with a gradually increasing applause from crowd which gets culminated with “Carles Cuadrat” chants and his reciprocation to fans with folded hands and fist pumping. The mood is starting to get set for noisy, exciting and passionate next 90 odd minutes, both on the ground and in the stands. Teams walk in with ISL theme song being played loud on DJ and West Block blues tries to nullify that with “Oh when the blues goes marching in” chants in unison while hoisting the BFC scarves over their head to make team feel absolute presence of its faithful blues. Few unique banners are unfurled in stands with special message for the team to see. Things go to silence for few seconds as soon as National anthem is played which is sung passionately across the stadium. That’s it !!! The real action starts and so does numerous chants of WestBlock Blues, from chants for club to chants for almost every individual player one by one.

Every forward pass is cheered, every close tackle is cheered, every save by our Goal Keeper is cheered, every cross in the opposition box is cheered even louder. The intensity on the ground is matched up with intensity in stands and vice-versa. Occasional tactical guidance gets passed on from stands to the players that even support staff can hear. A goal scored by our team is cheered louder than Kohli or ABD hitting six for RCB, there is singing, there is dancing and there is absolute madness in stands where strangers hold each other’s shoulders to jump and sing in chorus. A Goal scored by visiting team is countered with BFC.. BFC and Come on BFC chants preceded with a silence of not even few seconds. Energy in stands picks up during dying hours of game just to culminate with final whistle blown by referee. Viking clap synchronized between team and Westblock Stand, Daniel Bryan’s signature move of “YES YES” and dance on Santhoshakke in stands is how the win is celebrated every match day. A loss is taken in strides with motivating cheer for team that did try its best for win.

25-30 mins after the match, everything is calm again. Few abrupt chants here and there by late goers, few banters while climbing down stairs of West Block stand, few good-bye hugs exchanged. At the end we are back to square one with wait for next chance to relive the same itinerary in Kaanterava stadium, in our little heaven called "West Block Stand".