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How Manjappada and West Block Blues are approaching the rivalry called ‘South Indian Derby

If football fans in India are asked,”What’s the biggest game in Indian club football?”, nine out of ten people would say its the Kolkata Derby involving East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. The current format of Indian Super League is such that there can not be a Derby technically as all the franchises are from different cities based upon the much fabled ‘One City One Franchise’ policy. Although that has not stopped people from giving some rivalries the name of ‘Derby’ like Maharashtra Derby etc but none of those rivalries have probably been as intense as what we are going to witness today in hours from now. Yes, we are talking about the ‘South Indian Derby’-the contest between the Kerala Blasters and Bengaluru FC.

Although ‘South Indian Derby’ is a misnomer but it’s by no way less compared to any established Derby, and promises to be the birth of one of the most fearsome rivalries in Indian football atleast for the years to come. Fight or contest would obviously be on the ground, but the off-the-field competition between the fans of Blasters and Luru would be something to be enspectacled.

The match today will not only showcase the battle between two of the most popular sides in Indian football, but would also put forth a contest between two of the most prominent fanclubs in South Asian football- the ‘Manjappada’ of Kerala Blasters or the Yellow Army who would leave no stones unturned to exhibit their support to Blasters today and ‘West Block Blues ‘ of Bengaluru FC, the ‘Blue Army’ who would make sure that their voice does not go unheard on this special occasion.

LNTUP caught up with both Manjappada and West Block Blues to get a taste of the what actually is going to be the mood in the gallery during the encounter today. Renjith Ranadev, the Secretary of Manjappada while being asked about the rivalry said,” This new year begins with a new rivalry. If there is a result except a draw ,the one who wins the match will rule the South because KBFC Vs BFC is the most anticipated match of ISL in this season. And off the field it is Manjappada vs West Block Blues .”. Waseem Ahmed of West Block Blues on the other hand made it clear that inspite of it being an away encounter, the Blues will be present in full flock. “More than 100 fans have made the trip”, he said.

Photo: ISL

While being asked about the birth of this new rivalry and how is it different from their pre-existing rivalries with the Kolkata giants, the West Block Blues’ Supremo said,” It’s good for Indian Football because it will make the game popular among people. It’s good as long as people don’t take it personally and as long as they don’t get physical.”. LNTUP did not forget to knock them about whether they are having any special plans for the day. In reply to that although Waseem said,” Yeah. The chants, flags and the Banners are all set. We are ready for it” but the Manjappada secretary seemingly wanted to make us all await till the game starts as he said,”Yeah! You will see it in the stands”! Talking to both of the bunches it was clear that both are well-prepared to make it an event to be relished for the football fanatics.

PHOTO: ISL

In such matches if results go not in favour then things can drastically turn negative between the two sets of fans. We enquired whether both the fanclubs would exhibit aggressive mood or would handle the situation sportingly . Well, in reply to that both sounded philosophical as Renjith said,” The day will stand with the winners for sure, it would be a new rivalry in Indian football. But we would be always within the limits, respecting the game. Football is a game, and there is only one winner. We will take it(any negative outcome for Blasters) on a positive note.”. The West Block Blues Chief was a bit witty in his take as he said,” One of our most important rule, the rule that binds us all together, is never to say No to good food. If we are offered Kerala style fish Thali, our boys aren’t gonna say No to it. Haha And maybe a couple of beers too for those who drink.”!

So as it seems in the initiation of this new rivalry in Indian football, both sets of fans are quite enthusiastic to celebrate and herish the contest positively. And nobody knows what the result would be, but it remains to be seen whether there would be one grand round-table dinner between the Manjappada and West Block Blues personnel after the match.