Indian football: Remembering Mohun Bagan's "Amor Ekadosh" - the "Immortal 11" from 1911

119 years ago, on 29th June 1911, Mohun Bagan was immortalised in the history books of Indian football after they defeated East Yorkshire Regiment to lift the IFA Shield. The Green and Maroon were 2-1 winners in the final as they went on to become the first Indian side to win the competition.

Tens of thousands of fans had flocked the “maidan” to cheer for Mohun Bagan who promised a good show, having gotten the better of the likes of St. Xavier’s, Rangers, Rifle Brigade and Middlesex on their path to the final.

The Immortals conceded first but scored twice in the second half to send the state into a frenzy and hence a festive mood for weeks to come. Some of the best media houses at that time – London Times, Daily Mail and Manchester Guardian – covered the tournament in great detail.

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The 11 players who featured in the game were henceforth known as the “Amor Ekadosh” which translated to “The Immortal 11”. All players were posthumously awarded the prestigious Mohun Bagan Ratna.

Shibdas Bhaduri
Shibdas Bhaduri

Here is a profile of the members of the Amor Ekadosh.

Shibdas Bhaduri – The captain of the Immortals who led from the front, Shibdas Bhaduri scored the equaliser and assisted the winner in the historic match. He played on the left flank alongside elder brother Bijaydas Bhaduri and tormented the opposition with his speed and dribbling. This earned him the nickname “Pichol babu” or “Mr Slippery”.

Abhilash Ghosh – There was nothing to separate Mohun Bagan and East Yorkshire Regiment after 86 minutes of football in the finals of the IFA Shield. Centre forward Abhilash Ghosh latched on to a pass from his captain to slot home the decider and earn his side an important win. He was also the player to score their first goal of the tournament – the opener in a 3-0 win over St. Xavier’s.

Bhuti Sukul – The right-back joined the club when he was just 16. He was famous for his strong tackles and incredible ability in the air.

Bijaydas Bhaduri – The oldest of the Immortals, Bhaduri played as a left midfielder and often swapped positions with his younger brother Shibdas. He was a great dribbler of the ball, easing past oppositions with shoulder drops and body feints.

Hiralal Mukherjee – He played in multiple positions throughout his career but stood firm between the sticks in the all-important tournament. The trusty custodian saved three penalties in the opener against St. Xavier’s. Good anticipation and the ability to stay resilient against physical strikers were other quivers in his arrow.

Manmohan Mukherjee – There were very few who could pass through Mohun Bagan’s midfield with the ball still at their feet and Manmohan Mukherjee was one of the biggest reasons why. The right-half was nicknamed “Terrier” for his ability to snatch the ball in midfield.

Rajendra Sengupta – It was Rajendra Sengupta who conceded the free-kick that led to East Yorkshire Regiment’s goal in the final. But what proved to be a harmless mistake should not discount the stellar performances displayed by the youngest player in the squad. Playing in central defence in an attack-minded team was not easy but Rajendra ensured Hiralal was well-protected.

Sudhir Chatterjee – It was not hard to spot Sudhir Chatterjee in the Mohun Bagan line-up that started the final. In fact, the defender was the only Indian to wear boots in that match. Sudhir was not among the fastest on the pitch but his intelligent reading of the game made him an asset to the team.

Srishchandra ‘Habul’ Sarkar – The right inside Habul was versatile and could also play in midfield. His moment of glory arrived in the replay semi-final game against Middlesex Regiment when he scored a goal in the dying moments to ensure a place in the final.

Jatindranath ‘Kanu’ Roy – When he was not tormenting defenders with his incredible pace on the right flank, Kanu was busy scoring important goals to keep his side in the tournament. He scored a brilliant long-range goal against Middlesex Regiment in the semis to equalise and force a replay.

Nilmadhab Bhattacharya – One of the most skilful players in the team, Nilmadhab Bhattacharya operated on the left flank. He had a brilliant passing range to go with and was an absolute delight to watch.