ISL 2017: When Kerala Blasters' sea of yellow meets the blue wave of Bengaluru FC
Back in 2013, one would find a lot of so-called 'armchair' fans in Bengaluru following their club overseas and also in the I-league from the comfort of their homes or pubs in the city. When people ask why Bengaluru FC is special, the very fact is that it brought all the different people supporting different teams across the world together to support a team closer to home. Bengaluru FC united the football fans and the city has never been the same again! It might be still a club in its early years but Bengaluru FC surely has managed to bring a new dimension and joy to the Garden City of India.
The West Block Blues (WBB) are the section of supporters who have been responsible for reaching out to the masses and encouraging people to come and watch their home team play at the stadium. During the time BFC was in the I-League, the WBB's passion and energy became widely popular with the teams and fans alike. This year as debutants in the ISL, BFC and West Block Blues have taken no time to make a name for themselves as well.
Football lovers from across the nation come to visit the Kanteerava Stadium to experience the game from the West Block. It is not just the fans though, the players also have always admired the West Block fans. The connection between the two is something that can only be experienced and not described. The BFC fans may well be small in number but they have surely made their voices heard.
We now move further south to the city of Kochi. Kerala has always been known as a football-loving state even before the birth of ISL. However, the Blasters ISL franchise managed to do something wonderful to the city, bringing the football fans under one umbrella. The Manjappada is perhaps the most active fan group in the country currently, both stadium-wise and on social media.
50000 fans wearing yellow and cheering for their team is a wonderful sight, except if you are the opposition team, of course.The tifo displays, the banners, the chants -- all of it executed perfectly are what makes the Manjappada a formidable fan force in Kochi. They aspire to be 'The Yellow Wall' of India, something for what Borussia Dortmund fans are known in Germany. The level of fanaticism shown by Kerala is indeed what is needed for football in India.
Now coming to the rivalry! It all started a few weeks back when banter turned into serious warfare. Both sets of fans have been at each other's throat on social media and every result, every gesture has been mocked and criticized. The Yellow Army, who are famous for their social media exploits, have left no page unturned to mock the West Block Blues and the Blues have returned the favour in no kindness whatsoever.
While there has been good banter, both sets of fans have also been part of some unnecessary attention. BFC fans were accused of racial abuse during the game between Bengaluru FC and Mumbai City FC whereas the Kerala Blasters fans on social media have resorted to insulting the gesture made towards the 26/11 Mumbai attacks by the WBB.
Two sets of passionate and club-loving fans will meet against each other come December 31 and it is going to be a newly-formed rivalry that will take its pivotal stage at the ISL. Banter has reached a critical point and this game couldn't have been better-timed. Perhaps it will be one of those games where the on-field rivalry takes the backstage. Whoever wins gets the bragging rights!
So, which side are you on? Yellow or Blue?