Kerala Blasters fans’ unwavering support is one of a kind
Hero Indian Super League 2016 saw plenty of drama and action as Atlético de Kolkata pipped Kerala Blasters FC to the title at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi last month. The Blasters faithful had to deal with the anguish of being runners-up to ATK for the second time in three years. However, going by their unwavering support for their team ever since the inception of the league, one can rest assured that they will continue backing their team, with or without the elusive trophy.
Over the last three seasons Kerala’s fortunes have fluctuated a great deal, from a loss in the final to a bottom-placed finish and then another disappointment in the final. Amidst all this, the one constant with the men in yellow has been their buoyant fans, who have filled the stadiums - especially the one in Kochi - in hordes with unparalleled zeal and enthusiasm. Regardless of whether it is a victory, draw or defeat, there is simply nothing that can put off their loyal supporters from thronging the home venue in their thousands to create an intimidating sea of yellow for opposition teams.
This past season – that consistently saw them register the highest attendance with crowds of over 50,000 – is the perfect example of the role they play as the 12th man for their team even though it may not always be smooth sailing. They started their campaign off on a poor note courtesy of back-to-back defeats to NorthEast United FC and ATK, the second of which came at home. Despite their poor start, however, Kerala’s dedicated fans never stopped rooting for their team as they turned up with great fervour for home matches, producing high decibel levels of noise in the hope it will eventually aid the team. And it did.
Any visiting side can attest to the role they played from the stands as the Blasters went undefeated at home for their remaining home matches in the season. Following their defeat to Kolkata early in the league stage, Kerala went on to draw one and win six games at home en route to the final where they were upstaged on penalties. Towards the latter part of the season, in fact, it became virtually impossible to beat Kerala at home. In the words of India football national coach Stephen Constantine, the Blasters looked invincible at home with the backing of their supporters.
Kochi’s electric atmosphere made life extremely difficult for opposition teams. As the league approached its business end, it was often Kerala fans who turned the tide in their team’s favour with their constant urging for goals - some late wins will bear witness to that. They may have felt the heartbreak of another disappointment in the final but Kerala’s love for the game goes beyond results. The Blasters faithful’s devotion to the team and the game transcends achievements. There’s no two ways about it.