East Bengal

বিদায় ভোম্বলদা! Five major achievements of Subhash Bhowmick

10:31 SAST 2022/01/22
Subhash Bhowmick
The former India international was one of the prized gems of Indian football…

Indian football legend Subhash Bhowmick passed away in the wee hours of Saturday at the age of 71 in Kolkata. He was suffering from diabetes and had kidney problems which forced him to undertake dialysis in the last few months.

However, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic his mortal remains will not be brought to the Kolkata Maidan and will instead head towards Nimtala Burning Ghat where his last rites will be performed. 

Bhowmick made his debut in club football at the age of 19. He was signed by East Bengal in 1969, but after plying his trade for a year with the red and golds he joined arch-rivals Mohun Bagan. In his very first season with the Mariners, he went on to score 27 goals, a feat he couldn’t match later in his career.

However, in 1973, he once again switched sides and returned to East Bengal. During this stint he won several accolades and was one of the key members of the legendary East Bengal team which famously won 5-0 against Bagan.

But in 1976, he went back to Mohun Bagan and continued to shine for the green and maroon brigade. Along with Shyam Thapa, he led their resurgence as they once again rose to prominence after playing second fiddle to East Bengal in the early part of the 70’s.

In 1979, he hung up his boots after playing his final season in the colours of East Bengal. 

Bhowmick won as many as 27 trophies, of which 17 were won with Mohun Bagan. However, it must be noted that he has scored more for East Bengal (83) than what he did for the Mariners (82). 

Let us take a look at the five major achievements of his illustrious career. 

1970 Asian Games bronze medal winner

Bhowmick represented India in 24 international matches and scored nine goals. He played an instrumental role in the 1970 Asian Games where India finished with a bronze medal. In the opening match against Thailand he scored a brace which helped India make a comeback from being two goals down. His partnership with Shyam Thapa and Md. Habib blossomed with each passing game and that was one of the factors that helped India finish on the podium.

1975: East Bengal’s famous 5-0 win over Mohun Bagan 

September 29, 1975 is a red letter day in East Bengal’s history as they went on to thump Mohun Bagan 5-0 in the IFA Shield final at the Mohun Bagan ground. Bhowmick was one of the trusted lieutenants of coach PK Banerjee and in the 24th minute, he delivered a cross from the flanks which was fluffed by a young Bhaskar Ganguly in goal. Shyam Thapa did not make any mistake to punish that error and East Bengal went 2-0 up. 

1977: Triple crown win with Mohun Bagan

It was for the first time that Mohun Bagan won the IFA Shield, the Durand Cup and the Rovers Cup in the same campaign. It was a star-studded squad with the likes of Subrata Bhattacharyya, Pradip Chowdhury, Compton Dutta, Subhas Bhowmick, Shyam Thapa all donning the green and maroon stripes. 

After winning the IFA Shield and Rovers Up, the Mariners turned their attention to the Durand Cup. Bagan had not won the Durand Cup in the last three editions and hence, there was a lot of pressure going into the competition. In the final against JCT, Bhowmick played a key role. After the first match ended in a 1-1 draw, JCT drew first blood in the replay. But their joy was short-lived as Bhowmick equalised soon after before Mohammed Akbar scored the eventual winner.

2003 ASEAN Championship

The 2003 ASEAN Club Championship was contested by the heavyweights of the SouthEast Asia region. The Kolkata giants under the tutelage of Subhash Bhowmick did the unthinkable at Jakarta, beating some of the top clubs of the ASEAN region. Just to add a little more gravity to their achievement, the Red and Golds had outclassed Thailand’s BEC Tero Sasana who had finished runners-up in the 2002-03 season of the AFC Champions League. 

Ghanaian defender Suleh Musah was the captain of the side and a host of domestic stars like Bhaichung Bhutia, Muttah Suresh, Shanmugham Venkatesh, Alvito D’Cunha, Mahesh Gawli, and Deepak Mondal featured for the red and golds. 

Bhowmick decided to keep the entire team at a five-star hotel in Kolkata for a month during the pre-season and hired South African physical trainer Kevin Jackson to improve the physical fitness of the side. Such preparation ahead of a tournament was unheard of in Indian football. In the final, East Bengal won the match 3-1 against BEC Terro, a game which is now part of the East Bengal folklore, with goals from Mike Okoro, Bhutia and D'Cunha.

Three Domestic League titles

Subhash Bowmick guided East Bengal to successive domestic league titles in 2002-03 and 2003-04. On both occasions East Bengal finished with 49 points with 15 wins from 22 matches. In fact, after winning the National Football League (NFL) in 2003-04, East Bengal are yet to win a domestic league championship. 

In 2012-13, Bhowmick was the technical director of Churchill Brothers and Mariano Dias was the coach. However, it was Bhowmick who was calling the shots and was at the helm of affairs. He was the Technical Director primarily due to not having the required coaching license. He took an inexperienced squad full of youngsters such as Bineesh Balan, Gurtej Singh, and turned them into a well-oiled machine who would churn out victories week in and week out. In the 26 league games, the Red Machines would only lose three games in what was Bhowmick's final triumph in his coaching career. Henry Antchouet was the top scorer for Churchill Brothers with 14 goals followed by Beto with 13. They finished with 55 points from 26 matches and qualified for the 2014 AFC Cup group stage.