Krishnendu RoyThe long queues at the gates, the full-throated shouts and the fierce arguments at tea shops and coffee houses are all back as Calcutta settles down for yet another season of football frenzy. Also back is its accompanying tension which is exactly what keeps the Bengali ticking during the,Krishnendu RoyThe long queues at the gates, the full-throated shouts and the fierce arguments at tea shops and coffee houses are all back as Calcutta settles down for yet another season of football frenzy. Also back is its accompanying tension which is exactly what keeps the Bengali ticking during the hot and humid Indian summer.On paper, however, nothing has changed, from the fabulous amounts that reportedly changed hands during the transfer period – in no other centre is football such a big money business – to the continued domination of the three big clubs.Yet the 1982 football season promises to be different from the previous ones in at least one major respect. For the first time the senior division league will feature a plethora of new faces who have made it to the top in such large numbers, for perhaps the first time ever in Calcutta’s football history.For years football lovers had been demanding new faces and though the clubs would get hold of youngsters they would invariably get sidetracked by the big names. This year, thanks to the Asian Games, most “stars” are out undergoing rigorous workouts in training camps which means they cannot participate in any home tournament before the Games are over.It is a football season without such names as Bhaskar Ganguli, Prasun Banerjee, Xavier Pius, Shabir Ali, Manash Bhattacharya, Prasanta Banerjee and Compton Dutta whose absence has certainly shorn it of glamour but not of interest as is evident from the crowded stands.advertisementMukherjeeGlamour Boys: The news isn’t so good for the missing star performers. As an official of a leading club said: “Most of the glamour boys thought people would not turn up if they were not playing and often blackmailed us. But now it is evident that it is the attachment to the club which draws supporters to the ground irrespective of which players are being fielded.” And already it has been noticed that the game itself does not suffer if the big names are not around, as was evident when Mohammedan Sporting beat Bata last month 3-0 with an entirely new team.Last year’s league champion, Mohammedan Sporting lost heavily this year on the transfer market and has practically a new side apart from the Iranians. Jamshed Majid and Khabaji, who did not play in the first outing, and Shabir Ali who is attending the Asiad camp. Besides, with most of the big names now in the 28-30 age group it is doubtful whether they can continue playing meaningful football. They were found seriously wanting when pitted against the much younger and faster teams from abroad during the recent Jawaharlal Nehru tournament in Calcutta. Organisers of the game have, ever since, been seriously scouting for new talent. Replacements are needed and the current season may provide them with the right answers.During the current season, however, the older players have little to worry about. Even though they are not playing for their clubs during the senior division league, they continue to be retained and draw their monthly emoluments in addition to the Rs 2,000 a month that the All India Football Federation pays them for attending the national camp.Shankar AdhikaryAnd for most of them, the clubs dole out handsome amounts. It has been reported that East Bengal club, which took a lot of beating last year, has spent around Rs 10 lakh this year to recover its lost prestige. Among those who have signed for the club this year are Indian skipper Bhaskar Ganguli.One of the reasons why the clubs have signed up internationals in spite of the fact that they would be of no help during the league is because prestigious tournaments like DCM, Rovers and Durand will take place after the Asian Games when the restriction on players will cease to exist. Income Tax: The big clubs may also experience difficulties with the Income Tax (IT) authorities as they have been mentioned as sources of income in the it returns filed by some of the stars. This is the first admission by players of being paid for playing.Earlier while everyone knew that the players were being paid, there was no official record simply because the cash changed hands under the table. However, with the big guns in the Income Tax Department having close relations with the authorities of major clubs – a relationship which is mutually beneficial – it is quite likely they will not have to bother much and eyes will continue to be kept shut.advertisementLast season, one of the smaller clubs had tried to get the phony amateur status of the big team players blasted through a court case, but didn’t get very far, so inter-woven are the relationships between the top three.East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting, and the Indian Football Association (IFA) the state level apex body which is supposed to keep a close look on the clubs for smooth conduct of the game. The court put the responsibility of finding out whether a club was paying its players or not squarely on the shoulders of the IFA.Meanwhile eyes in Calcutta are rivet-ted on up-and-coming players like Amitabha Mukherjee of Mohun Bagan who had scored the all-important goal for the team at the Federation Cup tournament at Kozhikode earlier this year. Also in the limelight is Krishnendu Roy oi the same team who had played so well for India at the Merdeka tournament but who, for inexplicable reasons, has been kept out of the Asiad camp.For East Bengal the rising players are link-man, Swapan Raut and left-winger, Arun Nath while Mohammedan Sporting, which has been almost without any star attraction this year, has been lucky to get the services of Debashish Mishra, acclaimed as this season’s best midfielder and also the fast right-winger, Shankar Adhikary.These players had either played for smaller clubs previously or had signed up for one of the big three only to spend their afternoons as reserves on the sidelines. This is the first time that they have found an opportunity to display their mettle and appear to have already earned their places as new stars in Calcutta’s soccer world.