Fans are an integral part of any sport, It is these fans that stand by their team through the glorious times and through the turbulent times. Its the very same fans that make players into heroes, the fans can be the 12th man advantage to their team, and push their teams on to victory.
In a nation where cricket is only next to religion, I got a chance to chat with Anish D’Souza the founder of The North Stand Gang Wankhede, one of the most passionate bunch of supporters from Mumbai.
How was the North Stand Gang founded?
While North Stand at the Wankhede Stadium was always a hub for the cricket regulars in Mumbai with a few known faces mingling every time there was a match, it was only in the India vs. SL test match in 2009 that the seeds of our Gang were sown because mobile phones were allowed inside for the first time. And co-incidentally, this match was held at the Brabourne Stadium were Anish D’Souza, Ashutosh Shirke and a couple of other North Stand – Wankhede regulars recognized each other.
Who was the founder of this Gang?
Anish, Ashutosh, Faraz, Tanmay and Dhruv are the other core members and each has cricketing experiences of their own, including the ‘Sachin…Sachin’ chant which began in 1993. And now, living with the times, the chant is ‘Oleee, ole, ole, ole, Kohli…Kohli’.
How many years has been in existence for?
The Gang had been in existence for a while now, but it was not until 2009, that the gang truly became organized and started getting members from all over.
Are you only based in Mumbai or do you travel around the world with team India?
“Whenever there is a match in Mumbai or Pune, we are there to watch the game and after seeing us, many fans come in and join us. That’s a great thing.”
Before every season, a couple of members keep an eye on the itinerary and then depending on the venues, the tickets are booked and the travel plans are chalked out. “Our objective is to make Test cricket popular. So, the moment the online ticket window opens, we ensure that we collect our tickets,”
Do the members of the Gang get together?
Over the last few weeks, some members have been gathering on Saturday mornings for a nets session at a ground in Bandra East—to practise what they preach so easily on Twitter.
Once you play, it gives you a different perspective on watching,”
What is the greatest recognition the North Stand Gang received?
Members of the gang got to meet with VVS Laxman and were able to gift him the NSG tshirt.
The North stand gang has over 3500 followers and growing on twitter, and this group are some of the most knowledgeable Cricket fans, After meeting up with the NSG members this is what VVS Laxman had to say, “What I was impressed was about the passion they had for the game and how knowledgeable they are about cricket, they were talking about Ranji Trophy matches, international matches right from the 1990s.
The biggest boon for Indian cricket is its fans and these guys are passionate about the game, they not only have affection for the players, but they also have some affinity towards the players.” One this is for sure that as long as fans like the members of the North Stand Wankhede are around, the future of the “12th man” is in very good hands, it was a true pleasure in featuring one of the most passionate fan groups in the world, thank you again Anish.