31st December 2014, New year’s Eve marked a significant milestone for the football fans in Kerala as Manchester United football club sent an e mail recognising the fans in the state as an official supporters club. Thus Manchester United Supporters Club Kerala (MUSCK) officially came into existence – only the 3rd of its kind in India, 11th in Asia.
It was recognition of the passion for the club and the game displayed by the fans in Kerala.
Football has always been in the heart of an average keralite for such is the popularity of the game here. As such it is no wonder Manchester United – one of the biggest and most romantic football clubs in the world – would garner lots of fans.
Red Devils Kerala to MUSCK
It is in this back drop that a small group of 8 friends started to get together to watch United’s matches in kochi 5 years back. They called themselves Red Devils Kerala and overtime they grew beyond that small band of friends and became a community with over 2000 members brimming with discussions, activities and debates on anything United. At that time only Mumbai had official supporters club status in India. Soon Bangalore followed and talks surfaced of going for the same in RDK. With positive response from the members and timely guidance from MUSC Bangalore, RDK were able to fulfill the requirements laid down by United in about 3 months and were rechristened MUSCK.
Keeping in mind United’s insistence on the group maintaining a responsible social presence, they led a cleaning up drive in the kochi stadium after the Indian Super League matches which was applauded by Indian PM Sri Narendra Modi. They also intend to raise more funds via Quiz programs and other tournaments and use it for the betterment of the society.
After gaining recognition from the club, MUSCK have taken their activities a bit further expanding their screenings to 7 cities across Kerala, never missing a single match. MUSCK screenings have gained a reputation for being venues to mingle and chant and enjoy United’s matches in a festive mood.
The Old Trafford of Kerala
In fact, their activities have brought together the majority of United fans onto a single platform wherein they are able to share their passion for football and also are making some invaluable acquaintances. Doctors, Engineers, Chartered Accountants, students, business men, entrepreneurs – people from all walks of life congregate together and are able to help each other even when the problem doesn’t concern itself with football. In short, MUSCK is a society with football as it’s blood.
Kahawa, a coffee shop in Kochi serves as the HQ for MUSCK. According to many regulars, it is their Old Trafford. MUSCK also operates in Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Palakkad, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasargod.
The recently concluded Manchester derby screening attracted around 300 people and it was a typically noisy and passionate affair with a United win the icing on the cake. Striker Wayne Rooney and Goal keeper David De Gea proved to be the most popular players with chants and applause every time they played the ball. There were many admirers of the legendary Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs as well.
What’s in store?
With such fanatical followers around MUSCK will hope it’s recognition will play a part if United turns their attention towards India which is an untapped market with immense potential. In fact many leading premier league clubs such as Arsenal and Liverpool have started to take note of Indian fans. Such interest and activities will improve the popularity of the game in the country.
Judging by the success of MUSCK in reaching out to the fans in a state and the popularity of ISL, India has huge potential in improving as a footballing nation. Higher the attention the footballing world pays India, the better the infrastructure India is likely to develop.
Let’s hope MUSCK is not the last supporters club in India.