A Yellow Army 5,045 miles away

A Yellow Army 5,045 miles away

I do love absorbing the differing football cultures when travelling on holiday and most of them have been witnessed in Eastern Europe. A chance not be be missed occurred for me in February with a trip to energise the all my senses in every footballing way possible, Kerala in southern India.

What made it even more interesting for me is the fans are proudly called the 'Yellow Army'

We all know that Carrow Road has been a bit flat this season and that some Norwich City fans are trying to encourage City scarves to be lifted high when singing 'On the ball City'. The Kerala fans take football atmosphere to a new level.

The Blasters, who play in the Indian Premier League, were named after India's most famous cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar, who is one of the owners and was nicknamed the 'Master Blaster'. They turn out in the Jewaharial Nehru Stadium which holds over 55,000 fans, a venue that is also used for cricket. Any fellow travellers to India will know about the challenging transport system. On match days, the already mega busy streets become gridlocked with fans heading for the ground.

English connections include their current Manager and ex England goalkeeper, David James. Ex England head coach Peter Taylor has also been in charge as has Steve Coppell.

Also on the City of Yellows Blog:

  • Have the wheels come off?
    I now have serious concerns. Not that we just don't look anything like a team capable of attacking the play-offs next season, worse than that, Norwich City have every chance of finishing lower than our neighbours down the road.
  • Who is next in the hot seat down the road?
    So, the pretty much inevitable has happened. Mick McCarthy and Terry Connor are leaving ITFC at the end of the 2017-18 season after five and a half years.
  • The peculiar pleasures of mid-table mediocrity
    13th...... 11th...... 9th...... 13th. No, this is not an article about our friends down the A140 (more on them later). These are the finishing places of Norwich City in Division Two (aka The Championship) during the second half of the 1960s.

Currently, English on field representation is with goalkeeper Paul Rachubka and defender Wes Brown. Past players include Michael Chopra, Iain Hume, Stephen Bywater and Aaron Hudges.

Ticket prices range between 200 and 500 rupees, bearing in mind I was getting about 88 rupees to the pound, you could say Indian footy is slightly better value than watching at Carrow Road!!!

The Kerala fans are based in the regional capital Kochi and create a sea of bright yellow when they hit the stadium to cheer on their team and it's difficult to match the enthusiasm displayed by the Kerala Blaster FC fans who are known as Manjappada or Yellow Army.

One fan was determined to form the fanatical group in 2014 when the club was formed. Taking ownership of the East Manjappada Stand, the group have cleaned it up, launched a mobile app which provides details about the Blasters along with a chants team to create new songs. The group are committed to wearing as much yellow as possible including scarves and around 150 flags are employed for each game. They definitely want to promote themselves as being the 12th man in the team.

My Indian holiday experience was brilliant from start to finish. The sights, the food and especially the people. They are welcoming, helpful and chilled even in the 31 degree heat and traffic. The Blasters are currently in mid table obscurity sitting sixth in the 10 team Indian Premier League table. Where have I heard that before?

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