May 12th 2013 will forever remain a date to be cherished for the legions of Shillong Lajong FC fans across the region. On that hot and humid Sunday evening, the North-Eastern side was battling one of the I-league’s most feared sides, the Mighty East Bengal, on their home turf, in what was their last league match of the campaign. It was indeed a performance to remember by the Reds, as a goal from Japanese recruit Taisuke Matsugae was enough to see them through against the Bengal giants. The victory, in a way, summed up the 2012-13 season for Shillong Lajong FC. - A tumultuous, bittersweet sojourn which journeyed the Club across a plethora of emotions –from the emphatic joys of victory to the humbling agony of defeat.
The victories over the afore mentioned East Bengal(away),Mohun Bagan and Prayag United(home) though, were the season’s highlights, as these Clubs had better firepower and resources, both on and off the pitch. That being said, the 2012-13 season was a re-defining period for Shillong Lajong FC, a Club which is still treading in its infant steps in the I-League. The arrival of Edinho Junior, a marquee signing (on loan) by Shillong Lajong from Blackburn Rovers, was another major cornerstone which will forever be etched in the fans’ memory for a long time.
In the end, when the League was finally done and dusted with, it will indeed be remembered as a coming-of-age of sorts for the Reds, more so in the latter stages of the League, when they remained unbeaten for 5 matches, to show that the team was now battle-hardened and ready for more. The support from the Lajong Fans remained steadfast as ever, even as the unbound pride and love for the Club continued to propel the team forward in its quest for glory.
For yet another season, Shillong Lajong had survived the trials and tribulations and came out on top of India’s premier football league’s challenges. The baptism is now complete, as a new chapter awaits the Club at the onset of the new season. The platform- a heady dose of Belief, Unity and Team Spirit, has been set on an exciting keel, as the dawn of a new era is all set to flow into the upcoming season.
As with the previous seasons, The Reds have already embarked on their 2013-14 campaign (off the field), with the signatures of 4 new players, who are all set to join Lajong and establish themselves on the pitch. These include Ongnam Milan Singh, the former Pailan skipper, Subhash Singh, from Pune FC, Brazilian Uilliams Souza Silva and a marquee player-Cornell Glen, a World Cupper for Trinidad and Tobago, who represented his country in the 2006 World Cup.
These signings, will no doubt inject new life and a renewed sense of vigor into a team already filled with local talent and from the fans’ point of view, the 2013-14 season will be the one where Shillong Lajong FC really defines itself as a team of self-belief, with a will of never giving up till the last minute( as seen in previous seasons).The fans, on their part, will be expected to rally behind The Reds, as the I-League comes calling on their town.
Fresh battles are set to rumble again, old rivalries renewed, as the beloved Reds prepare to take the field with purpose. The excitement is back, the crowd’s anticipation looming large, more so ever with the first ever Shillong Derby drawing nigh and come September 2013,it will be winners take all, no holds barred, as 22 men on the field embark on a crusade for the ultimate prize in Indian Football, The I-League.
For all these years, Shillong Lajong have been the pinnacle of footballing glory in the North East and have continued to set benchmarks and achieve milestones, all made possible because of that historic day in 1982,when two torchbearers decide to take matters into their own hands.
The Club now aims to make the I-League its nestling place, and looks up to home matches as the team’s stronghold. To see the 30000 strong crowd up in arms, draped in red(the team’s official colours are red at home games and white for away games),chanting “Go Lajong”, and provide the heat and inspiration for the players and the Club.
As the people and the Club look at the horizon,there is a nip in the oncoming breeze-Greatness beckons Shillong Lajong FC yet again….for the streets to be abuzz again,for the chants to ring louder….and as the players enter the realms of euphoria and elation,as they raise their arms in coveted Glory,an emphatic roar can be heard in the distant……
“Together and United, Nothing Is Impossible……”.For Shillong Lajong Football Club, life indeed has come Full Circle.