Back in those days Rovers Cup used to be one of the most prestigious tournaments in the domestic Indian football circuit. All the big teams would compete for the coveted trophy including the giants of Kolkata football Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.
Started in 1891, the 2nd oldest football tournament in India gathered mass appeal in 1923 when the celebrated Mohun Bagan team participated for the 1st time being the only civilian team in an otherwise military tournament.
Since then, the Cooperage had seen a superfluous crowd for the Rovers Cup matches necessitating construction of temporary stands on the western side while the eastern side was left open.
But with the advent of National Football League (currently I-League), a lot of tournaments started losing relevance. Beleaguered with falling interest and financial difficulties, Rovers Cup breathed its last in the 2000-01 season.
When Mr. Henry Menezes took over the realm of Western India Football Association (WIFA) as the CEO, one of the prime short term objectives he laid out was to revive the historic Rovers Cup and regenerate the interest among the Mumbaikars.
In an exclusive chat with IFN, Mr Menezes says that the Rovers Cup was all set to be launched this year itself but could not be held because of logistical reasons.
The AIFF had given us a window in September for the tournament. The sponsors, national TV broadcasters were all in place. But unfortunately we cannot start the tournament this year due to unavailability of the Cooperage.
Henry Menezes, CEO, WIFA
When asked why the tournament could not be held in the DY Patil Stadium, he pointed out a number of factors. The stadium being huge, the spectators would be far away from action. Also, the cricket pitch in the middle and the location of the stadium were issues.
The WIFA is planning to launch Rovers Cup in 2013 between May and August. The tournament will feature huge prize money, live broadcast on a national channel, all matches under floodlight, sponsors and foreign teams.
While we wait for the grand re-launch of the Rovers Cup, I leave you with old footage of Rovers Cup that reminds us of the glorious days of Mumbai football.