It may not be wrong to perhaps find I-League as a synonym of riveting. Not many top-flight professional leagues come to mind when the last day finish deciding the champions in the title race is counted.
For the I-League, India’s top flight, it has become a regular fashion to produce a stunning climax time and again for the fans to hog on.
With a rise of more than 58% in-stadia attendance last season, the I-League has gifted four last day climaxes in five seasons, giving the spotlight to decide the champions amongst a suspenseful backdrop; and mind you, a new champion every time in the last five seasons.
The 2014-15 season of the I-League saw Mohun Bagan end their dry run and lift the I-League for the very first time. On the final day, the title race was locked between Bengaluru FC and the Kolkata outfit with the former needing a win to pip the latter. Eventually, they ran away with the trophy in front of their fans.
As the script would have it, Bengaluru FC were on their way to be crowned the new champions but Bello Razzaq’s late header equalized to end the proceedings at 1-1. Mohun Bagan were the new champions of India with 39 points, while Bengaluru FC trailed at 37.
Hot on the heels were Mohun Bagan, but that mattered little to Aizawl FC who played out a 1-1 draw at Shillong Lajong FC finishing on 37 points to take the coveted trophy. Mohun Bagan finished runners-up with a point adrift.
The season also saw newly promoted from the Second Division League NEROCA FC give a run of their money to the heavyweights in the league. However, it was Minerva Punjab FC who made the most on the final day and rode on lady luck to be crowned the champions.
With four title races in five seasons being decided on the last day and new champions being crowned in the last five season, the I-League has tantalized fans and given a climax better than any movie for the neutrals.
It has kept hopes up, expectations high and above all, it has maintained and taken euphoria of the fans to extreme levels.