The Indian national football team in the last decade has been called the Blue Tigers, but there was a time two decades back when Team India was nicknamed Bhangra Boys during the historic tours of England in July 2000 and then in the following years 2001 and 2002.
But do you know how the nickname of Bhangra Boys actually came into being?
I guess a lot of people do not know the story on how the nickname of Bhangra Boys came into being back then. It wasn’t a PR agency or any professional who created the nickname, but the name came about during a match played between then English first division side West Bromwich Albion and India at the Hawthorns in Birmingham on July 26, 2000 during India’s historic tour of England.
The match ended 0-0 but India not only challenged West Brom, who then were a top team in the second tier of English football, but we deserved to win that night. Baichung made a flying header which should have gone in, a great game by a then rising Team India. About 13,000 spectators attended the match and 90% of the crowd was Indian or of Indian origin. The atmosphere was amongst the best I have seen over the years at an India game with drums and dhools around, people supporting India which altogether created a positive vibe.
That night the term the Bhangra Boys was born with many in the crowd being Punjabi’s! And over those three tours it became India’s nickname with which the fans could identify and support. Especially in 2002 when India took on Jamaica in a tour which was named the Reggae Boyz vs the Bhangra Boys in the 2002 JamIn Tour.
On those tours, India used to play in an all white jersey with the tricolour around the neck and arm, which simply looked sleek and great!
And I have great memories about those tours and matches in England in 2000, 2001 and 2002 due to which I will never forget the nickname of Bhangra Boys for Team India.
With India’s historic tour of England celebrating its 20th anniversary this month, I will write a series of articles remembering that legendary tour!