Mason Robertson: ‘I enjoyed scoring but prefer playing as a centre-back’

The 25-year-old, Mason Robertson, looks back on a fruitful 2019-20 season for Real Kashmir.

Mason was happy to assume the role of an attacker this season and scored six goals, taking his overall tally for the club to 10.   -  Nissar Ahmad

Scotland’s Mason Robertson has been an integral part of the fairytale rise of Real Kashmir. Under the stewardship of his father, David, the 25-year-old centre-back oversaw two fruitful, encouraging seasons; the club finished third in 2018-19 after being promoted to the first tier of competition, and when the COVID-19 crisis halted the 2019-20 season in March, it was positioned fourth, with a realistic possibility of finishing second.

Mason was happy to assume the role of an attacker this season and scored six goals, taking his overall tally for the club to 10. “I enjoyed scoring but I do prefer to play as a centre-back. But I’m glad I could help the team as much as I can that’s my goal. A new team doing so well and being part of that is incredible,” he said in an interaction with Sportstar.

“Most memorable goal will have to be [against] Gokulam Kerala. That was the hardest match for us. Coming off the pitch with three points against an incredible team [was excellent],” he said.

That win, in Kozhikode on February 8, marked the third away win in a row for Real Kashmir, its longest winning streak this season. Mason scored the only goal of the contest, in the 49th minute. The club faltered in its next two engagements, going down to Punjab FC and Churchill Brothers. But in the next four matches, all at home, it managed just a single defeat – in an acrimonious encounter against East Bengal.

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Commenting on the club’s overall performance, Mason said, “I don’t think we were as successful as we wanted to be. I do believe there were games we should have won and lost, but we did have games where we didn’t deserve to win. But that’s football. But I’m truly happy with the players’ effort and wish them all the best with what they do in the future.”

That it was a genuine title-contender was suggested early on in the season, in the contest against defending champion Chennai City FC. The 2-1 win, with goals from Danish Farooq and Bazie Armand, was its first of the season. “The guys had a huge smile at the end of the match. And coming of the pitch with a smile, you know you’ve done your job,” Mason recalled.

It was a massive morale-booster for the club after facing the difficulties posed by the political lockdown of Kashmir and the communication restrictions in place. “That was the hardest time for the team. Not being able to call home. Only being able to play Candy Crush at the time. But that shows the fight that players have to improve as a player and know they have an important job. And not wanting to leave like most people would in that situation. But we came together and got through it with the coaches that played a massive role,” Mason said.

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Due to the COVID-19 crisis, Mason has been stuck in Srinagar - in a hotel owned by Sandeep Chattoo, the club’s co-owner - with a few foreign members of the club for more than a month. They’re all waiting for rescue flights so they can get home.

“It’s been very difficult here, just with internet and lockdown,” Mason said.

“We are very lucky we have a great hotel (CH2 hotel) for us. But it has been horrible for everyone with family. My grandparents are very sick, so just getting home seeing my family and knowing my fiancé is in America, I don’t know when I will see her. It is getting harder. All the foreigners are struggling. Kallum [Higginbotham] is missing his family, he has two young kids. Loveday [Enyinnaya] and [Aaron] Katebe both have daughters. But yeah, it’s getting harder and harder every day.”

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