Chennaiyin FC fans had a riveting rivalry going with the Kerala Blasters fans for the first three seasons. Both the teams put their heart and soul into creating adrenalin-pumping chants and unfurled gigantic banners during the matches involving the two teams, but the entry of Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League changed the priorities for the Supermachans and B-Stand Blues, the two fan clubs associated with the Chennai team.
From the moment Bengaluru came in, a lot of banter and trolling was going on between the fans on social media. There were lots of talks around the first away game in Bengaluru last season.
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In one of the many fan videos in the build-up to the game, one Bengaluru FC fan says, ‘You are welcome to Bengaluru. Enjoy the match, except for the results,” Jenny, one of the Supermachans, recollects. That was the beginning of the rivalry between the two teams.
“They behaved as if they were superior to everybody else and that nobody could come close to them. We wanted to break that trend,” Jenny reasons.
"In the first away game in Bengaluru, the BFC fans were sledging and belittling our players, but Dhanpal Ganesh silenced them all in the last five minutes with a winner and went near the BFC fans and celebrated wildly. In a way, he contributed immensely to the rivalry,” she adds.
Now, the team has festive banners specifically made for the matches against Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters.
On Sunday, in their team's opening match at Sree Kanteerava Stadium, the fans are planning to reveal a giant banner, in all likeliness, planned to provoke the West Block Blues. The team, after all, is returning to the stadium in which it was crowned the Indian Super League champion for the second time.
However Bengaluru FC fans seem to have taken a more moderate approach to the rivalry this year. The banners are out, the chants are as rabble rousing as ever, but the fans claimed it had more to do with cheering for their team and keeping the taunts to a minimum.
“We are mindful of the new ISL regulation that bans fans from the stadium for using abusive language,” Prasanna, a member of BFC fan club West Block Blues, says. It remains to be seen how many of his tribe share his views.
“Fan rivalry and banter makes football interesting. On field, we are rivals, but we also work together for social. There is no rivalry then. It is purely football entertainment for us fans,” Ramaiah, a Supermachan sums it up.