2018 World Cup 'adda': British Dy High Commissioner Bruce Bucknell on football and Kolkata
The World Cup is as much about the fans as the players who make it memorable. The British Club, Kolkata, saluted the spirit of Kolkata's football fans, with the British Deputy High Commissioner, Bruce Bucknell hosting a passionate ‘adda’ (An informal chat session) to usher in the 2018 World Cup, reliving many an incredible fan story. The session continued even as the first match of the tournament between Russia and Saudi Arabia proceeded live on screen, with food and drinks to boot.
On the sidelines of the get together, Indulge got hold of Bucknell, who shared with us his love for the game and Kolkata.
A student of modern history, Bucknell is too aware of the pride Kolkatans still carry about the victory of barefeet Mohun Bagan players over East Yorkshire 107 years ago. The British diplomat, who has some similarities with former English cricket captain Mike Brearley, whispers that his love for cricket outshines that of football. Excerpts from the chat.
Have you ever played football?
Of course, I did, when I was much younger and wore no glasses. I wasn’t particularly good at it, but used to play the game when I was in school. My father took me to the field to watch the football in our hometown, Reading, Berkshire, to watch Reading Football Club in action. I was only about eight or nine.
I started loving the game since then. It’s a very fluid and dynamic game and has a speed of its own, it keeps flowing, keeps moving, that’s the spirit of football. But all said and done, cricket is my sports, I have been playing cricket always. (Grins)
Which are your favourite football clubs from you country?
I quite like the Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, they play very skilfully.
Which is your favourite country when it comes to football? Whom do you root for?
It has to be England, of course. After that my second favourite is Brazil, without a second doubt. They play football beautifully.
Of course, there is a rhythm in the way they handle the ball and it’s quite different than the European countries.
Yes it was like this, but not any longer. Nowadays the game is more homogenised, there’s no uniqueness, no flair left. Now, there’s lot of sports science, techniques and in the middle of all that the natural flair gets diminished. Imagine Diego Maradona, Pele, George Best, on field playing, so much individual flair, they were among the all time best players. Now, it’s more homogenised.
Though there are still a few players, such as, Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah and Messi, who have some flair left.
So, who is your favourite player from Brazil?
I quite like Bobby (Roberto) Firmino. He may not be one of the most talented players around, but definitely has a fantastic ball control.
Which game do you think Kolkatans love the most? Is it cricket or football?
I still wonder and question myself, is the spirit of Kolkata based in the Eden Gardens or Salt Lake Stadium? And you won’t believe, I am yet to watch one of those famed matches between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.
You were a student of modern history and you love exploring new places? How much of Kolkata have you explored in these two years?
I loved Victoria Memorial Hall, it’s fascinating and I love the old rajbaris (Feudal mansions). I have been to a few including the Marble Palace (Jorasanko) and Cossimbazar Rajbari. And of course, I love Eden Gardens.