Hyderabad FC, Deccan Legion and the resurgence of Hyderabad football

Tarun, a football fanatic from the city, tells us what it means to be Yellow and Black

The year was 2019…

Top-flight football finally returned to Hyderabad after a 60-year hiatus and Hyderabad FC was presented as the embodiment of the ‘Never Say Die’ attitude of the Telangana city. Fast forward just four years and HFC have already written their name in folklore. They have not only bought the glory days back but are now turning a whole generation of fans towards the beautiful game.

Hyderabad’s on-field success is impressive, but what is more eye-catching, is the revolution of the sport that has kicked off in the city. Say hello to Tarun Aritakula, one such HFC fanatic and an important part of our fan club, Deccan Legion.

A hardcore football fan, who hardly misses a game, Tarun hails from a part of the city where football is already the most famous sport. Fun sessions of footy, to conversations about Indian football to having a club to call their own – it paved way for a group that soon turned into the heartbeat of Hyderabad football, named Deccan Legion. Here is the story of the impact of HFC on the city, as narrated by Tarun…

Turning Hyderabad Yellow and Black!

While Indian football has been on the rise since early last decade, the fans of the sport from Hyderabad waited five long years before they got a club to call their own. But right from the first minute, it was a club the Hyderabadis fell in love with.

Tarun Aritakula from Deccan Legion

Tarun Aritakula: Contrary to what people believe, Hyderabad has always been a city with football heritage. We probably have thousands of youngsters in the city who have played football at some point of time in their life. There was never an active professional team for the people to support. That is where I believe Hyderabad FC has bridged the gap. The city now has a new sports team to support. I still remember after winning the final, most of my WhatsApp contacts had put up our title-winning post as their status, people who I never thought would be following HFC. So, I do think the landscape has changed and it’s only going to get better.

Climbing up the ladder

In its first seasons of inception, Hyderabad FC turned into a major topic of discussion among sport enthusiasts in the city. But a bottom-placed finish, and two seasons of COVID football meant that the connect that was created slowly weakened.

HFC fans celebrate goal on Fan Screen during 2020-21 season

But with the team performing over expectations and nicking the ISL trophy in just it’s third season, helped create a stronger bond between the city and the club.

Tarun Aritakula: We’ve steadily improved ever since our inception. From finishing bottom of the table in our first season to winning the ISL in our third, we’ve shown that with a strong foundation comes great consistency. We were probably the talk of the league for the past three seasons. We’ve been underdogs all this while but punched above our weights at every time of asking.

Falling in love with the Nawabs

With the performances on the field, the players’ connect with the fans off the field, it was not a surprise to see that the club was making new fans in the city, by the day. And it has now slowly become a part of life for many…

Tarun Aritakula: For someone like me, who was born and brought up in Hyderabad and being a sports/football aficionado, there’s never a second thought about not falling in love with the team. I have completed my schooling here, my under graduation here and now work in this city. Supporting your local club is a way of giving back to the city you have been brought up in. But that being said, the club probably resonates the Hyderabad way of life. Sticking through adversity, not giving up till the end and reaping the fruits of a collective team effort.

The city now is witnessing the rise of a core fan base, that have fallen in love with the sport and the club. And with the DNA of the club aligning perfectly to what the city represents, HFC as a sports community is getting the city together.

HFC fans in full voice at the Maidaan

Tarun Aritakula: Hyderabad FC is now a part and parcel of my life. As a kid, I always dreamt of supporting a club from Hyderabad and eventually, it came through. I’ve probably made friends for life through supporting HFC. People I probably would not have met if not for this club. We now have group chats, hang out on weekends, meetup to play a game of football etc. You could probably say I have a mini extended family thanks to HFC!

Loyal and Lively

Deccan Legion, one of the loudest fanbases in the country, work hard to make the Maidaan a tough place to go to. They make the team stronger and are often our 12th man in close games. But a lot of this connection between fans and players has been built up right from the first season.

The club has lost a number of players over the years but has a core of Indian stars that have loyal supporters among the HFC faithful. The likes of Mohammad Yasir, Laxmikant Kattimani, Nikhil Poojary, Sahil Tavora and more have been there from the first day, just like the fanatic group of Deccan Legion.

Tarun with HFC players after open training session

Tarun Aritakula: I’ve always had immense respect for players who have been here ever since our inception. The likes of Poojary, Yasir, Kattimani, and Tavora went through the highs and the lows with this club. They are my personal favorites. Long may they continue at our wonderful club.

The Future

Each and every football fan from Hyderabad is just as excited about the team as they are about creating an atmosphere that resonates with the Hyderabad junta.

Tarun Aritakula: I’m really looking forward to the season ahead. Lots of changes on and off the field but I believe we are on the right path. Eagerly excited for the trio of Conor Nestor, Thangboi Singto and Shameel Chembakath. All I would insist to other fans is to have patience as the results might not be instant but they’ll definitely come good in the long run.

Deccan Legion unfurl multiple tifos at the Maidaan

The new season of the Indian Super League only kicks off in September but the support from these kinds of fans never stops and is what helps players perform to their very best!

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