The infamous ‘Kolkata Derby’ is undoubtedly the most awaited fixture in the Indian football calendar, with the clubs sharing a fierce rivalry between themselves where emotions overflow, starting from the players to the fans. But, how many of those encounters are worth remembering?
We are hours away from the first-ever ‘Kolkata Derby’ in the Indian Super League, with both ATK-Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal eyeing to bag three points on offer and gain a psychological edge ahead of the remainder of the season. The rivalry dates back to 1925 - when Nepal Chakraborty’s lone strike steered East Bengal to a win in the first ‘Kolkata Derby.’ Since then, we have witnessed numerous riveting encounters between these two sides, with some of them still etched in the memories of both sets of fans.
Let us have a look at some of the fiercest ATK-Mohun Bagan - East Bengal clashes from the past -
IFA Shield Final - September 30, 1975
The IFA Shield Final back in 1975 marked a historic ‘Kolkata Derby’, where East Bengal found the net a total of 5 times, while Mohun Bagan failed to score. The ‘red and gold’’ brigade were hot favourites to claim the bragging rights, with them winning six consecutive Calcutta Football League titles, from 1970 t0 1975 - a record which they broke several years later. As mentioned, the win was not surprising, but the margin was - the biggest ever win in the fixture in the 100-year old rivalry between these two clubs. In spite of being a one-sided affair, followers of either side still recall the day for separate reasons.
Calcutta Football League - August 17, 2007
Calcutta Football League was in full swing - the ‘Derby’ knocking on the door, with a win propelling either of them an inch closer to the title. The rain-drenched monsoon evening, along with a packed Salt Lake Stadium called for a fierce battle, with a lot of physical tussles on the cards. Young Lallawnpuia gave Mohun Bagan the lead from a defensive lapse in the 8th minute itself, while they were leading 3-0 within the first half, their fans overjoyed with the way the players have fared so far. But, football is a game of two halves.
East Bengal made a stunning comeback, pulled back one, and the match was set alive once again. Refusing to sink, the ‘Mariners’ lodged a fresh assault, taking a 4-1 lead in the process. Alvito d’Cunha and Brazilian Edmilson scored one each later in the game to change the scoreline to 4-3. While the rest of the game witnessed edge-of-the-seat experience, East Bengal nearly levelled during the dying minutes, with striker Dipendu Biswas missing a sitter.
I-League - October 25, 2009
The repercussion of the humiliating 5-0 defeat in the final of the 1975 IFA Shield final was enormous, with their fans losing sleep over it. From then on, Bagan fans had a constant pointer on their wishlist – avenge the disastrous loss. While they have still not been able to re-create an identical scoreline, the 2009 I-League Derby gave them solace. East Bengal were first to score, taking the lead early on, but Nigerian Edeh Chidi restored parity soon, with Manish Mahtani giving them the lead. Chidi made it 3-1 soon after, while Bagan fans started making party plans for the night. Yet, there was a twist.
East Bengal converted twice late in the second half to spark the game into life once again, with the half time score reading 3-3. But, the second half was owned by Chidi, with him scoring another two, completing his hat-trick, the first ever to achieve the feat in a ‘Kolkata Derby’, helping Bagan win with a 5-3 margin. Even though the scars of the 1975 IFA Shield final were still visible, the wound healed to a great extent.
Federation Cup Semi-Final - July 13, 1997
Federation Cup semi-final, Mohun Bagan taking on East Bengal at the iconic Salt Lake Stadium - with two of Indian football’s greatest footballers – P.K. Banerjee and Amal Dutta taking charge of either side - football fanatics in Bengal couldn’t pen down a more perfect script than this. What’s more intriguing? Amal Dutta’s diamond formation, which had reaped favourable results in the tournament, but someone had to crack the code, who better than P.K. Banerjee could have done that. What happened was devastating from Mohun Bagan’s point of view, their dream run, which was all set to march them to the championship, came to halt in a cruel manner.
In front of a record 1,30,000 people, East Bengal - aided by Indian football’s latest sensation Bhaichung Bhutia ripped apart Bagan’s defence, handing them a humiliating 4-1, much to the joy of their millions of passionate fans, while agonising the other half. While it was a pain and gain situation on either side of the spectrum, Indian football emerged victorious in the bigger picture - with the football madness echoing all around the globe.