Many folks would assume that an Indian athletic fixture that regularly brings over 100,000 people could simply be one thing: a game of cricket.
But tell it to those of Kolkata, that Sunday gathered at the town’s Salt Lake Stadium for the latest instalment of this’Boro Derby’, as East Bengal happened on Mohun Bagan in what could well be the most well-attended, exceptionally competitive and significant derby you’ve never heard about.
This is actually the 366th meeting of these sides – it’s been played with 134 more times compared to Merseyside derby – and absorbs the city, that will be regarded as the game’s spiritual home in a country of 1.3bn people.
Here, we simply take you inside a game steeped in convention, watched by’ultras’ and regarded as a battle ground for identity in India’s third-biggest city.
A game using its place in history – and also the record books
Mohun Bagan, founded in 1889, are one of the oldest football clubs in Asia. Their victory while barefoot over the East Yorkshire Regiment in 1911 was the very first time a golf club had conquered a one, ending years of dominance in the early stages of the game in India.
This victory is regarded as a key event in India’s struggle for independence, so much so the anniversary of the game on 29 July is recognized annually as’Mohun Bagan Day’.
The competition was born in 1920, when a defeated leader executive of Mohun Bagan founded East Bengal. Complaining his team decided to not decide on a star player to get a game, he chose to begin a rival club carrying the player with him and forming East Bengal.
In the battle lines drawn off the pitch between the sides since their meeting in 19-25, the enduring significance of the derby is suspended like many city rivalries. The town’s indigenous population has tended to follow Mohun Bagan, with its own immigrant communities out of the southern side (modern-day Bangladesh) choosing East Bengal.
This social and political competition are at the derby’s heart, dividing the Integral football population into the green and maroon of both Mohun Bagan or both the yellow and crimson of East Bengal.
Ninety seven years after, the’Boro derby’ (‘boro’ meaning’big’ in Bengali) has generated its fair share of history. Most notablyit holds the record for the most attended gaming fixture in India, with over 130,000 people a 4-1 win for East Bengal.
Which day bhaichung Bhutia, still the only Indian to have played football in England, scored a hat-trick. He is the leading scorer in the heritage of this derby with 19 goals, also it has played throughout his career for both teams.