– By Sourav Mukherjee
Wherever one may roam, if they are in India in search of the game, Kolkata is undoubtedly the place to be in irrespective of the other big names that have made their mark in the recent times. No matter what, even if India ranks at 135 in the FIFA World’s list, The Kolkata Derby and its grandeur that is still intact even after so many years since its inception, still holds one of biggest rivalries in the world and could easily be counted as The Clash of The Titans, played between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.
East Bengal, established in 1920, being the representatives of the eastern region of the undivided Bengal, way before it was eventually named as Bangladesh and being announced as an Islamic republic in 1971, and other the side, being from the west itself, Mohun Bagan, the oldest of perhaps all the clubs in India that have ever played football in the country, established way back in 1889. These two sides make for a match whenever they turn out on the pitch. One might feel the shiver of witnessing history on their toes if they get to be in a packed Yubabharati Krirangan, of over 1 lakh heads getting bisected into Red & Yellow (East Bengal) and Green & Maroon (Mohun Bagan).
Producing numerous superstars of the game in the country, Kolkata never seemed to fall short in being called as the Mecca of Football, though in recent times, cities like Goa, Bengaluru and Mumbai have also joined in the league in producing some great talents who are proving to be the future ambassadors of the game. From Gostho Paul to P.K Banerjee, the likes of Chuni Goswami, Majid Boxer, Jamsid Nasiri, Krishanu Dey, Subrata Bhattacharjee, Subhash Bhowmik, Bhaichung Bhutia and other huge names have been the frontiers of the rich Kolkata footballing culture since its golden era had started a century ago.
Well, not just by the colours as they say, the glorious rivalry between the Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are measured by the choices of food their fans make for themselves as well. King Size Prawn vs. Golden Hilsa, primarily those of River Padma, (located in Bangladesh in present times) are the symbols of the fans who wear their jerseys and turn up to the event. It all go in the cards of history after every single derby takes place in the City of Joy, as people from both the sides never leave an inch apart in disgracing each other by their colours and pride. It seems as though a fight is being fought out of the game, which is much far and above the boundaries of football. More so to the temper at which it grows, days before the game is scheduled. In the end, the side that loses is the side that’s booed until the next match is in contention. The battle just gets tired of in wracking nerves if you’re a Bengali by any chance.
On the whole, as contributors of Indian Football, Kolkata is and shall always be up there where hardly any other state of India could ever match up, as far as the emotions surrounding the game is concerned in this part of the country. May this outburst of ruthless aggression live forever.