Mohun Bagan Vs East Bengal: The biggest Rivalry in Indian Football
Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, have been the two biggest football clubs of India, for almost a century.
These two clubs from Kolkata, the "Football Capital" of India, have a long history. The rivalry between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal is undoubtedly the biggest rivalry in Indian Football. It is also considered one of the most notable derbies in world football. The Mohun Bagan vs East Bengal derby features in FIFA's classic derby list.
Mohun Bagan is the older of the two clubs. In fact, it is the oldest existing football club in India. It was established in 1889. On the other hand, the East Bengal club was established in August 1920.
The first match between these two iconic clubs was held on the 25th of May, 1925. East Bengal won the match by a solitary goal. From then on East Bengal and Mohun Bagan have played against each other on numerous occasions. According to official statistics, these two teams have faced each other 322 times, to date.
Matches Played: 322 East Bengal Won: 120 Mohun Bagan Won: 91 Draw: 111
The East Bengal vs Mohun Bagan Derby is also called "The Kolkata Derby". However, the football lovers of Kolkata prefer to call the derby as the "Boro Match", which means "the Big Match", in Bengali.
And indeed it has been the biggest match for any football lover in India for decades. But for the people of Bengal, the derby is not just a game of football but much more than that. The almost whole of Bengal gets divided into two parts during the "Boro Match".
One part, are the Mohun Bagan supporters, who call themselves the "Sobuj Maroon Brigade", as their Club's jersey is green and maroon in colour. While the East Bengal supporters are called the "Lal Holud Brigade", i.e the Red and Gold brigade.
The support base for the two teams has a great socio-political history behind it, which makes this rivalry so unique.
After the partition of India, millions of refugees, mainly Hindus, migrated from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and settled down in various parts of Kolkata and West Bengal. These refugees became Indian citizens after independence. However, as a result of this migration, there existed two different communities, in West Bengal. The people who came from East Pakistan after partition were called the "Bangals", and those who had been living in West Bengal before independence also, were called the "Edeshis".
The supporters of the East Bengal club are the "Bangals". While the Mohun Bagan club supporters are mainly the "Edeshis". So a person in Bengal is born as a Mohun Bagan or East Bengal supporter, depending on the community to which he or she belongs.
This ethnic backdrop has played a major role in making the Kolkata Debry so successful. Although the quality of football has deteriorated over the years, the supporter base of these two clubs has never eroded.
The Kolkata Debry is mostly held in the Yuvabharati Krirangan (Salt Lake Stadium), Kolkata, which is one of the biggest stadiums in the world, in terms of capacity. The stadium has a seating capacity of more than one lakh people. And in most of the Kolkata Derbies, it gets completely packed, thus producing one of the best ambiences for playing football.
Thus the matches between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are the eternal "Boro Matches" of Indian football.