India's all consuming rivalry which also features in the FIFA's Classic Derby List

Mention the world's most popular and enduring rivalries and even the most ardent aficionado will immediately turn their thoughts to the traditional hotbeds of Europe and South America. Few will look to Asia, and even fewer to India. By any measure, however, the rivalry between Kolkata's East Bengal and Mohun Bagan deserves a place on the must-see list for those football cognoscenti with a global view.

Now dating back 86 years, the fixture is a highlight on the annual fixture list. Enormous crowds are assured at the city's cavernous Salt Lake Stadium, one of the globe's largest arenas. Up to 100,000 plus supporters can be expected depending on the standings of the respective combatants, and the derby holds the record for the largest sporting attendance in the world's second most populace nation.

Origins

Mohun Bagan are one of Asia's oldest clubs having been inaugurated in 1889 in the city then known under its anglicised name, Calcutta. The significant British influence in what was, until 1911, the nation's capital, ensured the game flourished, drawing players from other regions, and it is against this backdrop in which today's rivalry took root.

Like many great rivalries a schism, albeit in this case an indirect one, led to the birth of a local challenger. In 1920, the Jora Bagan club took to the field againstMohun Bagan without star Sailesh Bose, much to the chagrin of club vice-president Suresh Chandra Chaudhuri. Such was the industrialist's displeasure, he decided to form a new club and East Bengal was born. As Chaudhuri and his co-founders hailed from East Bengal, essentially now modern-day Bangladesh, the club were traditionally supported by immigrants from that area. This resulted in the clubs being backed by two different socio-economic groups, although this has largely changed over the decades.

The first major meeting between the two clubs occurred in 1925 and resulted in a 1-0 win for East Bengal in a Calcutta League match. The result was repeated when the pair met for the first time in the prestigious IFA (Indian Football Association) Shield in 1944. East Bengal's semi-final triumph was all the more poignant due toMohun Bagan's historic and deep-seated affiliation with the tournament.

Highest Margin of Victory in Derby

In the memory of East Bengal Fans this day stands out - 29th September 1975. It was the IFA Shield Finals when East Bengal Club defeated Mohun Bagan 5-0 on the Mohun Bagan home ground. List of scorers in the order of the scores were - Surajit Sengupta, Shyam Thapa, Ranjit Mukherjee, Shyam Thapa, Subhankar Sanyal. Till date fans clamor for a repeat but it stands as an unbeaten record. It is the Highest Record Margin of victory in the clash of the two arch rivals.

Highest Attendance in Derby

Arguably, the most memorable Kolkata derby of all took place in 1997 when a remarkable crowd of 131,000 - a record attendance for any sport in India - filled a heaving Salt Lake Stadium. Appropriately enough, India's most recognisable footballer, Bhaichung Bhutia, took centre stage, scoring a hat-trick as East Bengal triumphed 4-1 in the semi-final of the Federation Cup.



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