As the famous dialogue goes, “What’s a Bengali who doesn’t love football!”
The soccer madness, otherwise known as the Kolkata Derby, runs through every Bengali like live blood. It is as if every child in Kolkata learns what an adrenaline rush exactly is, because of the Derby. The diverse population is undoubtedly split into two teams and are ready to sacrifice their lives for their team’s victory.
Every year the Salt Lake Stadium turns into the battleground where the players show off all their skills in the most polished manner, and even the person with the whitest collar would seem like the most insane and rowdy person living on planet Earth when he’s supporting his team! Such is the craze of the Kolkata Derby.
And it’s not just because of the 21st century! It’s been there ever since. Since the Derby first started in 1921. It has always been a tough competition between the two teams – Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, Mohun Bagan being the oldest team formed in the year 1889. With over 300 matches, both the teams have managed to earn extremely loyal supporters of uncountable numbers. While East Bengal has won 118 matches, Mohun Bagan is not lagging too much behind with a win count of 87. Unfortunate days were those when there were the draws, about 111 times! In modern times, the name which comes up as that of a God in Kolkata football is of Baichung Bhutia because of his hat-trick in a famous match of 1997. In 2009, another name to come up was that of Nigerian Edeh Chidi – the first foreign player to score a hat-trick in the Kolkata Derby and also the 2nd player in the history to score four goals in a single encounter. Before him, it was only Amiyo Deb in the year 1934 to score four goals!
If you are in Kolkata during the time of a Derby, it is similar to a ‘guruchondali dosh’ to miss it! The stands of the Salt Lake Stadium go mad, and how! People you have never ever met, hug you tight when their team wins.And people literally cry when their teams lose. It is as if they have lost someone close!
Well, to sum it up… No. Actually it is not possible to sum up what Kolkata Derby is all about! Those lucky ones present in Kolkata will surely not miss sinking into the rhythm of the players and the matches. For those who have no idea, do witness with your own senses to know about the charm and culture of the game.