As East Bengal and Mohun Bagan look set to lock horns once again, this encounter will be the season’s second and final I-League derby as there’s plenty still at stake for both the teams, especially for Khalid Jamil’s men.

A derby win would avenge last time’s loss to their bitter rivals and also put East Bengal level on points with Minerva Punjab who top the table, albeit having played one game fewer than the Kolkata outfit.

Over the years, we have witnessed some memorable derbies that need special mention. The Field selects five of the very best from the ‘City of Joy’:

Mohun Bagan 3-1 East Bengal, Final, IFA Shield 1969

As far as derbies go, this one was hotly contested as it was also the final of one of India’s most coveted tournaments back in the day. Also, Bagan’s victory back in 1911 was also a catalyst for its meteoric rise and its passionate fan-base and you can bet that they wanted to win this one as well.

Amal Dutta, Bagan’s young manager, was known for his tactical innovations and had been experimenting with a 4-2-4 formation that year, a stark contrast to the 2-3-5 played at the time. This system meant that overlapping wingbacks would get high up the pitch to support the main forwards and it worked wonders for the Maroon and Greens.

Legendary Indian goalkeeper Peter Thangaraj was in goal for East Bengal that day but could not prevent Pranab Ganguly for scoring a beautiful first goal and MB’s third with a header. Sukalyan Ghosh Dastidar scored MB’s second as Thangaraj and the EB defence had a day to forget.

Goalscorer Ganguly would later recall, “We were up by three goals within 30 minutes of the first half. I still feel the quality of football that we displayed on that particular day, and the chances that we got, we could have easily scored 8-10 goals. I still regret that we failed to create an unbeatable record that day.”

East Bengal 5-0 Mohun Bagan, Final, IFA Shield 1975

In it’s 97-year history, no derby has captured the imagination like this one. Everything that could have gone wrong for Bagan did go wrong as the Red and Golds ran riot, scoring at will and compounding their rivals’ misery.

To be fair, it is not surprising that this is the heaviest margin of victory or defeat in the derby considering that East Bengal had just won a record consecutive sixth Calcutta Football League (CFL) title. EB also hadn’t lost a derby for a period stretching for almost six years.

There was no stopping EB in the first half as Surajit Sengupta, Shyam Thapa and Ranjit Mukherjee blitzed their team into a 3-0 lead with Thapa even having time to miss a penalty. Thapa’s second in the 51st minute prompted a goalkeeping change but that did not stop Subhankar Sanyal from making it 5-0 in the 84th minute.

The after-effects of the derby were devastating; unhappy Bagan supporters surrounded the players’ tent and hunted down their players. Subrata Bhattacharya and Prasun Banerjee spent the night on a boat in the Ganges hiding from their own fans. Umakanta Palodhi, a MB fan killed himself stating in his suicide note that he wished to be reborn as a Bagan player to seek revenge for the loss.


East Bengal 4-1 Mohun Bagan, Semi-Final, Federation Cup 1997

This day, the 13th of July, 1997, will go down in Indian sporting history as the day that an estimated 131,000 supporters cramped into the Salt Lake Stadium to get a glimpse of not just an age-old rivalry but a technical rivalry between the two coaches.

Datta had been experimenting with a new Diamond System which saw a flood of attackers once the ball entered the opposition half. On top of that, the veteran coach had tried to play mind games with the opposition by using bizarre names for the players (e.g, ‘Chung Chung’ for Baichung Bhutia.)

PK Banerjee, not fazed by Datta’s pre-match barbs was a master in man management and got his team fired up as Bhutia went on to score a second-half hat-trick. Najimul Haque opened the scoring for East Bengal while Bhutia’s header made it 2-0.

Chima Okorie halved Bagan’s deficit but there was no stopping Bhutia, who put the opposition to the sword with two second-half goals. Interestingly, Salgaocar would beat EB, the erstwhile defending champions, 2-1 in the final.


Mohun Bagan 5-3 East Bengal, I-League 2009

This derby will always be remembered for striker Chidi Edeh’s exploits as he became the first and only player to score four goals in the derby. Coming 34 years after East Bengal’s 5-0 victory, this was sweet revenge for the Mariners who saw their team take a 3-1 lead only to be pegged back by Yusif Yakubu’s brace.

Shilton Paul misjudged the flight of an EB corner, as Nirmal Chhetri made it 1-0 for the Red and Golds in the 9th minute. Chidi then got into the act drawing his team level, before a long-ranger by Manish Maithani gave his team the lead.

Jose Barreto then crossed it in for Chidi to put away his second of the night and Bagan’s third. But some poor mistakes in defence meant that Yakubu scored twice to bring his team level to 3-3, an extraordinary scoreline at half-time.

Edeh wasn’t finished though, scoring from close range to get his hat-trick before heading in a free-kick for an unprecedented fourth. Needless to say, this was one of the most open derbies ever.


East Bengal 3-0 Mohun Bagan, I-League 2012

One of the darkest days in Indian football history, this derby was controversially called off at half-time after Mohun Bagan refused to take the pitch in the second half.

Tempers ran high as three Bagan players received yellow cards in quick succession before Harmanjot Khabra scored with a header to give East Bengal a 1-0 lead in the dying minutes of the first half.

Crowd violence escalated after Odafa Okolie was handed a straight red card for showing dissent. Bagan midfielder Syed Rahim Nabi was hit by a missile from the crowd and had to be hospitalised at half-time.

Police lathicharged the supporters as Bagan were hit by a two-year ban for not taking the pitch, as the match was awarded 3-0 to East Bengal. Bagan’s ban was later rescinded and they had to pay a fine, as all the points they had earned till then were nullified.

Bagan survived the season, picking up 29 points to stave off relegation and even went on to win the league the next season, while EB have not won the league for 14 years. As a result of this drought and Bagan’s stuttering form, Sunday’s derby now gains extra importance.