Words By: Anuron Deka
My grandfather, who was a die-hard Brazil fan, often used to regale me with stories about the Kolkata Derby.
As a kid, I was always overwhelmed as to what to believe and what not to. For to really get a grasp of the passion and craze of the fans, one must actually experience the “boro” first-hand.
That fateful day for me arrived on a warm Sunday afternoon in 2004 when I happened to visit the city of joy. Everything seemed to be normal, and then all of a sudden, the streets deserted, people tuned in to the radio in groups, and crowds began to gather outside TV showrooms.
There was only one thing on everyone’s lips; the big match. One could actually feel the city’s population being formed into two fan groups of Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. It was then I realised that everything my grandfather told me was true and not mere fiction.
Bengali people relish two things in absolute; football and fish, and the latter has quite the history with the Kolkata Derby. The East Bengal fans love “Hilsa” fish and they celebrate an East Bengal win with mouth-watering “Hilsa” fish curry; whereas Mohun Bagan fans are crazy about “Chingri” or king prawn and the prices go through the roof whenever the “Mariners” win.
The latest edition of the Kolkata Derby was played on 2nd April 2016 in front of the obligatory huge crowds, and saw East Bengal emerged victorious, courtesy of a brace from Do Dong Hyun, and fish curries for all their followers.
With this win, East Bengal moved to within 2 points of the league leaders Mohun Bagan, who suffered back-to-back defeats.
True, the quality of this fixture may not be on par with big European rivalries, but what it lacks in quality is certainly made up for by its history and importance and crazy passion amongst the fans.