Match No. 1
MOHUN BAGAN 2-1 EAST YORKSHIRE REGIMENT
(Final, IFA Shield -1911)

This was a match that symbolized the national sentiments. All roads led to the Calcutta Football Ground on this historic day. A whopping 80,000 people were reported to have gathered in the maidan; an open ground. As it was an open ground, without the slightest bit of seating arrangements, a majority couldn’t watch the match and were updated through scores written on kites! Eleven barefooted Bengali soldiers were fighting for their lives against the rulers. It was no less than an independence battle for the Mohun Bagan players and the citizens felt no different.

However, it was the Yorkshire regiment who drew first blood and went in for the breather leading 1-0. Jackson was the scorer for them, who found the back of the net from a free-kick. Encouraged and cheered by the by the passionate crowd, Bagan restored parity through a Shibdas Bhaduri strike in the second half. The 1-1 dead-lock could not be broken till the 88th minute of the match. Finally, a couple of minutes before the final whistle, Abhilash Ghosh tore apart the British resistance and scored a fabulous winner.

The players were lauded as the “Immortal XI” – and deservedly so. Religion, cast, creed was forgotten in celebrations that day. Mohun Bagan’s victory over the British sovereign had then become an issue of political nationalist upsurge. Football had become an outlet of aggression for the young generation.

The Immortal XI

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Match No. 2
EAST BENGAL 1-0 PAS CLUB, Iran
(Final, IFA Shield -1970)

It was another landmark moment for Indian football as this Red-&-Gold victory marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Indian football. After independence, it was the first ever victory by an Indian club against a foreign side in any competitive match. Legendary footballer and the country’s most successful coach – P.K. Banerjee – was at the helm of coaching affairs at East Bengal at the time and the club had some true icons like Peter Thangaraj, Shanto Mitra, Shyam Thapa, Surajit Sengupta in their roaster.

In the final match of 1970 IFA Shield, East Bengal had an uphill task of facing off with Iran’s PAS Club for the ultimate glory. At the time there was no Yuvabharati Krirangan and the match was played  in a vibrant Eden Gardens stadium amidst continuous cheering by 80,000 football fanatics. In those days, Iran was an Asian football powerhouse and PAS Club were the Champions of Tehran Football League in 1967 and 1968. The club consisted of many of Iran National football team players, who participated in Iran’s 1968 AFC Asian Cup triumph. They also had a few quality foreigners from the Soviet Union, Israel, El Salvador and Morocco with previous World Cup experience. Most importantly, PAS Club produced a dominating performance in their first three IFA Shield matches as they scored 8 goals on their way to the final, brushing aside all the challenges thrown at them and were considered favorites by the pundits to lift the Shield.

Not even the die-hard Red-&-Gold faithful would have expected a win against such illustrious counterparts, but the brave footballers turned soldiers made the impossible, possible. A late strike by Parimal Dey in second half injury time earned East Bengal a place in Indian football history. The mood was festive and the joyous East Bengal faithfuls lit up Eden Gardens with flaming torches ( “Moshal“, the club symbol ) and painted Eden Gardens in Red-&-Gold abir.

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Match No. 3
EAST BENGAL 5-0 MOHUN BAGAN
(Final, IFA Shield -1975)

East Bengal took on their arch-rivals Mohun Bagan in an eagerly anticipated IFA Shield title clash in the year 1975. In a performance that made its way into East Bengal folklore, the Red & Gold brigade bulldozed their way to a thumping 5-0 victory over their bitter city rivals, which still remains the biggest ever margin in the history of a Kolkata derby.

The match started at a fierce pace and it did not take more than five minutes for Surajit Sengupta to draw first blood for the Red & Gold with a neat finish. East Bengal could have doubled their lead in the eleventh minute, but the ever reliable penalty shooter Shyam Thapa missed the target from the spot. However, Thapa made amends in midway through the fist half with a sublime volley to find the back of the net from Subhash Bhowmick’s cross.

East Bengal team after winning 1975 IFA Shield

East Bengal raced to a 3-0 lead seven minutes before half-time – courtesy Ranjit Ranjit Mukherjee’s brilliant goal. In a moment of brilliance, Surajit Sengupta and Shyam Thapa played a nice sequence of passes between them, and the former flicked the ball towards Ranjit, who dodged two defenders inside out before rounding off Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Bhaskar Ganguly, to give his side 3-0 lead even before the half way stage.

Seven minutes after the breather Shyam Thapa completed his brace when Surajit Sengupta’s screamer rebounded off Bhaskar‘s hands, and an opportunistic Thapa capitalized the opportunity gleefully. Substitute Subhankar Sanyal completed the misery for Mohun Bagan, putting the fifth and the last nail in their coffin with six minutes to go before the final whistle. That was the pinnacle of glory for the club, and ever since this huge victory, the bragging rights ahead of any Kolkata derby remained with the Red-&-Gold brigade.

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Match No. 4
PENAROL FC, Uruguay 1-0 SHAKHTAR DONETSK, Soviet Union
(Final, IFA Shield – 1985)

This was for the first time after independence that an IFA Shield final was an affair between two foreign teams. Uruguay’s Penarol FC and Russia’s Shakhtar Donetsk are probably the two most famous teams to participate in the IFA Shield ever. The Uruguan giants have had the ultimate glory in South America – the Copa Libertadores – on five ocassions. They had won the prestigious Intercontinental Cup thrice, their most recent triumph coming in 1982. They were also the domestic league Champions in Uruguay in 1984. Shakhtar Donetsk were also a big club in the then Soviet Union, having one the domestic title in 1983.

It was an eagerly anticipated match and as per the eye witnesses, the game attracted a whopping 50,000 crowd watching the match from the stadium on that very day. It was a close contest till the final whistle but in the end Penarol FC prevailed over their Russian opponents by a solitary goal.

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Match No. 5
JCT FC 1-0 KARKH CLUB, Iraq
(Final, IFA Shield – 1996)

The 1996 edition was one of the most significant landmarks in IFA shield’s history because this was the first instance of an Indian club based out of Kolkata ever winning the coveted crown. JCT FC made it to the history books by becoming the first non-Kolkata Indian club to grab the Shield when they defeated Iraq’s Karkh Club 1-0 in additional extra time.

JCT FC were the team to beat in that season as they clean swept all the silverwares including the first edition of National Football League, besides winning the Federation Cup and the Durand Cup as well. Sukhwinder Singh was at the helm of affairs for the Fagwara-based club during those days and the squad roaster included the likes of young sensation, 1996 Indian Player of the Year Baichung Bhutia and the superstar of Indian football, I.M. Vijayan. Vijayan and Bhutia went on to form one of the deadliest forward lines Indian club football would ever witness and the pair brought laurels to the club when they scalped a heavyweight like Karkh Club of Iraq in the IFA Shield final.

The final was a close contest with both teams matching each other shot for shot. The first half ended goalless and even the last 45 minutes could not produce any goals. The match rolled on to additional extra time and finally JCT clinched the title when Tejinder Kumar scored a golden goal in the 109th minute.

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