“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.”
~ Bill Shankly
Perhaps no other match in the history of world football could depict the inherent truth in the famous Liverpool Manager’s words better than this epic rivalry. The passion behind the epic rivalry has sometimes been far from healthy, which has seen many violent clashes and brutality. One of the reasons behind this intense rivalry might be the bitterness that has disseminated from the pre-independent socio-ethnic culture of the then Bengal territory. The discrimination of people on the basis of ethnicity bifurcated the Bengali community into two major subdivisions, and the whole concept of Ghoti-Bangals (referring to people from West and East Bengal, respectively) emerged, which intensified this rivalry. Unfortunately, this mutual inherent antipathy could not be erased over time as the game of football had become the central point of bitter rivalry, conflict and enmity and it takes the centre stage whenever these two teams battle it out in the football arena.
The Kolkata derby – two hundred and ninety four matches old – still remains the sky-scraping summit of the football season in India. The colossal Yuva Bharati Krirangan magnetizes more than 100 thousand people, with the result of the game often taking precedence over life and death. While the Mariners like to believe that the Green-&-Maroon has been the traditional dominating force in this battle, the passionate Red-&-Golds invariably brag about their supremacy – which guides us to the trails of a never-ending debate. TheHardTackle takes a look at this Derby of Deliverance from a pure statistical point of view and the ultimate conclusion attained from this analysis will surely break more than a million hearts, well at-least for the Green-&-Maroon faithful.
In terms of culture and heritage, Mohun Bagan can be fittingly depicted by the word “tradition”, while the apt word for relating their Red-&-Gold counterparts would be “Passion”. This passionately traditional rivalry has seen a total of 297 Kolkata derbies being played so far and East Bengal managed to win 112 matches compared to Mohun Bagan’s 84 victories, while 101 matches ended in draws. The first ever Kolkata derby was played way back in 1925 and in that match passion ruled over tradition, as a solitary strike by Nepal Chakraborty was enough to earn the Red-&-Gold brigade the sweet taste of victory; thereafter, football in India began a new journey to an unknown territory. During the course of this journey, the game has become the central point of bitter rivalry, conflict and enmity. Let’s have a look at the overall statistics in this epic battle played till date.
All Time Head-To-Head Record:
Total Matches Played – 297
East Bengal Won – 112
Mohun Bagan Won – 84
Draws – 101
Total East Bengal Goals – 272
Total Mohun Bagan Goals – 224
Top Scorer – Baichung Bhutia : 19 [14 for EB, 5 for MB]
First Ever Encounter – East Bengal 1-0 Mohun Bagan [Kolkata Football League 1925]
First Ever Scorer – Nepal Chakraborty [East Bengal]
Most Recent Encounter – East Bengal 2-0 Mohun Bagan [Kolkata Football League 2010]
Highest Margin Victory – East Bengal 5-0 Mohun Bagan [IFA Shield Final 1975]
So from the all-time record perspective, the Red-&-Gold’s supremacy over their Green-&-Maroon compatriots is quite evident – not only in terms of higher win percentage, but also in-terms-of the number of goals scored. However, the above generalized statistics could be shredded into pieces and can be argued of being unrefined, as it includes even the mickey-mouse competitions. That’s why we will have a finer look at these statistics and analyze the Kolkata Derby in light of five major tournaments in Indian football calendar – the IFA Shield, Durand Cup, Federation Cup, Kolkata League and Indian National Football League.
The IFA Shield:
Total Matches Played – 39
East Bengal Won – 19
Mohun Bagan Won – 7
Draws – 13
Total East Bengal Goals – 41
Total Mohun Bagan Goals – 17
First Ever Encounter – East Bengal 1-0 Mohun Bagan [1944 Semi Final]
Highest Margin Victory – East Bengal 5-0 Mohun Bagan [Final 1975]
The IFA shield is one of the oldest and most prestigious tournaments in India. The first ever Kolkata Derby in IFA Shiled was played in the year 1944 and it was the Red-&-Gold brigade which had the last laugh in that tie. Since then the clubs crossed their paths in the Shield 38 times, while Mohun Bagan managed to win only 7 matches, East Bengal claimed 19 victories overall. Responding to Mohun Bagan’s 17 overall goals against East Bengal in IFA Shield, the Red-&-Golds hammered 41 goals into their arch-rival’s coffin. The famous 5-0 whitewash of Bagan in 1975 IFA Shield final will always remain the ultimate glory for every Red-&-Gold supporters against their bitter city rivals.
Total Matches Played – 19
East Bengal Won – 8
Mohun Bagan Won – 6
Draws – 5
Total East Bengal Goals – 16
Total Mohun Bagan Goals – 13
First Ever Encounter – East Bengal 3-2 Mohun Bagan [1957 Semi Final (Replay)]
Highest Margin Victory – East Bengal 3-0 Mohun Bagan [Final 1978]
The third oldest tournament in the world of football – Durand Cup – still remains one of the most coveted silverware in the national calendar. The two arch-rivals faced one another 19 times in this competition and by winning 8 matches compared to their rival’s 6, East Bengal maintains their position at the summit here too. The first ever Kolkata Derby in Durand Cup was an exciting affair. It was the 1957 edition’s Semi-final match (replay), which resulted in a thrilling 3-2 win for the Red-&-Gold brigade. Balaram, Balasubramaniam and Moosa scored for East Bengal while Chuni Goswami and K. Pal responded for Bagan. The biggest victory also remains in East Bengal’s cabinet. In 1978 Durand Cup final, Surajit Sengupta, Mihir Bose and Tapan Das’s strikes ensured a 3-0 demolition of the arch-rivals, which will remain in the hearts of Red-&-Gold faithfuls forever.
Total Matches Played – 21
East Bengal Won – 8
Mohun Bagan Won – 5
Draw – 8
Total East Bengal Goals – 20
Total Mohun Bagan Goals – 14
First Ever Encounter – East Bengal 0-0 Mohun Bagan [1978 Final (Joint Winners)]
Highest Margin Victory – East Bengal 4-1 Mohun Bagan [Semi Final 1997]
Here again the same story of Red-&-Golds dominance gets recorded. Out of the 21 Kolkata derbies played till date in Federation Cup, East Bengal has registered 8 wins in comparison to Mohun bagan’s 5. While the first ever Kolkata derby in Federation Cup was a pale draw in 1978 Final, which resulted in both the clubs getting awarded joint winners of this coveted title, the latest encounter was once again another Federation Cup final – in the current football season. East Bengal managed to clinch the title with a narrow 1-0 win, with Reisangmei Vasum scoring the solitary goal of the match. Overall East Bengal have found their arch-rival’s back of the net 20 times in Fed Cup; Mohun Bagan have scored 6 fewer goals – 14.
The famous “Diamond Match” in 1997 Federation Cup Semi-final witnessed a record 1.5 lakh spectators at the huge Salt Lake stadium. The match also registered the highest margin victory in Fed Cup history between these two teams. With the help of a Baichung Bhutia hat-trick – first ever hat-trick in a Kolkata Derby – P.K. Banerjee’s “Vocal Tonic” completely destroyed Amal Dutta’s “Diamond” by securing a thumping 4-1 victory. It’s hardly surprising that the bragging rights remains with the Red-&-Gold supporters in this tournament as well.
Kolkata Football League:
Total Matches Played – 146
East Bengal Won – 47
Mohun Bagan Won – 42
Draws – 57
Total East Bengal Goals – 114
Total Mohun Bagan Goals – 114
First Ever Encounter – East Bengal 1-0 Mohun Bagan 
Highest Margin Victory – East Bengal 4-0 Mohun Bagan 
Statistics never lie and here in Kolkata domestic league also, we have a clear winner in East Bengal. The Red-&-Golds managed to outsmart their rivals 47 times, 5 more than what the other camp could achieve. The first ever Kolkata Derby was played in this prestigious tournament and it was East Bengal, as usual, who came out victorious in that debut match. East Bengal also pips out Bagan in terms of the highest margin victory in the Kolkata League – the Red-&-Gold’s 4-0 triumph in 1936 League campaign still remains a record in Kolkata league. In the latest Kolkata league encounter earlier in this season, East Bengal notched up a clinical 2-0 win over Mohun Bagan to conjure up a hat-trick of wins in the current season.
At last, here’s something to cheer about for the Mohun Bagan supporters – in terms of goals scored in Kolkata football league, the Mariners are able to match the Red-&-Golds blow-by-blow – with both team registering 114 goals each.
Indian National Football League:
Total Matches Played – 26
East Bengal Won – 11
Mohun Bagan Won – 9
Draws – 6
Total East Bengal Goals – 30
Total Mohun Bagan Goals – 25
First Ever Encounter – East Bengal 1-2 Mohun Bagan [NFL 1997/98]
Highest Margin Victory – East Bengal 3-0 Mohun Bagan [I-League 2008/09]
Although the Mariners notched up a 2-1 win over their arch-rivals when they met in the national football league for the first time, the Red-&-Golds have a better overall record. Out of the total 26 matches played till date, Mohun Bagan won on 9 occasions, whereas East Bengal recorded 2 more wins, the other games have resulted in draws. In the scoring chart as well, East Bengal, scoring 30 goals so far, have outperformed Mohun Bagan; the Mariners managing to muster 5 less than their city rivals.
It’s clearly evident that the Red-&-Gold brigade enjoys a healthy supremacy in this epic battle over the Green-&-Maroons. Leaving the emotions aside, if the raw statistics are to be factored into this debate, then it is crystal clear that ever since its inception, East Bengal have consistently dominated over the Mariners – the “Hilsa” has reigned over the “Chingdi“. The Flaming Torch [“Jolonto Moshal” – the symbol of East Bengal] has not only set the Green-&-Maroon Sailing Boat [“Pal-tola Nouko” – the symbol of Mohun Bagan] ablaze, but also drowned them in the sea of relentless Red-&-Gold waves.