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Kolkata Derby - Fans' Perspective: “Boro” Match More Than Just a Game

Sunday, 12 February 2017|Arijit Mukherjee

The Kolkata Derby match or as we Bengalis love to call it the “Boro” match is the longest standing rivalry in Asia and one of the oldest in the world. To use the clichéd sentence for fans of both the legendary clubs Mohun Bagan and East Bengal it is not just a game it is much more than that.

Emotions, passions do run high on this day in every possible manner and Kolkata gets split right in between. When we talk to the fans we get a perspective of how it runs in most families in the Bengali Household. There are no neutrals when the “Boro” match is in town. 

We caught up with some fans from both ends 24 hours before the big match in Siliguri. Firstly, when we met up with Kuntal Chowdhury a veteran Mariner, who is also the President of a registered fans group of the club by the name of Swapner Udaan Mohun Bagan, he was graceful and did let us know the actual emotions of being a Mariner. 

He has been watching derbies from the early 80s when he was a kid in school, he has gone through gamut of emotions in the last three decades, he has experienced many highs and lows. Whenever Mohun Bagan has won they have had their small parties and danced on the streets, when the Mariners have lost they have felt the pain equivalent to losing a near and dear one, cried after the loss and used to be down for several days. 

According to him times have changed, people have changed and the avenues of entertainment have increased manifold but Mohun Bagan remains constant. 

In his own words “Just as we keep ‘C’ constant in mathematics, Mohun Bagan has remained constant in our life for generations.” A heart-touching and beautiful quote from the man who have experienced the fervour of Mohun Bagan for four generations, starting from his grandfather and which he has now passed on to his son. He was not at all disrespectful to the Red and Gold brigade though he was quietly confident the team will deliver at the big stage.

Next we moved on to a Red and Gold brigade fan, who has also travelled from Kolkata to paint Siliguri Red and Gold. Young, energetic and care free, Abhranil Roy though just about 20, has lots of memories to share.

"Growing up a Bong, you simply have to choose between a few things and East Bengal or Mohun Bagan is one of them. I swore my allegiance to the Red and Gold Brigade, so my mom and I sit down and watch derby games together while my dad, who is a Mariner, grabs the opposite end of the couch. 

Victories are always celebrated with a cuisine and chants of " Haath e Moshal, Buk e Barud, Amra Holam Lal Holud". It is not just a game, it is an emotion, a way of living for us and I would have it no other way. 

The "Boro Match" as we call it here, has been splitting Bong communities and families for generations now and it is a very fond memory of my growing up days. May the passion and love for the game burn in our hearts forever,” he said before chanting “Joy East Bengal”.

The “Boro” match has emotions which is parallel to none. People travel from every nook and corner of Bengal to witness the hallowed derby, most of them saving through-out the year to be able to witness the Derby in grand fashion.

The match has emotions, suspense, intense action, strategy, fights. Every aspect of the human nature is involved in these matches and it is always a ready recipe for a super-hit Hindi potboiler.

It is the mother of all matches in the Indian football calendar and is the ultimate USP of Indian Football for the world. It has withstood the test of time and even the advent of the ISL have failed to take away the sheen and mass appeal of this match nor the “Big Two” of the Kolkata Maidan. As said before the “Boro” match is a part of the Bengali DNA and it will never be uprooted.

As Sanjoy Sen quoted at the pre-match press conference “Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are the reason Indian Football is alive.” No gimmicks and publicity stunts can ever diminish the charm of the Big Two and their rivalry.

Football is only successful when it is the right mix of passion, emotions, professionalism and marketability. Unfortunately, the football hierarchy in India prefers to turn a blind eye to that and concentrate on eye-washes.

Long live the fans of the “Big Two” and their undying love for the “CLUBS” and “The Beautiful Game.”