East Bengal edged past Mohun Bagan 3-2 in the Kolkata Derby last Sunday, a fixture which is deemed as the ‘biggest match in Indian football.’ The passionate supporters of both the teams get involved in the game as much as the 22 players on the pitch. The nearly 94-year old rivalry has witnessed many notable incidents; some are worth remembering while some are not. Conflicts between the two sets of fans during the match day is a quite a regular phenomenon. But a warm gesture from both sides just a few minutes before the kick-off outside the Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday evening proved that sports can only survive with mutual respect for others.
Standing with a poster in a corner of the busy E.M. Bypass was a few supporters from each of the two clubs. The poster contained the pictures of two staunch supporters who rooted for their favourite side but was not fortunate enough to cheer from the stands. As a mark of respect, the fans dedicated the ‘Kolkata Derby’ to these immortal souls. Another poster showcased a caption which urged the fans to maintain the rivalry for just 90 minutes only. It was a heart-warming indeed.
Mohun Bagan fans were over the moon after Sony Norde and Azharuddin Mallik guided Mohun Bagan to a memorable win over East Bengal in the 2016-17 season at the Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri.
Soumya Mukherjee was one of the many supporters who was returning to Kolkata with a smiling face. Just a few kilometres away from the destination, the young boy fell off the running train in an attempt to get down. Not managing to balance himself, Soumya hit a potato sack and was then hit by the moving train. The injuries inflicted was fatal and lost his life in a city hospital.
Ushashree was also a hard-core East Bengal loyalist and was a regular visitor to the Stadium. It was unfortunate that she was detected with cancer. After fighting for a long time, she finally breathed her last a few days ago. Arnab, who also lost his life was also remembered by the fans present in the stands along with Kushankur Rakshit who recently passed away after he encountered a cardiac arrest. The Mohun Bagan fans put up a caption which read, “We are going to miss you on the opposite gallery.”
This was the perfect example of how football is treated in this part of the world. Kolkata has once again shown that when it comes to football, it is comparable to no other city. Be it the roaring chants of the ‘Mariners’ or the vociferous roars from the ‘red and gold’ followers, football unites them. Once again, long live the rivalry and Kolkata football. ‘Kudos’ to the ‘City of Joy.’