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ISL 2021-22: Why is the Kolkata Derby known as 'Boro Match' in Bengal?

09:49 EAT 26/11/2021
ATK Mohun Bagan Roy Krishna ISL
The two Kolkata giants are raring to faceoff against each other...

The two giants in East Bengal and ATK Mohun Bagan are set to clash against each other at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Goa on Saturday evening. And as always the city of Kolkata will be divided into two halves. If the northern part of the city is the bastion of the green and maroon brigade, then East Bengal reigns supreme in the south. From tea stalls to fancy eateries, every place in the city will be buzzing for the 'Boro Match'.

Why is the derby called the 'Boro Match'?

The East-Mohun rivalry is almost a century old as the first official match between the two clubs was played back in 1925. These two entities are the defacto two biggest clubs in Kolkata. And whenever these two sides meet each other, the fixture came to be commonly called the 'Boro Match' which translates to the 'Big Match'.

But how did this epic rivalry start that led to it being called the 'Boro Match'? On July 28, 1920, Jorabagan club was slated to play against Mohun Bagan in Coochbehar Cup. However, Sailesh Bose, one of the most important players of Jorabagan was left out of the team. This angered Vice President Suresh Chandra Chaudhuri and he enquired the reason behind his omission. Although it is believed that none came up with an answer, he understood that he was left out not on sporting grounds but because he hailed from the eastern part of Bengal, the current day Bangladesh.

It must be noted that after the partition of Bengal in 1905, there was a simmering undercurrent of dislike in the Bengali community between the people of west and east Bengal. And Chaudhuri understood that Bose was a victim of this discrimination. Hence, he along with Raja Manmatha Nath Chaudhuri, Ramesh Chandra Sen, and Aurobinda Ghosh left Jorabagan to form a new club called East Bengal, an institution that would represent the people hailing from the eastern part of Bengal.

While the native populace (ghotis) were the supporters of Mohun Bagan, the bangals (people who hailed from eastern Bengal) started rooting for East Bengal. Moreover, Bengal was going through a socio-economic crisis due to a sudden influx of population, and this further fuelled the rivalries between the two sects in every walk of life which spilled over to the football pitch.

It is a momentous occasion and Bengalis across the world eagerly wait for the clash. A lot is at stake; pride, honour, and bragging rights. The fixture has stood the test of time and has only grown in stature. It is an inalienable part of the Bengali ethos as you are born either into a Mohun Bagan or an East Bengal household.

This will be the 380th meeting between the two Kolkata giants. To date, out of 379 Kolkata derbies, the Red and Golds have a better head-to-head record with 132 wins to their name. The Green and Maroons have won 122 times and 125 matches ended in draws.

East Bengal enjoy the biggest margin of victory, 5-0, which came in the final of the IFA Shield in 1975 while Bagan settled the scores by scoring five goals in an eight-goal thriller in an I-League clash in 2009. Mohun Bagan won the tie 5-3.

Further Reading:

  1. ATK Mohun Bagan vs East Bengal: Head-to-head record, top goalscorers, and all you need to know about Kolkata Derby.
  2. 'ATK Mohun Bagan need to improve before Kolkata derby,' says boss Antonio Habas following opening day win.
  3. A to Z of the Kolkata Derby: Arindam Bhattacharya, Maidan, Yuvabharati Krirangan & more
  4. Kolkata Derby: Who are the potential game changers for East Bengal against ATK Mohun Bagan?
  5. ISL: Liston Colaco's touches & Subhasish Bose's dribbling skills: Five interesting stats about ATKMB before Kolkata Derby.