Memories of my first ever derby – The Diamond Demolition match
Friday, July 13, 2012 Report by Sudip Sengupta
Video Courtesy: Ayan Guha
1996, was a rare & great year in the history of sports. Three of the best sporting events Olympics, Euro Cup & Cricket World Cup were held respectively in Atlanta (USA), England & Indian Sub-continent. As far as a 9 yr old boy’s memory is concerned, my 1st sporting event watched on television was the Cricket World Cup. It made me a totally Cricket Centred boy. On the month of June, 16 European nations took part in the Euro Cup. The ongoing Sporting Carnivals ignited the fire of Sports & converted me a passionate sports fanatic. I was obsessed with Indian Cricket & International Soccer until 13th July, 1997 came into my life. The day which introduced a new identity, the day which understood me that I have the red-gold blood which runs through my body naturally, the day which made me an East Bengal fanatic!
I can hardly forget that day as it was my 1st ever derby on television. 13th July 1997 - A day which changed my life. I found my true love, a passion on fire. I still remember, there was a get together in my mama-bari. All of my relatives - my baba, dadu (a kabiraj of Dhaka's Sadhana Ousadhalay & an EB fanatic still at 98), mama, meso- were ala on tenterhooks - with closed fists, fixed rigid postures, strained faces, their eyes were glued to the television set. On asking about the reason of their edginess, they said that it was a very prestigious match between Kolkata's two archrivals – East Bengal & Mohun Bagan. It was an old black & white TV set, so I couldn’t differentiate the 2 teams by their Jersey colour. I put up an innocent question, "Ami kon team k support korbo?" & the answer destined the passion. I still remember my dadu's words, "Tumi hoila giya Bangal. Tumi aj theke East Bengal kei support korba!!!" (...It’s so nostalgic..Whenever, I recall the moment when Najimul Haq headed for that goal, I still feel the same goosebumps, I had on that moment. Being an East Bengal enthusiast, The Diamond Demolition day is one of the most memorable day of my life. I can never dismiss the day from my mind as the proud East Bengal team defeated the poor Mohunbagan team by 4-1. Proud to be an East Bengal fanatic. East Bengal till my last breath. After I die, my soul will support East Bengal !!
The match is considered to be one of the greatest derbies of all-time. A record number of 1, 31000 people witnessed the Federation Cup Semifinal between kolkata’s two giants East Bengal Lion's & Mohun Bagan Tiger's in Yuba Bharati Krirangan commonly known as Salt lalke Statdium on that day.
The match was not only famous for the eternal ‘Bangal-Ghoti’ rivalry, but also for the intense coaching rivalries between Amal Dutta & P.k.Banerjee ! P.K.Banerjee ,the pioneer of East Bengal’s golden period in 70’s,was also the Technical Director of The Red-Gold brigade in 1997. On the other hand, Amal Dutta, renowned for his innovative techniques & formulas, had taken the charge of the Green-Maroon .The contrasting nature of two coaches, a knock out derby, Star Sports live coverage (Doordarshan also telecasted the match) ,all this ingredients converted this kolkata derby an eagerly anticipated match .
Dutta, who was also an ex East Bengal footballer, introduced Diamond System in that season. Mohun Bagan entered the semis thrashing Churchill Brothers (6-0) .Chima was in the peak of his form. But, if Mohunbagan had Chima, East Bengal had Baichung Bhutia (that time this spelling is used), an upcoming star of Indian football. Baichung had just finished a great season in JCT & came back 2 his mother club . Famous for his controversial comments, Amal Dutta had called Baichung ‘Chung Chung’ and Samuel Omollo as ‘Omelette’. Banerjee, used the remarks from the opposition coach to motivate his players, resulting a great victory 4 the Red-Gold army. East Bengal thrashed their archrivals Mohunbagan 4-1.
Both the teams had classy footballers like Baichung, Soso, Nausad Musa, Omello, Dulal Biswas (EB) & Chima Okorie, Abdul Khalek , Basudev Mondal so on & so forth ! Coming back to the match, East Bengal overcame the early pressure from Mohun Bagan & drew 1st blood to make it 1-0. Nazimul Haque, an unknown young Bengali suddenly became a hero in all EB hearts. East Bengal defenders did a great job to obstruct the attacks of MB forwards.
The 2nd half entirely belongs to Baichung Bhutia. As East Bengal midfielders took control over the game, the football was more free flowing & attacking in the 2nd half. A corner from soso, brought baichung’s 1st goal in the match , East Bengal leading 2-0. Chima’s bicycle kick reduced the margin to 2-1. But, all Green maroon hopes died as East Bengal’s own child Baichung ensured Team’s victory by scoring 2 goals more. He became the 1st player to score a hat-trick in the Kolkata derby. East Bengal’s powerful performance just demolished the MB defence. So, this match got a new name - “The Diamond Demolition match “.
Remembering the Heroes:
East Bengal supporters who always known for their aggressiveness than the Mohun Bagan followers , celebrated this triumph every year. But,13th july 2012 is a special date, as it completes’ the 15th year. The sole purpose of writing this article is to pay homage to the historic "DIAMOND DEMOLITION MATCH". It’s a tribute to the dream team which created the history. The so-called unlucky 13 gave me my love,my obsession,my identity East Bengal club The 14 Red-gold warriors are our proud possession. They had an energy and passion to make it the best football club ever in India. The match & all the East Bengal players including The Coach P.K.Banerjee will be engraved in all East Bengal hearts forever. East Bengal's continued vibrant successes will be a legacy for us. The flame will always burn our Opponents!!! Last but not the least, on Behalf of all East Bengal supporters I want 2 give a Red-Gold Salute 2 all the footballers, Coach, Support stuffs & Officials! Joy East Bengal! Red-Gold truly rocks!
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