Fan frenzy in Salt Lake over dream finals

Fans of East Bengal, Mohan Bagan gather for Durand Cup final

Snehal Sengupta Salt Lake Published 04.09.23, 05:35 AM
Mohan Bagan supporters and East Bengal fans outside the Salt Lake stadium before the Durand Cup final on Sunday

Mohan Bagan supporters and East Bengal fans outside the Salt Lake stadium before the Durand Cup final on Sunday Pictures by Sanat Kr Sinha 

The Durand Cup final had thousands of football fans from across the city as well as the districts headed to the Salt Lake stadium on Sunday afternoon to witness the match where Mohun Bagan’s Dimitri Petratos netted a goal in the 71st minute and landed the team a win against East Bengal.

Since afternoon, all the roads leading to the stadium were a riot of colours as fans rode on open trucks, cars, bikes, buses and autorickshaws sporting jerseys of their favourite teams and waving flags and scarves throughout the ride.


The area in front of the stadium’s gates 1, 2 and 3 resembled a carnival with drums, whistles and blow horns going off every now and then.

Several supporters got their faces painted and bought extra flags and scarves from vendors in front of the stadium in case one lost a team flag during the match or post-match celebrations.

Jerseys and flags of both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan emerged to be the hotcakes and most vendors did brisk business. Scarves and headbands were also in demand.

The brother-sister duo of Sayan and Sayani Chakraborty had their faces painted maroon and green besides sporting the Mohun Bagan jerseys and carrying team scarves.

“Although my brother was a bit apprehensive given the huge crowd here I made him take me and we have gone all out to show our support for our favourite team, “ said Sayani.

On the EM Bypass and VIP Road — two main thoroughfares that lead to the stadium — every time trucks from the two teams stopped at a traffic signal or got alongside on the road long jeers followed by several men from both sides waving flags and shouting at the fans of their rival teams.

Several had huge speakers where the fans shouted slogans that were in turn related by those headed to the stadium on foot.

Subham Dey, who is pursuing an undergraduate course in commerce from South City College, had come to the stadium wearing an East Bengal T-shirt, a wig in his team’s colours and with a hilsa dangling from his hand.

Dey, who hails from Naihati, had come with his group of friends on a matador and was seen cheering for his favourite team outside the stadium gate number 1 on Sunday afternoon.

“My entire family supports East Bengal and I have grown up watching this team taking on giants on television. Today I bought a hilsa from our local fish market and decided to bring it here as it is our mascot, “ said Dey.

Several eyes turned when colleagues Saikat Majumder and Abhirup Shil turned up on a motorcycle.

While Saikat was wearing a Mohun Bagan jersey, his pillion rider Abhirup was clad in an East Bengal one.

Even as other supporters and passersby stared in disbelief Saikat explained that while he was a die-hard Mohun Bagan fan his friend and colleague supported East Bengal.

“Our football loyalties don’t really spoil the friendship that we have formed over the years,” said Abhirup.

In the evening, after Mohun Bagan won, the party for Bagan supporters continued and pubs and bars across Salt Lake and Sector V had a sizeable footfall of fans who wanted to celebrate their club’s derby win.

The police were on their toes both in the afternoon as the fans made their way to the stadium and in the evening after the match was over.

“You can see that it is very charged up here and since we did not want to take any chances, we ensured that the parking lot for fans’ vehicles was at a distance of more than 1.5km. We had a tough time keeping traffic moving,“ said a senior officer of the Bidhannagar Commissionerate.

There were around 3, 000 police personnel posted for the match alongside marshals that were posted inside the stadium.

Anti-rowdy squads of the police and plainclothesmen arrested several men for allegedly black marketing tickets of Sunday’s match in front of the stadium.

Eighty-one persons were arrested while they were trying to enter the stadium without tickets.

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