Website Team: Named after Sir Mortimer Durand, Durand Cup is India’s oldest football tournament. British army team Royal Scots Fusiliers won the first edition of Durand Cup in 1888. Till 1940 Durand Cup was held in Shimla – Mohammedan SC became the first Indian club to lift Durand Cup in 1940. Initially the tournament admitted only British regiment teams but the authorities decided to include Indian civilian teams from 1925 in order to increase its popularity. Mohun Bagan became the first Indian team to participate in Durand Cup and they gave a good account of themselves, winning three consecutive matches to reach the semi-final. In semi-final the Mariners lost to crack regiment team Sherwood Foresters by a narrow 2-1 margin. Sherwood was an extremely strong side and had won IFA Shield three consecutive times between 1926 and 1928.
From 1941 till 1949 the tournament was discontinued due to Second World War. When it resumed in 1950, Mohun Bagan came close to winning it, falling in the final hurdle against Hyderabad City Police
In 1953 Mohun Bagan started their Durand Cup campaign from the second round against local league champions New Delhi Heroes. The Green & Maroons were represented by following players in that match – famous Olympian Bharadwaj in goal with S Guha and Sailen Manna in defence. Ratan Sen, Subhash Sarbadhikari and S Dey in midfield. A star studded forward line featured Rabi Das, Runi Guha Thakurta, Badru Banerjee, MA Sattar and R Basu. Playing in front of a large crowd Mohun Bagan pegged back their opponents early in the match. Rabi Das curved out the first chance after four minutes but his shot came off the post. Few minutes later Badru Banerjee also missed a scoring opportunity. In the 14th minute Mohun Bagan took the lead when Badru Banerjee set up Rabi Das, who dribbled past two players to score the first goal. New Delhi Heroes almost scored an equalizer after an error from S Guha but Bharadwaj rose to the occasion.
Second half saw Heroes’ player Narendra make a goalline save off R Basu. Basu turned into an assist provider as Rabi Das scored his and Mohun Bagan’s second goal. Das then fluffed a chance to complete his hattrick but Mohun Bagan nonetheless progressed with a 2-0 win.
The Mariners didn’t perform to their full potential in quarter-final but won against Bangalore Blues thanks to a solitary goal from Anthony. The following players played in quarter-final – Bharadwaj, S Guha, Sailen Manna, Ratan Sen, Subhash Sarbadhikari, S Ghosh, Rabi Das, Badru Banerjee, Raman, Sattar and Anthony. On the same day Nation Defence Academy knocked out East Bengal after a 2-0 victory.
Semi-final pitted Mohun Bagan against a legendary Hyderabad City Police which would win five consecutive Rovers Cup titles in that period. Just three years before Mariners had lost to the same opponents in Durand final. Sailen Manna was in pristine form against the Hyderabad team in semi-final clash and played a decisive role. Looking to seize the initiative Mohun Bagan began the match with a blitz of attacking football and took a 1-0 lead after four minutes when Raman fed Badru Banerjee with a through pass. Raman and Rabi Das came close to extending the lead but missed their chances.
Hyderabad Police suffered another setback when Ahmedullah picked up a jaw injury and had to go off, reducing his team to ten men. In second half Raman’s goal was cancelled by referee while a foul on Rabi Das in penalty box was not deemed to be a penalty. Undeterred, Das scored Mohun Bagan’s second goal after dribbling past two defenders. Despite trailing City Police showed fighting spirit and pulled a goal back when Doraiswamy converted a cross from Mahmud. Mohun Bagan eventually emerged as 2-1 winners. Mohun Bagan team for that day was Bhradwaj, S Guha, Sailen Manna, Ratan Sen, Subhash Sarbadhikari, S Ghosh, Rabi Das, Badru Banerjee, Raman, Sattar and Anthony.
Mohun Bagan’s opponents in the final was National Defence Academy. Unfortunately, not all was well in Mariners camp before the match as captain Manna was missing due to injury. Sattar was selected a captain and P Barua took Manna’s place in defence. Led by Badru Banerjee, Mohun Bagan’s attacking lineup started to dictate proceedings right from kickoff. After ten minutes Mohun Bagan took the lead when Rabi Das set Badru Banerjee up. Just a minute later Raman scored but his goal was yet again cancelled by the referee. He got his redemption on 28th minute by scoring Mohun Bagan’s second goal after a center from Anthony.
Despite leading 2-0, Mohun Bagan players didn’t get complacent in second half. The result came when Raman scored his second and Mohun Bagan’s third goal after combining with Badru Banerjee. Mohun Bagan rounded off the result by getting a fourth goal as Badru Banerjee scored his second of the day with a powerful shot which gave no chance to the NDA ‘keeper.
Mohun Bagan won 4-0 but in post-match came a heartwarming scene. Sailen Manna asked acting captain MA Sattar to lift the trophy but the latter insisted Manna did the honours, due to his respect for him. Eventually, both Sattar and Sailen Manna lifted the trophy together, a unique scene in the history of Durand Cup. President Dr. Rajendra Prasad was an honorary guest for presentation ceremony. He gleefully admitted that during his stay in Kolkata he often watched Mohun Bagan’s matches. When Mohun Bagan returned after winning Durand Cup Green and Maroon fans thronged in the club premises to catch a glimpse of the famous trophies.
Second Round (10/11/1953) – Mohun Bagan 2-0 New Delhi Heroes (Rabi Das 2)
Quarter-Final (12/11/1953) – Mohun Bagan 1-0 Bangalore Blues (Anthony)
Semi-Final (13/11/1953) – Mohun Bagan 2-1 Hyderabad City Police (Badru Banerjee, Rabi Das – Doraiswamy)
Final (15/11/1953) – Mohun Bagan 4-0 NDA (Badru Banerjee (2), Raman (2))
News Paper : Indian Express