Indian Football: Down the memory lane - East Bengal’s ‘Golden era’ of 1970s

1970-1975 is perhaps the most glorious period in the history of East Bengal club. The Red and Golds had won a total of 20 trophies during those six years, including a record six consecutive alcutta Football League (CFL) titles - a run that eclipsed Mohammedan Sporting’s five consecutive CFL triumphs (1934-38).

The purple patch started with winning the IFA Shield in 1970 by beating Iranian giants Pas Tehran FC 1-0 in the final. Parimal Dey’s solitary goal sealed a memorable win for the Kolkata side. Iran were one of the top forces in Asian football back then, a commendable achievement for the Red and Golds.

Interestingly, Dey did not even feature in the starting eleven in that match and only came on when Md. Habib got injured around the 85th minute. 

Swapan Sengupta sprinted down the right and after beating the left-back he fired a cross for Dey, who was unmarked. The striker cushioned the ball with a brilliant first touch and placed his shot beyond the reach of Pas keeper to send the 60-000 strong Eden Gardens into a frenzy. 

It is believed that skipper Shanto Mitra insisted coach Mohammad Hossain to put on Dey after Habib got injured. 

The inspiring win over a tough international opposition instilled confidence and belief among the Red and Golds players which helped them to dominate Indian football for the next six years.

East Bengal fans fondly call the 70s their ‘Golden Era’ (Shonali Doshok) as they enjoyed unparallelled success. Their unprecedented dominance in Indian football extended to their encounters with arch-rivals Mohun Bagan as well.

The 70s also saw a host of Indian stars joining East Bengal. The likes of Sudhir Karmakar, Subhash Bhowmick, Gautam Sarkar, Samaresh Chowdhury, Surajit Sengupta, Shyam Thapa and many more donned the Red and Golds jersey during that period.

In 1970 East Bengal won the Calcutta Football League without conceding a single goal with Peter Thangaraj under the sticks. 

The club had also legendary Indian footballer P.K Banerjee at the helm of affairs from 1972 to 1976 who guided the club to a win in 16 out of those 20 trophies.

 

Shyam Thapa, P.K Banerjee

The first year under Banerjee saw East Bengal bagging all five trophies (CFL, IFA Shield, Bordoloi trophy, Durand Cup and Rovers Cup) they took part in and conceded just four goals throughout the season!

In a Durand Cup match, they beat BB Star 10-0 under the captaincy of Sudhir Karmakar. 

It also saw them become the first Indian club to win the treble (IFA Shield, Durand Cup, and Rovers Cup) by remaining undefeated in all the matches. Again in 1990, they wore the triple-crown. 

In 1973, they won the IFA Shield after defeating the mighty North Korean side Pong Yong City Club. In this year also they won the CFL, Rovers Cup and Bordoloi Trophy but missed out on the Durand Cup. However, they did win the DCM trophy. 

In 1974, Samaresh Chowdhury was handed over the armband. In this season, they won three trophies - DCM, IFA Shield and CFL which saw them match Md. Sporting Club's record of winning five consecutive CFLs.

In 1975, East Bengal registered a famous 5-0 Kolkata derby triumph over arch-rivals, Mohun Bagan, at their stadium which is to date the biggest derby win. A red hot East Bengal completely outclassed the Green and Maroons who were simply no match for their rivals on that day.

Surajit Sengupta had opened the scoring for East Bengal and Shyam Thapa doubled the lead before Ranjit Mukherjee made it 3-0 before half time with a brilliant goal. Thapa then completed his brace in the second half before Subhankar Sanyal put the final nail in Mohun Bagan’s coffin.

By winning the CFL for the sixth successive time, they created a new record. In this campaign also they remained undefeated. 

The 'Golden Era' of the 70s is undoubtedly the most special chapter in the history books of East Bengal.

East Bengal’s trophies during their ‘Golden Era'

Tournaments

Years
Calcutta Football League 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975
IFA Shield 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975
Durand Cup 1970, 1972
Rovers Cup 1972, 1973, 1975
DCM Trophy 1973, 1974
Bordoloi Trophy 1972, 1973