Durand Cup History
India’s oldest tournament, the Durand Cup returns after a three-year absence. Last held in 2016, the tournament named after founder, Sir Mortimer Durand, will be played in three venues across West Bengal in August.
Widely recognised as Asia’s oldest and the world’s third-oldest tournament, the Durand Cup is into its 129th edition. FC Goa will be making its debut this season, and will aim to become only the fourth club from the state of Goa to win the tournament.
Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, Foreign Secretary to the Government of India, conceived the idea of the tournament whilst recuperating from illness at Shimla. Durand believed that the prize would encourage sporting competition in the country and envisaged the use of sport as an important tool to maintain health and fitness.
The first matches were held at Dagshai in the Solan district of Himachal Pradesh, and the first final in 1888 was an all-Scottish affair with the Royal Scots Fusiliers defeating the Highland Light Infantry 2-1 to clinch the inaugural title.
Initially only open to teams from the military and other defence services and regiments, the tournament was open to civilian teams 1940 onwards. Shifted to Delhi the same year, Mohammedan Sporting became the first Indian club to win the trophy, defeating Royal Warwickshire Regiment 2-1 in the final.
The winners of the tournament receive three trophies currently – the Durand Cup, which is the original trophy and the Simla Cup, initially donated by the citizens of the eponymous host city in 1904. Both of these cups are rolling trophies while the President’s Cup was instituted by Dr Rajendra Prasad, the first president of independent India.
Clubs from Goa have won seven titles, starting with Salgaocar’s 3-2 triumph on penalties over East Bengal in 1999, after the final ended 0-0 in normal time. Salgaocar repeated the feat four years later, winning 4-3 on penalties this time.
Dempo won their solitary Durand Cup title till date when in 2006, a 74th minute Ranty Martins strike was enough to overcome JCT Mills in the final. The scoreline was the same a year later as Churchill Brothers defeated Mahindra United to win their first title.
The Red Machines made it three trophies in five years as Mohun Bagan were swept aside 3-1 in the 2009 final, before Prayag United were defeated 4-5 in 2011. Salgaocar won their third and Goa’s seventh and most recent title, as Saran Singh’s first-half goal helped them overcome Pune FC 1-0 in 2014.
Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have the highest number of trophies with 16 titles each, followed by Border Security Force with 7 wins.
The 2019 edition will witness six teams each from the Indian Super League and the I-League, and four from the defence services – Army Red, Navy, Army Green and Air Force. FC Goa have been drawn into Group C along with Chennai City, Real Kashmir and Army Green.
The Gaurs will play all their group stage games at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium, starting August 8.