All about the Durand Cup

Durand Cup Logo

The Durand Football Tournament or Durand Cup is a premier football event in India. First played in 1888, the Durand Cup is the oldest sporting event in Asia, and the third oldest in the world. The first match of this championship was played in Annadale, Himachal Pradesh.

The Durand Cup takes its name from Sir Mortimer Durand, Foreign Secretary of British India in the late 19th-century. Sir Durand is credited with laying the Durand Line, that separates Pakistan from Afghanistan.

Presently, the Durand Cup is the pre-season knockout tournament for many football clubs before the onset of the Indian football season. Since it has a military history, many Army teams take part in the Durand Cup.

Birthing the Durand Cup

It was Sir Durand who started this football tournament. Since he was the Foreign Secretary, he had to travel extensively within India. Continued exertions by Durand led to him falling ill for several days. While recuperating in Shimla, Sir Durand realized the importance of sport for staying healthy. Upon recovering, he instituted the Durand Cup for all those interested in fitness and football.

Initially, only the British army units participated in the Cup. Indian soldiers, largely preferred hockey to football, the lone exception being the Nepali Gurkhas. But after the British departure in 1947, football became very popular among the Indian masses. In fact in the 1950s, India qualified for an Olympics slot.

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The inaugural Durand Cup final

Though the initial matches were played at Dagshai, the inaugural final was contested in Delhi in 1888. In that match, Royal Scots Fusiliers bet the Highland Light Infantry 2-1. Dagshai is a small town near Shimla.

After the British left in 1947, efforts were made to shift the Durand Cup to neighboring Pakistan. However, the Indian Army resisted the move and ensured the Cup stayed back in the country. Currently, this Cup is administered by the Durand Football Society under the Indian Societies Act. The Chief of the Defence Staff is the officiating head of this society.

Now let's take a brief look at the Cup's milestones.

Durand Cup milestones

Mohammedan Sports Club made history in 1940 by becoming the first Indian club to win the Durand Cup. In the finals, this team beat Royal Warwickshire Regiment 2-1. Until that year, the Cup was won only by the British Indian Army teams. The following teams won the Durand Cup most times until 1947:

  • Highland Light Infantry
  • Black Watch
  • York and Lancaster Regiment
  • Lancashire Fusiliers
  • York & Lancaster Regiment
  • King's Shropshire Infantry

Indian clubs and their performances

East Bengal and Mohun Bagan have worn the Cup maximum times. Both teams have won Durand Cup 16 times each. Their rise coincided with the decline of older football clubs, such as Hyderabad Police and Madras Regimental Centre. Border Security Force has also won this Cup more number of times. FC Kochin from south India lifted Durand Cup for the first time in 1997.

Since its inception, Hyderabad City Police has won the Cup thrice. The winning years were 1950-51, 1954, and 1957-58. You would be delighted to know that Hyderabad Police dates its origins to 1848, when it reported to the Nizam of Hyderabad. After the reorganization of Telangana, Hyderabad Police became Andhra Pradesh Police and won the Cup once again in 1960-61.

East Bengal became Durand Cup winners for the first time in 1951 after beating the Rajasthan Armed Constabulary 2-1. Since then, East Bengal has won the Cup on 15 other occasions.

Mohun Bagan followed East Bengal in becoming the Cup winners in 1953. That year, the Kolkata-based football club defeated Pune-based National Defence Academy 4-0.

Another Indian Army unit, the Madras Regimental Center has won the Durand Cup only twice, once in 1955, and then in 1958.

The 60s and on

Border Security Force is the other prolific winner of the Durand Cup. This football club has won the championship five times, the first time being 1968. After 1988, BSF has never won this premier football championship.

JCT FC has won this title four times. It defeated Mohun Bagan in the 1983 and 1987-88 finals to lift Durand Cup twice. The other two victories came in 1992 and 1996 when JCT beat Mohammedan Sporting and Al-Nafi FC, respectively.

This article would be incomplete without mentioning Mahindra FC, which has won the Cup thrice. Mahindra FC had to beat tough rivals, such as Churchill and East Bengal to win Durand Cup.

Summary

There is no doubt that Durand Cup is a fiercely competitive event. Though an Indian Army IP, this Cup has long been dominated by civilian teams, such as East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. A hugely popular event among the masses, Durand Cup is live streamed by Addatimes and Sony Liv.


#football, #football betting

Gian Chacko

Sports enthusiast with love for cricket, football and sports in general. Holds 10+ years of following and writing about sports and lately also betting.