The history of Indian football dates back to nineteenth-century colonial India when British teams played the game of football. Growing gradually because of the inputs of the pioneers of the sport in India, the game of football has since grown in India, so much so that there are over fifty thousand football clubs in the subcontinent. However, it all began with the first football clubs in India, which included the oldest club in India.
So which is the oldest football club in India? Sarada FC is the oldest football club to have been created in India. It was created in the 1800s but was dissolved alongside some other early Indian clubs. However, the Kolkata-based Mohun Bagan athletic club, which was founded in 1889, is the oldest Indian football club that’s still in existence to date.
In this post, we outline every major thing about the oldest football clubs in India.
Which Is The Oldest Football Club In India?
Sarada FC is the oldest football club to have been started in India. It was created in 1872 and consisted primarily of British players but was soon dissolved. The oldest football club still existent to date in India is the Mohun Bagan athletic club.
Other early clubs created in India include the Calcutta FC, East Bengal football club, Salgaocar SC football club, Mohammedan Sporting Club, Naval Volunteers club, Dalhousie FC, and Traders club. These clubs date back to the nineteenth century when football was just getting rooted in Britain-colonized India.
Here’s a list of some of the oldest clubs to have been created in India.
The Sarada FC was the oldest football club to have been formed in India. It was created in 1872 before any other football club would be created in India. The club mainly consisted of British players since the football game was just in its toddler stage in India. However, Sarada FC was dissolved only a short time after, alongside a number of other early football clubs in India.
The Calcutta FC was created in 1872 and is India’s oldest association football club. In 1965, a merger of the Calcutta FC and the Calcutta Cricket Club was made to form what is now known as the Calcutta Cricket and Football Club. The club remained the top-performing football team for some time and had been a close rival to the Mohun Bagan Athletic club.
Calcutta FC’s collection of trophies includes eight Calcutta Football League (CFL) titles and nine International Football Association (IFA) trophies.
The Mohun Bagan athletic club
Mohun Bagan Athletic Club was founded in 1889 and is based in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. It is the oldest football club in India and all of Asia today. Mohun Bagan FC is most prominently remembered as the first all-Indian club to have defeated a British team. The club defeated the East Yorkshire regiment at the Indian Football Association Shield final in 1911 to bag this title.
Apart from the historic win bagged by the Mohun Bagan athletic club against the British team, the timeline of the Kolkata-based club has been smeared with several victories. In the club’s archive of accomplishments are five Indian Super Cup wins, three NFL titles, and two I-league trophies.
Mohun Bagan athletic club also has the most Federation Cup trophies, making it the most successful Indian club in the competition’s history. Other trophies in the Mohun Bagan athletic club collection include Durand cups, Indian Football Federation Shield cups, Calcutta football league titles, and Rovers Cups.
Mohun Bagan is still in existence today and is a multi-sport club, although it still has football as its primary sport.
East Bengal FC
East Bengal FC is one of the most successful football clubs in all of India and one of the most widely followed clubs in Asia. It was founded in 1920. The club is based in Kolkata, West Bengal.
East Bengal FC had an impressive start as a club and quickly became affiliated with the Indian Football Association just two years after being formed. The club played its first set of matches while competing in the second division of the Calcutta Football League. Quickly moving up from the second division, the club made its way to bagging the league title for the first division in 1924 and has since won the title 39 times.
The Kolkata-based club was also a part of the pioneer members of India’s first national football league, the NFL, which was established in 1996. In the club’s collection of trophies are three NFL trophies, eight Federation cups, 16 Durand cups, 29 IFA shield cups, and three Super cups. This collection of trophies positions East Bengal FC as one of the most decorated clubs in India.
The Salgaocar Sporting Club is based in Vasco, Goa. It was founded in 1956 by VM Salgaocar to provide a platform for youths from Goa to showcase their football talents. The club has competed in major Indian leagues like the I- league, Indian Super League and the National Football League tournament, where the club made history as the first Goan team to win the NFL title in the 1998/1999 season.
Other trophies in the collection of Salgaocar sporting club include 3 Durand cups, 2 Indian Super cups, 4 Federation cups, 21 Goa league trophies, 3 Rovers cups, an NFL title, and an I-league title.
Salgaocar SC no longer competes in the I-league. The club took this decision after the All India Football Federation (AIFF) made its decision to restructure the national football league. For this reason, the club made its last appearance at the I- league in the 2016/2017 season.
Mohammedan Sporting Club
The Mohammedan sporting club was established in 1891 and is based in Kolkata, West Bengal. The club didn’t have the most impressive of starts, and that’s because it took the Mohammedan sporting club more than 30 years before the club became affiliated with the Indian Football Association (IFA). After joining the IFA and qualifying to compete in the second division of the Calcutta Football League (CFL), the club soon gained promotion to play in the CFL premier division after a year and went on to win the tournament as well as set the record as the first team to win the tournament five times in a row.
The majority of the club’s fans are Bengal-resident Muslims. It’s no surprise, as the club’s very name infers it. However, the Mohammedan sporting club has never won any top-tier league title. The team’s highest achievement was bagging a second-division National Football League title and its monumental win being the first Indian football team to lift a trophy after the independence of the country when they won the Aga Khan Gold cup in 1960. The team has also taken home the Federation cup twice.
Like most of every other really old club in India, the Dalhousie club is based in Kolkata, West Bengal. The club was started in 1878 while the Indians were still under the rule of the British. The Dalhousie was initially referred to as the Trades club and instituted the Trades cup, which is the second-oldest football competition in the country. The inspiration for renaming the club came from the name of the very famous Dalhousie Institute, located just to the south of the Dalhousie square.
In the club’s archive of trophies are 4 Calcutta Football League trophies, a Trades cup trophy, and an International Football Association title.
The Aryan is also a multi-sports club based in Kolkata, West Bengal. The club was founded in 1884 under the name of Aryan Sports Club. In the club’s collection of trophies are an IFA Shield trophy, a Trades cup, a CFL second division trophy, and others.
Some other examples of the oldest football clubs in India include the Naval Volunteers club, Calcutta FC, Traders club, and Sovabazar club.
Also Read: Richest football club in the world
Which Is The Oldest Football Competition In India?
The Durand cup is the oldest Indian football competition to have been started in India. It is more officially referred to as the Durand Football Tournament. The Durand cup was first hosted in 1888 in Shimla. It is also the oldest club football competition in all of Asia and the fifth oldest football competition in world football history. The tournament is jointly hosted by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the Durand Football Tournament Society (DFTS) every year.
The Durand cup was named after Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, who founded the competition and served as India’s foreign secretary from 1884 to 1894.
Other football competitions in India that are very old include the Calcutta Football League, the Mumbai Football League, the Nadkarni cup, and the Rovers cup.
The Calcutta Football League
The Calcutta Football league was started in 1898 and is one of the oldest football competitions in India and Asia. It is also one of the most significant football leagues in India. The Indian Football Association conducts the league in West Bengal, and it has well over 8,500 players taking part in the league yearly who are directly registered with the Indian Football Association.
The Mumbai Football League
The Mumbai Football League is the second-oldest Asian football league. It is also called the Hardwood league. This name was taken from the founder and first president of the Bombay Football Association, Colonel Hardwood. The Mumbai football league is organized by the Mumbai Football Association. It is the top football league in Mumbai with a total of five divisions and more than 300 teams competing in the league.
The Nadkarni cup
The Nadkarni cup was first held in 1908 and is a Mumbai football competition. It was initially known as the Junior Rovers club and was competed for by college and school football teams that were resident in Mumbai. It is organized by the Mumbai Football Association and has about 16 teams participating in the competition.
The Rovers cup
The Rovers cup was founded in 1890 and was the second oldest football tournament in the country, following the Durand cup. It was held every year up until 2001, when it was abolished.
The cup was begun by some British football enthusiasts in Bombay. Although the original intent was to create the cup for the fun of it, the tournament took on better shape after the Bombay Football Association was formed in 1902.
However, the Rovers cup could no longer continue after the National Football League came on the scene. It was eventually dissolved in 2001 due to sponsorship and cost issues.
Which Is The most Famous Football Club In India?
The Mohun Bagan athletic club is the most famous football club in India. The Kolkata-based football club remains one of India’s best-performing football clubs. The team’s top-rated status is earned. The team has bagged a total of over 250 trophies since its inception and has a trophy collection that includes Durand cup titles, 5 I-league trophies, and 14 Federation cups. The Mohun Bagan athletic club is also the oldest football club in India that is still in existence.
Other very popular Indian clubs include clubs like the East Bengal, Dempo sporting club, Salgaocar, JCT, and Bengaluru FC. These football clubs are some of the most successful football clubs in India.
Football is not new in India. The beautiful game dates as far back as colonial India. However, even after coming a long way from the very first time the game of football was introduced to India, the Mohun Bagan FC remains the oldest Indian football club to have been started in India that’s still in existence.