Mohammedan SC’s Iconic 1940 Durand Cup Victory

Imagine this – it’s December 1940 in Delhi. There’s electricity in the air as the city gears up for the final of the Durand Cup, India’s oldest football tournament.

On one side, you have the mighty Royal Warwickshire Regiment from Britain’s colonial forces—the favorites to lift the trophy as always.

But on the other side? The young, passionate bunch from Mohammedan Sporting Club of Calcutta (now Kolkata). A team of 11 Muslim players, ready to etch their names in Indian football folklore.

By the end of that historic day, Mohammedan SC had stunned everyone by defeating the British regimental team 2-1 to become the first Indian club to win the Durand Cup.

Their iconic triumph ignited passionate support for the club in the capital. It was a David vs Goliath tale that fired up the entire nation’s love for football.

So let’s rewind and relive that magical Mohammedan Sporting Club Durand Cup 1940 victory step by step.

Mohammedan SC 1940 Durand Cup Campaign

First and Second Round:

  • In the first round, Mohammedan SC thrashed Collegians Sports Club 5-0!
    • Hafiz Rashid bagged a brace
    • Saboo and Rashid Khan also got on the scoresheet
  • The second round was a 3-0 demolition of Hussars
    • Saboo, Karim, and Rashid with the goals

So far, so good! Mohammedan were in red-hot form, yet to concede a single goal. Their fearsome attacking trio of Hafiz Rashid, Saboo, and Rashid Khan were already firing on all cylinders.

Quarter Final and Semifinal:

  • The quarter-final was a 2-0 win against Union Club. Still unbeaten and cruising!
  • Then came the massive semi-final test against the powerful Welsh Regiment. Mohammedan finally conceded their first goal of the tournament But they still managed to win 3-1! Rashid, Saboo, and Juma Khan scored the vital goals.

Their rock-solid defense led by the towering Usman Jaan in goal was finally breached. But Mohammedan’s spirit and attacking quality saw them through to set up the grand final against the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.



The 1940 Durand Cup final between Mohammedan SC and Royal Warwickshire Regiment was staged at the iconic Irwin Amphitheatre ground in Delhi. This amphitheater-style stadium could hold a massive crowd.

On the day of the final, nearly 50,000 passionate fans poured into the venue. They packed every inch of the seating area on one side of the ground. The atmosphere was electric!

Among the crowd were some very special guests too. Top Muslim leaders and politicians like Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Khawaja Nazimuddin, and Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy had come to watch the big match.

However, there was some drama before the final could kick off. The two British linesmen appointed initially refused to officiate the game. Why? Because they felt it was beneath their status to work under an Indian referee!

The match referee, Captain Harnam Singh, was going to create history as the first Indian to officiate a Durand Cup final. But the British linesmen Oliphant and Greene were not happy about this.

The organizers tried their best to convince the duo, but they wouldn’t budge. Finally, the Viceroy of India at that time, Lord Linlithgow, had to step in. He threatened to court-martial the two stubborn linesmen!

Only after this strong warning did Oliphant and Greene reluctantly agree to do their duties for the final.

Meanwhile, in the Mohammedan SC dressing room, the players were pumped up and motivated. Senior stars like goalkeeper Usman Jaan and defender Juma Khan fired up their teammates.

They narrated stories of Mohun Bagan’s iconic 1911 IFA Shield victory over the British forces. That famous triumph had shown that Indian teams could beat their colonial rulers at football.

Inspired by tales of Bagan’s heroics, Mohammedan’s players felt they could create history too on this day. The stage was set for an epic Durand Cup final clash!

The Match:

It was young striker Hafiz Rashid who gave Mohammedan SC the perfect start in the final. With his predatory instincts, Rashid pounced on a chance and coolly slotted the ball home to make it 1-0!

Rashid’s goal was the culmination of years of dedicated training. From a young age, he had been inspired by tales of Mohun Bagan’s legendary striker Abhilash Ghosh.

Ghosh was the hero who scored the winning goal in Bagan’s famous 1911 IFA Shield triumph over the British forces. Rashid idolized Ghosh’s skill and wanted to emulate his achievements.

So he trained twice daily with intensive drills – running on river banks, taking volleys at walls, and practicing shot after shot on target. His dream was to become a complete, unstoppable center-forward like his childhood hero Ghosh.

British Fightback

However, Mohammedan’s joy was short-lived as the British side equalized before half-time to make it 1-1. The regimental players were not going to give up so easily.

Saboo’s Winner After the break

It was the turn of the slick inside-left Saboo to stamp his name on the final. With his clever dribbling and passing ability, Saboo found the net with a calm finish to regain the lead for Mohammedan at 2-1.

Now it was time for Mohammedan’s rock-solid defense to take center-stage. Their backline of Juma Khan and Bacchi Khan was tigerish in tackling and refused to be beaten.

Towering goalkeeper Usman Jaan, a 1930s version of Manuel Neuer, was simply unbeatable. With his agility, safe hands, and immense bravery, Jaan thwarted every Warwickshire attack.

The Best Defense Wins As the final whistle blew, unrest erupted at the Irwin Amphitheatre! The Mohammedan players and thousands of fans celebrated wildly and euphorically.

Their incredible all-round quality across defense, midfield and attack had finally ended the British regimental teams’ long reign at the Durand Cup.

Mohammedan’s defenders were nearly impregnable. Their attackers combined with telepathic understanding. And the entire team oozed immense levels of fitness and cohesion.

This made them the first-ever Indian club to be crowned champions of the prestigious and historic Durand Cup tournament.


Mohammedan SC’s historic Durand Cup triumph sent shockwaves rippling across the city of Delhi. The capital had witnessed something truly special – an Indian club conquering the tournament for the first time.

From that magical day in 1940, a passionate love affair blossomed between Delhi’s football fans and Mohammedan Sporting Club. A bond that remains unbroken even today, over 80 years later.

News of Mohammedan’s giant-killing act against the British regimental team spread like wildfire across India by word-of-mouth. It traveled from town to town, city to city, just like the tales of Mohun Bagan’s 1911 IFA Shield win had done before.

Those rousing stories of Bagan’s iconic victory over the colonizers had provided the original inspiration for Mohammedan’s players in 1940. Now, their own exploits were being recounted across the nation.

For the passionate fans in the Old Delhi region, Mohammedan SC’s 1940 Durand Cup triumph created memories to last a lifetime. It was a moment of unbridled joy and pride that remained forever etched in their psyche.

Enthusiastic supporters like Mohammed Taki and Gama Qureishi reminisced how conversations in Delhi households now revolved around Mohammedan’s prospects. The club had become the talk of the town overnight.

The 1940 Durand Cup final would go down in history as the second most iconic moment for Indian football, just after Mohun Bagan’s legendary 1911 IFA Shield win over the East Yorkshire Regiment.

With this victory, Mohammedan SC had achieved something extraordinary. They didn’t just win a prestigious tournament, they had captured the hearts and minds of an entire nation fighting for its independence.

Their thrilling triumph over the colonial forces was a statement – that Indians could take on their British rulers and beat them, even at their own game of football.


When did Mohammedan Sporting Club win the Durand Cup in 1940?

Mohammedan Sporting Club won the Durand Cup on 12th December 1940 by defeating the Royal Warwickshire Regiment with a score of 2-1. 

How many times has Mohammedan Sporting Club won the Durand Cup?

Mohammedan Sporting Club has won the Durand Cup twice once in 1940 and more recently in 2013. 

What was the significance of Mohammedan SC’s 1940 Durand Cup victory?

Mohammedan SC became the first Indian club team to win the Durand Cup in 1940, ending the dominance of British regimental teams. Their victory ignited passionate support for the club in Delhi and across India.


73 years later, Mohammedan SC finally won the Durand Cup again in 2013. But that 1940 triumph remains their most iconic and cherished moment.

It was a victory that emboldened India’s freedom struggle and proved that the British were beatable, even at their own game. The incredible tales of Mohammedan’s giant-killing act inspired generations of young footballers.

For any football fan in India, reliving that magical 1940 campaign is a roller-coaster ride of emotions – from the euphoria of big wins to the final’s fairytale ending.

Mohammedan SC’s Durand Cup victory embodied the true spirit of the beautiful game – it united people, defied odds, and carved a permanent place in Indian sports folklore.

What do you think?

Written by TackleFromBehind

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top 8 Football Tournaments with the Biggest Price Money 

Football this week: Ronaldo, Ten Hag and More