The 1960’s was the decade of Goa’s liberation from colonial rule and the historic Opinion Poll of 1967 re-affirming the Goan wish for a separate identity. It was also the decade when a marvel, a wonder, a phenomenon and a sensation called Dempo Sports Club was born. When the Dempo Corporate Group Founder, Vasantrao S. Dempo bought the Bicholim Football Club in 1967 and named it Dempo Sports Club, he did not imagine that this very club, housed in the tiniest state of the world’s largest democracy and nursed with his hard earned money, would one day be the toast of the nation, be roared on by thousands of diehard fans every match day, would win everything on offer in Indian football, create ripples at the continental level and have a presence in Europe. In its 50- odd years of existence Dempo has been an abode of stars who have played the game with pride and an unwavering commitment. From the likes of Eustaquio Pereira, Ramesh Redkar, Babu Arolkar, Nicholas Pereira, Mahesh Lotlikar, Armando Colaco, Camilo Gonsalves, Mauricio Afonso, to the present stars like Climax Lawrence, Mahesh Gawli, Clifford Miranda and Sameer Naik – everyone has worn the blue jersey with pride, entertained the crowd, traversed the unknown, played through the pain barrier and won magical results – numerous titles, moments of immeasurable happiness, tears of joy and a tag of being the CHAMPIONS.
1960-1970: THE EARLY DAYS
The nascent years of Dempo Sports Club formed an era when some fine players donned the club colours. Bernard Oliveira, Tollentino Serrao, Bhaskar, Kalidas Gaad, Manohar Pednekar, Bhai Pednekar, Ganpat Gaonkar, Pandurang Gaonkar and the great goalkeeper Subhash Sinari all played during that era. Towards the late 1960’s, following a cash injection, Dempo were able to attract the best of players and had became a very strong side. Eustaquio, Balaguru, Olavo Pereira, Colaco, Inacio, Felix Barreto, Socorro Coutinho, Thapa, Ramesh Redkar, Socrates Carvalho, Sadanand Asnodkar and Tulsidas Alornekar were a part of the side that finished runners- up to Vasco Sports Club in the Senior Division League in 1969. That year Dempo lost to Salgaocar in the semis of the inaugural All India Bandodkar Gold Trophy but had the distinction of beating Border Security Force in the quarterfinals.
1970-1980: THE DECADE WHEN DEMPO BECAME A HOUSEHOLD NAME.
This ten year period saw Dempo Sports Club taking giant strides in Indian football. In 1971-72, Dempo became Goa League champions for the first time ever, overcoming the likes of Sesa Goa, Salgaocar Sports Club and Vasco Sports Club in the League. The crowning moment came in 1975 when Dempo Sports Club won the Rovers Cup under the leadership of Ramesh Redkar, becoming the first Goan team to win the tournament. In the final that was replayed, Dempo Sports Club defeated Tata Sports Club by a solitary goal. Francis D’Souza was brought down by Tata defender Joaquim Barreto in the dying minute of the game and the referee pointed to the dreaded spot. Williams coolly slotted the ball home to bring the Rovers Cup to the Goan shores for the very first time. In the semi-finals they had defeated Punjab – who were the Santosh Trophy winners that year – by a goal from Franco. They performed another giant killing act in the fourth round when they beat Salgaocar with a goal from Francis D’Souza. That same year Dempo finished runners-up to Vasco Sports Club in the Bandodkar Gold Cup and they also won the Stafford Cup in Bangalore sharing the trophy with Orkay Mills after a goalless draw in the finals. In 1979, Dempo won the Stafford Cup yet again beating ITI, Bangalore 2-0 in the final after goals from Dionisio Trinidade and Joseph Machado. Dempo had earlier reached the final in style with goals from Francis (2), Babu and Alex, giving them a 4-0 win over Mafatlal.
It was not a good decade for Dempo with regards to the Nizam Gold Cup. They lost three consecutive finals in 1972, 1973 and 1974, once to BSF and twice to RAC. But they finally broke the duck winning the 1978 edition against Customs and Central Excise thanks to a superb grounder from Dempo skipper and stopper back Nicholas Pereira.
In the Bandodkar Trophy too Dempo had to wait for 3 attempts before they could lift the coveted trophy. They lost the 1971 final to Vasco, 1973 edition to Orkay Mills and again the 1975 edition to Vasco Sports Club who were Goa’s powerhouse at that time. It was third time lucky for the Goan blues in 1976 when a hat trick from Francis D’Souza saw them thrash Leaders Club 3-0. It also was a historic moment for Francis as he became the first player to score a hat trick in the final of the Bandodkar Trophy. Dempo once again won the Bandodkar Trophy in 1978 when they shared it with Orkay Mills. Dempo also enhanced their reputation further winning the First Division League five consecutive seasons from 1976-77 to 1982-83.
Players like Eustaquio Pereira, Sadanand Asnodkar, Manohar Asnodkar, Picassao, Inacio Piedade, Inacio Fernandes, Ramesh Redkar, Felix Barreto, Felix Afonso, Felix Cardoso, Ramnath Keni, Bhim Bahadur Thapa, Mayakrishna, Kuppuswami Sampath, John Franco, Nanda Gaad, Nicholas Pereira, Socorro Coutinho, Armando Colaco, Francis D’Souza, Teotonio D’Silva, Alex Miranda, Rosario Rodrigues, Babu Arolkar, Herbert San, Eugenio Cardoso, Francis Rodrigues, Socrates Carvalho, Joseph Machado, K Williams, Pratap Khatri, Prem Sahi, Prasanna, Orlando Viegas, Mahesh Lotlikar and Manuel played during those years.
In 1978 Dempo won the Rovers Cup for the second time defeating Orkay Mills 2-1 in the final. Orkay Mills were one of the best sides of that era and had powered their way to the finals with a crushing 4-0 win over Mohun Bagan. But Dempo’s players were in no way intimidated and they rose to the occasion pipping Orkay 2-1 with goals from Francis D’Souza. Englishman Bob Bootland was the coach and Joseph Rathnam the manager of that victorious team. In the semi-finals Dempo had beaten Premier Tyres, Kalamassery from Kerala, while they thumped Sesa Goa 6-1 in the pre-quarterfinal.
Dempo successfully defended the Rovers Cup in 1979 when they beat Punjab based JCT 2-0 in the final. Dionisio Trinidade scored a brace. In the semi-finals they put it across Mafatlal through an Alex Miranda goal.
Goa League: 1971-72, 1973-74, 1978-79, 1979-80, 1980-81
Bandodkar Trophy: 1976, 1978
Rovers Cup: 1975, 1978, 1979
Stafford Cup: 1975, 1979
Nizam Gold Cup: 1978
Bandodkar Trophy: 1972, 1973, 1974
Nizam Gold Cup: 1972, 1973, 1974
1980-1990: THE DECADE WHEN DEMPO BECAME A POWERHOUSE IN INDIAN FOOTBALL
This decade saw the emergence of stars like Camilo Gonsalves, Mauricio Afonso, Jose Fernandes, Alex Fernandes, Mario Soares, Lector Mascarenhas, goalkeeper Chandrakant Naik and Baptist Fernandes. It was virtually a dream team for Dempo with midfielders, strikers and defenders, all of repute. To call it “Dempo’s Golden Generation” would not be an understatement. Mauricio Afonso and Camilo Gonsalves in particular were phenomenal and went on to represent India with Mauricio even captaining the country. Dempo started the decade with a hat-trick of wins in the Bandodkar Trophy. They won it first in the 1982 with a 3-0 win over Salgaocar. In 1983 they scored a thrashing 5-1 win over ITI, Bangalore and again demolished Salgaocar 2-0 in the 1984 final. They won it on two more occasions in 1986 and 1990, against BSF and Salgaocar respectively, winning the Trophy during that decade for an amazing five times. In 1986 Dempo won the Rovers Cup, beating the two Kolkata giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. They beat East Bengal in the semi-finals by 2-1 after initially falling behind through a Biswajeet Bhattacharya goal. But Dempo fought back strongly after a delightful ball from Mauricio Afonso found Baptist Fernandes who punted home the equalizer. Jose Fernandes scored the winner late into the game to help Dempo enter their fourth Rovers Cup final. In the final Dempo put it across Mohun Bagan 2-0 with a thoroughly professional display. The Dempo midfield probably was the best in the country at that time with Mauricio Afonso, Lector Mascarenhas and Alex Miranda destroying everyone in their path. Camilo Gonsalves was reaping the benefits of some brilliant passing from Mauricio and company scoring regularly in that tournament while custodian Chandrakant Naik was always calm under the bar. Dempo reached the Stafford Cup final again in 1986 after a superb hat-trick from Camilo Gonsalves helped them overcome Mohammedan Sporting in the semi-final. The stage was set for another East Bengal-Dempo showdown. However, Dempo could not play in the final due to their Bandodkar Gold Cup commitments. Camilo tricked again in the final of the Bandodkar Cup as Dempo beat BSF 4-0 in the final. Dionisio also led Dempo to a win in the 1982 Bordoloi Shield tournament in Assam. They won the final against Mohammedan Sporting courtesy a Prakash Naik goal.
Bandodkar Trophy: 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986
Goa League: 1983-84, 1986-87, 1987-88
Stafford Cup: 1986
Bordoloi Trophy : 1982
Bordoloi Trophy: 1981
Rovers Cup : 1980
1990-2000: THE DEACADE WHEN DEMPO BECAME GLOBAL
This was the decade when Dempo tasted success internationally against much better opposition. They became the first and only Goan team to win an international tournament when they defeated New Radiant Sports Club, Maldives to win the Pomis Cup at Male in January 1991. Dempo won the final through the tie-breaker, holding their nerve to win 5-4. Mauricio, Mario, Tiago, Matthew and Orlando scored for Dempo in the tie-breaker. Dempo reached the final after wins over Sri Lanka’s Sanders Club and achieved a 4-0 win over Victory Club of Maldives in the quarter-finals.
Dempo started the 1990’s with a win in the Rovers Cup yet again with a brilliant 2-0 win over Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan. Baptist Fernandes, now a coach, scored a brace to stun the Green and Maroons.
The Scissors Cup came next in 1992 when Mahesh Lotlikar and Jayant Dhond gave Dempo a 2-1 win over ITI, Bangalore. In 1994 Dempo won their second Scissors Cup with a 1-0 win over Kerala Police thanks to a goal from the boots of Menino Afonso. They won it for a second consecutive time in 1995 after a Marcus Carvalho hat-trick helped them thrash Mohun Bagan 3-0 in the final. They retained the trophy and won it for the fourth time in 1997 after Francis Silveira scored the goal which helped them to a 1-0 win over Indian Bank.
Goa League: 1993-94
Scissors Cup: 1991, 1994, 1997
Bandodkar Trophy: 1990, 1991
Rovers Cup: 1990
Pomis International Cup: 1991
Federation Cup: 1996
Custom Revenue Cup: 1995
2000-2010: TEARS, SADNESS, DISBELIEF…..AND FIVE YEARS LATER EUPHORIA AND UNPRECEDENTED SUCCESS…
The end of the 1990’s and the start of the new millennium was seen as the most difficult phase of the club. The club was greeted with several defeats that left the players and management demoralized. After a shock 1993 Federation Cup defeat to Vasco Sports Club, Dempo tasted defeats in several other tournaments. They even hiked their budget in 1998-99 in the hope of tasting success. Again, however, the big signings disappointed and Dempo failed to win any trophy, failing even to make it to the Super Six stage of the NFL in 1998-99. The late nineties saw Dempo suffering their worst phase, the lowest point of which came in 1999-200 when they were relegated from the NFL. Their star players had left for greener pastures and Iranian coach Ahmad Sanjari was left with a young, inexperienced squad that led to their relegation. With Sesa Goa shutting shop that year it was a time to ponder for the Club management, who even considered disbanding the team, following Sesa Goa. It took a lot of persuasion from Dempo’s most ardent fans and well wishers to convince current Corporate Group Chairman and Club President, Shrinivas V Dempo to continue the team for another year. Initially under the guidance of Mr. Joseph Rathnam, a strict disciplinarian, Dempos did very well by winning many trophies but they tasted real success when their own player Mr. Armando Colaco joined them as coach in 1999-2000. Former Dempo Sports Club player Armando Colaco who was with Churchill Brothers at that time was hired as chief coach and entrusted with the responsibility of reviving the flagging fortunes of the team. And then the rest, as they say, is history…
In 2000 began a journey from the depths of despair to the heights of eventual glory, from the Second division NFL to NFL qualification and then to I-League glory, from tears of sadness to tears of joy, from blood and from sweat, to sheer ecstasy, from having a crisis of confidence to being on top of the world, from being booed by critics and detractors to lifting trophy after trophy, from sleepless nights of despair to night-long celebrations of victory, from being humbled by little known Indian clubs to beating the best teams across Asia. As a comeback it was worthy of the greatest comebacks of sports history. 2004-05 was a golden year when Dempo did the grand double of the Federation Cup and the NFL after pipping Sporting Clube de Goa on the final day of the season. The Federation Cup win, thanks to the late Cristiano Junior’s goals, was Dempo’s first in its history. The following year they lost out to Mahindra United in the NFL but in 2006-07 they won it again after beating JCT to the title by 5 points. Dempo Sports Club had well and truly arrived by then. It was Armando Colaco who made the difference with his shrewd tactics and brilliant man management skills. They attracted some of the best players and had some of the best facilities amongst Indian clubs.
2007-08 saw the rechristening of the NFL as the I-League but it was business as usual for Armando Colaco’s boys, beating Churchill on goal difference. It was also the year when they created history by becoming the first Indian team to reach the semi-finals of the AFC Cup where they eventually lost to Safa of Lebanon. In the following year Dempo reached the knock-stages of the AFC Cup again, falling at the round of 16 to Kuwait SC in Kuwait. They however lost their I-League crown to Churchill Brothers finishing in fourth place.
2009-10 saw Armando Colaco’s young turks regain their I-League crown in spectacular fashion beating Churchill Brothers by a massive 11 points to win their fourth I-League crown. They thus became the most successful club in India winning the National League for a fourth time. Armando Colaco also became the most successful domestic coach in the history of NFL/I-League football. They also won two Super Cups along the way once in 2007 and the other in 2010. They reached the knock-out rounds of the AFC Cup 2011, as well. The 2010-11 season saw Dempo finish a creditable third in the I-League and also saw them win the Goa League. Dempo is the only Indian team at the moment which participated five times in AFC Cup Football tournament and twice in the AFC Champions League play-off. In 2010-11 season, Dempo played Al Sadd in the AFC Champions League qualifying losing 3-1. Al SAdd however went on to become AFC Champions League winners that same season and also finished third in the Club World Cup.
Goa League: 2005-06, 2007-08, 2009-10, 2010-11.
NFL/I-League: 2004-05, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2009-10, 2011-12
Durand Cup: 2006
Federation Cup: 2004
AIFF Super Cup: 2007-08, 2010-11
AFC Cup: Semifinals in 2008
AFC Champions League qualifying: 2010/11 and 2008/09
Federation Cup: 2002