Monday, January 5, 2009

Enter Karpaty (Lvov). Holding the Soviet Cup in 1969 and winning the Second Division the same year .
Unfortunately, I have no names for this photo, but these are the players winning the cup: B. Turlak, M. Lupol, I. Gereg,
R. Potochnyak, V. Sirov, P. Danilchuk, Yu. Bondarenko, M. Sarabin, I. Kulchitzky, L. Brovarsky, V. Bulgakov, R. Pokora,
V. Danilyuk, Ya. Gabovda, G. Lihachov, Yu. Basalik, B. Greshak. Coach – E. Yust.

Not a single famous name, as befitting second division nobodies. But during 1960s a shift started in Soviet football from north to south, from Moscow to Ukraine. No longer Moscow clubs ruled – Dinamo (Kiev) was establishing itself as the Soviet powerhouse. But it was not only Dinamo – Shakhter (Donetzk), Zarya (Lugansk), Chernomoretz (Odessa), the new boys Karpaty established themselves in the First Division, followed by Dnepr (Dnepropetrovsk) and Metalist (Harkov). Add to them another two successful Southern clubs in the 1970s: Ararat (Erevan, today Armenia) and Dinamo (Tbillisi, today Georgia). It was a major shift – Moscow clubs not only declined, but faced even relegation – Spartak (Moscow) and CSCA (Moscow) eventually enjoyed Second Division football. In the same time the 70s were perhaps the worst decade of the Soviet national team – Soviet football was in a crisis, recognized eventually. Yet, how to measure? Soviet clubs achieved their first European successes during 1970s. Ukrainian players became the backbone of the national team, which missed two World Cups and two European Championships.

Here is a version of the Soviet squad for Mexico 1970:

First row, left to right: Victor Serebryannikov, Mikhail Gershkovich, Yevgeny Lovchev, Givi Nodia, Revaz Dzodzuashvili, Anatoly Puzach, Nikolay Kislov, Anzor Kavazashvili.

Second row: Oleg Sokolov (masseur), Gavrail Kachalin (head coach), Albert Shesternyov, Oleg Belokovsky (team doctor), Vladimir Kaplichny, Kakhi Asatiani, Vitaly Khmelnitzky, Genady Logofet, Vladimir Muntyan, Valentin Afonin, Murtaz Khurtzilava, Yevgeny Rudakov, Anatoly Bishovetz, Vladimir Shmelev (masseur).

Some of the above did not make the final selection, but more or less this is the bulk of Soviet players for the World Cup finals. The final selection included 6 players from Dinamo (Kiev), 5 from Dinamo (Tbillisi), 4 from each Spartak and CSCA (both Moscow), 3 from Dinamo (Moscow). The leaders (CSCA was not yet champion in the summer – Soviet championship run in one year, spring-fall calendar, ending by the end of the year) provided 4 players – three veterans (Afonin, Shesternyov, and Kaplichny) and the third goalie – one Shmutz, who did not play at all in Mexico and soon disappeared altogether from sight. CSCA (abbreviation of Central Sports Club of the Army – that is why I use CSCA, not the more familiar today CSKA) had two or three more worthy players (including better goalie than Shmutz), but they were not enough to sustain continuation of success when the veterans quit playing or moved to other clubs. Meantime the two Moscow powerhouses – Dinamo and Spartak – were declining and some of the southern national players were aging. To a large degree the Soviet national team was outdated in 1970 and at its last legs.

First row, left to right: Vladimir Fedotov, Vladimir Dudarenko, Yuri Istomin, Valentin Utkin, Nikolay Dolgov

Second row: Valentin Nikolayev – coach, Boris Kopeykin, Albert Shesternyov, Vladimir Polikarpov, Leonid Shmutz, Alexander Kuznetzov, Vladimir Kaplichny

CSCA – champions in 1970, but one time wonder. Moscow no longer ruled. Soon the Ukrainian invasion would even bribe its way to the title – Zarya (Lugansk) (see earlier posting) – and the Soviets were entering very bad decade.
(Note: I prefer this spelling of the club, as well as the Bulgarian club with same name - but will use the more familiar CSKA from now on. The accepted abbreviation is nonsensical - I have no idea how it was made from Central Sports Club of the Army, the full name - but is the more or less familiar transliteration in English.
And thanks to Igor Nedbaylo for the team photo!)