Monday, May 4, 2009

Ararat (Erevan) finished second in 1971 – the biggest and generally unexpected success of Armenian club so far. A novelty? It turned out to be just the beginning of the best years ever for Armenian football. It was another sign of the shifting centre of power in USSR from North to South. In the same time Soviet football was plummeting into decade long crisis… the national team was full of Southern-based players and losing.

Top, left to right: E. Grigoryan – director of the team, N. Glebov – coach, O. Zanazanyan, S. Kapidi – doctor, N. Kazaryan, N. Kolpakyan – masseur, F. Abramyan, S. Israelyan – administrator, L. Ovsepyan, A. Kegyan – assistant coach, A. Kovalenko, A. Sirakanyan – assistant coach.
Front: E. Markarov, R. Avanesyan, A. Abramyan, S. Bonaderenko, N. Mesropyan, A. Andriasyan, L. Ishtoyan. Soviet teams present an interesting question, which emerged after 1990: foreign players. Two Ukrainians and one Russian in Ararat’s squad (Bondarenko, Kovalenko, and Markarov). Similarly, Spartak featured two Georgians and Dinamo (Kiev) – an Armenian. In USSR they were all domestic Soviet citizens. After 1990 – different countries claim some players as their ‘own’ legends. No matter what one thinks today, Soviet clubs often recruited players from ‘other’ republics of the Union. The closest Soviets came to import of players – a nightmare for contemporary football historian, but interesting topic for investigation nevertheless.