Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Soviets were running a separate championship for ‘reserve teams’ for years. Actually, many countries practiced the same , and these ‘lesser’ championships attracted solid interest and attendance. Nobody remembers such championships today, but there was good reason for them: rarely playing reserves, promising juniors, titular players recovering from injuries played in the ‘second team’. It was good system to my mind – these tournaments paralleled to schedules of the first teams, usually games played just before the first team match. Often well performing players in the second team were directly included in the selection of the first team, thus, some players had to play two games in the same day. The second teams were middle ground with its own atmosphere and fun: it was not uncommon crowds watching the reserves to be bigger than those watching the first teams – recovering from injury star combined with raising young talent was the bait.

Dinamo (Moscow) won the Second Teams Championship of USSR in 1971:
Front, left to right: S. Nikulin, A. Yakubik, A. Piskunov, G. Arkhipov, N. Antonevich, S. Kamensky.
Top: V. Ilin – coach, V. Balyasnikov, S. Chernov, V. Komarov, V. Utkin, A. Petrushin, A. Mosin, A. Golodetz – assistant coach.

A typical ‘second team” – some players reached the national team, some sunk to oblivion. Some already known names and some promises… Few of this team played at the Cup Winners Cup final a year later.