There was going up in USSR too – with different accent from the British one. Shakhtyor (Donetzk) and Pakhtakor (Tashkent) finished first and second in the Second Division and were promoted to the first. Both clubs returned to top football after only a season – they were relegated in 1971. The return was a coppy of the relegation – Pakhtakor placed higher than Shakhtyor. Also, these clubs represented best a peculiarity of football: clubs in limbo – too strong for Second Division, yet too weak for First Division, constantly moving up and down, to the despair of their fans. It is not Soviet phenomenon at all – there were and are many clubs, almost in every country, inhabiting the gray zone. One almost wants a league between First and Second to be established specifically for them… which would not be solution really. However, Shakthyor were a club worth a note or two: they were the first Soviet club not from a capital city to win a trophy (if not counting the Cup won by Zenith Leningrad in 1944 – the ‘tournament’ appears suspiciously staged to serve political goals during the World War II). Shakhtyior won the Cup in 1961 and repeated the same in 1962. Historically, they belonged to First Division, but were also the smaller Ukrainian club to play there – always in the shadows of Dynamo (Kiev) and in the pyramidical Soviet universe – always to serve the needs of the top. That is, not so much to supply points to Dynamo, but to supply it with players. Second place had its own power too – Shakhtyor were to give players to Dynamo, but were to take players from other Ukrainian clubs (provided Dynamo did not fancy them), and thus to maintain… well, second position in Ukraine, which hardly amounted to much in Soviet football dominated by Moscow until 1960. With the powerful emerging of Southern and particularly Ukrainian football the decline of Shakhtyor by the end of the 1960s was somewhat unusual surpize – but they came back.
Shakhtyor, vintage 1972.Front, left to right: A. Konkov – captain, V. Belousov, O. Bazilevich – coach, V. Kashtey, Yu. Degtyarev.Second row: V. Tkachenko – masseur, V. Chanov, V. Onisko – assistant coach, L. Kozhanov – doctor.Third row: A. Vasin, L. Klyuchik, V. Salkov – director of the team, V. Safonov.Top row: G. Denisenko, V. Yaremcnehko, Yu. Dudinsky, Yu. Gubich. An interesting squad – not really great, yet there are people on this photo soon to make waves. Konkov was soon a national player. The reserve goalie V. Chanov also reached the national team – more than ten years after 1972. Degtyarev became respected goalkeeper, and I think also included in the national team – rarely, but included. Oleg Bazilevich should be the best known – as an assistant coach of great Dynamo (Kiev), working in tandem with Valery Lobanovsky. By 1975 Konkov was key player of same Dynamo… and later Chanov too. Shakhtyor continued to serve, but no more relegations for them – in fact, 1972 was a beginning of strong seasons and strong team.