Nikolai Sokolov – The Founder of Russian Goalkeeping

Lev Yashin is considered perhaps the best to ever play football, but even before him, the Soviet Union has had a long line of great goalkeepers. One of these is Nikolai Sokolov, who both Nikolai Starostin in Football Stars and Anatoly Akimov in The Goalkeeper and his Role in the Team name as the founder of the Soviet goalkeeping school, which later gave birth to Yashin, Rinat Dasaev and many others. Sokolov was born in Moscow on May 12, 1897. At this time, football wasn’t a sport for Russians … [Read more...]

Dinamo Moscow’s 1945 Goodwill Tour of Britain

“The Russians are Coming”: Arrival 4th November 1945, Croydon. Two planes, appearing to be Douglas DC-3 Dakotas, approached the runway and touched down amidst a barrage of London sunshine, a characteristically mundane and everyday sight for an airport which based RAF Transport Command from 1944. These giant planes would ferry ammunition and vehicles from factory to operating unit throughout World War Two. However, on this day, the influx of these two planes was a prodigious and preternatural … [Read more...]

Timeline of the Renaming of Russian Top Flight Clubs

The Soviet football system was very dissimilar to the Western system. In the early 1920s, all pre-revolutionary football clubs were dissolved; some of them were basically reformed under new names, after moving their "franchise" (football team) to some other location, some were created anew. There were no "football clubs" per se in the Soviet Union - officially, all football teams belonged to some "voluntary sports society" or the other, which was reflected in their names. Here's an incomplete … [Read more...]

Nikolai Starostin: My Football Years (Chapter 8) – Back to the Beginning

Nikolai Petrovich Starostin (1902-1996) was a Soviet football player and official. He was the co-founder of Spartak Moscow, which turned into the most popular club in the USSR and Russia, and worked as its head administrator for most of his life. Starostin is considered one of the most legendary and universally revered figures of Soviet football. In 1986, he published the book ‘My Football Years’ with Lev Filatov, and even well into his eighties, he retained a keen understanding of the game, … [Read more...]

Nikolai Starostin: My Football Years (chapter 6) – Club and Team

Nikolai Petrovich Starostin (1902-1996) was a Soviet football player and official. He was the co-founder of Spartak Moscow, which turned into the most popular club in the USSR and Russia, and worked as its head administrator for most of his life. Starostin is considered one of the most legendary and universally revered figures of Soviet football. In 1986, he published the book ‘My Football Years’ with Lev Filatov, and even well into his eighties, he retained a keen understanding of the game, … [Read more...]

Five Stars With a Past in Russian Football

Since the formation of the Russian Football Premier League in 1992, a long range of quality players have amazed fans around the country. However, with so many players coming through the ranks, some more memorable than others, others more profitable for bookmakers, it is easy to forget a couple, especially for people who don't follow the league closely. Therefore, we have dived into the history books to find five superstars you might not know played in Russia at some point in their … [Read more...]

Poise, Persistence, Perfection – An Ode to Anatoliy Tymoshchuk

Football is filled with contentious personalities. Hard-man defenders, stroppy strikers and mercurial midfielders are as common within the game as corner flags and crossbars. It’s rare that a day passes within the sport without one or more of the participants creating controversy for the press and problems for their management. Which is why we are allowed to shed more than a few tears when a true gentleman of the sport hangs up his boots. These few good men keep our faith in the game alive. … [Read more...]

The Evolution of the 5 Man Defence in Russian Football

One of the most common opinions about the Russian Football Premier League (RFPL) – rightly or wrongly – is that the style of football and tactical approach applied to the games is somewhat straggling behind the rest of Europe. Common observations from pundits and football fans alike include that the RFPL is one dimensional, the football in Russia is slow, the football is old fashioned and the players are thugs. Many of these opinions will be drawn from the showing of Russian clubs in European … [Read more...]

VVS MVO Moscow, Vasily Stalin’s toy

VVS MVO Moscow is not a club name that many will recognize, and the acronym doesn’t reveal much about the club either. Nevertheless, it is a club with a short but interesting history. VVS MVO Moscow, a sports society VVS MVO Moscow was a sports club based in Moscow. The name was short for Voenno Vozdushnye Sily Moskovskogo Voïennogo Okrouga (Военно-воздушные Силы Московского военного округа), which means 'Club of the Air Force of the Military Region of Moscow'. It was founded in 1944 on … [Read more...]

Anatoli Ilyin – The Golden Striker

On Thursday, February 11, the 84-year-old Anatoli Ilyin left our world. Perhaps you have never heard about him, but he was a football icon in the Soviet Union and especially at Spartak during the 1950’s. The Red-Whites owes much of their reputation Ilyin, who scored many important goals during his career. In 1956 for example, he scored the winning goal in the final of the Olympic Games in Melbourne against the rival Yugoslavia, a goal that earned him the title Master of Sport of the USSR. In … [Read more...]