Monday, April 28, 2008

Karpaty Video

Here's a video I found that was put together by Karpaty, it's a bit cheesy but worth a watch

Club Focus - Karpaty Lviv

Arsenal are playing Karpaty Lviv next Sunday, although I'm on holiday so hopefully I'll get to the Obolon game on Wednesday the weather is dreadful today, so it seems like an opportune moment to look at one of Ukraine's most famous teams.

As I have stated before Karpaty were formed in 1963 as an alternative to the hated local army team SKA Lviv. They quickly gained popularity due to the fact that they only recruited local players and quickly became a symbol of Ukrainian nationalism in the most nationalistic of Ukrainian cities. To this very day they are seen as a symbol of nationalism and their president Petro Dymynskiy has called for a cap on the number of foreign players Ukrainian league teams can have. A fact that caused so much trouble with Metalurh Donestsk officials (their club has 20 foreigners on their books) that a deep animosity has grown up between the clubs.

Karpaty were originally formed by members of Silmash club and they joined division 2 of the Soviet League in 1963 before being promoted 4 years later. In 1969 they became the only club in the Soviet Union from outside of the Premier League to win the Soviet Cup by beating SKA Rostov.

A year later Karpaty joined the Premier Division of the Soviet League with the highlight being finishing in 4th place twice in 1976 (that year there was a Spring and an Autumn Championship).

However, this achievement was short lived as the following year Karpaty were again relegated to the 1st division.

In 1979 Karpaty nearly repeated their feet of 10 years earlier when they took on Dynamo Moscow in the Soviet Cup final. This time they didn't manage to win the cup though, and they controversially lost to one of the government's sponsored teams 2-1; the winning goal coming from a penalty in extra time.

In 1981 Karpaty were merged with the hated SKA Lviv team and were renamed SKA Karpaty. The highlight of this period was narrowly missing out on promotion to CSKA Moscow in 1986.

Since 1991 Karpaty have played in the Ukrainian League. Their highest position was 3rd in 1998 and they have finished runners up in the cup twice in 1993 and 1999. 2004, the 13th year of the Ukrainian Championship was definitely an unlucky one for Karpaty as they were relegated. They were promoted again in 2006 and are currently in the bottom half of the table.

Their stadium Ukraina is sometimes used for International games, although a new stadium is currently being built for Euro 2012.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dodgy Keeper

Dodgy keeping allows Kravets to make it 3-0

The Second goal

Aliev makes it 2-0 v Zorya Luhansk

That's not Entertainment

The first really sunny day of the year and the start of 2 weeks that are nearly all made up of bank holidays should have seen a bumper crowd at Dynamo stadium and some entertaining football, unfortunately it saw neither.

There are 2 results that I really hate. I hate 1-1 draws in general and when Dynamo win I really dislike 2-0 wins, this game was a 3-0 win for Dynamo but was like those 2-0s that are just a bit boring.

The Dynamo website described the win as calm and sure, it certainly was that. Zorya didn't have a meaningful shot on goal and Dynamo just waited until the goals came. In fact Zorya were probably the poorest team I have seen in the Vishe Liha this season and as well as not attacking at all they looked pretty shakey in defence. Dynamo could have probably won by more, but didn't really get out of first gear and didn't really have to. Nobody played poorly, but nobody played that well either. Aliev was slightly irritating in that after a couple of good performanes he seems to think that he will score every time he touches the ball. Kravets was introduced late on in the game and scored almost immediately, it can only be wondered how many Dynamo might have scored if he had played the whole game.

Milevskiy scored on 30 minutes, Aliev just before half time and Kravets on 84.
Note on photos from top to bottom:
1. A minute's silence on the anniverssary of Chernobyl
2. Celebrating the 2nd goal
3. Keep the flag flying
4. Me and the kids

Saturday, April 26, 2008

May Day Mix-tape (off-topic)

Orthodox Easter conveniently clashes with May Day this year, so next week is a week off, here's a collection of tunes I'll be listening to over the holiday:

1. Men in Route - 23 Maggio

A kind of ska/ reggae song taken from this unsigned Italian band's demo N-Demo

2.The Heavens - The Beautiful Machine

Another unsigned band, this time from Leeds, think about The Brian Jonestwon Massacre meets Ride. They really are that good.

3.Boat Club - Warmer Climes

Yet another indie pop band from Sweden and like most of the Indie bands from Sweden they are very good.

4. Edgar Jones - Sunshine

A song taken from the soul/ funkster's album that came out earlier this year

5. The Jam - Running on the Spot

If you haven't heard of this band then you don't like music

6. Judge Dredd - Up with the Cock

A novelty song from the first British person to score a reggae hit in Jamaica

7. Talco - Tutti Assolti

High-energy punk/ ska music from Italy's left-wing Talco. Taken from their first album and not as folky as the stuff on their latest release.

8. Vampire Weekend - One (Blake's Got a New Face)

This band has really been hyped by Pitchfork over the last few months, but unlike a lot of bands they deserve the hype.

9. St.Etienne - Who Do You Think You Are?

Early 90's music from the days of indie/dance crossover

10. Radioactive Man - Strong Booze

Keith Tenniswood, who is better known for his work with Andrew Weatherall on 2 Lone Swordsmen and Sabres of Paradise serves up a techno treat.

11. The Charlatans - A Day for Letting Go

A track taken from the Charlie's latest album.

12. Biosis Now - Independent Bahamas

I don't know anything about this band other than that they are pretty happy about the Bahamas being independent.
The picture is taken from Men in Route's M-Demo cover.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Club Focus - Zorya Luhansk

You have to feel a bit sorry for Zorya, at the time of writing they are 3rd from bottom in the Vishe Liha and will play Shakhtar at home in a rearranged game on Wednesday before coming to Kyiv and taking on Dynamo on Saturday.

Recent history has not been kind to Zorya at all, although this is a club with a once proud history. They were formed in 1923 as Zorya Vorisholograd, as Luhansk was know in those days and had close links with the railway unions. Their finest moment came in 1972 when they won the USSR Championship. The Ukrainian Championship has not been so lucky for them, however.

They debuted in the Vishe Liha at its inception in 1992 and hung around the bottom of the league until finally being relegated in 1996. The rot had definitely set in by then, as they went on to be relegated the following year to the second division. They finally made their way back to the First Division in 2003-2004 and made a reappearence in the Vishe Liha last season where they finished a respectable 11th.

Only time will tell if they will stay up this time, as it is really tight at the bottom.
The top image is Zorya's current badge, the second is that of Zorya's when they were known as Zorya Vorishograd

A Quick Round Up -The Daddy of Derby Days

Well, I missed out on live football this weekend, but I'm glad I didn't miss out on one of the greatest derby games in livivng memory on the box.

I met Rob, Bo, Sid and Rol at the new German bar on Lisenko. The game started off as tense as usual, and I have to admit in the first 10 minutes I thought that the Noses might even snatch one. However, what followed was beyond all expectations. Villa roled out 5-1 winners with 2 goals from Ashley Young, 2 from Big Bad John Carew and one from Gaby Agbonalahor. The whole game was a bit of a blur for me, as Derby games tend to be, although the serious drinking (of champagne) didn't get started until after the match, so I've been re-living it here:

In Ukraine it was a good week for Kyiv's clubs with Milevskiy scoring twice and Shatskhi another against Naftovik away. Arsenal pulled off a surprise victory beating Dnipro 2-1 on Friday afternoon, with Selezinov scoring 2 goals and heading to the top of the scorer charts.

There were also big wins for Metalist who beat Karpaty 4-0 and Shakhtar who beat Metalurh Zapporizhya by the same score.
The picture at the top shows John Carew making it 2-0 with a glancing header, knicked from the Birmingham Post

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Second City Derby

Let's get one thing straight, Villa and Blues haven't always been the biggest rivals, as Villa's traditional rivals have been West Brom up until recent times. When I was growing up Villa were hardly ever in the same division, so the hatred was pretty one way coming from Small Heath. At the time Villa's main local rivals always seemed to be Coventry, and although it didn't feel like a Derby to the Villa fans it certainly was seen as such by the Coventry fans.

That was all to change when Blues came up in 2002-2003, when things got really nasty on and off the pitch. In this season Blues won both games 3-0 at the sty and 2-0 at Villa Park, and the only highlight for Villa was seeing Dublin nut Savage (see picture above), and even he got sent off. in fact the first few year's of Blues return to the Premier League were not happy ones for Villa with the games ending in draws (0-0 and 2-2) the following season and Blues winning both encounters in 2004-2005 (2-1 and 2-0).

The 2005-6 season was much better though with Villa winning 1-0 at the Sty through a Kevin Phillips goal and then Villa all but putting them down at Villa Park on a day when even the ultimately useless Milan Baros was on the score sheet.

2006-2007 saw Villa and Blues in their natural places, so there was no derby as Villa were in the top flight and Blues were in a division lower. In fact the nearest Villa had to a derby game was Sheffield United.

This season sees Blues visiting the premier league again and Villa Park on Sunday, last time the clubs met earlier in the season ex-Villan Ridgewell scored an own goal and Gabi scored a winner in the dying seconds of the game for Villa. Unsurprisingly there was trouble before, after and during the game.

There have been some notable derby games in the past, but I tend to ignore any that Blues did well in, which was a couple of them. One notable one is the reserves game between the clubs when Pongo Waring made his debut in 1925 and scored a hat-trick. Another one was during the 1980's when Villa and Blues only seemed to ever play in cups, on one such occassion David Platt scored 4 goals in 14 minutes.

Although I said that the animosity is only a recent development, the first Derby was in 1879 when Small Heath beat Villa 1-0 and since then hardly any players have crossed the divide. Ron Saunders left Villa after arguing with Doug and became the Blues manager shortly after winning the league with Villa in 1981, Rob Hopkins was kicked out of Villa when his affiliation with the Zulus came to light. Des Bremner went to Blues when his Villa days were numbered back in the 80's too ,and then last season Liam Ridgewell went there to find first team football and I can't think of anyone coming from St.Andrew's to Villa Park.

The record of derby games is Villa have won 42, 27 have been drawn and Blues have won 36. I'm looking forward to the game on Sunday, although as always it's frustrating being abroad for it and as usual I feel nervous about how it will go.

I know this is a crap post, but it's a form of therapy!

A Weekend Without Football

I wouldn't have minded some lower league stuff this weekend, but I wasn't aware that there was any on Saturday, until after I had agreed to work on that day. I already knew that Arsenal were playing Dnipro on Friday, so that ruled me out. It looks like I might have to console myself with watching the Birmingham Derby in the pub and plotting some stuff for the week off that's coming up and Big Phil's football frenzy in May and June.

I also feel gutted at the moment about Tolya writing to me inviting me to the cup final, which will be between Dynamo and Shakhtar, just for a change and knowing that I won't be able to go. He also mentioned the UEFA cup, which Metalist are now sure of a place in, again mid-week games and it doesn't look like Villa will be in it. All in all it has not been a good day in general, and my mood is getting worse

Join our Club - Saint Etienne

Last week we had a look at a football player with a band named after him, now let's have a look at a football team with a band named after them.
Saint Etienne, the band are Bob Stanley, Peter Wiggs and Sarah Cracknell. Stanley and Wiggs had been friends at school in Croydon and had made music together there. However, it wasn't really until 1988 that Saint Etienne were formed as a band. They signed to Heavenly in 1988 and released their debut album, Fox Base Alpha in 1990. They had already had success in nightclubs with their debut single Only Love Can Break Your Heart, which I remember was still a favourite in the Hacienda in 1991, and this album added to their popularity.
Their concept was to be a band that fused 60's London pop with the Italo House style that was popular at the time. They did this with some success on Fox Base Alpha and their second album So Tough, to much critical acclaim. However on Tiger Bay, their 3rd album they changed their style and lost a lot of support, which is a shame as there were some half decent tunes on it and He's on the Phone made a pretty good single.
They have continued to work together and produce records, as well as several Best ofs. A new album seems to be in the making, but after 2005's quite frankly crap Tales from Turnpike House, it's probably better to stick to the old stuff.
Saint Etienne the football team are also a band who have hit some high peaks and low troughs. They were formed in 1919 by workers from the Casino Grocery Chain and even used the name of the store in their original name. The famous green shirts that they wear also come from the grocery chain. They soon dropped the name of the store from their name, however the green shirts remain up to today, and they became professional in 1923.
They first won the French League in 1957 ending the dominance of Stade de Reims, Nice and Monaco and positioning themselves for dominance in the 196o's . They subsequently went on to win the league in 1964 and for four years in a row from 1967-70.
In the 1970's Robert Herbin arrived and decided that France wasn't big enough and that he wanted European dominance (Mwaahh). They went far in the early 70's but never quite made it, losing to Bayern Munich in the semis in 1975, the final in 1976 and to Liverpool in the quarter's in 1977.
Saint Etienne therefore decided to add to a team that already included stars like Larios, the Revelli brothers, Jaques santini and Dominique Rochereau. In came, Johnny Rep, Michel Platini and Patrick Battiston and in came the title in 1981. However, victory was short lived and having such a star studded team always comes at a cost. So much so that 1 year later the president of the club Robert Rocher was sent down for making illegal payments to players, some of the players also joined him in the slammer, albeit for a brief period, and funnily enough most of them left.
Relegation and more financial woe followed, including an illegal passport scandal in 2001. However the fans at Le Chaudron (the Cauldron) or L' Enfer Vert (Green Hell), as it is commonly known, always stayed loyal. Saint Etienne finally returned to the top division in 2004 and finished 6th the following season. They are currently mid-table and a recent highlight has been a derby win away to bitter rivals Lyon.
The top picture shows Michel Platini scoring against Ipswich Town in the UEFA cup
Some early stuff from the band is available here:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ghioane puts the icing on the cake

Aliev's opening goal V Tavriya

Arriving on Time

On Saturday I went to the match between Dynamo and Tavriya with Andriy and Asya, it was the first time it had been just us 3 at a match since Dynamo beat Newcastke in the Champions League. This was obviously a long time ago as the thought of Newcastle playing in the Champions League and Dynamo actually winning a game in it feels like a distant memory.

Things might be about to change at least in Kyiv, although probably not on Tyneside, if recent performances are anything to go by. Out have gone oldies, such as Bielkevich, Gavrancic and Rebrov and some of the more useless signings like Markovic and in have come emerging youngsters like Aliev and Kravets. It seems that Semin could really be the man to change Dynamo's fortunes around. It should be remembered that Dynamo are the reigning champions, but in the first half of this season there were several lacklustre performances. They are now top of the league, but going into the winter break were in third and didn't really show any promise of catching Dnipro let alone Shakhtar.

Last week I wrote that Tavriya, who have pulled off some impressive results might come out on the attack, unfortunately for them, like most of their fans the team seemed to turn up late. After 5 minutes it was already 2-0 to Dynamo. Aliev scoring a thunderous free kick on 3 minutes and then Kravets adding a tap in a couple of minutes later.

This could have led to an opening of the flood gates, but Dynamo controlled the game, especially in midfield where Correa and Ghioane bossed the game and provided further chances for Aliev, Kravets and Milevskiy, who came close to scoring on several occassions, but who already knew that the game was in the bag. So at half time it was still 2-0.

Dynamo continued to pressure in the second half , and the 3rd goal was scored by Ghioane on 57 minutes. After this Dynamo continued to control the midfield and there was only ever going to be one winner, in what was a convincing victory for Dynamo. There was a modicum of excitement when ex-Dynamo player Lucky Idahor came on for Tavriya, but he was never going to be that lucky today.

All in all a good game and a great performance for Dynamo, but after the 2 early goals there was only going to be one winner. I also have to admit to being more than a little distracted by the text messages I was getting that were informing me that Villa had beaten Derby 6-0 away and that Arsenal had beaten Chernomorets 1-0 away, so all in all it was a great day for football.
Notes on photographs:
The top photograph shows the Dynamo fans letting off smoke bombs at the start of the game. The fire brigade threatened to drench them with water, which they were taunting them to do, but nothing came of it.
The second picture is taken shortly after Kravets gets the second for Dynamo.
The third shows Asya and Andriy at full time.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Ivan Campo

Ivan Campo is a Spanish footballer and a music group from the North West of England.

The group play music which is often called nu folk or folktronica. Their influences include Devendra Banhart, Arcade Fire and The Coral. They also state that one of their influences is one of my favourite writers, Haruki Murakami. To me they sound a bit like I am Kloot mixed with Tunng. Good stuff indeed. They have written 50 songs since 2003, which are collected in the mythical Book of Campodia, or so they say. Either way getting hold of their stuff apart from what is on their My Space page is a bit of a nightmare, unfortunately.

Ivan Campo the footballer was born in San Sebastian in 1974, he started his career at Deportivo Alaves and remained there for 2 and a half years. He was then sold to Valencia, but spent most of his time on loan, first to Vallodolid and then to Mallorca. He then signed for Real Madrid, where he won the Champions League in 1998, before going on loan to Bolton in 2002. He was expected to stay there for a year, but looking more like a character from Crossroads, he probably didn't fit in with Real's Galactico image and made his move to Bolton permanent, where he still plays.

Ivan Campo is probably best known for his daft hair and a wonder strike against Spurs on the openining day of the 2006-2007 season.

To listen to Ivan Campo the band go to to see Ivan Campo, the footballer's wonder strike against Spurs go to

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Up for the Cup?

There' s no pleasing some people is there? A lot has been made of the FA Cup being devalued in recent years, with many people citing when Man U decided to take part in the World Club Championhips instead of the FA Cup in 1999 to 2000 as one of the main reason for this. Then they moaned about the competition becoming too boring as the big four dominated it in the last few years and the competition becoming too predictable. Then, this season we have had giant killing aplenty, with non-league Chasetown knocking out Port Vale and Barnsley disposing of both Liverpool and Chelsea, and now they aren't happy because no big teams are involved in the final.

In my opinion Portsmouth, who are in 7th,afterall v Cardiff is a throw back to when the FA Cup was more fun. I used to love the FA Cup as a kid and wanted Villa to win it more than I wanted them to win the League, although maybe that was because I am lucky enough to remember Villa winning the League, something I doubt I will see again. I remember the build up for the whole morning on TV, something which has since stopped. I can still remember all of the cup finals of the 80s from Spurs V Man City in 1981;with Wimbledon 's shock win over Liverpool and Coventry's epic victory over Spurs being the most memorable

I haven't been in England for a cup final since 1995, but I still have some good memories of watching it on TV, although to be honest up until this year the dominance of the big 4 hasn't really led to me searching for it in bars, and often I have contented myself with a local league game. I mean, over the last few seasons, Millwall have been the only club out of the top 4 to make the final, and we all knew how it would end, and they were hardly the loveable underdogs either. I remeber watching the 1996 Cup Final between Middlesbrough and Chelsea. I watched it with Alan and Dan ( a Boro fan) on a crappy black and white TV in a satellite town of Moscow. I remember how excited Dan was, only for him to start smoking his celebratory cigar after 6 minutes when Di Matteo scored for Chelsea in what was to be the only goal of the match. I also saw the 2 cup finals of the late 90's in which Newcastle lost to Arsenal and then the following year againt Man United. The first one in a bar in Moscow and the second in a bar in Rome. In both matches Newcastle completly froze; seeing Geordie ex-pats in tears isn't a pleasent site, I have to tell you.

The last cup final I actually watched was Villa v Chelsea in 2000. I think the trauma may have put me off since. The final was dire and Villa lost 1-0, however, what made it worse was that I had to watch it in a bar in Sassari, which was full of Italian Chelsea fans,the reason being it was Gianfranco Zola's hometown.

I have also seen a few foreign cup finals, and they don't seem to compete with the English equivalent. The first I attended was the Russian cup final between the 2 Moscow teams, Lokomotiv and Spartak. It was held at the then, recently reconstructed Luzhniki Stadium, where the Champions League Final will be held this year. Since then Russian football has undergone a renaissance, and most of the Moscow team seem to have picked up a reaonable amount of support. However, back then Spartak were the only team to have a really big fanbase and they made up so much of the 60,000 attendance (there were about 20000 empty seats) that it felt like we were the only people supporting Loko. However, our support obviously did the trick as Loko won the game 1-0.

I have also seen a few Cup finals in Ukraine the first was between CSKA and Shakhtar, which we were at with a couple of injured CSKA players and had shirts on. However our support and the support CSKA had borrowed from the army (including their surprisingly entertaining brass band) and Dynamo wasn't enough to stop Shakhtar winning the 2001 cup 2-1. To be honest this wasn't the first cup final in Ukraine I had been to, as earlier in the month we had witnessed the 2nd division cup final at CSKA Stadium between Pollisya and Titan. Pollisya ran out 4-0 winners with the backing of their obnoxious fans. At the end of the match I ran onto the pitch and patted the owner of Pollisya on the back as he hobbled off with the cup. Despite his appearance of a limping old uncle from the Caucuses in a particularly badly made suit, I later found out he was one of the mot dangerou men in Ukraine. Oh well, I lived to tell the story!

2002 and 2003 saw a couple of truly fantastic cup finals, both involving Shakhtar and Dynamo and both played out infront of packed crowds at Republikansky Stadium . In 2002 Shakhtar won 3-2 and in 2003 Dynamo won 2-1.

The last FA Cup final I saw was in Azerbaijan when Baki took on Inter Baku. I was there with Joe, who doesn't like football and the mad driver, Sasha who does. The match took place at Tofiq Bahramov Stadium, which is oddly named after the linesman who gave England that dodgy goal in the 1966 Cup final. The stadium is also odd in that it it slopes on one side from what look like a Northern Premier League Stand to an International sized stand on the other side. We were sat in the non-league stand with a couple of hundred other fans and 30000 mosquitoes. As you may expect of a country that names its national stadium after a linesman, Azerbaijan isn't that big on sporting heroes and the game wasn't great. Inter finally lost 2-1, much to Sasha's chagrin and the most memorable moment was when they had ex- Dynamo and now Tavriya forward Lucky Idaho sent off for fighting.

Needless to say I was looking forward to the Ukrainian Cup Final this season. It's usually held on Kyiv Day, which is the last Sunday in May. However, I had already heard that the final had been moved to Kharkiv this year, and I thought fair enough, I'll get a train down there. Nevertheless, my hopes have been dashed by the fact that for some reason it's being played mid-week (in an incomplete stadium with a ruined pitch ........hmmmmmmm.......), . So who knows, this year I might even go to a plastic paddy pub and watch the English version for the first time since Villa's traumatic loss.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Club Focus- Tavriya Simferopol

This week's visitors to Kyiv will be Tavriya who take on Dynamo on Saturday evening.

At the moment Tavriya are celebrating their 50th anniversary, although they were formed from the old club Lokomotiv. Their nickname translates as the Crimeans, which is pretty apt, as the autonomous republic only has 2 other professional teams, lower division Igro Servis and Krimteplytsa, who were formed only in 1999, and despite starting the season well in the 1st League, have now faded from being promotion contenders.

Tavriya hold the record of being the first club to win the Ukrainian League in 1992, and remain the only club to have won it other than Shakhtar and Dynamo. After this initial victory in the league they have faltered, though, usuallly finishing mid-table. Last season they finished 5th, which is just outside the positions needed to compete in Europe. This was their highest finish since 1993-4, when they also finished in 5th. They look set to repeat this feet this season, as they seem secure in 5th, but too far behind Dnipro and Metalist to catch them for 4th place.

In the past Tavriya were one of these teams who came to Kyiv in search of a 0-0 draw, rather than pushing forward and risking a hammering. In fact I remember a guest visiting a match between Dynamo v Tavriya that ended in a turgid 0-0 draw with no real chances created. He was very polite, but as a Spurs fan who was used to watching Napoli, I doubt he was impressed in the slightest.

Things have changed since then, and Tavriya seem to play with a much more positive attitude. This season I have seen them beat Arsenal 1-0, and lose to Dynamo 3-0. The latter of these games was in the 1/4 final of the cup, they had beaten Dynamo 2-0 in Simferopol, and after this many of the Dynamo players realised if they didn't get a result they would be given the boot, hence the more concentrated effort (although 5 of the Dynamo players in this game have since been shipped out).

They are capable of causing an upset though, they recently beat Shakhtar 3-2, and Dynamo can be shaken, although they were lucky that Shakhtar also slipped up this weekend they won't want to risk losing more points at home, so it might be Tavriya who come out on the attack.

Kosyryn's 2nd, Metalurh's 3rd

Here's Kosyryn's second. I wasn't far from where he runs to, unfortunately his celebration is cut short on this video

Milevskiy's Power Shot

Here's that goal from Saturday.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

April Goal Showers

Saturday started off as the perfect day for football, the sun was shining, there was a light breeze in the air and it seemed as if Spring had arrived in Kyiv. That was up until 2 minutes before kick off when it started to rain, which developed into a full scale storm by half time.

Luckily it was yet another excellent game with goals a plenty. The first goal came on 3 minutes for Metalurh from Fernandes, but that was soon cancelled out on 10 minutes when Bangoura scored yet another goal. Strangely, not long after he was substituted, as was the other forward Kravets. Bangoura gave his shirt to some kid in the crowd, which was a pretty good present.

There has been a debate on the Dynamo site recently about who should play up front for Dynamo, and it seems in this game Semin decided to try all his options out, as Bangoura and Kravets were replaced by the promising youngster Aliev and the once promising youngster, but usually pedestrian, Artem Milevskiy and later in the game Shatskih was also introduced.

However, it was Metalurh who again took the lead with a goal by ex- Chornomorets man and goal scorer of the year, Kosyryn. So at half time as the sky opened up it was Metalurh who led 2-1.

Dynamo started the second half the more lively and equalised with a goal from Aliev. In fact they also hit the post twice and could have taken the lead soon after, especially as Metalurh were soon down to 10 men when Tkachenko was sent off in the 50th minute for a professional foul straight after the centre had been taken after Aliev's goal. On 57 minutes they made the pressure and their advantage count, as Milevskiy put Dynamo 3-2 up with a canon ball shot that was remeniscent of the promise he had shown as a teenager.

Things didn't stay this way for long though, as Kosyryn went up the other end and scored his 2nd and Metalurh's 3rd. Surprisingly his goal celebration which consisted of giving the Dynamo fans the finger didn't earn him a caution.

For the last half hour Dynamo had several chances with Ghione coming close to scoring and Shatskih also having a good chance saved shortly after he was introduced on 80 minutes. Unfortunately for them, their keeper wasn't as dodgy as Shovkovskiy in the Dynamo net, so they quite literally weathered the storm, and even looked capable of grabbing a winner themselves on the counter attack.

In the end the game finished 3-3, so for the second week in a row a game between a Kyiv team and a Donetsk team served up 6 goals.
The photo shows an early shot by Dynamo from a corner, which just missed

Friday, April 4, 2008

Cruyff in the Bedroom

More music and football.

Cruyff in the Bedroom are a Japanese Shoegaze band, who many people believe were heavily influenced by My Bloody Valentine, but who in my opinion have a much wider dimension to their music. They were formed in Shimikitizowa in 1998, which was the same year that Japan held the World Cup jointly with Korea. I don't know why they chose this name for the band, but we can safely assume that it was influenced by the former Dutch player, Johan Cruyff. I think that they are probably football fans, as one of their early EPs, Shoegazer of Happy Valley, featured a picture of a football pitch on the cover. Their debut album was Perfect Silence, which was released in 2002(see link below). Since then they have continued to release more music and are responsible for the only feedback club nights in their home town and the Only Feedback record label.

Johan Cruyff is obviously one of the biggest names in World football, from 1964 - 1973 he spearheaded the Ajax team who won 6 League Championships, 4 Dutch Cups and 3 European Cups. He was then transfered to Barcelona, where he became a favourite with the fans and managed to win a Spanish Championship, despite the sanctions set against Barcelona by the Franco regieme. He was also named European player of the year in 1971, 1973 and 1974. He is a famous proponent of Total Football, which was perfected during his time at Ajax and later used by the Dutch national team and Barcelona.While playing for Holland in the 1978 World Cup he inspired a total football team to the final, unfortunately they lost to an Argentinian team, who were playing at home in the final, and who were too worried about what the ruling military juncta would do to them if they failed to win, to play real football He also had some success as manager of Barcelona after he returned from playing football in the USA, and he has been praised for his methods employed at the Barcelona Academy, where many top players including Cesc Fabregas and Lionel Messi have graduated from. In fact Messi has said that the methods that were introduced by Cruyff are part of the reason behind his success. Johan Cruyff is currently working for Ajax as Director of Football or something else with a daft name. It is not clear what his actual official role at the club is, but it seems that he's at least partly running the coaching side in a bid to restore some of the glory back to the club after a few years in the doledrums.

Jordi Cruyff is Johan's son and recently wound up his career here in Ukraine at Metalurh Donetsk. He was born in 1974 and was named after the patron saint of Catalunya, at the time his name was illegal in Spain due to Franco's oppression of the Catalan Language. However, as he was born in Amsterdam there wasn't much the authorities could do about it. Needless to say the choice of name made his dad even more popular with the fans. Jordi spent his early years in Barcelona, but started his football at the Ajax Academy at the age of 8 after his family had returned to the Netherlands. He returned to Barcelona in 1988 when his old man became coach, and he graduated from the famous Academy there. He was bought by Manchester United in 1996 for 1.4 million quid. He started well scoring in his second and third games for the club, but won't go down as one of Ferguson's better buys and was finally sold to Deportivo Alaves in 2000 after making a limited number of appearences and spending time on loan at Celta Vigo. It can safely be said that he was haunted by his father's reputation, and when playing for Holland particularly, he appeared with the name Jordi on his shirt rather than Cruyff. Jordi's greatest moment probably came in 2003 when his relatively minor club, Alaves reached the final of the UEFA Cup. It was one of the greatest games played, however they finally lost 5-4 to Liverpool in extra time, unfortunately due to an own goal. The following year Jordi signed for Barcelona's city rivals Espanyol, before going into semi-retirement, training and occassionally playing for Barcelona's B side. The lure of the Hrivna brought him to Ukraine for the 2006-2007 season. He has recently retired and is now running his own fashion company.

The Cruyff in the Bedroom album Perfect Silence can be downloaded at:

If you like their stuff there's plenty more at:

How Football Came to Ukraine

I was walking in the park above Dynamo stadium a week ago, and looking at the seats with 1927 written on them, and I was thinking that that isn't that old. It then occured to me that I couldn't remember how football had started in Ukraine.

It isn't that long a story as it happens, although there are stories of impromptu kick-abouts in various places, especially in Odessa, where British sailors would turn up with a football the first official match on Ukrainian territory wasn't until 1894. It took place in Lviv, which at the time was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The game was organised as part of an exhibition by Sokil Sports Club and featured a team from Lviv and one from Krakow. It was decided that the game would be played until the first goal was scored, so it only lasted 6 minutes, with the team from Lviv winning. It was obviously a good springboard, as after that teams from Lviv won titles in the Polish and the Hungarian Leagues.

Surprisingly Lviv's most famous club, Karpaty weren't formed until 1963, as a club to compete with the Communist Party's local team SCA. They gained a large support quickly, mainly because SCA were so hated by locals and that they only recruited local players. They quickly became a symbol of Ukrainian Nationalism, and remain so today.

Of the other team competing in the Vische Liha this season Zakarpattiya are the oldest having been established in 1901, although it looks unlikely that they will be competing at this level for much longer. Most of the other clubs have their roots in Communist Party Departments or trade unions. For example, Dnipro were formed as Petrovets in 1925 and represented the Petrovsky factory and Tavriya were formerly the railway union team competing under the name Lokomotiv. Two exceptions to the rule are Arsenal Kyiv and FK Kharkiv. Arsenal obviously have their roots in CSKA (as I wrote before), but weren't a club until 2001, however a club called Arsenal Kyiv competed in the 1950's, representing the local munitions factory. FK Kharkiv, who like Zakarpattiya seem doomed for the drop weren't a club until 2005, although they too have their roots in a club called Arsenal, who they did the dirty on much in the same way that Arsenal did to CSKA

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Club Focus -Metalurh Donetsk

..... or Metallurg Donetsk in Russian ( see what I mean about the spelling nightmares?) The very name summons up images of those great Soviet teams that were formed for working men, like Lokomotiv and Torpedo Moscow, Shakhtar Donetsk and Metalist Kharkiv. So it will come as a surprise that the club has no such history.

The club has its roots in Antrasyt Kirovske, who after the formation of the Ukrainian League started off in the 3rd division. In 1993 they finished 3rd and were promoted to the second division. They moved to Shahtarsk and became Medita Shahtarsk. 2 years later they became Metalurh and the rest is recent history.

They survive on pretty low crowds, as Shakhtar are their neighbours and they haven't really been able to get any of the casual support in the town, unlike Arsenal in Kyiv and like FK Kharkiv. In fact, so much so that a few years ago the club actually paid people to go to away games and support the team, which didn't make them many friends, particularly at Arsenal ( despite Arsenal's new owner seemingly being also a bit partial to the odd freebie, although he hasn't offered anyone free tickets to Simferopil away yet).

Despite the low crowds they are obviously not short of a bob or two, as they have recently signed Marcinho from Palmeiras and for some reason Jordi Cruyff has also ended up there.

During the early part of the decade they even looked capable of breaking the Dynamo and Shaktar dominance of the Vische Liha and finished 3rd in 2002, 2003 and 2005 (they finished fourth in 2004 and were fifth in 2001). Since then they seem to have settled for mid-table obscurity, despite the big name signings using the club like a revolving door.

On Saturday they will take on Dynamo, which at the moment looks like a tough task for them.

Spelling Problems

I have just noticed that I have been spelling Shakhtar as both Shakhtar and Shakhter. The reason is the first variant is the transcription from Ukrainian, which is used in most official documents and on websites, where as Shakhter is the transcription from Russian, as used by Komanda and the club's fans.

Changing the writing from cyrillic to latin letters is always a headache, and I don't even know the real spelling of some of the foreign players in the Vische Liha, due to only ever seeing their names written in cyrillic. The Ukrainian dimension also leads to further headaches, as when they write names using the latin alphabet there seems to be about 20 more 'y's than you would expect. Is it Kyiv or Kiev and Krivoy Rog or Kryvyy Rih? I think I need to make a decision here somewhere along the line. I'll probably write Shakhtar as Shakhtar from now on, but leave the tag as Shakhter and try to keep to the Ukrainian variant with other names.

Mind you I'm not alone, if you go to Mayadan Nezolezhnesti, you can see scarves for sale from such top clubs as Lion (Lyon), Poma (Roma), and Sporting Lysbon. I wonder if Hibernian are also aware that they are the pride of Edinburg. I'm just glad I'm not the only one who is getting a headache from all this!
The top image shows the new official crest of Shakhtar with the Ukrainian variant of the name. The second image shows the old version, which is still on most merchandise for sale and has the Russian variant of the club name