Thursday, May 22, 2008

Club Focus - PFK Sevastapol

Sevastapol is a complicated city and so is its football history. For most of the period when the Soviet Union was in existence it was a closed city, due to the fact that it was the country's ship building and naval base. It became Ukrainian when The Crimea was given to Ukraine by Krushcev, but it has always seen itself as a Russian city. This is true of most of the Crimea, but even more so of Sevastapol, perhaps because it is also geographically the closest city in the region to Russia. It has led to political problems up to the present day, infact only last week Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow became persona non gratis in Ukraine for suggesting that the city was Russian. Well, their team plays in the Ukrainian League, so they must be Ukrainian in my opinion. However, the history of football in the city mirrors the complicated nature of the region itself.

According to the official website the history of football in Sevastapol began in 1912 when the Russian Football Union was formed. I don't quite know how this directly links to Sevastapol, as the first football team to be based in the city was Yuzhni Metalist who were formed in 1923 by the Suderremontov Ship Building Company. This team was well regarded in the Soviet Union and they often took place in International Tournaments and players from this club formed the backbone of the Crimean National team.

In 1936 a new club superceeded them. Sudostroytel were formed by Sergey Orzhonkidze's Ship Building Factory. However, World War 2 soon put an end to them making progress. In 1949 normal service was resumed and they took part in the Second division of the Soviet League.

As I already mentioned football in the city is complicated and Sudostroytel eventually disappeared to be replaced by the Navy's team SKChF in 1954 and yet another team, Chaika in 1966-67.

From 1971 Sevastapol took part in the 2nd Division of the Soviet League with highlights being 6th place finishes in 1981 and 1982.

In 1992 Sevastapol joined the Ukrainian first division, but it proved too hard for them and they quickly slipped into the 2nd division and then vanished from existence. A new team emerged in 1996, known as Chernomorets and they also played in Ukraine's basement division, however they too disappeared in 1999. From 2000-2001 a new club represented the city under the name of Chaika VMS, however they soon went bankrupt and Sevastapol was again looking for a team.

Finally in 2002 the current club emerged and despite an ominous opening match in which they lost 6-0 to Chernomorets Odessa they are now playing in the first division and seem to be safe in the lower half of the table. They also seem to have the financial security that their forefathers didn't with a new stadium and a sponsorship deal with Privat Bank (who also sponsor Dynamo). The future might not be really bright, but at least it appears to be secureYH

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