Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Club Focus - Metalist kharkiv

Metalist are one of my favourite clubs in ukraine. they are a proper club with proper fans. I first came across them when they played CSKA in Kyiv in June 2001 and lost 1-0. The thing about the game that stuck in my mind though was the number of fans Metalist brought to Kyiv and at the time merchandisng in ukraine virtually didn't exist, however all of the Metalist fans had yellow shirts with Metalist on the front and Narodna Komanda ( The People's Team on the back.

My next encounter was 11 months later when I had to go to Kharkiv for work and decided to contact the fans on their forum. This was how I met Vasya and Han and how this website was eventually born. The game was fairly poor, a 0-0 draw with Kryvbas, but I couldn't forget the passion and the hospitality of the fans there and I was really glad to return last March for the game against Vorskla.

Dynamo will take on Metalist this weekend and finally I have an excuse to write a club focus on them.

The club that is now known as Metalist and who are seen as the embryonic Metalist team were formed in 1925 when the local railway factory allowed goalkeeper Alexander Babkin, Andrey Ponomarenko and brothers Petr and Pavel Semenov to form a club, which bore the name Kharkov Parovozostrotelnovo Zavoda. Good job they changed their name to Metalist, I'd hate to see how long their scarves would be if they had to have that name on them.

In 1936 Metalist (KhPZ) became the Kharkiv City Champions which allowed them to take part in the Soviet Cup for the first time.

In 1947, after the war, Metalist won promotion to the Soviet League Division 2B, before being relegated again in 1950.

In 1956 they returned to the Soviet League 2B and in 1960 they were promoted to the Soviet League Division 2 where they stayed until 1978 when they got promoted. They didn't hang around for long in the 1st division though, as they nearly won promotion to the top league the following year and then in 1980 won the first division championship. They remained in the top flight of the Soviet League until the break up of the USSR.

Metalist's only major piece of silverware to date is the Soviet Cup, which they won in 1988 by beating Torpedo Moscow 2-0.

Since 1992 Metalist have played in the Ukrainian League. For the most part they have been a top half club, but spent 1995-1998 and 2004-2005 in the first division. The nearest they have come to winning a trophy was in the inaugral year of the league when they lost 2-0 to Chornomorets in the Cup Final.

Last season Metalist finished 3rd for the second season in a row. Their President Oleksandr Yaroslavskiy coming good on his promise to deliver European football to the club every season. As well as building a good team Metalist are in the process of building an impressive stadium for Euro 2012.

Metalist will appear in the UEFA Cup this season. Last season they lost in an epic game against Everton. Their only previous appearance in Europe was in the Cup Winners Cup in 1988-89 where they beat Yugoslavian team Borac Canja Luk before losing to Roda JC of Holland. They should also have appeared in the UEFA Cup in 2002, but metalurg Zapporizhya did some pretty cunning things to get themselves in the competition at Metalist's expense.

Apart from being known as Kh.P.Z they also played under the name of Avangard from 1956-67.

Let's hope the future is bright for Metalist and that they can become the club that finally breaks the dominance of Shakhtar and Dynamo.

The top picture shows the badge of Metalist.
Middle: The First Metalist team - KhPZ in 1925
Bottom: Avangard 1961

Shakhtar and The Curse of The West

Shakhtar are really not popular in the West of Ukraine, mainly for political reasons, so they were probably glad to get their 2 games in Lviv out of the way. However, after losing to FK Lviv on the first day of the season and drawing with Karpaty at the weekend they have not had the best start to the season. Already, they have dropped valuable points in what looks like being an exciting season

Environmentally Friendly Team

Are Knyazha the most environmentally friendly team in ukraine or is Jim bowen their manager and only gives them their BFH (Bus Fair Home) when they lose?

Either way you don't often see professional footballers travelleing home by public transport.

The 3 lads in this picture all play for Knyazha, unfortunately I missed their game against Obolon, which they lost 2-1 on sunday, but spotted them travelling home from the game on the underground.

Knyazha have lost their first 2 games since getting promoted, but at the same time they have had a relatively tough start playing away to yo-yo club Zakaparpattya, who just came down from the premier and a local derby against the perennially 3rd placed Obolon

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Arsenal V Kryvbas Highlights

Blogger wouldn't allow me to put the video on here, but the highlights can be seen here:

Score Draw

Yesterday Arsenal played Kryvbas and as usual it was a draw, although this time there were a few goals at least.

Arsenal had most of the play in both halves of the match, but looked a little lightweight up front. vovo Lisi aka Volodymyr Lysenko scored in the 4oth minute to put Arsenal ahead and we were ecstatic, as we were so shocked that a goal had been scored in this fixture. That shocked that Ewig made me take a picture of the scoreboard to prove it wasn't an optical illusion. The lead was short lived though, as Arsenal scored just before half-time and then just as the second half started Kryvbas equalised through a goal that took a wicked deflection and looped over Reva's head into the goal.

Arsenal really should have won this game, as the midfield totally outplayed Kryvbas and they managed to hit the inside of the post and the crossbar. However, on several ocassions they were guilty of trying to walk the ball into the net and midfield breakaways ended in nothing as there was nobody in the centre to finish it off. It looks like Vovo Lisi will be the main striker this season, but I can't see him getting 20 goals. Now that Evgen Seleznev has gone back to Shakhtar and Jose is out injured it is imperative that they find someone who can take more of their chances.

Mandzyuk had a really good match, but man of the match for me was Zakarlyuka. The ex-CSKA legend who rolled back the years in midfield. He was joined by another CSKA legend on the pitch when Kryvbas made a late substitution to bring Kostyshin on. It was good to see these 2 great players on the pitch and that they were still friends after all these years.
Top: Action from the second half
Middle: Arsenal celebrate scoring
Bottom: Proof that a goal was scored in this fixture, unfortunately it was later cancelled out

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Club Focus - Drogheda United

Champions League - You're having a laugh!

The team that will play Dynamo Kyiv in the second qualifying round of the Champions League this season are Ireland's Drogheda United. Qualifying games tend to lack the pomp and glamour of the group stages, but I'v enjoyed previous qualifying games when Neftchi Baku played Shiroki Bereg of Bosnia and Dynamo took on Trabzonspor. This time it's the turn of Trabzonspor's sister club Drogheda.

Drogheda got through a difficult first round qualifying game against Levadia, who at this moment are leading the Estonian League. It is only their second trip to Europe, last year they qualified for the UEFA Cup and beat HJK Helsinki 4-2 on aggregate in the first qualifying round before going out to FC Start of Norway on penalties in the second.

Drogheda United were formed in 1919 and were always a non-league club. In 1962 another club from Drogheda, Drogheda FC were elected to the League of Ireland and in 1975 both clubs were joined together to form the present day Drogheda United. Their first ever trophy of note came in 1983/84 when they won the League Cup, it was also the season of their highest ever finish in the League. They came 2nd albeit 16 points below champions Athlone Town. Their victory was also short lived as the following season a second tier was introduced to the League of Ireland and Drogheda United were relegated.

Since then Drogheda United have always been seen as a bit of a yo-yo club, but in recent years they have achieved a fairly decent level of success in 2005 they won the FAI Cup, which led to their qualification for the UEFA Cup. They then went on to win back to back Setanta Cups in 2006 and 2007 and obviously qualify for the Champions League.

One of the most interesting things about the club is their badge and links with Turkey. The badge comes from when in 1845 the Ottoman Sultan Abdulmeild decided to send 10,000 pounds to help the Irish during the famine. Queen Victoria (boo) told him only to send 1,000, however. He agreed to do this, but also sent 3 ships full of food. The British tried to block these ships, but they got through and the food arrived in Drogheda harbour.

See, you can learn other stuff from football!

Bannikov Or Not?

I was surprised to see that Arsenal's game against Kryvbas on Saturday may be played at Bannikov. This seems strange, as Obolon were told it was too small for the Vishe Liha nevermind the new Premier League. I'm pretty sure that the game will be moved to Dynamo, but the fact that they are even considering it seems to suggest that relations between Arsenal and Dynamo have deteriorated and that the Premier League might be full of the double standards that have plagued Ukrainian football. After all the Premier League was the brain child of the Presidents of Arsenal and FK Kharkiv with Shakhtar and Dynamo allegedly joining in because they were sick of fines from the PFL.

Either way it looks like I won't be able to go to the game, as I have a lot of work commitments this weekend, so I am hoping that the game won't be at Bannikov, as one of my last unfulfilled ambitions regarding watching Ukrainian football is to see a game at this stadium, well a meaningful one at least.

Hopefully I'll make the Knyazha v Obolon game at Boryspil on Sunday, but even that looks doubtful at the moment

The New Arsenal Shirt

I have always disliked lotto shirts. For some reason they look like the cheap copies you buy in Turkey or used to be on sale at Respublikansky market. Arsenal are supposed to wear red and blue, but over the years have worn plain red, white or blue kits. The new shirts look a bit weird to me. They might have looked good on the beach at Odessa last week, but I doubt they'll be a big seller. 10/10 for originality, at least it doesn't have the usual solar stripes a la the national team, but it still has thos annoying red patches on the sleeves that all Lotto shirts have. Maybe I'll like it when I get used to it, but some how I doubt it.

In the picture Vitaliy Mandzyuk wears the kit in last week's victory at Chernomorets

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Other News

Sunday was my birthday, but I didn't manage to get to Obolon v Prikarpattya, as the game for some reason was postponed until September 4th.

The biggest shock of the opening week of the season was premier league new boys FK Lviv beating Shakhtar 2-0.

Of the local clubs Arsenal managed a very respectable away win at Chernomorets Odessa, CSKA drew at home with Desna 2 (how depressing is that) and Knyazha who went up to the first division lost 2-0 to Zakarpattya who went to the first from the opposite direction.

Potato Head Uses His Head

Milevskiy makes it 2-0

Quickest Goal in League History

Taras Mykhalyk (as the official website spells it) puts Dynamo 1 up in the second minute. When it was announced that it was the quickest goal in league history. I presume they were having a laugh, as this was the first match of the new Ukrainian Premier League

New Season, New League, Same Old Story

At the weekend the all new Ukrainian Premier League kicked off and I went to see Dynamo take on Illychivets, and despite shouty bloke on the tannoy getting all excited about it and the game kicking off with the national anthem being played (Dynamo actually started with 6 Ukrainians on the pitch) it was really hard to notice the difference. The crowd was low, celebrity loser Paramon was annoying the police dogs and the majority of the fans were more interested in semechki than football. In fact the only real difference was that the dugouts had been kitted out with comfy chairs like the ones Real Madrid have.

As for the football, that was also as predicted. Mikhailyk put Dynamo ahead in the second minute and then Dynamo continued with a bombardment of the Illychivets goal without actually looking like reall putting the boot in. Bangoura was back in action and he had a lot of chances, but shots that would have been flying in in the first half of last season seemed to be attracted to the goalkeepers gloves on Saturday. Aliev was just infuriating in that he was again shooting from anywhere, even if there was a forward in the box in a better position.

Dynamo didn't extend their lead until Ghioane came on and put in a lovely cross for Milevskiy to extend the lead to 2-0. I thought Ghioane had been one of the better players last season, so I was shocked when he didn't start, especially as when he came on it paid off almost straight away. However, a couple of minutes later he did one Ronaldoesque step over too many and lost posession.

All in all, this was a fairly typical display by Dynamo and although illychivets didn't have many chances I think their defence will be solid enough for them to stay up this season, although I doubt they will finish in the top half. Dynamo still need to convince more if they are serious about winning the league this year.
Notes on photos:
1. Dynamo come out to the National Anthem
2. The bombardment commences
3. Dynamo put the ball in the goal, but it is disallowed for a foul in the box

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mix-Tape 2 (Off-Topic)

It's been a long time since I did one of these. The last one was a couple of months ago, whereas that one was full of happy go lucky songs this one is a bit more melancholy and in places angry anyway here's the track list.

1. Help She Can't Swim - Fermez La Bouche

This comes from the band's debut album from 2004. Unfortunately they split up recently, if you like BYOP you're bound to like them.

2. The Seahorses - Happiness Is Egg Shaped

John Squire's post Stone Roses band from the Brit Pop era hammering out some melodic guitar music

3. Mogwai - Portfolio

Taken from the Scottish Post-Rockers 1997 album Young Team which was recently re-released in the US

4. The Manhattan Love Suicides- Kick it Back

A band heavily influenced by C86 who still sound up to date

5. The Shortwave Set - The Downer Song

Taken from the indie popsters recent album

6. Spiritualized - Don't Hold Me Close

Taken from the ex- Spacemen 3's recent album Songs in A&E

7. Teenage Filmstars - I Helped Patrick McGoohan Escape

Music from the mod reveival scene of the late 70's

8. Catherine Wheel - Show Me Mary

They were lumped in with the other British shoegaze bands of the early 90's, but in my opinion this doesn't really do their music justice

9. Hartfield - 16 Lover's Ruin

Japanese shoegaze, you can't beat it!

10. Glasvegas - I'm Gonna Get Stabbed

I found out about his band by mistake when I was trying to download some Brazilian music, apparently they've been quite hyped, but I think they're worth it.

Here's the link:

Friday, July 18, 2008

Celebrate Anything

I have been continuing my somewhat pointless interest in new shirts for this season and there seems to be another development in that clubs seem intent on celebrating anything.

A couple of years ago there was the new trend of putting stars on shirts for any minor victory. This was obviously copied from Italy where it actually makes sense. Milan and Inter have a star for 10 Scudetti and Juventus for 2 for 20, but I have no idea why some other clubs have added stars, so it might come as no surprise that clubs are celebrating anything.

This season Nike have made a copy of the 1989 Arsenal away shirt that was made by Adidas and even featured a shirt with Rocastle on the back at the launch. OK, it was a great victory 20 years ago at Anfield, but haven't Arsenal won a few things since? Nottingham Forest have also brought out a shirt celebrating 30 years since they won the European Cup back to back. This is perhaps a bit more understandable, as it is doubtful they will win the Champions League at any time in the future. Portsmouth on the other hand are celebrating 110 years. I thought that most clubs celebrated their centenaries.

Foreign Ref - wolfgang stark

Another strange thing about the Super Cup was that they chose to use a foreign referee for the match. I don't know why this was, but one of the aims of the new Premier League was to stop biased refereeing, so this may account for it.

However, there are a lot of ironies at play here:

1. Shakhtar and Dynamo seem to profit the most from biased refereeing in general.

2. They chose quite a controversial referee in the German, Wolfgang Stark, for this match.

To be fair the ref had a pretty decent game and didn't give any daft fouls or cards and allowed the game to flow despite a lot of diving in the box by both teams. May be he has calmed down a bit, as in 2004 he gave 3 red cards in a Champions League match between Celtic and Barcelona. Most controversial of all was when he officiated a game in the Under 20 World cup between Chile and Argentina in 2007. In this game he booked 7 of the Chile players and sent another 2 of them off. After the game the Chilean players had to be restrained and held by the Toronto police.

At least he had a good game when he came over here.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I was watching the Super Cup on TV the other night ( Shakhtar incidentally won on penalties) and I noticed that Evgen Selznev was playing fior Shakhtar and I also think I noticed Yarmash in the Dynamo squad. Despite them both being young Ukrainian stars who will probably go on to do well for the national team, both of them spent most of last season on loan. Seleznev was on loan to Arsenal and Yarmash to Vorskla.

The thing that struck me was that where as in England Scott Carson ,when at Aston Villa wasn't allowed to play against Liverpool and similarly when Jermaine Defoe was on loan to Portsmouth he wasn't allowed to play against Spurs. However both Seleznev and Yarmash were permitted to play (and scored) against the clubs that owned them. Seleznev put in a spirited performance against Shakhtar, although Arsenal ultimately lost 4-2 and Yarmash almost ruined Dynamo's title hopes by putting Vorskla ahead in spectacular fashion near the end of the season. Dynamo ultimately won 2-1 with a last minute goal, but what if ?......

It seems strange that there are different rules for different countries, and with the Bosman and Kolpak rulings you'd think there would be some kind of ruling or are Akhmetov and Surkis more reasonable than their English counterparts in this issue?!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Club Focus - Prikarppattya Ivano Frankivsk

Sunday is my birthday and Obolon will take on Prikarpattya in a re-match of last season's double-header when Obolon won 2-0.

Prikarpattya at the moment are really Fakel Ivano Frankivsk, but it has been decreed that only the best team in the town will have the title Prikarpattya. Fakel took on this mantle when it was bestowed upon them by the mayor nearly exactly a year ago on 17th July 2007.

Last season they finished just above the drop zone in 17th place, so obviously the competition for the title of being called Prikarpattya isn't that high.

The club who were previously known as Prikarpattya were Spartak Ivano Frankivsk, who went into liquidation after losing their sponsors Lukoil (who have also poured loads of money into Spartak Moscow over the years).

Whoever seems to take on the mantle of Prykarpattya seems to also gain a pretty big fan base and they should bring quite a few fans with them, despite the 13 hour train journey.


I don't know why, but I've been paying quite a bit of attention to the new shirts coming out for clubs in the upcoming season. It might be because there is nothing else for a football fan to do at the moment other than look at transfer rumours, and to be honest I am sick and tired of hearing about Ronaldo and Barry and which world Class star Man City are going to sign this week (having said that they probably will get Ronaldinho now).

So it is nice to see some clubs dumping the sponsorship on their shirts from some on-line gambling site or major brewery in order to promote a bit of charity. Obviously Barcelona, who have always been aginst sponsorship on their shirts started the ball rolling a couple of years back with their association with Unicef. Then last season Ajax joined with Dance 4 Life. This season has seen Aston Villa join up with the kids' charity Acorns and Brondby also do a deal with unicef. Sheffield United will be wearing and selling shirts for and with the slogan of the Chinese Earthquake Appeal on them, but as far as I know they will only be wearing them in their pre-season tour of China.
Note on images:
1. Aston villa's shirt in connection with Acorns for the 2008-2009 season
2. Barcelona's partnership with unicef, the partnership that set the ball rolling for teams working with charities
3. Brondby's Unicef shirt for 2008-2009

Saturday, July 12, 2008

One week to go!

Well that must go down as the shortest break in football ever, but the new super Premier League kicks off next week, with unless a miracle happens me going to watch Dynamo v Illychivets and hopefully the chance of a birthday match with Obolon on Sunday, although the games might clash. Also early on in the season Knyazha take on Obolon in Boryspil, so it should be a fairly interesting start to the season.

The curtain raiser for the season takes part with the Super Cup being played between shakhtar and Dynamo (who else?) in Poltava on wednesday.

Platini was in town this week and it spurred a bit more deassembling work to the shopping centre outside Respublikansky and a few more seats were taken out of the stadium. So I suppose Arsenal will be back to playing at Dynamo fairly soon. whether the work will continue now the fat French one has gone remains to be seen. At least the Polish have come out and said that they will continue to work with Ukraine in an official statement, despite growing rumours that they wanted the tournament all to themselves or to share it with Germany instead.

Anyway, it will be good to be back after a massive 3 weeks without football!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Those Pesky Insurance Men Are Really At It!

Joining Illychivets in the Super new Premier League are FK Lviv and as I wrote in the article below they have exactly the same kits as Knyazha (or Kniazha as it is usually written in English letters, but just doesn't look right to me). It would appear that the similarities don't end there.

Both clubs are owned by Kniazha Vienna Insurance group and the rise of both clubs share some startling resemblances. Both clubs were formed roughly 3 years ago with Knyazha ultimately taking the place of Borisfen as a Kyiv oblast team. They are still called Knyazha Shaslive, but now play at Borisfen's old stadium. FK Lviv, on the other hand took the place of Lviv Oblast team FK Hazovyk - Skala Stryi. There was a club previously called FK Lviv, but they went bankrupt in 2002 and are not related.

Knyazha were probably earmarked to play at a new stadium in Shaslive, which has now been given to local kids before the stadium in Boryspil had become available. Lviv, play in a specially made stadium, Kniazha Arena in Dobromyl.

Both teams have had extremly successful seasons with Lviv getting promotion to the Premier, against the odds, and Knyazha winning division 2a at a canter.

The stadium that Lviv play in looks a little small on TV, so they may be forced into a groundshare with Karpaty, which is bound to lead to trouble.

I just wonder what the story behind Vienna Insurance is and why they seem to want to build 2 dominant forces in Ukrainian football. I mean it isn't like Austrian football is any big player on the International scene. I just hope that they will stick with it and not be a flash in the pan

Football Culture - Ukrainian shirts

Now don't get me wrong, but I'm against the callous marketing of football shirts that goes on, such as Man United bringing out a new shirt for Christmas (as they have in the past) or Borussia Dortmund's ridiculous number of shirts that they brought out last season, but Ukraine perhaps represents the other extreme.

The new Premier League is supposedly being started up in order for the clubs to make more of marketing opportunities, well that is one of the aims. In the past the only place to buy a Dynamo shirt was a fake one off Petrivka market, for example. Some of the clubs were even kitting out their players in fake shirts. I know for a fact that when Obolon were in the premier their Nike shirts were actually fakes too. At the same time about 6 or 7 years ago nearly every club had a bog standard adidas kit, so any derivation was interesting.

If we fast forward to 2008 it still seems that most of the clubs are lingering in their chances to catch up on the marketing front. Dynamo shirts are now available from the Adidas shop on Kreschatik, but the club shop still resembles that of a Northern Premier Club and amongst the Dynamo stuff you can still get Man United and Real Madrid stuff, if you so require.

Another problem has been the lack of variety in kits, Dynamo and Shakhtar for years have had variations on the theme of the old Adidas kits and most of the other clubs, even in the Vishe Liha (oops ,Premier League) have the sort of kits that sunday league teams play in without the badge. These shirts invariably are of an old Adidas template (Metalist, Karpaty), the same Lotto shirt, as the national team wear in a variety of colours (Arsenal, Knyazha - and disappointingly FK Lviv, who despite their claret and blue badge wear the same white and blue lotto shirt as Knyazha) with the occassional Puma shirt for good measure. One club who have bucked the trend recently are Dnipro who have had pretty flashy Umbro and Nike shirts, but do you think that they are available in their club shop? Think again!

Therefore, I was a little bit surprised to see on http://www.footballshirtculture.com/ that Shaktar had switched to a very flash Nike shirt (pictured) and even more surprised that they were selling it on their own website. Is this the brave new world of the new Premier League? Let's just hope that they don't start wanting Premier League prices to watch the clubs!

Club Focus - Illychivets Mariupol

I was thinking of going to see Chernomorets take on Arsenal in Odessa for the first game of the season, but it looks more realistic that I'll be watching Dynamo take on the newly promoted Illychivets.

After a solitary season in the first division Illychivets are back in the top division. The previous 10 seasons up until last season they had competed in the Vische Liha and were known as Metalurh Mariupol until the winter break of 2002-2003, although before debuting in the Vische Liha they went under the guise of Azovets Mariupol.

The first time that I saw them play was in October 2000, when they lost 2-0 to Dynamo, I suspect the result will be similar this time.

Up until getting relegated in 2007 they were a steady mid-table team, although they also had some fairly good cup runs and also managed to finish in 4th twice and 5th twice, and also enjoyed a brief run in the UEFA Cup in 2005.

Strangely the season before relegation, in 2005- 2006 was probably their most successful, as they finished 4th and reached the semis of the cup.

They have also had a few heroes on their books in their time including ex -CSKA favourite Serhiy Kostyschin and Konstantyn Babych, who might still be there.