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

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