Welcome dear reader, to the second part of our little story about 3 of the old Gandermonium crew finding themselves adrift in a footballing wilderness (not really) before stumbling upon a Ukranian Premier League game to slake their thirst for a match. ANY match.
In the first part, the lads discovered that the ladies of Kyiv are quite nice to look at, made themselves look like tourist dicks with an unnecessary cab journey, Taz was accosted by a local queue jumper and Miller made a ridiculous score prediction before being ordered to get the beers in.
So, are you ready for the next thrilling installment? Are you sure? Then you may proceed…
Beers secured, we head though the large entrance tunnel under the stand into the stadium itself and find ourselves by the corner flag at one end of the main stand. To our right at one end is a large scoreboard and immediately above us is what we assume to be the away support. A huge, long Ukranian style flag with ‘Simferopol’ written on it hangs in front of them. Which is a clue. Yeah, that’s probably the away support.
|From L to R: Taz, Lobanovsky, Chalmers, Miller….|
It’s Chalmers who asks the million dollar question. “Actually, where the hell is Simferopol?”. At this, we both turn to Miller. “Can I help you?”
“Well, you’re the one with the Geography degree mate”
With a bit of brainstorming though we come to the conclusion that we’re fairly certain it’s somewhere in the Crimea region in Southern Ukraine. Which is a fair old way away. We’ve soon quantified ‘fair old’ with an estimate of a good 1000 mile round trip, at least. Jesus wept. That is an away day and a half.
Although having said all that, we all know that deep down if you gave us that trip with Sutton we’d be right in there. And love it. Because we’re idiots. “Christ, that must be like a day by train” wonders Chalmers. “I bet they get off in Simferopol and go straight into work on Monday morning….”
We stroll down the length of the main stand and take in the rest of the ground. It’s a pretty ordinary and completely uncovered oval, all seated. Just the sort of stereotypical spartan concrete Eastern European bowl you’d see in grainy televised games of the early rounds in European competitions when you were a kid. The only real colour is provided by the pale blue seats, with the letters ‘DNHAMO’ picked out in white on the opposite side. Well, that’s what it looks like in the cyrillic text anyway.
Still, I quite like it. The fact it’s in the mid-20’s and a nice sunny day no doubt helps. I doubt it would be quite as nice in the middle of November however.
With the visitors emerging from the tunnel in the corner, we enter the stand and find ourselves a seat a few rows back. Once parked with our refreshments, we kick back and start checking out the sort of people you get watching Dynamo, as the away team clad all in blue start their warm ups and await the arrival of the local favourites.
|Is that all you take away?|
Around us, people start taking their seats. In the row in front, an old guy and a young boy shuffle along and decide on a spot a few places along to our left. Before sitting, the old man unfolds 2 pages of newspaper and places one on two of the plastic seats. Once settled, he produces a large bag of sunflower seeds and the two of them dive in and start nibbling away like squirrels, discarding the shells at their feet.
We’re also surprised by the amount of women at the game with their other halves. Not that we’re complaining, as they’re of the same amazing standard as we’d seen in town a short while before. In fact, there’s so many that for a moment we think we’ve stumbled into some sort of fashion event.
“I’m so moving here and I’m so getting a season ticket” mumbles Gareth under his breath as yet another stunningly attractive lady sashays past with the sort of bloke on her arm that makes you think you’d stand a chance of turning her head.
Sadly, our pervy rubbernecking is soon ended as the crowd noise goes up a notch as the Dynamo team trots out in their all white strip, accompanied by some bad euro disco track booming out of the PA, which seems to be the club song judging by the “Dinamo, woah oh!” lyrics. Just the sort of simple rubbish simple fans go for these days. Naturally, within moments Miller is tapping his foot in time and singing along.
The ground is about a third full by this point. The stand is pretty well populated, but the rest is pretty sparse barring a large group in the far corner opposite where we came in which I assume is the section where our mate Valeriy is hanging out with his Ultra mates. The opposite touchline is fairly empty and the next real group are behind the goal to our left. These look like the Ultra’s second string judging by their collection of banners and flags.
Finally, we turn our attentions to the action on the pitch.
Not speaking Russian or Ukranian and with the lack of a matchday programme, we don’t have actually have clue who’s playing for either side. So some of this next bit was shamelessly researched later once I’d had chance to check the line ups online!
|Bet this is lovely in mid-November….|
And to be honest, there’s not really much to add. Having checked the teams later, the only one on either line up I vaguely recognise is Dynamo’s skipper, Artem Milevsky. And even then I couldn’t tell you anything about the fella other than I know he’s half decent. So, er, yeah. There’s your Alan Shearer-esque bit of player info. Eg. Fuck all.
The game starts slowly with Kyiv stroking the ball around neatly and precisely as I remember from that night at Wembley, whilst Tavriya seem to be playing 5 across the middle to restrict this as much as possible. Not much happens until around 10 minutes in when the Dynamo ‘keeper launches a kick downfield. It’s flicked on just inside the Simferepol half, runs through to the Kyiv number 10 (Milevsky) and his touch sends the number 20 (Gusev) in between the two centre backs and he clips the ball over the oncoming ‘keeper high into the net to kick off the scoring in probably the most un-Dynamo manner possible.
“Good old bit of route one there!” chuckles Chalmers as we join the locals by getting to our feet & politely applauding the opener.
With the deadlock broken relatively early, both sides now step up the tempo from the early exchanges and we start to see a bit more life, especially from the home side who start to display more of their trademark crip passing game. Tavriya do more chasing than playing admittedly, but they certainly start showing a bit more with their pacy African lad up front looking most likely to cause trouble.
Unfortunately for them though, barely 10 minutes after going behind, things go from bad to worse for the visitors. Playing out from the back, the whites build through midfield. A sweeping pass is played from out on the right into the no.36 in the middle. He drifts back to the right and dragging 2 defenders with him turns to lay a simple pass back inside for Milevsky to finish crisply through the keeper’s legs for 2-0. In the corner, the Ultras once more burst into life and we rise with the stand occupants around us rise to acclaim their captain’s strike.
Getting 2 goals in the first 20 minutes is of course rather exciting for us, but not great for the game as a whole. Simferopol seem a bit lost by the early defecit and man the barricades to try & prevent the situation getting any worse whilst Dynamo stroke the ball around in front of them, seemingly a little disinterested in doing further damage. At the heart of everything is Milevsky, living up to his billing as the only player I’ve vaguely heard of and running the show. Always offering his services to receive the ball, pop off a pass and get things going.
It seems like we’re going to drift into the break at the very least without much else occurring. But then after about half an hour, there’s more excitement out of the blue. A neat little exchange of play on the far side of about 3-4 passes sends the full back galloping away into space. He takes a touch, looks up and sweeps the ball across the box for Gusev to sweep the ball home with the defenders strolling in noticeably behind him.
3-0 up and looking easily on top, Dynamo have themselves a breather and see out the rest of the half in comfort with only the odd raid forwards to keep the crowd entertained. Meanwhile, the old man and the young lad in front of us continue adding to the small pile of sunflower seed shells at their feet.
Half time arrives just in time as we drain the last of our beers. Having got the first round in, Miller decides he’s going to ogle to local birdlife and demands Chalmers and I go and get the refreshments. As we head off, he gives us a bit of advice. “Oh Dan, if you see your mate, remind him of my prediction!”
We both roll our eyes and head for the bar.
On arrival, it’s remarkably quiet and the queue winds down quickly. Chalmers and I decide that as it’s sunny and we’re technically on holiday, more beer than we originally intended is always a good idea and doubling up the round would be sensible. So in our best Russo-Ukranian-sign we get our 6 beers and wander back to our seats. Thankfully, Valeriy is nowhere to be seen. Which is probably for the best.
“Very sociable this!” mutters Paul as we stroll down the touchline, raising his handful of 3 pints to his face and supping from the nearest one.
|Basking in the Kyiv sunshine…..|
Upon our return, Miller fills us in on the several ladies he’s seen while we’ve been away and wishes to marry and that he’s had a text from Chris and Dan, the two lads who’d left us on the outskirts of the city early this morning to head north in the direction of Chernobyl. They’ve had their mosey about, are on their way back to Kyiv and we’ll be meeting them for a night on the town later.
“Dan also mentioned something about getting pulled by the cops and paying the bloke off with a pack of burbon biscuits” he adds. Now there’s a story I want to hear over dinner later.
The second half is soon underway and we recline in the late evening sunshine to watch the Ukraine’s number 1 club side dismantle some regional rubbish. And dismantle is the right word as any hopes Tavirya have of saving some pride are extinguished a couple of minutes after the restart. Again Mr Milevsky is involved, rolling a little pass down the left for Gusev racing past on the overlap. Again, the defending is a little less than committed and he darts to the bye line before prodding the ball back to the near post for a colleague wearing the no.7 shirt (Correa) to tuck it neatly across goal and into the far corner from about 3 or 4 yards out.
Once more, the Ultras bounce along to ‘Dynamo, woah oh’ whilst Gareth questions the quality of the opposition on display. “Are you sure this is a Premier League game and not some friendly mate? This lot are fucking shit!”. I can’t really argue with his poetic assessment of the side from the Crimea, but I can only offer a shrug and what I know in response. “Phil’s message said it was a Prem game mate! I’m guessing they’re just having a bad day”
“Long fucking way to come to have a bad day!” chips in PC. “And what about those poor cunts over there?” he adds, nodding towards the understandably now rather subdued away fans. Urgh. Good point. We’ve done the ‘Travel a bloody long way and get bummed’ thing a number of times ourselves in the past and you can’t but help feel a wee bit sorry for the 20 or so sat behind that now rather sad looking ‘Simferopol’ banner down in the far corner. I only hope they’re local exiles rather than having actually schlepped up here from by the Black Sea.
The visitors response to going 4-0 down is to make a change, although it doesn’t really affect the match in any great manner as Kyiv settle into a comfy ‘stroke it about’ pattern while the blues simply try not to fuck up again and thus make matters and the score line any worse. And for 20 minutes, they manage to keep things under control while the hosts look for a way through via lots of intricate passing triangles. Then our man Milevsky intervenes again and lights the game up with a moment of real magic.
Out on the touchline in front of us, he heads infield and sells a defender with a little stepover. Keeping on course, he darts into the box and leaves another defender confused with another lovely little switch of feet and steps inside him before following up with a little drag away from a third blue shirt trying to close down. This touch takes him towards the byeline and draws the ‘keeper from his line. He then glides past the stopper and from right on the line slips the ball back between 2 more blue shirts for the no.9 (Yarmalenko) to tap in from a couple of yards out. It’s a cracker of a goal and despite being proper tourists, even we’re up giving it some in celebration with the locals.
The Simferopol ‘keeper isn’t happy, seemingly thinking the Kyiv number 10 has carried the ball out of play, but the ref is having none of it and the goal stands. But then again he would complain, he’s just been made to look a right mug.
As we retake our seats, Chalmers and I realise we’re in the presence of a massively smug individual. Looking to our right, we see Miller sat staring at us with the most disgusting grin on his face. Oh god, the prediction! Chalmers bursts out laughing. And I can’t help but join in before Miller also starts chuckling and points towards the main body of the Kyiv hardcore in the far corner. “Can you imagine his face right now? I so hope we bump into that lad on the way out!!”
|Oooops! Long way to come & get pumped….|
Poor Valeriy. I can just picture him sat there open mouthed with his mate, recalling the three English dickheads he’d walked in with, one of whom had predicted they’d bang in a hatful and they’d had a right old laugh about. “If we do, he’ll be asking for lottery numbers! In fact bollocks to it, if they do a national lottery here, even I’ll be having a punt….”
The fifth goal brings the removal of the busy little Gusev and Dynamo bring on, of all things, a Brazilian. It’s a perfect embodiment of just how global this game is these days. The man from South America, Guilherme is soon into the action and is racing about all over the shop. Which really looks odd against the backdrop of a rather demoralised oppo and his colleagues now strolling about at a little above walking pace with the points well and truly sewn up.
The remaining half hour or so is played out much like a friendly and to be honest, we’re not all that fussed. We have beer, we’ve seen 5 goals one of which was a corker, the weather is lovely and we’ve got a night on the town to look forward to.
With the locals checking their watches and the big scoreboard clock indicating we’re about done, there’s a final flourish from our hosts. With Tavirya getting ambitious and pushing up, trying to get some reward for the poor sods sat in the away section, they of course get hit on the counter. The ball is given away and the ball is punted forwards quickly into the wide open space of the visitors half. This is Guilherme’s moment and the little Brazilian scampers away towards goal before steadying himself just inside the box and curling a lovely effort past the exposed ‘keeper.
It’s practically the last act and the blues have barely enough time to restart before the final whistle goes. We wait around to rightly applaud the home team off for their efforts. Whilst at times they barely broke sweat, as day trippers we really can’t sniff at a 6-0 win and that fifth goal was worth the entry fee alone. All 3 quid of it. Even a Scot like Windy can’t find fault with that!
We decide to make a move and as we leave our seats I notice the old boy and his grandson we spotted earlier have already departed. The newspaper on their seats and the ankle deep pile of sunflower seed shells on the floor the only things remaining to mark their presence here today. Then after getting a shot of us all with the ground emptying out behind us, we amble back towards the exit and as we do, I keep my eyes keenly peeled for another point of interest. As somewhere outside the stadium, there’s a statue I want to see.
Back before I saw them play at Wembley, I knew of Dynamo thanks to a couple of books I’d read about the adventures of some of their team during the Nazi occupation of the city in WW2. They’d been brought together by the Dynamo keeper Mykola Trusevych and a fan who ran a local bakery to work there. From this, they formed a team by the name of ‘Start FC’ along with a few guys from Lokomotiv Kyiv to play in a local setup. Naturally, being some of the finest players in the whole of the Soviet Union at the time, they were soon kicking arse and drawing the attention of the Germans. Keen to put these untermenschen firmly in their place, they arranged a couple of games against the best team they could muster from their armed forces, ‘Flakelf’. Of course, Start handed them their arses on a plate winning 5-1.
Stung, the Germans sorted a swift rematch a couple of days later, but lost again, 5-3. Start played only one more match after this before several of the side were rounded up by the Gestapo, accused of being members of Stalin’s NKVD secret police. This led to most being imprisoned and eventually Trusevych along with Oleksiy Klymenko and Mykhailo Putistin were executed at the Baban Yar, a notorious site where a number of massacres were carried out by the Nazis.
|Floodlights. We like floodlights….|
At the Dynamo stadium, I knew there was a statue in tribute to these players and I wanted to see it. Unfortunately as we exited the ground itself, I spotted it tucked over behind the corner where we’d been sat. Sadly, with the game being televised live by Ukranian telly it meant that side of the complex was closed off to plebs like me to accommodate all the TV broadcast trucks. So I resolve one day to come back and check it out.
With a spring in our step and beer in our bellies, we started the stroll back to our hotel and the rendezvous with our now no doubt completely irradiated travel companions and a search for Chicken Kyiv to undertake.
“Can we get properly drunk now?” enquires Gareth, sparking up another cheap local fag.
I think I’m starting to like Kyiv.
“Someone want to give Millsy a ring and see what flats go for round here? And ask him if he knows anywhere that does any of that garlic chicken stuff while you’re at it. I’m fucking starving”