Archive

No. 3, 2012

VLADIMIR IGOREV

A GREAT CLUB CELEBRATES ITS 90TH BIRTHDAY


The Spartak Moscow Football Club intends to continue its glorious traditions of victory

SPARTAK, RUSSIA'S MOST POPULAR AND HIGHLY AWARDED FOOTBALL CLUB, celebrated its 90th birthday and 40 years of fan support in 2012. The team's general sponsor, LUKOIL, has been supporting Spartak for 13 years now and during this time the club has won the national championships twice, the silver medal five times, and the bronze once. This anniversary year, the team won the silver in a dramatic contest during the Russian Championship to clinch a spot in the Champions League the main European club football tournament. Under the guidance of its new coach Spaniard Unai Emery, Spartak is headed into the new 2012/2013 season with serious champion ambitions.

THE SPARTAK FAMILY

More than 90 years ago, on April 18, 1922, football players Ivan Artemiev and his brothers Pyotr, Sergey, and Georgy formed the Moscow Sports Club (MSC) in the capital's Krasnaya Presnya district, this club being officially considered Spartak's predecessor. The same year, the young team celebrated its first success after winning the Moscow Championship in class "C", thus ensuring themselves a spot among Moscow's strongest teams.

In 1923, MSC was renamed "Krasnaya Presnya" (Red Presnya). And again the team, led by the Artemyev, Kanunnikov, and Starostin brothers, won the Moscow championship in the spring of 1923 and 1924. Three years later the first name had to be relinquished since according to a new government resolution on the reorganization of Soviet sports, football teams could no longer exist independently, but had to belong to physical training societies, departments, or enterprises. In 1926, the Ministry of the Food Industry took the club under its wing and it was renamed "Pishchevik" (Food Industry Workers), winning the championship the same year.

The food industry workers' united trade union was abolished in 1931, disintegrating into two dozen small branch trade unions. In the new conditions, Pishchevik was transferred to the union of cooperative workers (Vsekopromsovet), after which the team was called "Promkooperatsiya" (Industrial Cooperation). In 1932‒1933, the leading players of the team transferred to Dukat (patronized by Moscow's leading Dukat tobacco factory), which, like Promkooperatsiya, belonged to the union of cooperative workers.

At the beginning of 1935, when two prominent sports societies already existed in the Soviet Union under the supervision of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of the Armed Forces (Dinamo and TsDKA ‒ Central House of the Red Army), a new sports society was established, the task of which was to unite sportsmen-production workers. In 1935, the All-Union Trade Union-Cooperative Voluntary Sports Society "Spartak" was created on the basis of Promkooperatsiya and Dukat.

Spartak largely owes its name to Nikolay Starostin, head of the Promkooperatsiya team at that time. For a long time, he and his three brothers, Andrey, Pyotr, and Alexander, played for future Spartak and had an enormous impact on the history of the club. Promkooperatsiya included more than a dozen unions of different branches of industry: leather, textiles, food... "We had to find a name that united everyone. But I must admit, we had a terrible time deciding. My brothers and I sat wracking our brains for evenings on end," Nikolay Starostin would write later in his book "Futbol skvoz gody" (Football Through the Years).

Once some friends and teammates came to the Starostin brothers' apartment while they were discussing the name for the future club. All kinds of names were suggested: Feniks (Phoenix), Shturm (Storm), Ataka (Attack), Strela (Arrow), Vympel (Pennant), Zvezda (Star), Vernost (Devotion), Otvaga (Valor), and Pobeda (Victory). This is how Andrey Starostin described it in his book "Povest o futbole" (Story about Football): "We were ready to drop. We had come to a deadlock (which is sometimes what the coaches come to when choosing candidates for the main team and, after the twentieth round of voting, the person wins who at first everyone rejected). However, we were saved by Nikolay who happened to glance at a book lying on the table near the sofa. It was Raffaello Giovagnoli's Spartacus ... ‘That's what we need!' exclaimed Nikolay, pointing to the book. ‘Spartak is a name that embodies an athlete's best qualities: courage, the will to win, agility and endurance, devotion to an idea!'" So that is how the club received its new name.

From the very beginning, Spartak enjoyed a friendly atmosphere of true "football brotherhood." This is not surprising since the backbone of Spartak, in addition to the Starostin brothers, was comprised of the three Kanunnikov brothers and the four Artemyevs. Incidentally, Spartak's first captain was Alexander Starostin, later to be replaced by this brother Andrey, who led the Spartak players out onto the field until June 1941.

WINNING SPIRIT

Spartak's philosophy of being one big sports family was also passed on to other types of sport incorporated into the Spartak Sports Society. Moscow's strongest athletes joined the newborn society: the Znamensky brothers, who were field-and-track athletes, boxers Nikolay Korolev, Ivan Ganykin, Nikolay Stein, and Viktor Stepanov, leading rowers, swimmers, equestrians, basketball players, and volleyball players. In the 1930s-1940s, that true Spartak team spirit was born. Largely owing to this winning spirit, the newly created society rose to the level of national football champions as early as 1936, while also producing leaders and champions in field and track, swimming, rowing, shooting, skiing, skating, biking, horse-riding, and motor cycling, even billiards.

The victory it clinched in 1936 was particularly symbolic for Spartak, after all, this was the first Soviet club football championship. It was the first time the supreme sports authorities decided to hold a Soviet tournament for club teams and play for the Soviet Cup. Now it was not the Moscow team where the best club team players had to stay half a season but individual clubs that had to fight for the championship title.

The team had been maturing, gathering momentum, and producing first-class football players. Spartak was the only club that did not drop below third place in the Soviet championships during the prewar years (1936‒1941), demonstrating both the endurance and stamina of its players and the tactical innovations of its coaches.

Moscow's Spartak is a unique football team. It enjoys simply inordinate popularity in Russia and many countries of the former Soviet Union, it is a truly national team. Throughout the entire history of Soviet football, Spartak has been one of the leaders of the Soviet championships, the club's players have become youth idols, and the team's results on the international arena have attracted more and more fans to football.

STRIVING FOR THE TOP

Spartak's most significant achievements are as follows: 12-time Soviet Top League Champions; 10 time Soviet Cup Winners; 9-time Russian Premier League Champions; 3-time Russian Cup Winners; 6-time Commonwealth of Independent States Champions Cup Winners; UEFA European Champions Cup Semi Finalists; UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Semi Finalists; and UEFA Cup Semi Finalists.

The year 2000, when LUKOIL became Spartak's general sponsor, marked a new milestone in Spartak's history. During the next 13 years, the club became national champions twice (2000 and 2001), won the silver medal five times (2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2012), and the bronze once (2002). LUKOIL's financial support is helping the club to engage best foreign players, funding the building of an ultramodern stadium, and promoting the functioning of the best football academy in the country. Incidentally, not one club in the Russian Premier League has as many of its own players in its team as Spartak.

In the tense struggle that unfolded in the 2011/2012 season, Spartak, under the guidance of Head Coach Valery Karpin, won silver medals in the national championships, showing the true Spartak character at the finish. In the penultimate round of the Russian Championship, Spartak won in a breathtaking away game over its main rival, St. Petersburg's Zenit. The team from the banks of the Neva had already officially established itself as champions in the previous round, but had no doubts it would win over its bitter rival, after all, the award ceremony was to take place straight after the match. However, the red-and-whites succeeded in raining on the hosts' parade. Despite an unfairly announced penalty and left, owing to the referee's mistake, undeservedly in the minority, the team won over the St. Petersburg players 3:2 one minute before the end of the match.

In the last match, the question of who would win the silver medal and take part in the League of Champions tournament was ultimately decided. Spartak confidently outperformed Lokomotiv in a local derby, and in a parallel match its direct rival CSKA (Moscow) yielded in an away game to Kazan's Rubin.

After the match, the red-and-whites thanked their devoted fans for their huge support. The football players unfolded an huge banner in front the tribune bearing the slogan "One for All and All for One!" Then the fans were presented with a Spartak T-shirt emblazoned with the symbolic number 72. After all, Spartak fans have been supporting their beloved team at every stadium around the country and world since 1972, i.e. for forty years.

In the new 2012/2013 season, fans are expecting Spartak to win the national championship and play confidently in the UEFA tournaments. The red-and-whites' new coach, Spaniard Unai Emery has been called upon to build up the team. Former helmsman, Valery Karpin, will continue to work as the club's general director.

The forty-year-old Spanish head of Spartak coached Lorca Deportiva (2004‒2006), Almeria (2006‒2008), and Valencia (2008-2012); he has twice been recognized as the best coach of Spain's second division (2006, 2007); and three times he took third place with Valencia in the Spanish championships (2010, 2011, and 2012). Last season, Emery went with Valencia to the semi final of the League of Europe. The new head coach is sure that "with Spartak we can achieve great results." The new season poses a great challenge both for Emery and for Spartak. They must shatter the hegemony of St. Petersburg's Zenit, which has been gaining momentum over the past few years, and beat ambitious CSKA, Dinamo, Rubin, Lokomotiv, and Anzhi. The finish of the season showed that the Spartak players are up for this. Onward Spartak to new victories!



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