How Russia stretches into Nyayo and City Stadiums
- Ever wondered why some section of the Nairobi’s Nyayo Stadium or the sleeping City Stadium are labeled as Russia?
- A Kenyan living in Moscow, asked me if the ‘Russia’ stands are still the same at the City Stadium during Gor Mahia matches
Jacob Icia is reporting from Moscow, Russia
Ever wondered why some section of the Nairobi’s Nyayo Stadium or the sleeping City Stadium are labeled as Russia?
A Kenyan living in Moscow, asked me if the ‘Russia’ stands are still the same at the City Stadium during Gor Mahia matches.
Same in what sense? Characteristic hooliganism, where stones that you never see anyone carrying into the stadium erupt if the referee or opposite fans ‘don’t’ behave, explained the gentleman. Coincidentally, he had a soft spot for K’Ogalo when he lived in Nairobi 10 years ago.
“That Russia name is associated with the roughness of Russian fans in the stadium when they mean to be. Traditionally every Russian citizen was supposed to undergo military training, which would come in handy if unfriendly football fans had to be dealt with in matches,” he explained.
Matches involving UK teams and Russians up to date are always heated up ones, with rivalry dating back to the times of World Wars, though over time it is gradually fading. In such clashes, the Russians would show their true colors.
Mashemeji derbies in Kenya have previously given meaning to the ‘Russia’ allusion, when Gor eternal rivals AFC Leopards lock horns.
I was however quick to mention to him the rivalry is not as it was in the 70s and 80s, lately things have cooled down.
Fascinating Moscow rivalries
Dynamo Moscow, Spartak Moscow, Torpedo Moscow, Lokomotiv Moscow and CSKA Moscow make up a footballing pentagon of firce rivalry. Five teams, one city, their rivalries have been sustained for long, but it all began with Dynamo Moscow, the oldest football club in Russia, as Box to Box reported.
Owing its roots to a number of local clubs dating as far back as 1887, the name ‘Dynamo Moscow’ was first used in 1923. After the Russian Revolution in 1917, the club came under the authority of the then-Soviet Union’s secret police, and as a result, they were often thought of as deeply affiliated with the authorities.
In the terraces, nicknames from rival fans included derogatory slang words for ‘police’, or even ‘scum’, but on the football pitch itself, there was one who emerged to create Russia’s oldest footballing rivalry. That club was Spartak Moscow.
Spartak Moscow are often thought of as the underdogs, the club of the people fighting against the system, and there is some basis to this romantic image claimed of the team. The club was formed by trade unionist workers and were nicknamed ‘Meat’ by rivals due to their connection to meat factories. Most importantly, they were formed independent of connections to the authorities, naming themselves ‘Spartak’ after the Roman gladiator-slave Spartacus who led a rebellion against Rome.
An early match between Dynamo and Spartak, one of many in a fierce rivalry that has lasted for decades.
Spartak have had a complex relationship with their rivals Dynamo, to say the least. For one thing, Dynamo were the team of the police, while Spartak were the team of the workers – and they struck a chord with the public due to this apparent connection to them. The rivalry really came to the fore with the establishment of the Soviet Top League in 1936, a competition featuring teams from across the Soviet Union.
There were two league seasons that inaugural year, the first won by Dynamo and the second by Spartak. Dynamo won the first Soviet Top League game between the two sides 1-0, playing in front of 60,000 spectators at the Dynamo Stadium. The seasons were then made annual, and the following four seasons were all won by one of these two Moscow sides.
Tensions were high whenever the teams played, and this soon spilt over onto a bigger stage than the football pitch. The rebellious nature, success and overall popularity of Spartak with the public started to irk Dynamo, who of course had close connections to the secret police (and later on, the KGB). Regardless of Dynamo’s connections, Spartak’s apparent representation of the exploited did not sit well with the higher authorities.
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