Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Moscow Dynamo and the Leek connection

At the end of November 1945 during the middle of an English tour given by Moscow Dynamo Football Club an interesting link between the then giants of Soviet Football and Leek was unearthed in a comment given by WC Charnock a highly successful local businessman.

He wrote that in 1913 the first Russian Football team to play in an international against Norway included two Leek men, himself and a well known Leek sportsman Mr Parker. Mr Charnock captained and the team won 3-0

The story of this unlikely partnership began several years before when he and a number of Leek engineers went out to the Orechovo textile factory near Moscow which was run by Charnock’s brother Clement. The team had won the league for a number of years consecutive before the First World War. The team was a mixture of British and Russian workers and included a Foreign Office employee Bruce Lockhart                (Lockhart later produced an account of his time in Russia where he later became heavily engaged in espionage work especially after the Russian Revolution). His spell in the football team bought Lockhart to the conclusion that sport was needed as a necessary antidote to turn the workers away from drinking vodka and political agitation. The attempts to introduce football were initially not successful. At an early training session a ball was kicked and landed with a heavy thud resulting in the workers running away, according to Lockhart

In the early days of the football club a local conservative sect of the Orthodox Church, decided that football played in shorts however baggy was decadent.

Clement Charnock appealed to the Governor of the local provincial capital, for permission to form a club. The functionary asked him to explain the rules of football which the businessman did. The response of the Governor was dusty. Then Charnock had the brilliant idea of showing him a picture of the German Crown Prince Wilhelm playing a game with fellow officers in Berlin. He then pointed out the close family ties that the Kaiser had with the Tsar and how the Russians were keen to maintain good links with the House of Hohenzollern. And so the Orekhovo Football Club got official approval and a league established.
After the Russian Revolution the club eventually found itself under the authority of the Interior Ministry and its fearsome head Felix Dzerzhinsky later chief of the Soviet Union's first secret police force, the notorious Cheka. The club was renamed Moscow Dynamo in 1923 and developed a reputation for its sinister association with the Interior Ministry. It is referred to as Garbage, a Russian criminal slang term for police, by the supporters of other clubs.

Its most famous player was Lev Yashin, the only goal keeper to win the European Footballer of the Year and a player I saw at Stanley Matthew’s Testimonial match in 1965. Yashin and the Hungarian Puskas carried the Stoke player off the field.