How Dinamo Tbilisi enthralled British football fans in the midst of the Cold War - The Guardian
09 September, 2015
How Dinamo Tbilisi enthralled British football fans in the midst of the Cold War - The Guardian
By schooling Liverpool and West Ham in the art of fast, passing, composed football, the Dinamo Tbilisi side of the 1970s and 1980s captured the hearts of young British fans who were unaccustomed to watching such expressive play, The Guardian reports.

By Craig McCracken for Beyond The Last Man, of the Guardian Sport Network

In the decades before blanket television coverage of European football became the norm, little was known about clubs from the furthest of far-flung continental outposts. Exposure
was fleeting, usually coming in the form of snatched, crackly highlight packages on Sportsweek, which were squeezed in after the boxing, darts and curling. So, when the provincial Georgians of Dinamo Tbilisi were broadcast into British homes in the late 1970s and early 1980s, their extraordinary quality came as a mysterious and exotic bolt from the blue.

My mind was a blur of questions: who are these footballing supermen and in what sinister Soviet sports laboratory have they been manufactured? Why don’t they smile more when they’re really, really good at football? And can communism be a bad thing if it produces athletes like this?

A startled British public was introduced to this Tbilisi side when they played Liverpool in the first round of the European Cup in 1979-80. Drawing the recent two-time winners and favourites offered the most daunting of debuts in Europe’s premier club competition, but at no stage of either leg did the Georgian club look remotely cowed by their heavyweight opponents. Only finishing that fell short of their elevated levels of technical play allowed Liverpool to edge the Anfield leg 2-1. Tbilisi’s promise in the first leg was fully realised in the return as they eased to a 3-0 victory in a packed Boris geotv.gePaichadze National Stadium.

Their performance that afternoon was resoundingly accomplished. Tbilisi’s approach harmoniously blended the best of two seemingly conflicting playing styles: the hard-running, quick-passing game typical of Russian and Ukrainian teams and the more traditional Georgian and Armenian game based around individual skill and self-expression.

The first two goals were thrilling. Alan Hansen was thoroughly deceived by a brilliant piece of David Kipiani trickery in the penalty box and the veteran set up Vladimir Gutsaev for the opener. The second came after defender Giorgi Chilaya charged 60 yards upfield from left-back then neatly set up Ramaz Shengalia to cutely chip Ray Clemence inside the penalty box. Older Liverpool fans might have appreciated the symmetry between Chilaya’s surge and a similar one by Giacinto Facchetti for Internazionale at the San Siro in a European Cup tie 15 years earlier.

Liverpool’s players looked baffled and bemused. The club experienced losses during their years of dominance in the European Cup between 1977 and 1985, but this was one of the very few occasions when they were simply outclassed and manager Bob Paisley was magnanimous enough to admit as much.

Tbilisi’s next English experience came against West Ham in the Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-final in 1981. The first leg at the Boleyn Ground turned into a masterclass of intelligent, flexible and incisive football by the visitors, who demonstrated some of the best counter-attacking you’re ever likely to see. Footage from this match should be included as part of the learning materials for Uefa coaching courses.

West Ham’s players spent much of the evening chasing slippery white shadows forlornly while trying to keep the scoreline respectable – their eventual 4-1 defeat flattered them considerably. The romp started with an opening Tbilisi goal that was so cartoonishly good that it might have been thought of as too far-fetched had it been sketched out for Roy Race himself.

After a succession of rapid one-touch passes, Aleksandr Chivadze collected a knockdown 10 yards inside his own half, surged forward into West Ham territory and let fly from 30 yards with a dipping drive that sailed over the head of a flat-footed Phil Parkes. That’s Aleksandr Chivadze the central defender by the way, albeit a central defender with a greater mastery of the ball than any creative outfield British player I had seen. For someone used to watching agricultural British centre-halves thrash, blooter and whack footballs around a pitch, seeing this physically unassuming sweeper urbanely caress, massage and tease the ball into doing his bidding was a revelation.

It was a similar story throughout the team: the quick, clever feet of Kipiani were so adept at unbalancing opponents; Ramaz Shengelia had strength and a seemingly telepathic awareness of his colleagues’ runs; Vladimir Gutsayev was blessed with a finely tuned radar for goal; and Vitali Daraselia had a nimble, scuttling style that helped him find unlikely pockets of space on the pitch.

This game was a showcase for technical team play at its most accomplished: this group of athletic players were supremely focused, assured in their touch, adept with their flicks and feints, and smart at manufacturing passing angles. They had pace to burn but also had that rare mastery of the more complex dynamics that determine game tempo. The Georgians understood the notion that opposing players are much more disoriented by sudden change of pace than outright pace in itself. Tempo was there to be manipulated: to slow the game down to a crawl before exploding into life and overloading surprised opponents unable to adapt instantly to the quicker game being imposed upon them. West Ham’s players could do little more than wander around the pitch in a shell-shocked state, hoping to get in the way of the deft passing patterns of their Soviet opponents.

Read more:
Other Stories
Zaza Pachulia’s  accountant convicted of misappropriation of  800 ,000 US dollars
According to Sentinel, Zaza’s former accountant Randy Di Usow misappropriated 800 thousand US dollars from Georgian basketball player Zaza Pachulia and his wife.
Georgian National Rugby team preparing for the World Cup 2019
Rugby is becoming more and more popular in Georgia, mainly because Georgians appear to play it very well.
Guram Kashia to receive the inaugural #EqualGame award
Guram Kashia is a Georgian football player –presently a centre-back for the San-Francisco San Jose Earthquakes in the Major League Soccer MLS.
The win dedicated to the Georgians who died during the 2008 conflict
Davit Kiria is a Georgian kickboxer. He fights in the lightweight division. He has previously won the Kyokushinkai Karate Kamakura European Championship and the Glory Lightweight Championship in Zagreb in 2009 and 2014 respectively.
Gold medals at Judo Grand Prix, Zagrebi (Croatia)
The previous unsuccessful days were compensated by finals’ medals at the Grand Prix.
Nikoloz Basilashvili – First Georgian to win an ATP World Tour
Nikoloz Basilashvili is the first player from Georgia to gain an ATP World Tour title by winning the German Tennis Championships 2018.
Tochinoshin will not participate in the summer tour of Japan
On the 29th of July Sumo wrestlers would normally start their summer tour of Japan. It usually lasts for around 1 month.
Tochinoshin Pulls out of the 2018 Nagoya Basho, so what comes next?
Georgian Sumo wrestler, Levan Gorgadze (Tochinoshin) withdrew from the 2018 Nagoya Basho Grand Sumo Tournament on July 14 due to a tendon injury in his foot.
More gold medals for Georgian wheelchair fencers
Irma Khetsuriani, a Georgian wheelchair fencer recently defeated Saysunee Jana of Thailand with a score of 15-10 in the Sabre category, at the Wheelchair Fencing World Cup in Warsaw, Poland (9-12July) to gain another gold medal (IWAS Senior world games).
Tochinoshin pulls out of Nagoya Basho due to trauma
Today Georgian Sumo Wrestler Levan Gorgadze, also known as Tochinoshin pulled out of Nagoya Basho tournament.
Tochinoshin loses a battle at the 6th day of Nagoya Basho
Today Tochinoshin Levan Gorgadze lost the battle against Komusubi Tamawashi.
Tochinoshin wins for the fifth time in a row at the Nagoya Basho
Today Tochinoshin Levan Gorgadze won for the fifth time in a row at the Nagoya Basho tournament.
Tochinoshin wins for fourth time in a row in Sumo Tournament
Today, on the fourth day of the Nagoya Basho Sumo tournament, Georgian Tochinoshin has won again, the fourth time in a row.
Tochinoshin wins third time in a row
It is a third day of Nagoya Basho, Sumo tournament. Georgian Sumo wrestler Levan Gorgadze won third time in a row.
Tochinoshin wins second time in a row in Sumo tournament
Today, on a second day of Nagoya Basho tournament, Georgian Sumo wrestler Levan Gorgadze, whose nickname is Tochinoshin, won second time in a row.
Georgia’s U20 rugby team beats Scotland, claims 9th place at the World Rugby U20 Championship
Georgia achieved their best ever finish of ninth overall at the World Rugby U20 Championship. Junior Lelos won three consecutive games for the first time at the Championship.
Canoer Zaza Nadiradze claims the first ever gold medal in canoeing
Canoer Zaza Nadiradze claims the first ever gold medal in canoeing.
Georgian basketball player Zaza Pachulia’s team wins NBA Championship
The Golden State Warriors won the NBA Championship. The team has defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers with a final score of 108-85 on Friday evening, completing a perfect 4-0 sweep.
Georgian Ozeki Tochinoshin awarded honorary citizenship of Mtskheta
Georgian Ozeki and world-famous sumo wrestler Levan Gorgadze (Tochinoshin) was granted the title of honorary citizen
 Georgian sumo wrestler beats 40-time champion in 12th big match
On May 24, 2018 Georgian sumo wrestler Tochinoshin (Levan Gorgadze) triumphed in the 12th match of 15-day Summer Grand Sumo
Georgia to host 2023 Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships
Georgia’s famous ski resorts of Bakuriani and Gudauri will host the 2023 Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships.
Dinamo Arena to host historic match between Georgian Rugby Team and French Barbarians on May 31
Georgian Rugby Team, nicknamed as The Lelos, will play against French Barbarians (The Barbarian Rugby Club) on May 31.
Messi appointed Ambassador for Responsible Tourism by Georgian head of World Tourism Organization
Lionel Messi, a world famous footballer from Argentina, considered by many the best football player of all times,
Georgian Judokas claim 14 medals at Tbilisi Grand Prix competition
Georgian judo team became the triumphator at the tournament Grand Prix, a competition hosted in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.
Young Georgian Rugby Team wins European Championship by defeating France
Rugby has always been the subject of national pride for Georgians. “Rugby is our game!”
Exchange Rates
GEL Exchange Rate
Other Stories
Georgia’s Under-20 national rugby team have claimed their second victory at the ongoing Rugby World Cup in Japan
You can be hopeful of us like we are of you, - sumo wrestler Tochinoshin (Levan Gorgadze) told Georgian Prime Minister
On June 4, world-famous Georgian sumo wrestler Tochinoshin (born Levan Gorgadze) arrived in his homeland.
Georgian rugby team claimed yet another historic victory over French Barbarians – the second national team of the French Rugby Federation.
For the first time in the history of Sumo wrestling, a Georgian national has become the owner of the Emperor’s Cup.
Renowned Georgian chess player Nana Dzagnidze claimed the gold medal
It was in the beginning of the 1980s, when FC Dinamo Tbilisi was enjoying their best
The Georgian national rugby team defeated the U.S. squad at the Mikheil Meskhi stadium in Tbilisi on November 25.
Georgian athletes defeated British in sitting volleyball at the Invictus Games Toronto, Canada, 2017.
The national basketball team of Georgia defeated Israel at the Eurobasket
GEL Exchange