The Russians were eager to know about British training methods--they obviously couldn't bring themselves to believe that running round the pitch was the only one--and shamelessly enquired about player's private lives. In return the British learned several things about Soviet football. It turned out that Soviet linesman's flags were bigger, and varied in colour according to the conditions.
David Downing recalls the 1945 tour of Britain by Dynamo Moscow--cream of Soviet football--in a fascinating, often hilarious account of two cultures clashing during the honeymoon of affection for the Russians--and communism--that would cease with the Cold War.
The characters are straight out of an Ealing comedy--Moscow's own Raymond Glendenning, Soviet tour radio commentator Vadim Sinyavsky ("He's through! He has scored! Yes, comrades, you can kiss him."); the bemused "men from the ministry" (in this case the FA) struggling to comprehend the eccentric requirements of their honoured guests; the monosyllabic female tour interpreter, who would not accompany journalists to interview players in the Dynamo dressing room, leaving the helpless hacks to file reams of increasingly desperate copy.
But the sporting facts were to seem less amusing to hosts who still talked happily about showing the world how to play. After four games--wins over Cardiff City and Arsenal, draws with Chelsea and Glasgow Rangers--it was crystal clear that the journalist who had reported the training Dynamo players as being "so slow you can see them thinking", had been leading his readers astray.
Passovotchka is a remarkable tale, an intriguing glimpse into social history and a sparkling sporting comedy.--Alex Hankin
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.