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Passovotchka: Moscow Dynamo in Britain, 1945 [Hardcover]

David Downing
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

27 Sep 1999
On 4 November 1945 a party from Moscow Dynamo FC travelled to Britain to play four matches against top British teams. They departed 33 days later, leaving a trail of controversy in their unbeaten wake. Nothing went smoothly on this tour, from the party's three-times delayed arrival and their seemingly endless agonizing over the date of their departure; one match was played in dense fog and a British manager followed the team across the country in a vain attempt to retrieve six "borrowed" footballs. And throughout, the Russians were involved in disputes with the FA, the British clubs, the match referees and the press. On the pitch, the Russians played exciting football displaying their technically superior strikers. Off the pitch, a catalogue of misunderstandings and suspicions marked the team's progress around the country. With the Cold War not yet begun, Russia was still Britain's ally and everyone claimed to want to keep politics out of sport. But the Soviet authorities were clearly anxious that Dynamo's performance should reflect well on the State; and there were many in the British press eager to make political capital out of the controversy surrounding the tour. The book contains a blow-by-blow account of the tour itself; a history of the Moscow Dynamo club and a discussion of the state of British football at the end of the war, including those aspects of the game - style of play, training methods, the issue of professionalism - which the Dynamo tour brought into question.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (27 Sep 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747544565
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747544562
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 15.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,026,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

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.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
PASSOVOTCHKA is a very very enjoyable read. It gives, in great detail, the insight to a very important time for English and European football. It also gives an idea of how the relations between Britian and the Soviet Union, despite the 2nd world War victory, were still very much on edge.
Moscow Dynamo were the first European team to tour Britian after the war and the book explains how a group of young Russian men changed English football for ever with their skill and training methods.
After reading PASSOVOTCHKA, I have come to the conclusion that Moscow Dynamo in 1945 were the best European club side to ever play on our shores.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Passovotchka is a wonderful story of the Moscow Dynamo Tour in l945 - giving not only the flavour of football of the time but of the history and cultural idiosyncrasies of the era. The accounts of the games in Cardiff and Glasgow are delightful, full of inspiration and nostalgia for the game as it once was played. Read this book and you will find a history of football and a history of Anglo-Soviet relations wound together in a great story!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping 5 Feb 2003
A good historical book, interesting to both students of football and students of post-war Europe. Never dry, but an enlightening tale of "what it was like" and how Russian football began. Not an epic tale of heroism but a very interesting tale not ruined by knowing the results of the games already.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of Passovotchka 15 Dec 1999
By - Published on
David Downing has performed a great service to both history and sport in writing the first English-language at-length work on the Dynamo tour of November 1945. I hope the shortage of reviews for this book do not reflect sales.
The author's style is at once gripping, and will keep the reader turning the page throughout. I managed to read it in one sitting, which says more about the quality of writing than the length of the text (a not inconsiderable 260 pages).
The work follows the tour closely and pays great attention to detail, whilst livening proceedings somewhat with numerous anecdotes. I for one did not know that when the team coach arrived at a war-torn stadium the Russians were afraid to enter for fear of being tricked into a gulag!
Countless other fascinating stories add to the political element throughout this work, and whilst it can be read for its sporting interest alone, it is perhaps best seen in the early Cold War light in which the tour occured. In this, Downing is a master at portraying a background of a crumbling war-time alliance coupled with the onset of the Cold War. Set in this context, the football matches (of which the Dynamos came out conclusive winners!) take on an added dimension.
However, if I had to pick out faults I would mention the absence of any means of footnotes. The author has clearly drawn on extensive research and it is a shame this has gone undocumented. Nevertheless, a thorough bibliography is included which more than makes up for this deficiency, although it does not include numerous articles on the tour by historians such as Mario Risoli, Jim Phillips, Dilwyn Porter & Ronald Kowalski, and Robert Edelman amongst others.
One final remark would be that Downing comes across very much on the side of the Dynamos. His argument that the British simply assumed their own supremacy (in more ways than sporting) at least until the Hungary match in the 1950s is convincing. However, I felt that equal attention was not merited to the Soviet aspect (this is perhaps fair in that most of the sources were British). Nevertheless, more could have been said about the NKVD-sponsored nature of the tour. The idea of Soviet Russia demonstrating the superiority of its system through sport is not one limited to football (I think it was Gary Kasparov who said his chess matches were 'politically-programmed'). Still, Downing presents a thorough and balanced argument throughout.
In short, this book provides great entertainment thanks to the nature of Downing's writing, whilst shedding light an a relatively poorly documented area of sports history.
I say buy it!
Daniel Guiney
4.0 out of 5 stars From Russia with Love 12 Sep 2013
By Charlie Bartel - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Russia took to Football early but because of the First World War and the Bolshevik Revolution, their football existed in a state of isolation with regards to the rest of the world. However in the immediate aftermath of World War Two, Soviet politicians decided to send the club team Moscow Dynamo to Britain as a good will gesture. A 4 match tour was arranged against a Welsh Club (Cardiff), the famous Scottish club Glasgow Rangers, and two London clubs Chelsea and Arsenal. It would surprise all. but not for the reasons expected.

Russian football was virtually unknown in Britain. Those who claimed to be in the know knew nothing about the innovations developed by legendary Soviet coaches Boris Arkadiev and Victor Maslow. It was England itself who's football was isolated, having declined to take part in any of the World Cups held between the wars. They were once the best (back to back Olympic Gold Medals before World War I) so they must still and always be the best. So they regarded the tour by Dynamo as little more than amusement.

PASSOVOTCHKA is the detailed story of the Dynamo tour in late 1945. The chief of the English Football Association Stanley Rous, deserves the credit for organizing the tour as a good will gesture between War Allies to celebrate the victory. That the Soviets chose to come was the first surprise. They left their great coach Victor Maslow back in Moscow for reasons not entirely clear,was a second surprise . Their players were unknown outside of the Soviet Union. Chelsea featured no less than the great Tommy Lawton as their principal goal scorer. Experts predicted a miss-match.

One of the results of the tour was that both nations would end their international isolation. England would travel to Brazil for the 1950 World Cup (and we know how that turned out). The Soviet Union would travel to Finland and take part in he 1952 Olympic Football Tournament. Neither event could have happened had it not been for the Dynamo tour in 1946. This is a terrific story. The book is well written. A book like this will help insure the story is not forgotten.
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