This Thursday’s visit of Dynamo Kiev won’t be the first time the club have played at Goodison Park and their first game was played over half a century ago at the height of Cold War tensions.
If Evertonians are wary about travelling to Ukraine for the return leg because of the recent upheavals in the region, they should cast their minds back to the kind of atmosphere that prevailed on the previous occasion the sides met.
Dynamo visited Merseyside on November 15 1961, towards the end of a year that had seen the Cold War heat up.
The timeline of events between East and West that year made interesting reading.
The year began with outgoing US President Dwight Eisenhower closing the US Embassy in Havana and severing diplomatic relations with Cuba on January 3 in one of his last acts before being succeeded by John F Kennedy.
On April 12, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space when the Soviet Union successfully launched Vostok 1 which orbited the Earth.
Major Yuri Gagarin Soviet Cosmonaut 1961
Less than a week later, the Bay of Pigs Invasion, a CIA-backed attack on Cuba ended in failure and in response to the Soviets taking an early lead in the Space Race, Kennedy announced on May 25 the US’ intention to put a man on the moon which kickstarted the Apollo programme.
Construction of the Berlin Wall began on August 13 and following the beginning of the Checkpoint Charlie stand-off between US and Soviet tanks in the German city on October 27, the Soviets set off Tsar Bomba (Emperor of bombs) – a hydrogen bomb which was the most powerful weapon ever detonated and remains the most powerful artificial explosion in human history on October 30 on the Novaya Zemlya islands in the Arctic Ocean.
You can’t trust them
Many people on these shores were mistrustful of ‘the Reds’ at this time – those in power of the Communist regime behind the Iron Curtain that Winston Churchill said had descended across the continent of Europe, not those across Stanley Park from Everton.
The papers were full of tales about the Ruskies’ ‘sneaky’ antics at the time and in his ECHO column on the weekend after Dynamo’s visit, Everton right-back Alex Parker recalls the tale former Blues winger Torry Gillick told him of when he played for Rangers against Dynamo Moscow in 1946.
Alex Parker Everton’s captain, leads the team out against Sheffield United. September 1964
Parker remembered the story from his fellow Scot and wrote: “During the match Torry imagined that he was playing against 12 men.
“I know how he feels, for I have often felt like that myself.
“But it was different this time and he decided to do an on-the-spot check. So he counted them and sure enough there WERE 12 Russians on the pitch.
“Torry told the referee who promptly told the extra man to leave.”
The pre-match talk was all about Kiev’s ‘fast and clever’ style that kept the ball moving all the time. Adopting a 4-2-4 formation, they had already played Aston Villa on their English tour and it was generally accepted that they were unfortunate to lose to the Midlanders who were managed by former Goodison hero Joe Mercer.
Alex Young revealed that despite playing against American, Australian, Canadian, South American and other ‘continental’ teams, the visit of Dynamo would be his first taste of ‘Russian’ football.
Alex Young Everton football player 1960-1968, pictured readling club magazine circa 1965. Everton’s Alex Young reads the club’s own magazine
If ever a team’s play was summed up to mirror that of the image portrayed by the state’s regime, the ‘Golden Vision’ managed it.
Young declared: “I don’t think we will find many individuals in the Dynamo team, rather 11 – probably more, knowing the flair these foreign sides have for producing substitutes – superbly fit players who put the emphasis on teamwork.”
While Soviet football remained something of an enigmatic quantity for many in the British game, Young revealed: “Both Mr Catterick and Tom Egglestone are well up in the latest Russian football tactics, having toured that country while with Sheffield Wednesday.”
The ref steals the show
The supposed twin evils of the Soviets not playing by the rules and their apparent obsession with substitutes reared their ugly head in front of 26,507 spectators at Goodison on a Wednesday night, but the ECHO’s Michael Charters was delighted that the match official nipped such antics in the bud.
Everton won 2-0 thanks to goals from Roy Vernon and Jimmy Fell but Charters said: “The Russians can come back to Goodison Park any time they like – and so can referee Jack Kelly of Chorley.
Roy Vernon of Everton rounds the Fulham keeper Macedo to score Everton’s first goal in the title decider
“Well as Kiev Dynamo played against Everton in their friendly last night, the man of the match for me was Mr Kelly, who not only controlled the game superbly but also provided the highlight of a most entertaining match by ordering off a Russian substitute 10 minutes from the end much to the delight of the crowd.”
Substitutes were not allowed in Football League matches until the 1965/66 season and even then it was just for injuries with ‘tactical’ switches officially not brought in until 1967/68 and back when Dynamo first visited Goodison, such changes were seen as somehow unsporting, unmanly and strangely foreign.
Charters said: “The Russian team had not been guilty of the petty incidents which so often mar the play of Continental sides when they visit this country.
“In fact the only time they slipped from what could be normal league standards was when a character with number 12 on his dark blue jersey came on shortly after Everton had scored their second goal.
“Number 3, Schegoljkov, the centre-half, trotted off into the trainer’s box but when Mr Kelly had his attention drawn to the mysterious number 12 he marched him off the pitch and ordered number 3, unhurt from what one could see to return to the game for the closing minutes.
“This was refereeing of the highest order and one could not praise Mr Kelly too highly for his firm action and his general control all through.”
Praise for the visitors
Charters, who declared that the Blues were a little fortunate to win by such a clear margin was generally impressed with Dynamo’s play.
He said: “The Kiev side played some beautifully patterned football, moving the ball from man to man most skillfully and accurately.
“Kiev showed the Everton fans the lost art of making a corner kick a real attacking gambit.
“Their left winger, the tall Lobanovskiy, produced near panic in the Everton ranks with a series of in-swinging corner-kicks which had the Everton defenders clearing desperately off the line on several occasions.”
Despite the political tensions at the time, the Goodison spectators who also afforded a warm welcome to the Soviet Union national team for their World Cup semi-final in 1966, gave a hearty ovation for Kiev’s efforts.
Charters said: “We have never seen Russian teams on Merseyside before, but this Dynamo side deserved the applause they received from the Everton players and the crowd as they left the pitch at the end.”
Dynamo Kiev play Celtic in a European Cup quarter-final match in 1966
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