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Published: November 4th 2019
Whilst we are in the western Ukraine about to watch our first game in the country, we are in a city regarded as the birthplace of Polish football. Lviv is also the "Polish" birthplace of other sports. In January 1905, the first Polish ice-hockey match took place there and in 1907, the first ski-jumping competition was organised nearby. The city has ironically made a stab at bidding for a future winter Olympics so we could see it back at the forefront of ski jumping in the years to come. In the same year, the first Polish basketball games were organised in Lviv's gymnasiums. In 1887, the first track and field competition with such sports as the long jump and high jump was held. The political boundaries of day however saw Lviv athlete, Władysław Ponurski, represent Austria in the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm. On 9 July 1922, the first official rugby game in Poland took place at the stadium of Pogoń Lwów in which the rugby team of Orzeł Biały Lwów divided itself into two teams – "The Reds" and "The Blacks".
The first official goal in a Polish football match was scored here on 14 July 1894 during the
Lwów-Kraków game. The goal was scored by Włodzimierz Chomicki, playing for Lviv. In 1904 Kazimierz Hemerling from Lviv published the first translation of the rules of football into Polish. The lists of "first" in Lviv almost seems endless. Another native of Lviv, Stanisław Polakiewicz, became the first officially recognized Polish referee in 1911. 1911 was also the year in which the first Polish Football Federation was founded - yes in Lviv too. The first Polish professional football club, Czarni Lwów opened here in 1903 and the first stadium, which belonged to Pogoń, in 1913. Pogoń Lwów, was four times football champion of Poland (1922, 1923, 1925 and 1926). In the late 1920s, as many as four teams from the city played in the Polish Football League (Pogoń, Czarni, Hasmonea and Lechia). The end of the Polish dominance in sport and the demise of their football clubs came with the Second World War. After the eventual German collapse and the falling of the Iron Curtain, most Poles were deported west and reformed their clubs in their new home. For example, members of Lechia were instrumental in forming the new Lechia Gdansk in 1945. Meanwhile in Ukrainian communities, Professor Ivan Bobersky based
in the Academic grammar school, started the "Ukrainian Sports circle" in 1908 which morphed into the first Ukrainian football club of Lviv by 1911.
We started the day at the Lviv Statue of Liberty. It isn't the New York version transplanted to Lviv, but a unique Lady Liberty in seated mode. It is sitting atop a dome on the edge of Freedom Avenue - the world’s most unique reincarnations of New York’s famous icon. The Lviv version was created in the late 19th century by Polish sculptor, Leandro Marconi. There is another major difference between this any other version. The good lady has her traditional crown and torch, but the reclining figure is also flanked by two strapping shirtless men. Lady Liberty in Lviv is possibly getting a bit of action. She would perhaps be a regular down the Masochist Bar, if she could climb down. The locals apparently refer to it as the lazy statue. The building itself houses the Lviv Ethnography Museum. We didn't get to pay a visit - the museum itself apparently is nothing to write home about except for the decorative interiors - but I wonder how many visitors there never look up and
see the statue.
The National Liberation Museum unlike the Ethnographic Museum, is housed in a very ordinary building on the edge of the city centre. We would have definitely missed it, had we not been specifically looking. The web suggested it was perhaps only open on weekdays and even outside, there was no real sign of life. One of the staff was hovering outside the door or only the trusty door handle technique might have revealed it was actually open for business. We paid our 50 Hryvnia. The Museum has a small English section at the start of each room and it details the struggle for independence. First from the Austro- Hungarians, then from the inter war Polish domination and through to the first occupation by the Russians between 1939 and 1941. As with many such museums in Eastern Europe, the detail of the formation of local units to fight alongside the Germans after Stalingrad is often a bit vague. The Russians were not exactly going to welcome this part of the population after 1945 and many Ukranians found new lives elsewhere.
We caught Tram 8 south from the city centre towards the Ukraina Stadium. Other Half queried
whether I knew where I was going. Yes I confidently assured her, knowing full well that quite a few on the tram were sporting an element of the green and white of FK Karpaty. It wasn't necessary to check the map - it was just a question of leaving the tram when they did. The floodlights had been more visible from the Town Hall Tower, then here in the immediate vicinity. We followed the others, as they climbed into the adjacent park. The home of FK Karpaty is a huge Communist era bowl surrounded by other sports facilities sunk into the ground in the park land. The green and white theme runs through the majority of the seats, except for those in the blue and yellow of the national colours in the main stand. A small, inadequate roof covers the VIP section, but the rest is open to the elements. The lack of cover didn't matter today. The sun was shining and we basked in short sleeves and 20 degrees. I guess in a few weeks after the weather had turned, it would be bleak. It is the sort of place where you would remember rows of soldiers in kakhi
green, lining the lower pitch side rows in European games that were occasionally broadcast on the TV.
The crowds were thin on the ground, even though there was no more than 1 hour to kick off. The team coaches were parked up at one end of the complex and a few disinterested Police guarded against disorder. We headed out of the park on the top side and walked away into the Communist era housing estate. This was a Lviv a million miles away from the old town. We found no bar, but located 2 small supermarkets. The Other Half deemed some sort of pizza slice edible fayre and we grabbed a couple of bottles of beer for our park bench picnic. The choice of beer was dictated by the one which didn't need a bottle opener to access the prize. It was Russian and ironically had been on sale in Morrisons at a £1 a few days before, as I had obviously tried it to get myself into the mood for this trip.
The match might have been the Lviv derby, but so far all we had seen were the Karpaty home fans in their green
and white. The murals and graffiti on the perimeter walls depicted a love affair between Karpaty and Dynamo Kiev, as well as propaganda for the local ultras. The security at the turnstiles was nominal. There were no bag or body searches and the Other Half celebrated that she even retained her secret offensive weapon - the bottle of water. The scale of the bowl became apparent and the Man in the Middle unleashed his Forest shirt to get his Reds Around The World pose out the way to add to those already taken outside. The Facebook "likes" rolled in, in appreciation of the effort. It all seemed orderly and good natured inside. There was no apparent segregation or away end. The biggest concentration of fans was away to our right behind the goal. A solitary banner hung on the fence beneath them. The sole word in white lettering was Banderstadt. We'll come back to them in a moment. As any regular readers will know, the wanderings normally fit in a football match. The last time out in Bergen, Norway, it was a 0-0 thriller. The early penalty awarded for Karpaty was a welcome relief....... except they missed it, as the
..... street market
striker tamely shooting at the legs of the keeper. There was further incident with a Karpaty player receiving a straight red card. Alas, goal mouth action was a rare commodity. We had a red card for a FK Lviv player to equal the sides at 10 men each and then FK Lviv were awarded a spot kick. They hardly deserved to be victorious, but I was clutching at any opportunity for a goal by this point. FK Lviv duly missed the opportunity with the Karpaty keeper pulling off a diving save to his right. It finished 0-0. I had therefore travelled a total of 1900 miles to 2 countries to see 180 minutes of goalless action. I had established no more than 3 FK Lviv fans in the ground, who sat isolated in a sea of green seats. The only hope for entertainment lay with the Banderstadt Ultras. They did not disappoint. Midway through the 1st half, they launched the smoke show of all smoke shows. Black plumes headed skywards, completely obliterating their number from view. The referee took the players off, pending the resumption of blue skies over that end of the ground. We were treated to a shower
of white ticker tape streamers at the start of the 2nd half, some of which were then incorporated into a small bonfire at the edge of their own section. Banderstadt didn't show the same skill set as the Gravediggers of Partizan in Serbia when it came to starting fires, but you have to start somewhere. The Police watched on without intervention. As a final swansong, the green and white pyrotechnics were brought out to add to the remainder of the black smoke flares. The referee allowed play to continue during this show, perhaps in the safe knowledge that no team would score even if both keepers were blindfolded.
The banner of the Ultras got me doing some research afterwards. Banderstadt is a reference and yet another name for the city of Lviv. it stems from a rather controversial figure, Stepan Bandera. He was a leader of one of the militant factions of the Ukraine independence movement. As a student, he was denied the opportunity to study abroad by the Polish authorities. He was then sentenced to death for organizing nationalistic campaigns, before escaping from prison in 1939. When the Germans invaded in 1941, he issued a decree of Ukrainian
Stadium Ukraina, Lviv
Karpaty Lviv graffiti
independence that fell foul of the Gestapo who shipped him off to a concentration camp. Bandera was finally released in 1944, as the Germans hoped to harness the Ukranian independence sympathies to help hold back the Russian advance. As a result, Bandera is seen in some circles as having right wing leanings. After World War 2, Bandera settled in West Germany and his anti-communist campaigns must have unnerved the Russians. Bandera was allegedly poisoned with cyanide in Munich in 1959 with the KGB as the key suspect.
We caught the tram back to the city centre. A flower market was still ongoing. In amongst the more structured market, little old ladies were selling everything from mushrooms to chickens from just a plastic sheet on the pavement. It was a million miles from world just a few blocks away in the main square of the "old" town. Appendix 1 Ukraine Premier Division FK Karpaty Lviv 0 FK Lviv 0 Date
: Saturday 19th October 2019 @ 1400 Hours Venue
: Stadium Ukraina, Lypova Alley, Halych District, Lviv, Ukraine Attendance
: 5,434 Karpaty
: Kudryk, Vakulenko, Martin's, Hall, Dubinchek, Hutsuluak, Klots, Verbnyi, Kozak, Nazarnya, Diogo FK Lviv
Samavskiy, Barzenko, Lyulka, Bratkov, Gonchar, Pryymak, Rafael, Martha, Shiva, Alvaro, Jose Vitor
Tot: 1.106s; Tpl: 0.054s; cc: 13; qc: 37; dbt: 0.0308s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb