Football club Volga

The beginnings

Football club Volga based in Nizhny Novgorod originated in its suburb Sormovo in the early 20th century. Nizhny Novgorod footballers did not have good balls, or sporting outfit, or suitable grounds for playing the game at those distant times. People from Sormovo had the best “stadium” in the city and its suburbs. At any rate, the ground in Myshyakovka, Maryina Griva, even though it was not quite even, was covered with grass and there were no stones, pits and bumps on it, which were aplenty on other grounds.
At first Sormovo footballers were underactors as their skills were inferior to those of the upper Nizhny Novgorod and Kanavino players. But football became more and more popular among Sormovo young people from year to year. Eventually, they won the Volgar Club Cup in 1922 smashing the so far invincible Nizhny Novgorod team 5:1 in the final game. And the next year Sormovo Sports Club (SSC) gained victory in the autumn Great Nizhny Novgorod Cup tournament.

A reform in Russian sports organization was carried out in 1924 on the initiative of People’s Commissar Podvoisky. Clubs created before the 1917 Revolution were disbanded. All sports societies and clubs groups were attached to industrial and other enterprises. Most of SSC footballers joined the Metallist team. Sormovo championship began to be played separately from the general Nizhny Novgorod tournament at that time. In the late 1920s and the early 1930s Sormovo footballers V. Snopkov, V. Kurov, M. Tarasov, M. Sokolov and A. Ilyichev were regular members of various city's combined teams.
In 1937 «Sudostroitel» Sormovo was admitted to the second USSR Cup championship. And right away, in 1/64 finals, Sormovo players confronted a very serious opponent – Spartak Moscow, a top national club. The Muscovites won 3:0, but V. Pankratov, goalkeeper of Sudostroitel, was a real hero in that match as he saved his team from a devastating defeat.

The Sormovo team was renamed Dzerzhinets in the 1940s and appeared many times in the zonal tournaments of the Russian Federation Championship, without significant achievements though.
The year 1954 marked as the turning point in the history of football in Sormovo. The Krasnoye Sormovo plant management set a task to Georgy S. Shtyrov, a known coach in the city of Gorky (Nizhny Novgorod had been renamed Gorky): to make Avangard Sormovo into a top-class team. Avangard was a runner-up in the 1955 zonal tournament of the Russian Federation falling behind the leader, Zenit Izhevsk, by mere two points.

In the next season, Avangard was guided by Vasily I. Zharkov, a Moscow coach from the Zharkov football dynasty. Members of this family defended Torpedo Moscow colours in the 1940s and the 1950s. Vasily Zharkov succeeded in welding the team and instilling new ideas into its manner of playing. The results did not take long to come. Avangard Sormovo went through the season with triumph, won the Russian Federation Championship and was promoted to Class B of the USSR Championship.
The 1956 Russian Federation champions were goalkeepers Gennady Zimnyakov and Rudolf Chuplygin and field players Valentin Mureyev, Alexander Tarasov, Alexei Solomatin, Yuri Knyazev, Victor Startsev, Alexander Kapitanov, Albert Yelizarov, Valery Smirnov, Valentin Sysalov, Boris Shipunov, Lev Popov, Georgy Doronin, Vasily Uglanov, Lev Titov and Yuri Boyarskov.
In 1957 Avangard reached the USSR Cup quarterfinals. This achievement has not been surpassed by the region’s teams to this day. During its advance to the quarterfinals Avangard eliminated two Class A clubs – Burevestnik Kishinev and Spartak Minsk. But in the quarterfinals stage Avangard failed being beaten 2:5 by Lokomotiv Moscow, the USSR Cup winner in that season. Outstanding masters Vladimir Maslachenko, Yevgeny Rogov, Yuri Kovalev, Victor Voroshilov, Valentin Bubukin and Victor Sokolov played for the “Railwaymen”, while the Sormovo team lacked Valentin Mureev, their pillar of defence. Nonetheless, the score was 2:2 at the close of the first half. It was only after the break that the Moscow side delivered three unanswered goals and thereby turned the balance in their favour.

From 1958 to 1962 Sormovo football was represented by Raketa (the team got its name from the first hydrofoil craft manufactured by Krasnoye Sormovo plant). Raketa appeared in Class B. Its best result was the fourth position in 1960. Head coach Vladimir G. Grinin, brother of Alexei Grinin, a famous forward in post-War CDKA, was placed in charge of Raketa before the beginning of the next season. The new coach brought a group of footballers with him. The most valuable acquisition was goalkeeper Boris Boronenkov who became a top star of the season. Boris repulsed four penalty kicks!

The process of Raketa team assembling took too much time that year. Skilled forwards A. Savin from Torpedo Gorky and N. Yefimov from Tekstilshik Ivanovo were invited to play in the second round. Both had experience of playing in Class A. In 1961 Raketa played successfully with the leaders but was losing points when playing with the outsiders. As a result, they finished the season in the fourth position.

I.V. Zolotukhin, who had worked fruitfully with Zenit Izhevsk, headed Raketa on the eve of the 1962 season. He brought A. Vorobyev, B. Ignatyev and N. Aleksyutin with him from Izhevsk. Also were invited V. Arbutov from Belarus Minsk, V. Kalugin from Torpedo Pavlovsk, G. Silkin from CSK MO of the Ministry of Defence, N. Mikhalev from Trud Noginsk and G. Davydov from Admiralteyets Leningrad. G. Shirochkin from Baltika Kaliningrad and V. Brednev from Krilya Sovetov Kuibyshev joined the team during the season.

Zolotukhin was actually creating a new team the core of which would make up the backbone of Volga Gorky in the next season.

Volga Gorky

Volga Gorky was formed in 1963 by merging two clubs, Torpedo and Raketa. Initially the team represented Krasnoye Sormovo plant (voluntary sports society Trud).
Volga obtained the pass from the second group of Class A to the Top League in its very first season. The Volga team began fighting for leadership resolutely from the very start and performed perfectly. The interest of football supporters to the second group of Class A was so high that at their numerous requests the key match between Volga Gorky and Shinnik Yaroslavl was broadcast by national TV. The Sormovo players did not disgrace themselves before the countrywide audience; they beat their opponents 3:0. Eventually, the Yaroslavl and Gorky clubs gained admittance to the first group of Class A which was later designated Top League.

The season Volga played in the higher tiers of football society passed under the sign of absurd faults and fatal unluck. The fate of the team was to be decided in the extra match with Torpedo Kutaisi for the 13th position to be played in Tashkent at the end of November. Torpedo’s goalkeeper R. Urushadze was called upon to play in the national team and the Football Federation decided to “equalize the forces” and allowed the Georgian side to remove any Volga’s player. The Georgians chose G. Zabelin and thus broke Volga’s line of attack. The team from Kutaisi won the match with the score 4:2, and Volga was relegated from the first group of Class A.
Afterwards Volga occupied 4th position in the second group of Class A in 1968, the prototype of the present First Division and was the bronze prize winner of zonal tournaments of the Second League three times (in 1971, 1972 and 1974). Gorky footballers took part in Soviet national competitions until the 1984 season.

The dozen of Volga Gorky best strikers:
Goals (Championship + Cup)

1. Vladimir AFANASYEV 98 (96+2)
2. Mikhail SENYURIN 60 (58+2)
3. Yevgeny LUNEV 60 (56+4)
4. Valentin FILYAKIN 51 (49+2)
5. Alexander MINAYEV 49 (47+2)
6. Alexander POPOVICH 48 (45+3)
7. Alexander SHCHERBAKOV 36 (36+0)
8. Valery KORNISHIN 34 (33+1)
9. Yuri GOLOV 26 (26+0)
10. Sergei GRISHIN 25 (24+1)
11. Konstantin FOMIN 25 (23+2)
12. Anatoly STEPANOV 20 (20+0)

Elektronika Nizhny Novgorod

The historical name of the city of Gorky – Nizhny Novgorod – was returned to this city on the Volga in 1990. Shortly after this event coach Vladimir A. Zinovyev organized a children’s football team Sormovich attached to the likenamed youth sports society sponsored by the Sormovo district administration. The kids from Sormovo reached the finals of regional competitions six times and won the title of champion in all of them. Zinovyev’s charges also won in the zonal competitions for the Kozhany Myach club’s prizes and in the tournaments of sports oriented secondary schools. The Elektronika football club was formed in 1998 and most of the Sormovich young players became its members. The same year Elektronika youths finished 5th in the final tournament of the Russian Championship having played with a year older boys in Krasnodar. The regional Sports Committee awarded 16 young footballers the title of Master of Sports Candidate.

In the 1999 and 2000 seasons Elektronika played in the Povolzhye Interregional Football Union Championship in the Third Division and at its second attempt got to the third position in this regional tournament. Elektronika became a professional club in 2001 and during four years represented Nizhny Novgorod in the national Second Division (the best result: 6th position in the Povolzhye Zone in 2002).

Volga Nizhny Novgorod

FC Volga was organized in the end of December 2004 on the basis of FC Elektronika. This event opened the contemporary history this football club.
In 2005 season the team had not been lost to view in the strong Ural-Povolzhye Zone of the Second Division. It secured the 6th position for itself among 19 teams. Volga finished 7th in the 2006 championship. The Nizhny Novgorod players were defeated just once in the second round after an impressive series of ten lossless games. As a result, the team was short of merely one point needed to occupy the fourth position. During these two seasons Volga appeared as a virtual dread to the favourites having seized the largest number of points from the teams that had settled themselves down comfortably on the winners’ podium.
In November 2006 the combined team of the Ural-Povolzhye Zone of the Second Division guided by head coach Vladimir Zinovyev became the runner-up in the traditional Nadezhda tournament of the Professional Football League held in Saransk.
In the 2007 season Volga contested for promotion to the First League till the final rounds, but finished 4th in the Ural-Povolzhye Zone of the Second Division.

In the 2008 season FC Volga guided by Sergei Petrenko won in the championship of the Ural-Povolzhye Zone of the Second Division and also captured the Professional Football League Cup – the tournament of winners in the five zones of the Second Division. According to the established rules, its successes brought the team to the Russian national First Division. Volga overpowered Saturn Moscow Oblast in a dramatic duel in the Russian Cup Championship and was eliminated only in the 1/8 finals when it lost to FC Tom after the penalty shoot-out.
In the interseasonal 2008/2009 period the coach managed to retain the backbone of the past-year team and at the same time to strengthen it inviting several men who had experience of playing in the First Division and the Premier League. In particular, forward Anton Khazov, who began his football career in Nizhny Novgorod, went over from Shinnik Yaroslavl to Volga and became the team’s captain.
After Sergei Petrenko retired in June 2009, Sergei Perednya was appointed acting head coach of Volga. The Nizhny Novgorod team lost only twice under his guidance and rose from the 19th to the 4th position in the tournament roster.
Volga’s debut in the First Division proved to be successful. In 2009 the team had demonstrated perfect and spectacular playing and achieved high results. The White-blues delivered a record lossless series winning 16 straight games. More than that, they reached the first position in the second round right down-the line and ranked fourth in the First Division in the 2009 season.

Volga played its home matches at the largest stadium in Nizhny Novgorod since mid-August 2009. The capacious Lokomotiv stadium has a natural rolled grass carpet grown in Moscow Oblast and acclimatized to Central Russia conditions. The football field is equipped with an up-to-date system of liquid warming and automatic watering.

In November 2009 года Alexander M. Pobegalov, a known football professional, was appointed as Volga’s head coach. In May 2010 he was replaced by Omari M. Tetradze, who led Anzhi Makhachkala to the Premier League not long ago. Guided by Tetradze, Volga Nizhny Novgorod played assuredly the remaining two-thirds of the 2010 season, finished second and thus gained access to the Russian Premier League. The team scored the greatest number of significant wins (10), delivered the greatest number of goals (62) and had the less number of losses (5). Volga’s best shooter Otar Martsvaladze scored 21 goals and thus surpassed all of his peers in the First Division. The Volga team repeated the past season lossless series winning 16 straight games. It is worthy of mentioning that after the White-blues began playing at the Lokomotiv stadium (from August 2009) they lost not a single home match. Volga reached the 1/8 finals of the Russian Cup again but yielded to Dynamo Moscow in the away game in this stage.

The task for the 2011/2012 season, which has become an experimental one and has been carried out during a year and a half, is for Volga to entrench in the Russian football elite ranks. To accomplish this task the team has been reinforced by good Russian and foreign players with a view to raising the quality of its playing. The first season proved to be a thorny trial. The team lost a good many points playing with equal contestants. At the same time, Volga assuredly outdid Dynamo Moscow (3:0) and eliminated Spartak Moscow from the Russian Cup championship. The White-blues stood on showing real class in their matches with Lokomotiv Moscow and CSKA Moscow.