Legendary coaches, achievements and golden playing names all ring true when mention is made of Dynamo Kiev. Located in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev this is a city rich in historical sites where museums, cathedrals and the beauty of public parks partner a range of modern buildings that includes the redeveloped Olimpiyskiy stadium.
Kiev or Kyiv (Київ) is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe and the original area surrounding it (Kyivan Rus) is said to have been at the root of the religious and cultural foundations for the modern Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia.
In 1775 Kiev was annexed by the Russian Empire. The city remained under Russian rule, with only brief but uncertain periods of independence, before the Soviet Union took ownership after the revolution. In the centuries since Kiev and the wider Ukraine has experienced various levels of growing Russification and Russian immigration with large areas in the east known for the Russian language and ethnic Russian feeling.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Kiev became the capital of an independent Ukraine. Due to its huge geographic spread it is a nation still discovering its place between east and western Europe as a unified if fragmenting nation.
The inaugural match of Dynamo Kiev was played on June 17th 1928 against Dynamo Odessa. Soon friendly matches started against the big Russian clubs and the club contested the first USSR Supreme League title in 1936.
The great periods of dominance came during the 1970’s and 80’s thanks to the work of the Valery Lobanovsky. With his unique brand of highly scientific management and excessive disciplinarian coaching under his care the team won the USSR championship in 1974. Soon they would consolidate a place in the eyes of the west with a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup win over Ferencvaros and a UEFA Super Cup defeat of Bayern Munchen. By then Oleg Blokhin was known for his goalscoring heroics and in 1975 he was named European Footballer of the Year.
Post independence Dynamo Kiev established themselves as the clear domestic power and a Champions League force by clinching nine Ukraine Vyscha Liga titles and a number of Ukraine Cups. Eye catching performances of the young academy graduate Andriy Shevchenko came to the note of AC Milan.
With its distinctive traditional emblem of the white uppercase ‘D’ inside a blue rhombus, Dynamo have recently been dethroned in the Ukraine by the power and wealth of Shakhtar Donetsk.
Sets amongst a hillside park between the river and the Komsomol Square there is a place which combines the historical landscapes and special architectural features of Kiev. This is the historic home of Dynamo Kiev; the Dynamo stadium now named after the legendary Dynamo Kiev coach Valeriy Lobanovsky.
At the beginning of the 20th century this area of land was originally a fruit and vegetable patch which supplied the Baroque royal residence of the Mariyinskyi Palace. The football stadium was opened in 1934 and the architects of the building project were Osmak and Bespalyi.
Since then the stadium became the home arena for Dynamo and matches in both the Soviet Union championship and the Ukrainian league. During the Second World War the stadium was destroyed and Dynamo played many matches at the Republican Olympiyskyi Stadium. From 1962 it was named after Nikita Khrushchev then called the Central Stadium after his downfall as communist leader.
Although the Dynamo Stadium was rebuilt in 1956 it was at the larger Central Stadium that Dynamo played most of its football. Here, huge crowds of 70,000 could watch some of the greatest sides push the club onto consistent success in both the Soviet Union and in Europe.
The club songs of Dynamo would ring out from the stands.
DYNAMO DYNAMO Oh-oh-oh!
Beats the flame of passion and stirs the blood!
Since the end of the communist era the Dynamo Stadium has been rebuilt for football purposes only. Plastic seating was introduced with new administrative, player memorials and fitness facilities added. The stadium infrastructure is open yet remains grand with classical soviet entry columns, huge floodlight pylons and open banked terraces.
After the death of the legendary coach Valeriy Lobanovskyi in May 2002 the main shareholders of Dynamo Kiev decided to name the stadium after its greatest ever figure. Its hard to walk anywhere near the stadium without an image of the great Ukrainian coach being seen.
Today Dynamo Kyiv plays nearly all its home matches at the Olympic Stadium complex. However it is not the official home ground of Dynamo or any other Kyiv club. The Dynamo Stadium remains the true home for Dynamo and a reconstruction project has been approved.
More recently in January 2014 the square adjoining the Dynamo Stadium’s main gate became a central scene of the month-long street battle between activists of the Euromaidan revolution and Ukrainian police. On several occasions the western media could watch as clashes took place immediately near the stadium gates.
You can see some of our images of the old and new stadiums of Dynamo here.