First Division. The usual 16-team league, the last 2 relegated. The 10-tie limit rule remained – looked like it was beneficial. However, there was a caveat: in case a team played without players called to the national team, the tie-limit did not apply to them. Thus, Dinamo (Minsk) got a point against Dinamo (Tbilisi) and Spartak (Moscow) against Ararat. As a result the only team losing points for exceeding the tie-limit was Lokomotiv (Moscow) – they lost points against Dinamo (Moscow) and Spartak (Moscow). In case of equal points, the team with more wins came ahead – thus, Dinamo (Moscow) ended ahead of Metallist (Kharkov). Rules and playing with rules were a bit of a problem – for instance, the battle against unspoken match-fixing by ties was seemingly won, but since the scoring was not increasing much, it may have been a case of readjustment: teams chose to exchange wins instead of ties. The priorities of the national team over everything else often resulted in Dinamo (Kiev) scheming – since the national team was largely Dinamo (Kiev), the club had many games postponed – rightly of wrongly, but usually they had a few games still to play when everybody else was done with the season and thus had the advantage to play for needed results against disinterested opponents. The other clubs disliked that, but they could do nothing – the national team priorities were iron-clad excuse for machinations. And this season Dinamo (Kiev) again had to play after their rivals were finished, but luckily it did not matter. Two outsiders at the bottom and 3 teams competing for the title.
Kairat (Alma-ata) finished last with 16 points.
Neftchi (Baku) – 15th with 17 points. Nothing new… Kairat and Neftchi relegated once again, as many times before. And having been relegated together was nothing new either. Back to Second Division, the constant meandering of these two clubs between first and second level.
Dinamo (Tbilisi) – 14th with 23 points. Their decline was continuing, nothing new… still too strong to be relegated, but who knows?
Chernomoretz (Odessa) – 13th with 24 points.
Dinamo (Minsk) – 12th with 25 points. In decline or may be on their traditional level? Top row from left: Leonid Vassilevsky – administrator, Sergey Shiroky, Sergey Borovsky, Andrey Shalimo, Yury Trukhan, Georgy Kondratyev, Sergey Pavlyuchun, Pavel Rodnenok, Aleksandr Chernukho – masseur.
Middle row: Valery Palamarchuk, Viktor Yanushevsky, Viktor Sokol, Ivan Schekin – assistant coach, Mikhail Vergeenko – team chief, Eduard Malofeev – coach, Ivan Savostikov – assistant coach, Vassily Dmitrakov – doctor, Andrey Zygmantovich, Genady Lessun, Andrey Satzunkevich.
Front row: Sergey Aleynikov, Yury Antonovich, Sergey Gotzmanov, Sergey Gomonov, Aleksandr Kisten, Aleksandr Metlitzky.
Metallist (Kharkov) – 11th with 26 points. Nothing special in the championship, but this was their best ever year.
Dinamo (Moscow) – not a factor for a long, long time… 10th with 26 points. Top row from left: A. Gassov – masseur, D. Kharin, B. Pozdnyakov, A. Smirnov, I. Dobrovolsky, I. Bulanov, I. Sklyarov, I. Kolyvanov, A. Uvarov, N. Gontar.
Middle row: A. Yardoshvili – doctor, V. Demidov, A. Kobelev, A. Golodetz – assistant coach, A. Byshovetz – coach, N. Tolstykh – team chief, A. Borodyuk, S. Silkin, ?, V. Krupenin – administrator.
Sitting: S. Ushakov, V. Vassiliev. V. Karataev, S. Kiryakov, V. Lossev, S. Stukashov, G. Morozov, A. Timoshenko.
Ararat (Erevan) – 9th with 27 points.
Shakhter (Donetzk) – 8th with 28 points. Standing from left: A. Konkov – coach, A. Karpenev – team chief, A. Sopko, V. Goshkoderya, S. Zolotnitzky, E. Dragunov, O. Smolyaninov, I. Petrov, V. Grachev, S. Yashtenko, Yu. Gulyaev, V. Malyshev – assistant coach, Yu. Fishelev – administartor.
First row: I. Leonov, M. Olifirenko, S. Svistun, A. Kobozev, V. Evseev, V. Yurchenko.
Lokomotiv (Moscow) – 7th with 30 points. Sitting row from left: M. Russyaev, I. Gurinovich, I. Konyaev, S. Bazulev, S. Cherchessov, R. Ataulin, V. Abramzon, D. Gorkov, Kh. Ilyaletdinov, V. Korotkov – assistant coach.
Middle row: A. Mikhalychev, V. Karmin, Yu. Vasilkov – doctor, V. Shevchenko – team chief, Yu. Semin – coach, A. Petrashevsky -assistant coach, O. Shinkarev, R. Gallagberov, A. Shiryaev, N. Larin – masseur, B. Udovenko – administrator.
Top row: A. Kalaychev, A. Dozmorov, A. Kalashnikov, ?, A. Solovtzov, I. Terenin, E. Mileshkin, P. Mazurin, S. Gorlukovich.
Zenit (Leningrad) – 6th with 31 points.
Zalgiris (Vilnius) – 5th with 35 points. The team most talked about in the last 2-3 years – running strong with its home-grown players and some of them already playing for various USSR representations – mostly in the Olympic team.
Spartak (Moscow) – 4th with 39 points. For the first time in 10 years outside the top 3 and not a title contender. Given the players of this squad (Dassaev, Khidiatulin, Cherenkov, Rodionov, Pasulko, Shalimov, Bubnov, Susloparov) this squad should have been a title contender – no wonder this season stays as a shameful failure in the eyes of many.
Torpedo (Moscow) – 3rd with 42 points. Most likely the last successful season of Torpedo – they were very close to a double. At least by points, they fought for the title – how true was that is a matter of opinion. Sitting from left: ?, Yurin – assistant coach, Nikonov – assistant coach, Zolotov – team chief, Ivanov -coach, Zhendarev – administrator, ?, Proyaev – doctor.
Middle row: Sarychev, S. Shustikov, Agashkov, Rudakov, Gitzelov, Shirinbekov,Pissarev, Grishin, Prudnikov.
Top row: Kobzev, Grechnev, Rogovskoy, Savichev, Polukarov, Kovach, Prigoda, ?, Tishkov.
Dinamo (Kiev) – 2nd with 43 points. Top row from left: ?, Gorily, Pogodin, Stelmakh, Pikuza – administrator, Bal, Shmatovalenko, Yuran, Mushtinka.
Middle row: Demyanenko, Malyuta – doctor, Chanov, Mikhailichenko, Yakovenko, Kolotov – assistant coach, Veremeev, Lobanovsky – coach, Puzach, Zhidkov, Chubarov – administrator, Baltacha.
Sitting: Evlantyev – doctor, Kuznetzov, Protassov, Yaremchuk, Zavarov, Belanov, Ratz, Litovchenko, Bessonov, Shvydky – masseur.
Lost this championship and one may wonder why with such a team. 12 national team players and some more… the ready excuse was exactly the national team: too many important games on too many fronts. It should be added that the championship was summer-fall and after the European triumph in the summer transfers to the West started – Baltacha and Zavarov were lost.
Dinamo (Kiev) still had a game to play when Dnepr was already a champion after 18 wins, 10 ties, and only 2 lost games. 49-23 goal-difference, 48 points. Crouching from left: Evgeny Shakhov, Aleksandr Sorokalet, Viktor Rafalchuk, Sergey Bashkirov, Eduard Son, Nikolay Kudritzky, Vladimir Bagmut, Oleg Taran.
Middle row: Sergey Krakovsky, Aleksey Cherednik, Aleksandr Tevs – club chairman, Leonid Koltun – assistant coach, Nikolay Filipovsky – team chief, Evgeny Kucherevsky – coach, Aleksandr Lysenko – assistant coach, Viktor Maslov – administrator, Nikolay Chernysh – doctor, Roman Konafotzky – administrator, Valery Gorodov.
Top row: Nikolay Cherny – doctor, Vladimir Gerashtenko, Vadim Tishtenko, Andrey Sidelnikov, Vladimir Lyuty, Igor Shkvyrin, Anton Shokh, Sergey Puchkov, Ivan Vishnevsky, Vyacheslav Chebanov – masseur.
A great example of doing more with less – Dnepr won its 2nd title and although they stayed strong between victories, the winning teams were similar: hardly any famous players, few discarded from Dinamo (Kiev) guys (the best known was the new addition Vadim Evtushenko, former national team player now 30-years old, who was hoped to replace Protassov in attack – the hopes did not materialize and Evtushenko moved back to Kiev in mid-season.) Dnepr was not in position to compete with mighty Dinamo for star players, so they looked elsewhere for recruits – often far away from Ukraine (Eduard Son came from Kairat Alma-ata). Experienced team, perhaps aging a bit, but well balanced. Sturdy fighters, who hardly dazzled the eye, playing tough physical football – may be not attractive team, but effective and motivated, even over-performing. Prime example was Evgeny Shakhov, the 26-years old striker, who came from Second Division Metallurg (Zaporozhye) and instantly became the top scorer of the team – practically unknown player practically replaced Protassov. Similarly, goalkeeper Gorodov relegated the keeper of the first champion team Sergey Krakovksy to back-up goalie – Krakovsky was included in the national team after the first title; Gorodov, however, was not. And there was even curiosity: the right full-back Ivan Vishnevsky became perhaps the oldest national team debutante – at 31 he was called for the first time to the national team and became part (without playing even a minute, though) of the wonderful European vice-champions shortly after winning the title with Dnepr. Yet, it was a team without rel stars – nobody became national team regular, Dnepr players were mostly invloved with Olympic team and even there not in big numbers and not very often. From this perspective – a triumph of the underdog, but its was well respected underdog already and not one-time wonder at all. A testimony of that was that the team survived the loss of Litovchenko and Protassov and without them won the second title. Testimony of good work was that Dnepr remained consistently strong – in sharp contrast with the other champions of the 1980s: Dinamo (Minsk) and Zenit (Leningrad) not only did not repeat their success, but quickly dropped down to their usual relatively lower place in the league. Dnepr achieved the impossible – they became the first and only really provincial club, not even from a republic’s capital, to win the title twice.