The Soviet Supermen Of Dinamo Tbilisi

Soviet UnionGive me a boy of impressionable age and he’s mine for life goes the saying. Well I was that impressionable boy in the late 1970s and early 80s and it was the football being played in the Soviet Union that captured this particular heart and mind like little else before or since. With respectful nods in the direction of Minsk, Moscow and Kiev; the standard-bearer of that outstanding Soviet club generation for this football-mad boy was Dinamo Tbilisi. What an impression that team made on me, especially considering how little football I actually saw them play.

Dinamo TblisiIn the decades before blanket television coverage of European football became the norm, little was known about teams from the far-flung outposts of the Eastern Bloc. Fixtures were occasional and exposure was fleeting, usually snatched, crackly European competition highlight packages on midweek Sportsnight, crammed in as an afterthought after darts and boxing.

So the provincial Georgians of Dinamo Tbilisi represented a mysterious and exotic bolt from the blue and their extraordinary football operating on a level way beyond anything I had encountered. Who are these players and what planet did they come from? Had you told a young me that these men were footballing aliens brought to earth by Soviet Cosmonauts on a mission to conquer the world game, I might just have believed you.

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Vorwärts Berlin v Feyenoord, European Cup 1970

East GermanyWe’ve written in the past about the colourful history of Vorwärts Berlin and we wanted to share some very striking images taken of a 1970 European Cup tie between the East German club and Feyenoord. The pictures are courtesy of Lunatic News (@Lunatic_News) a great fan website dedicated to the Rotterdam club.

NetherlandsThe Vorwärts-specific post tells the story of the Dutch fans who took a VW Beetle on one of the most daunting of football road trips imaginable: travelling from Rotterdam to East Berlin to see the Quarter-Final away leg between the teams. The match was switched to the cavernous 70,000 capacity Walter-Ulbricht-Stadion although freezing conditions kept the attendance to under 20,000. The lack of floodlights meant an early 4pm kick-off. The full story of the trip can be seen here. The piece is written in Dutch of course but if you paste it into Google Translate then you’ll pick up most of it.

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Nottingham Forest Vintage 1973-79

EnglandOur final Nottingham Forest Vintage post brings you another group of player and team images from the greatest years in the club’s history. The arrival of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor as the new management team in early 1975 was the catalyst in turning round an under achieving club and elevating them to the barely fathomable heights of European champions within just four years.

In 1978 Forest became what is likely to be the last ever team in England to win the national title just a season after promotion and this wouldn’t be an isolated success. Clough’s team won the League Cup that same season, retained it in 1979 and then went on to win the European Cup in their debut season in the continent’s premier club competition.


Brazil Vintage 1958-68

BrazilA decade of retro club and seleção images featuring some of the greatest players the world has ever seen. This is the first post in our Brazil Vintage series and it spans the decade in which Brazil enjoyed their first two World Cup successes and became a global byword for football played with a certain type of verve and panache.

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Bukta Football Shirts 1958-67

A Word From Our SponsorsOur latest feature in BTLM’s regular A Word From Our Sponsors series takes a look at the advertising of Bukta, one of the grand old names of football shirt makers. The company was formed as far back as 1879 and Nottingham Forest became the first senior club to wear Bukta manufactured shirts in 1884.

The company grew in size and reputation through its association with Britain’s scouting movement in the early 20th century and in 1933 truly arrived in the football marketplace. That was the year Bukta that kitted out both FA Cup Finalists for the first time – a sizeable coup and a source of huge publicity.

In this first of three posts on Bukta shirts we feature the company’s advertising from the years 1958 through 1967. There’s an understandable focus on their association with the FA Cup winners of 1958 and 1964, Bolton Wanderers and West Ham respectively.

Stars Of BTLM – Roberto Boninsegna

ItalyGerd ‘Der Bomber’ Müller and Roberto ‘Bonimba’ Boninsegna: two strikers from the same era with much in common beyond their explosive nicknames. Both played at the very highest level for club and country, both were squat and strong, both were deadly finishers and both had an uncanny grasp of the art of finding space in the most crowded of penalty boxes. That Boninsegna is much less celebrated today than the prolific German – or even a number of his Italian contemporaries – is no surprise as he was a player who was consistently underrated during his playing days too.

Stars Of BTLM - Roberto BoninsegnaSubstance v style. While Italian football in Boninsegna’s day was austere, thrill-free and driven by a pathological obsession for defeat avoidance, at its heart was a fundamental contradiction. For all that the prevailing ends-justify-the-means philosophy went unquestioned, club presidents, supporters and the sports media could still be all too easily seduced by players of charisma and style who played with a certain panache – even if their overall effectiveness was limited.

Boninsegna, InterThere was little to romanticise about the surly and utilitarian Boninsegna who was a player universally respected but rarely loved. Less of a force of nature than Riva, less elegant than Prati, less spectacular than Anastasi and yet one who scored more Serie A goals than any of them; Boninsegna played and scored in a World Cup Final, was the de facto (if unacknowledged) costliest footballer in the world for a time and was, we contend, one of the game’s most effective forwards of the 60s and 70s.

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Austria Vintage 1956-85

AustriaOur latest Vintage series takes us to mittal Europe and a collection of retro images featuring some of Austria’s greatest players.

The majority of our images come from the late 70s and early 80s, the most recent period when Austria was a force in the European game and could produce world-class players like Krankl, Pezzey and Sara. Changed days indeed from the much-diminished state of their contemporary game.

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