Thursday 9 August 2018

The Ghost Stadium of Chernobyl and the Team That Is No More

Imagine a whole town or city being evacuated, with no one ever to return. People leaving behind their homes, their places of work, the places where they socialise, in many cases leaving behind the place where they grew up. 

Watching TV recently I saw a programme where they visited a place where this actually happened, with area in question being site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the now ghost town that stands in it's shadow. Proclaimed a city in 1979, Pripyat's population reached 49,360 before it was evacuated in April 1986, and sat there imagining what everyday life would have been like in this Soviet metropolis, one of my first thoughts was did they have a football team? 

Naturally however I did not wonder for long, I very quickly went and did what everyone does in the modern day world that we live in, I went on the internet and googled the answer. The answer was indeed yes there had been a team in Pirpyat. According to wikipedia FC Stroitel Pripyat played in the fifth tier of Soviet football and finished second in their final full season before leaving the city (they moved to Slavutych a new purpose built city for Chernobyl evacuees, but folded two years later). 

You can view Pripyat's overgrown abandoned stadium on Google Maps street view and after putting a few tweets out to various Ukrainian, Russian, and Soviet football accounts, someone replied telling me they'd visited the stadium as part of a Chernobyl tour. Although I've obviously never been myself it is interesting too see footage and images of the crumbling 'ghost' stand that remains and imagine the matches that took place there.

As for further information on the club, my twitter shout out did not give me anything else but I did myself however find a moderately interesting article on the club at and the abandoned ground. It describes in the abandoned ground, though that is nothing you can't see via Google maps, but does also have an interesting paragraph about the very sudden end of football in Pripyat: 

Midfield Magazine reported how on April 26, 1986, FC Stroitel Pripyat’s opponents for the upcoming weekend’s fixture, the magnificently Soviet named, FC Mashinostroitel, were preparing to leave for Pripyat. The sharp end of the season was approaching, and the two sides were scheduled to play in the semi-final of the Kiev Regional Cup. A helicopter landed on FC Mashinostroitel’s training field, and a fraught looking official informed them, “lads, go home, you’re not going to Pripyat tomorrow.” The cataclysmic events unfolding at Chernobyl meant no football team would ever play there again.

FC Stroitel Pripyat is a fascinating football story about which I know very little, and any further information would be welcome about what is one story that is rarely told when it comes to the Chernobyl disaster and the events that followed it.