“At minus 42, we ate ice cream in the stands. Basking.” Incredibly, Russian hockey is alive
Report by Vladimir Ivanov from Arkhangelsk, where Vodnik fans.
Over the past 15 years, Russian hockey has been remembered on three occasions: when Russia played with Sweden in the World Cup final, when Vodnik and Baikal-Energy threw 20 goals into their own nets per game, and when some of the legends passed away .
Big media have long listed bandy in the corporate Red Book. Along with bast shoes, small towns and fishing grounds. Because of this, in central Russia there is a steady feeling that this insanely romantic and frost-kissed sport is either near death, or even crossed the line.
When Arkhangelsk loomed on my planning horizon, everything became clear. It would be strange not to go to the legendary Vodnik. Of course, I did not hope to catch the atmosphere of the 90s, but I dreamed of at least capturing the vibes of those years.
30 Brewers is a reference to the controversial 20-own-goal match
Arkhangelsk is the most ordinary Russian city. With icicles longer than clubs. With visible sidewalks – so that you have to go straight along the roads. The farther from the center, the more painful it is to look at residential buildings. Plus, another correction to the north – the sun rises late, and hides already at 15:00.
There are only two things that distinguish the city from the total mass: the northern lights (I was not lucky with this) and just “Vodnik” (but how with this one!).
The region’s top team plays at Trud, an open, dilapidated stadium that turns 50 this year. The last 25 talks about the construction of a new arena have been going on constantly.
Cafe at the stadium. The prices are democratic. A bun – 25 rubles, a pie – 30. The people gather 1.5 hours before the game.
On the left at the table, traditionally, are the guys from the 30 Brewers club. The name is symbolic. Remember the famous 9:11? 11 in his then stabbed one person – Oleg Pivovarov. It looks like an all-time record. When the scandal went beyond the orbits of the federation, a replay was scheduled – in Obukhovo. It is 1300 km from Arkhangelsk. Nevertheless, a bus was organized and 30 fans went to the exit. We connect one with the other, we get 30 brewers.
20 own goals in one match: the most embarrassing game of the year
A canister of vodka that walked around the stands in the 90s: true or false?
– Is drinking beer with players a common thing? I turned to the founders of 30 Brewers.
– No no. This have not happened before.
– Like this? Was! And more than once! the colorful man protested.
“This is Dima,” they explained to me. – He plays hard. Now, however, already with veterans. He is a little closer to the hockey players. But our players have no stardom! Yesterday, I met Khaidaev (the head coach of Vodnik – Sports.ru) in Mack. We wished each other good appetite.
– Do they drink at the stadium during the games? I clarified.
– They don’t drink, but they warm themselves. Try to stand in the cold for two hours. But everything is within. We are all for a healthy lifestyle. We drink tea. Once we played with the Volga, the frost was 42 degrees. So we all ate ice cream! Bought a whole box.
– Ice cream?!
– So what? It’s warmer! Warmed up.
– In Moscow…
“Ah, Moscow,” they waved a yellow-green sleeve in front of my face. – Moscow – sissies!
– A canister of vodka that walked around the stands in the cold. Is this a legend from the 90s or was it?
– I have not seen this. But bags of vodka – yes.
– So they check at the entrance – it is impossible with containers. If you are not lucky, you leave it in the storage room and go to the stands without warming up.
– I didn’t notice you have left-luggage offices.
– And we have self-made ones. They are called snowdrifts. Plugged it in and went.
Why “Vodnik” is the salvation of the whole city
There are dozens of useless clubs in Russia, and every year hundreds of tournaments are held in the void. I was ready to see something similar in Arkhangelsk. But before the match, everything around the Trud stadium turned yellow and green. Bright colors dispersed the January melancholy and the city, which seemed deserted, came to life.
– Do you know that earlier the uniform was blue and white? – one of the fans conducted an educational program. – Until 35 years ago they saw that everyone in Sweden is multi-colored. Well, we decided to become more noticeable.
– And “Vodnik” – that’s us. I flew from Moscow specifically for the game. I am originally from Arkhangelsk. So yes, we are.
The game with Dynamo, which I got to, coincidentally turned out to be a landmark one. First, the regions traditionally do not like Moscow. Secondly, the blue and white are the current champions and in general they and Vodnik have 9 titles each. Someone already in the spring can take the lead in the historical race. Thirdly, during the crisis of the mid-2000s, almost the entire composition of Arkhangelsk residents moved to Dynamo. As it happens with us, the power has changed in the region, and the new bosses were not interested in sports. The budget was drastically cut, all the top players had to leave.
Vodnik, which has not won titles since 2005, is now really claiming the championship. The team has not suffered a single defeat during the season, and will almost certainly win the regular season.
As a result of all this, there was a huge queue in front of the box office even after the starting whistle. Tickets – 100 rubles. Around 8,000 people gathered at the stadium. And not in dark jackets, but in the colors of Vodnik. Drums, chants, songs – all in full.
“In fact, bandy is dying in the country,” fans admit. – There are fewer and fewer clubs in the Super League. Now there are 14. Teams that win the Major League often don’t even advance. Because you need an entrance fee in the region of 7 million, and at HSE – 300-400 thousand. Not all regions need it.
But here in Kemerovo, Krasnoyarsk, and in the north in general, Russian hockey is a special story. We have “Vodnik” – just life. Some don’t even skip workouts. And people don’t leave the stadium two minutes before the game (I’m ready to confirm that after 7:4 with Dynamo, almost everyone waited for the hockey players’ victory lap – Sports.ru).
– Let’s be honest: do you support Vodnik because there is no more entertainment in the city?
– Yes, the sport itself is very interesting! But we really do not have other professional teams. Futsal only, but there is the Tower.