Burevestnik is an old name in Russian sport, but not one with the most glorious of histories. The name, which translates as ‘stormy petrel’, is most often associated with the Soviet association for student games. The name also found its way to various sports teams but on the football field it has rarely soared.

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Burevestnik take a free kick during a 2-1 home defeat against Troitsk.

The Moscow football team was founded back in 1926 but achieved little. It’s only lasting impact on the record books is an unfortunate one: in 1938, on the way to a last-placed finish in the Soviet Championship Group A, the team lost 9-1 at home to Dynamo Leningrad. That’s still a record home defeat in senior Russian or Soviet football. By 1948 the team had ceased to exist; it was reborn in 2002 and now plays in the amateur third division, the same level as the likes of Rubin Kazan (amateurs) or Sportakademklub Moscow.

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The cafe at the Iskra stadium. Closed.

Reformed, Burevestnik now play at the Iskra (Spark) stadium in northern Moscow, just beyond the sprawling VDNKh complex of Soviet architecture and some distance from the Burevestnik stadium close to Tolstoy’s Moscow home in Khamovniki. The Ostankino TV tower pierces the horizon on one side, but the views are dominated by apartment blocks and the neighbours include the auto workshop that seems to be a compulsory feature of football at this level in Moscow.

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A handful of fans and a car repair shop – a typical scene from Russian amateur football. Burevestnik vs Troitsk, Moscow, summer 2015.

Spectator accommodation is extremely limited, just four rows of temporary seating behind each goal, and further separated from play by a mesh fence. The official capacity is said to be 1,000, but it’s hard to imagine how that could work in reality. Burya, as they are known to their small bunch of fans, entertain Troitsk in front of a couple of dozen spectators and a bored cop. The game, like the club’s history, doesn’t really take off; Troitsk ease to a 2-1 win. Troitsk, relatively new to this division just as their town is a relatively new addition to Moscow’s official reach, are pushing up the table; Burya remain decidedly down among the also-rans, relying on the ineptitude of others to keep them off the foot of the table. It’s reported that a 15-year-old midfielder, Ramil Nazrutdinov, rejected the chance to join he academy at Schalke-04 in favour of, in his words, leading Burevestnik to the Premier League. But to achieve that he will need some serious improvements around his club. 

Interested in Russian football? Groundhoppers’ new e-book, Snow on the Seats, gives a personal journey around the country and its stadiums. Written in the build-up to the 2018 World Cup, it offers a glimpse at how Russia, and its football, has changed in the run-up to the tournament. Available for download to Kindle devices and a bargain at £3.49, it’s a unique primer for this summer’s excitement. Find it here

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