Back in the 1960’s, when other Soviet teams could not even dream of the Fairs Cup or the Champions Cup, “Lokomotiv” was already competing in the European arena in the USIC Cup.
The history of football tournaments involving railway teams began with the creation of USIC, the International Railway Sports Association. At the founding congress of USIC, held in October of 1946 in the Austrian city of Salzburg, they scheduled a football tournament for railway employees in Budapest for July of the following year, and that’s what got it all started.
Soviet teams did not participate in the first four tournaments. The most interesting of which was the fourth one. The final match between Yugoslavia and West Germany, held in Belgium in 1958, ended in a 2:2 draw, but the Yugoslavs were awarded the victory thanks to a pretty bizarre tie-breaker: they served more corner kicks in the game. We seriously doubt that any other football trophy in history has ever been captured by a similar ruling.
Soviet railway workers introduced themselves to these competitions in 1960, the year after the fifth championship. “Lokomotiv” Moscow was the team chosen to represent USSR. While its players officially had amateur status in the Soviet sports structure, Lokomotiv was in fact a professional football club. At the time, however, it was still allowed to compete with USIC true amateurs from other countries.
Sixteen participating teams were divided into four subgroups. Great Britain, Belgium, Holland and West Germany made up Group 1; USSR, Finland, Czechoslovakia and East Germany were drawn into Group 2; Hungary, France, Poland and Austria formed Group 3; Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia started in Group 4.
The preliminary round determined group winners, who would later battle it out for the championship. The other 12 teams played qualifying games the rest of the way.
“Lokomotiv” looked dominating in the preliminaries, scoring 11 unanswered goals in its debut game against hosting Finland on June 14, 1960 in Hyvinkaa. But after easily beating Czechoslovakia at home and playing to a tie in East Germany, in the semifinal match the Russians, coached by N.Morozov, lost to "Rapid" Bucharest - 1:2. The 1:0 win over "Lech" Poznan in the 3rd place game only somewhat sweetened the pill for the mighty professionals.
In September of 1962, the Muscovites began their second quest for the Cup. This time, the championship was played out over two calendar years. A few changes were adopted in the rules as well, compared to the last competition. Whereas previously preliminary and final games were held in a single round-robin, this time Olympic system format was introduced. The number of participants had also changed dramatically, as this tournament was only attended by seven teams: France, USSR, Belgium, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
The first opponent of the Moscow railroad was the French team. Not surprisingly, meetings with French railway workers were a cakewalk for "Lokomotiv". The Russians, let’s not forget, were like sharks in a fish tank in those USIC Championships. Playing for depot inspector Leroy were French plumbers and depot workers, ticket controllers, station employees, depot foreman and a deputy station chief. Both in Yaroslavl and in Paris the Russians won big, blanking out the French at home 4:0 and toying with them on the road, 5:1.
The tournament was going nicely for the Muscovites. On the way to the final they had defeated “Rapid” Bucharest twice by the same score 2:1. But in the championship game “Lokomotiv” finally had to face a team of equal might. “Lokomotiv” Sofia was comprised of Bulgaria’s national team players. Although
this was still no excuse for the Russians to get embarrassed on the road, 0:3. The rematch on Moscow’s “Dynamo” stadium pitch only brought a 1:0 victory to the hosts, and the Bulgarian team took down the Cup for the second time.
Seventh rally took place only in 1966. This time the Soviet Railway was represented by "Kairat" Alma-Ata. Kazakh players twice beat the team of West Germany railway workers by scores of of 7:0 in Alma-Ata and 4:2 in Munich, advancing them to the semifinals. At this point, the privilege of further participation was transferred to "Lokomotiv." Such was another unique and somewhat strange feature of this tournament: a country could be represented by different teams at various stages.
Semifinal matched up "Lokomotiv" with "Rapid" Bucharest again, but this time both games showed a 2:1 result in favor of the Romanian players. In the final, "Rapid" avenged an earlier title loss to “Lokomotiv” Sofia, prevailing by the 3:2 aggregate (3:1 and 0:1).
It was only in Championship number eight, when a Soviet team finally conquered the trophy, but the club to do it first was not “Lokomotiv” Moscow, but “Kairat” Alma-Ata.
The ninth tournament began in August 1972. Since the previous winner, "Kairat", had moved on to to represent the Kazakh republican company "Yenbek", the right to participate in the draw returned to "Lokomotiv".
In the 2-game quarterfinals, the Muscovites took care of business easily against the Swedish railway team, winning a somewhat competitive match on the road, 2:0, and destroying the visitors at home, 9:1. The following year, the “Loko” faced a tough semifinal with the repeated champion and Romanian Cup winner "Rapid" Bucharest. After losing in Romania, 2:3, the Russians took control at home and won by two, 3:1, and advanced to the final for the second time in history to face their all-too-familiar foe, “Lokomotiv” Sofia.
It looked pretty hopeless for the Russians after the first game in Bulgaria on March 6, 1974, which the home team won by a comfortable 4:1 margin. But the return match in Khosta finally rewarded the Soviets with a huge upset and the long-awaited USIC title. They scored three times while allowing none and won the aggregate thanks to having produced a road goal. The tenth edition of the tournament was held in the Slovak city of Kosice. Three new teams joined the earlier participants - squads from the German Democratic Republic, the Netherlands, and France. From the "old guard" remained the "Magnificent Five" - teams of the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania and Czechoslovakia. Yet another “new old” format was introduced, with all participants gathering in one place for a round-robin tournament. This format was initially used at the dawn of USIC, but then gave way to the Olympic system.
The teams were divided into two conferences - Eastern and Western. Soviet railway workers were seeded in the East and only had difficulties with their first opponent, "Lokomotiv" Leipzig, earning a narrow 2:1 victory. After that, the Muscovites overclocked to a frenzied pace, crushing all their remaining opponents. "Rapid" Bucharest was dismantled by the 4:1 count, same as the amateur team of railway workers of France. The final against "Lokomotiv" Kosice went the Russians’ way in an even more convincing fashion - 5:1, and the trophy was theirs for the second time in a row. And here is some interesting trivia: three future famous coaches played for that Russian team - Yuri Semin, Givi Nodiya, and Valery Gazzaev.
Eleventh Championship was held in an ancient Western German city of Regensburg, which was at the time preparing to celebrate its 1800th anniversary. Games were played in three stadiums with a capacity of five to twenty thousand spectators. The tournament was officially called the XI European Championship for Railroad Athletes, as quite a few more countries delegated squads. The final eight qualifiers consisted of Poland, France, Bulgaria, Finland, England, as well as the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, admitted to the competitions as a former champion and vice-champion, and Germany, as the host country. Along with the Russians in the group were teams of Poland, Finland and France.
At the start of "Lokomotiv" faced the Polish team which was comprised of major league’s "Polonia" Warsaw players. This game ended up being the most difficult for the Russians, who grinded out a 2:1 win. In the second match, Muscovites beat the Finns - 3:1, and two days later handed it to the French - 7:1.
In the final match of the tournament, "Lokomotiv" got to see their old acquaintances from Kosice. Having lost three years ago in the final - 1:5, the Slovaks were eager to take revenge, but Muscovites hung on to a disciplined 1:0 victory, taking home their third consecutive Cup.
Twelfth USIC championship took place at the end of June of 1983 at the stadiums in Czechoslovakia. This tournament for the first time featured not only European participants of high quality, but also the best railway teams from Asia. Poland delegated their national champion of that year, "Lech" Poznan, Czechoslovakia sent "Lokomotiv" Kosice – the 10th place finisher of the national championship). Bulgaria and North Korea had also sent competitive squads. Teams from Great Britain, Finland, and Luxembourg rounded out the final eight through qualifying matches.
The teams were again divided into two groups. Muscovites’s opponents were Bulgaria, Finland and the DPRK. The first match against Bulgarian "Lokomotiv" the Russians fielded their standard line-up and won with a score of 3: 1. After a few reinforcements from “Tavria” Simferopol joined the team, "Lokomotiv" beat Finland - 5: 0, played a draw with North Korea - 2: 2 and won their group, setting up the the final match with the winner of the other division, "Lokomotiv" Kosice. Muscovites won the final match with a score of 2: 1 and took the champion’s title for the fourth time in a row.
Thirteenth USIC Championship, as stated in the posters, the World Football Championship of railroad athletes was held betweet June 13-18, 1987 in the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv and its suburbs.
8 teams gathered to compete for the title. Most of them had won a pass to the final stage in the qualifying matches. “Lokomotiv” Moscow as the winner of the previous Cup was not forced to qualify. Among the participants were both amateur teams and professional clubs of their respective national leagues. Poland was represented by "Polonia" Warsaw, East Germany – by “Lokomotiv” Dresden reinforced by several players from “Lokomotiv” Leipzig, Czechoslovakia – by “Lokomotiv” Košice, Bulgaria – by "Lokomotiv" Plovdiv, the nation’s top 6 finisher that year. Eight finalists were traditionally divided into two subgroups. The first consisted of USSR, East Germany, Poland, and North Korea, the second – of Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Finland, and France. Group winners advanced directly to the finals; group runners-up met in the bronze medal match.
In their first match on June 13 Muscovites beat North Korea by the score of 6:1. Next day’s opponent was "Polonia", which also brought the Russians a 2:0 win. Finally, “Loko” took care of their Dresden collegues by the 4:1 count, opening the gate to the championship match for the 5th consecutive time. In the final game they met the home team, “Lokomotiv” Plovdiv. And although, as they say in Russia, at
home even the walls help, those walls couldn’t be of enough help for the home side. 3:1 was the score of the Moscow’s victory.
The last championship, 14th in history, took place in the early 90’s without its’ 5-time defending champion. According to the new regulations, major league teams could not participate in the tournament, so Muscovites had to give up their entry to railway clubmates from Nizhny Novgorod, who played in the lower league.
So here is where “Lokomotiv” Moscow stands after having played 35 games against teams representing nine countries: 27 wins, 3 draws and 6 defeats; with the 111-38 goal difference. Valentin Bubukin is the club’s best scorer in these tournaments with 11 goals.
In modern history, the Russian railroad teams have twice become silver medalists, and in 2007 won the whole thing again. That championship was held in the Czech Republic and featured a Russia – Slovakia final match.
Four years later, the Russian railwaymen went to the tournament in France as the team of RFSO "Lokomotiv" and as reigning champions. On the way to the final, the Russians beat their colleagues from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In the golden match the Russians faced the hosts and played a truly dramatic game. Regulation ended with a scoreless tie, and only in the last seconds of extra-time the French were able to jam one in, forcing RFSO "Lokomotiv" to settle for silver medals and giving the home team some vengeance after all those beatings they took in earlier years.
In 2015, the year the USIC championship is being held in Sochi. RFSO "Lokomotiv" is represented by the team of West Siberian Railway.