In the course of the last century the “Dinamo” Tbilisi football team, which was founded in 1925, claimed many titles including various championships and USSR Cups but not limited to them – it also won several international tournaments with spectacular performances. In 1981, “Dinamo” Tbilisi became the winner of the Cup Winners’ Cup, and in 1973, the Georgian team won the prestigious Columbus Caravel Cup held in the city of Huelva, Spain, having defeated “Atletico” Madrid in the semi-finals (0:0, 4:2 on penalties) and the legendary “Benfica” Lisbon (3:1) in the finals.
The Georgian team did also have all the chances to win in August of 1976 and at the international tournament in La Línea de la Concepción (Spain), where in the list of participants there were such famous clubs as “Valencia” and “Malaga”, as well as “Amsterdam” (the Dutch club) that in the mid-1970s played in the Netherlands’ top division.
In the mass media of that time, the author who is writing these lines, found only little information about the dramatic semi-final of that tournament played between “Dinamo” Tbilisi and “Malaga” (August 7, 1976) and about the third place match, correspondingly – there the georgian club defeated “Amsterdam” with a score of 6:1 (“Amsterdam” lost in the semi-finals to “Valencia”).
So, I contacted those football players of “Dinamo” Tbilisi who played at the La Linea tournament in 1976. Forward Revaz Chelebadze was the person who told me the most about that championship. He started his football career playing for “Shukura” Kobuleti (1972-73), then for “Dinamo” Batumi (1974-75, 1983-85), and finally, for “Dinamo” Tbilisi (1976-82 and 1985-87). Revaz became a bronze medalist of the Olympic Games in Moscow (1980) being a part of the USSR Olympic team. Chelebadze still has vivid memories of the performance of his football club, Dinamo, in that tournament.
– I heard that it took quite a long time for “Dinamo” to get to La Línea de la Concepción?
– It was my very first trip as a member of “Dinamo” Tbilisi to a foreign tournament. The journey to La Linea was tedious, indeed – first, we boarded a plane travelling from Tbilisi to Moscow, there we took a connection flight to Paris, then the next one to Madrid, and in the end, a several hour-long ride way to La Linea.
– You didn’t play against Malaga, but you excelled in your match with “Amsterdam”?
– I was on the bench against “Malaga”, and our team had some advantage during the game, I would like to note very technical and confident technique of David Kipiani (1951-2001), Manuchar Machaidze, Vitaly Daraselia (1956-1982), Vakhtang Koridze’s passes. So, at the beginning of the second half Nodar Akhalkatsi (1938-1998), who was our senior coach back then, told me, “Get ready, Rezo, you’ll be on the field soon”. No sooner had he pronounced these words, a terrible fog appeared over the stadium literally a minute or two later, it was so thick that nothing was visible. The teams played for a couple more minutes, and then the Spanish referee took the players to the locker rooms. They spent some time there, but the fog did not cleare.
The organizers of tournament did not obviously not plan any replays as a part of the tournament, as it would entail a lot of organizational and technical issues. To cut a long story short, after 15 minutes, the chief referee (Soto Montesinos, Spaniard) having consulted with the organizers, decided to determine the winner in a series of penalties. I never managed to get on the field, so I didn’t have to take a penalty. When the teams were taking penalties, hundreds of spectators stood up from the stands and ran closer to the football gates, because that nothing could be seen from the stands.
– Dinamo crushed Amsterdam, how did it happen?
– We did not crush Amsterdam, but knocked them out – in their team they had the magnificent goalkeeper of the Dutch national team, Jan Jongblud, who was a vice-world champion in 1974 and 1978. We were so disappointed after the match against Malaga – I scored twice against Amsterdam – one goal was with my head, one after selling out one by one. Kipiani, Daraselia, Manuchar Machaidze and Chivadze also scored then. I want to mention that if it weren’t for that tedious road (we spent on a road to La Linea more than a day with three changes), the Tbilisi team could have won against Malaga and got to the finals of the tournament, and then it may have been a completely different story.
Manuchar Machaidze: I have never seen such fog as in La Linea
The Dinamo captain from August 1976 to May 1980, one of the best football players in the history of the leading Georgian club, Manuchar Machaidze, said the following in an interview with the author of these lines, “I can still see that terrible fog over the stadium in La Linea in front of my eyes. I have played in many countries as a member of “Dinamo” Tbilisi and the USSR national team, but I have never seen such fog. We could have won that game, because we were having the playing advantage for as much as 55 minutes, I could have scored, and Kipiani also could, and Koridze, but the goalkeeper and the “Malaga” defence were great. And then, when we were just about to score the goal, there happened such a fog that led to the termination of the game”.
Khizanishvili and Chivadze about the match with “Malaga”
Dinamo defender, Nodar Khizanishvili, has always been distinguished by his humour. Recalling that match in La Linea, he told me, “One of our players took a penalty in such a powerful way towards Malaga’s goal that the ball flew over the fences and nets and ended up on the territory of Gibraltar, and we really made so many jokes about it”
In 1976, the future captain of “Dinamo” Tbilisi (since of June 1980 till the end of 1987) and captain of the USSR national team (in 1981-1984) Alexander Chivadze then was not the leading player of the team, but was quite efficient in the first team. “I was young then (laughs), I was only 21, but I do remember those matches well. The guys joked that there were a lot of beautiful girls in the stands and if we score a goal against Malaga, we will blow them a kiss. Before and during the game itself, I turned to the stands from time to time, looking for candidates for an air kiss, but the fog prevented us from doing so – when we had already seized the initiative, the referee stopped the game due to the fog”.
Vakhtang Koridze : I went one-on-one and hit the Spaniards’ post
The halfback of “Dinamo” Tbilisi, now the head of the Georgian Football Veterans Union, Vakhtang Koridze still cannot stop blaming himself for not being able to score a goal against “Malaga”. “I also had one moment – I circled two Spaniards, got a one-on-one situation with the Spanish club goalkeeper and just hit the post. I still can’t forgive myself for this mistake, if I scored, we would have probably won, and could have made it to the final and maybe even got a victory in the tournament,” said Koridze.
The fog and penalty
From the stories of “Dinamo” Tbilisi veterans and the mass media data, it can be concluded that the in course of the match “Dinamo” Tbilisi had some advantage. However, the “Malaga” players came dangerously close to the opponent’s goal several times. At the 8th minute, Quevedo’s shot hit the “Dinamo” goal post, but in the second half it was the Georgian team which had several opportunities to conquer the opponent’s goal. At about 10 minutes of the second half, there appeared dense fog over the stadium, the players did not manage to see the goal of other team, could not see where the ball was going to, but despite this, the game continued for a couple of minutes. However, the fog intensified, so the referees stopped the match, took the players to the locker rooms, where decided that a penalty series will be a logical decision to identify the winner. Some of the spectators ran onto the field, as nothing could be seen from the stands, hundreds of them approached the goal, where penalties were being taken. Castronovo, Bastilio, Recuejo, Laguna and Vilanova were trying to strike the ball into the Dinamo’s goal (the latter’s shot was repelled by Dinamo goalkeeper David Gogia). M.Machaidze, Chivadze, Chelidze, Koridze and Kipiani were selected for the series of penalties against Malaga. By the way, the outstanding footballer of that time, Kipiani, kicked the ball above the goal, so the penalty shootout continued, as there was a 4-4 draw. Then the 1972 European vice-champion and the 1972 bronze Olympic medalist, Revaz Dzodzuashvili, missed the goal, and Khizanishvili’s shot was repelled by the “Malaga” goalkeeper. Gogia successfully defended the gates in a shot from Chievedo, but Aras was accurate in striking and Malaga won 5-4 on penalties.
In the final, “Valencia” won against “Malaga”, and “Dinamo” Tbilisi defeated “Amsterdam” and took third place in the tournament.
Tengiz Pachkoria – The Honored Journalist of Georgia, AIPS Member
Photo 1- Poster of the 1976 tournament (from the T. Pachkoria’s archive)
Photo 2 – Spain Newspaper “Marca” about the match “Malaga”-“Dinamo” Tb
Photo 3 – R. Chelebadze and T. Pachkoria at the stadium in Batumi