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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old April 21st, 2004, 13:02 Thread Starter
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FC Zalgiris Vilnius -- legendary Lithuanian club

As I was reading the site of the ultra supporters of FC Zalgiris Vilnius, especially the "History" section, I thought -- why not make this accessible to non-Lithuanians?

So here it is -- a thread about the birth and development of football fan movement in Lithuania, which is connected to the most legendary and traditional club, FC Zalgiris Vilnius.

I'll be taking the history of it from the Lithuanian site piece by piece, and put it over here in English.

The site itself is located at:

http://pietu4.ten.lt/

There are some nice pictures, and of course stuff in Lithuanian, if you can read it.

"Pietu 4" -- means "Southern Sector 4", the legendary stand of Zalgiris Stadium in Vilnius, where all the hardcore-supporters of Zalgiris gather. They're not the most peaceful bunch, but they've been the most faithful football fans in Lithuania ever.

Right now, the club is experiencing a cruel decline and total mis-management, but the fans are still there.

ORIGINS

The origins of the whole movement could be considered the massive processions of football fans in the late 70s. In 1977, as the Soviet Union was celebrating 60 years of the "Great October Revolution", the Communist leaders of Lithuania were shaken by massive demonstrations of people after football matches in Vilnius. This was not similar to peaceful small demonstrations of political dissidents popping up here ant there -- in those post-football events, there were clashes with the militia, broken cars, etc. Though it was directly caused by the play of Zalgiris, this was rather national than purely sports movement. Even the collaborative press of that time mentioned "national slogans" in their accounts of the events. Quite understandably, the Soviet authorities, having amassed security and militia forces from Lithuania and even from "brotherly republics", quickly put the movement down.

Maybe such origins were the reason that in the future, the Green & White movement was very politicised and dominated by patriotic nationalistic ideas.

Around the year 1980, the first green & white flags appeared in the stadium. Legends have it that the first flag was sewn and brought to the stadium by a guy from Antakalnis (a district of Vilnius -- Skroblas) with a nickname Mao. Although the authorities conducted a relentless fight against the flag-holders, there were more and more of them in the stands.

1982, the year of Zalgiris beating its way into the top echelon of Soviet football, coincided with the wave of punk movement in Lithuania. The Lithuanian version of the punk of that time was a stark contrast to the Western analogue. They were united only by the idea of protest. But while in the West this meant anarcho-communist protest against the traditions (including nationalism), in Lithuania this constituted exactly the national protest against the Communist occupants. A Lithuanian punk of that time associated his freedom with the freedom of his nation. His ideal was not anarchy, but the independent State of Lithuania. This was the typical Lithuanian ability to adapt Western freedom ideas of youth movements to the national freedom fight.

One of the elements of life of Lithuanian youth at that time was going to the stadium. Every game by Zalgiris carried with itself actions against the Russian occupants. At that time, even shouting "Lietuva!" (Lithuania) in the stadium was a protest action requiring courage - not putting you into prison, but causing lots of problems, such as expulsion from all institutions of education, etc.

The support of that time was based only on the chanting of some slogans: "Zalgiris!"; "Ivarti!" - literally meaning "Goal", that is "We want a goal"; "Eina!" -- literally "It goes forward", spurring the team to attack; as well as the dissident "Lietuva!". It also included the singing of national songs.

In spite of the efforts of security and militia, demonstrations, involving thousands of participants, spread like a fire around Vilnius after each Zalgiris game.

In that year, the first fans of an opposing team visited Vilnius. It's not clear to what extent those guys from Riga were ultras -- most probably, they were just simple peaceful football fans or collectioners of game programmes and memorabilia. Anyway, they were beaten up, putting the head of one of them between the bars of the fence, surrounding the stadium.

The real ultras of opposing teams appeared in Vilnius in 1983, when Zalgiris was already in the top division of USSR.

Last edited by Skroblas; April 21st, 2004 at 13:47.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old April 21st, 2004, 13:03 Thread Starter
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So what do you think -- is it worth continuing the history?
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old April 21st, 2004, 13:39
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That was very interesting, thank you Skroblas.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old April 21st, 2004, 17:11
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sure, go on, its very intersting; at the moment the only good thing about ZALGIRIS is its supporters
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old April 21st, 2004, 23:07
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:rollani:
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old April 21st, 2004, 23:10
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I don't understand, why the rolleyes? Is there something bad about Zalgiris? Why do you claim there is nothing good about them now Ignas? Is the story wrong?
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old April 21st, 2004, 23:12
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I meant that at the moment the team is in a such a big crisis, that no one can see the way out of it. And it continuos for 6 years now. The only bright thing is the ultras, who never leave Zalgiris alone, even in the most hard time.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old April 22nd, 2004, 00:44 Thread Starter
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THE BEGINNING

The first ultras to visit Vilnius were from Dynamo Kyiv. They were cruelly beaten, one even dropped from the Green
Bridge (Zaliasis tiltas) into River Neris. As any similar movement in the initial stages, Green & White fans were
fundamentalists: who's against Zalgiris, is against us. This fundamentalism was further reinforced by the nationalistic
idea of the movemnet, as all the opposing fanas were Russian-speaking groups, symbolising the Soviet occupants.

This fight against Dynamo Kyiv fans was after the match. The first arrival of rival fans spurred the Lithuanian "punks"
to gather near the stadium before the match. This gathering time was becoming earlier and earlier, and after some time,
you could find "punks" around the stadium of Zalgiris from the morning of the match day. The Green & Whites gathered in
the stadium itself and started their chants more than an hour before the kick-off.

Apart from Dynamo Kyiv, Vilnius was visited by the ultras of CSKA, Spartak, Dinamo Moscow and Zenit. All of these
groups were attacked and defeated without significant resistance. The big group of Belorussian fans lost to the locals,
even though the visitors had big numeric advantage. The total number of Belorussian visitors was a bit less than half
the stadium - 7 thousand. 2 thousand of that were Dinamo ultras. These records of visiting fans have not been beaten
ever since.

The post-football processions of 1983 were a parody of the official demonstrations of 1982 (65 anniversary of October
Revolution). Constant harrassment by Soviet institutions made them weaker and weaker, but they still were pain in the
arse for the authorities.

The support in the stands was still based on the same chants and national songs. The supporters were still dispersed around the various stands of the stadium, the cheapest ones. Everything was still spontaneous and not organised to a large extent. Despite that, the support was the best in the whole USSR, with no competition. To some extent, it was due to a laxer attitude of the autohrities in Lithuania, compared to other parts of the Soviet Union. And probably, the nationalistic factor played its part.

The "fundamentalist tradition" was broken for the first time in 1984. In that year, the ultras of Dynamo Kyiv were not touched in Vilnius -- for the first time ever. They escaped by buying some beer for the locals and chanting some anti-Russian slogans. The local "punks" were very surprised, when Dynamo fans offered them assistance in their perennial fight against the so-called "montanas" (name coming from a jeans brand -- Skroblas), the "urlagans" (really hard to explain, might be "rednecks" or similar in English, but carries a lot of different social sense in it -- Skroblasd) of that time -- mostly local Slavic minotiries or Lithuanians having lost their roots and ethnicity.

All the other fan groups in Vilnius were simply crashed again. The ultras of Dinamo Minks came this time with no significant support of "simple fans". Belorussian fans filled the Southern sectors 4 and part of 3.

The support was similar to that of 1983. Processions after the matches became less numerous and shorter.

1985 was very important for the movement. This was a crucial year -- the Green & Whites finally occupied their own sector in the stadium, started to get organised, and made their first organised away trip.

Before 1985, the "punks" wandered from one sector to another. In 1985, the "active" sector was changed every game. This brought its pluses -- the militia never knew where the hardcore fans would be, they could react only around the second half, therefore the support could be freer and much better. This also planted the seeds for a kernel of supporters, who had to take the strategic decision before every game, which sector to occupy. The minus was that not every fan could get to know the location of the hardcore group. Therefore, large troups of supporters were dispersed around the stadium.

At the end of that year, the "punks" settled in Southern Sector 4. At the beginning, it seemed like a temporary location -- just like so many locations before. However, just at that time the ideas of having a steady location grew ripe, and Southern Sector 4 just stuck. Despite numerous tries to change the location, Pietu 4 stuck with the fans, and they've always been their for 19 years.

At the end of that year, the core of supporters also made their first trips to away matches -- to Minsk and Moscow.

It was in 1985, that the first mega-enemy of Green & Whites was established -- it was CSKA Moscow. This animosity was influenced very much by the basketball super-final fights between national symbol Zalgiris Kaunas and the Soviet collection of stars under the banner of CSKA Moscow.

The opponents of the other teams were not greeted heartily in Vilnius either. National fundemantalism was still the unifying idea.

In 1986, the movement took the organised shape. It already had its stable sector (Pietu 4), leader, hardcore group. The term "punk" was being displaced by "fan". The chanting became more inventive, non-regular visits to away matches were being organised. Instead of fundamentalist battle against everything and everyone, the origins of peaceful relations began to emerge with some other groups -- meaning the start of activities of a more or less organised group.

The first try to establish friendly relations came to nothing. The initial efforts came from Zenit fans. During the match of youth teams in Vilnius, two Zenit supporters split from the main group, came to the Green & Whites and addresed them in Lithuanian: "Labas, broli lietuvi" ("Hello, my Lithuanian brother"). These words were not simply a joke -- they were taught to Zenit by a Dinamo Minsk fan Vanya, who had recently relocated to live in Vilnius. Zenit proposed to make peace and to stage a football match on that occasion. After long initial debates, this proposal was accepted by the Green & Whites.

However, after those initial peace deals, Zenit came to Vilnius once again. It was not a League match, just a game of the Federation Cup. About 300 elite Zenit troopers came to such a meaningless event. From the early morning, they occupied the surroundings of the Vilnius Railway Station. The Green & Whites, still in the peaceful mood, were gathering one by one near the stadium, and were shocked by the aggressive ways of the visitors. Global mobilisation was announced, and an ambiguous victory was achieved before the match. After the match, the hostilities relocated to the square of the railway station, where the sudden attack by Zenit caused a panical massive fleeing of the Lithuanian fans... This was the first loss of Zalgiris ultras on the home soil

Not long after that, Dynamo Kyiv came to Vilnius. The representatives of their fans tried once again to sign a peace deal with the Lithuanians. There were serious disagreements within the ranks of Green & Whites, as the unexpected aggression of Zenit fans had ignited lots of the locals, and many of them were not ready to trust the peace proposals from opposing supporters. However, the peace fraction prevailed, and there were no significant conflicts in the city. During the match, the Dynamo ultras kept chanting anti-CSKA slogans, which made the good relations with Zalgiris even easier.

The Ukrainians didn't not repeat the treason done by Zenit. In the match Dynamo Kyiv - Zalgiris, the Lithuanian supporters were safe. This was really the end of the primitive fundamentalist tradition, and the nationalist urge to fight everyone had to put up with the idea of common enemy -- Moscow.

The last match of 1986 took place in Minsk. Zalgiris had a chance to get to the UEFA Cup. Thus, out of 4 thousand spectators of the stadium, around 2.5 thousans were Lithuanians. There were about 300 fans from Pietu 4. Before the match, some minor clashes took place, mostly won be the visitors. After the match, most of the hardcore supporters boarded the buses of the "simple" football fans -- only about a 100 ultras were coming home by train. Near the Minks railway station, a furious crowd confronted them -- but only about 300 fans stepped up to take the fight. The Lithuanians used the "Zenit tactic", attacking the first and very suddenly. The local opponents fled to all directions. This was the first victory of the Green & Whites away from home, and this has driven a "Zalgiris complex" into the Belorussian supporters. The fans of Dinamo Minsk were then losing battles to Vilnius everytime, be it on home or away soil, whatever the numbers of opposing fans involved.

This away visit to Minsk in 1986 raised the Belorussians into the spot of enemy number one, even above Zenit.

The year 1987 started with some lax negligence by the Vilnius militia, when several Dnepr Dnepropetrovsk fans ended up in the sector Pietu 4. During the match, the overwhelming presence of militia forces was enough, and there was only some throwing of snow balls between the opposing camps. However, after the game, despite heavey guarding by the militia, several Dnerp fans were beaten up.

In Kyiv, the Green & Whites were accepted in a friendly way. Thus, Dynamo Kyiv were considered friends. In relation to all the other ultra groups, there was still war.

In July of that year, a serious battled occurred near the bank of River Neris. About 100 fans of Spartak, using excellent battle tactics, totally smashed local Zalgiris forces about twice as numerous. After the match, all the surroundings of the train station were green and white, but militia managed to cram safely the Red & Whites into the trains and to disperse Zalgiris supporters from the area. Spartak became top enemy of Green & Whites.

During this match (Zalgiris - Spartak), the first big flag, covering the whole stand in green and white, appeared. This was first introduced by the Green & Whites, as well as the squibs, flashes and other novelties, later spreading around the whole Soviet Union.

In 1987, the support chants were becoming more and more varied, some Western pieces were introduced.

In opposition to the Soviet repression, the Green & Whites started to support their team always standing up. This was not as easy as it might seam today. For about a year, this always caused problems with the militia -- but afer some time, they had to give up. The tradition to keep standing through all the match lives on to this day.

In October, Zalgiris-CSKA match took place in Vilnius. The Russians were already on their way to the lower league. However, this had no influence on the numbers of Russians arriving. Since the summer, when Spartak group attained a victory in Vilnius, CSKA supporters had been organising a crusade to Lithuania. About 400 elite men were gathered for it from the camps of CSKA, Spartak, other Moscow clubs and allies. There were even some visitors from Latvia -- several ethnic Russian, supporting Daugava Riga. The Belorussian fans of Dinamo Minsk could not miss such an opportunity to join in and to settle scores with the hated Green & Whites, since they were losing all the battles on their own, home and away. Lithuanians received some support by a small expeditionary corps from Kyiv. Before the match, numerous small clashes around the city were mostly won by the Green & Whites. Several hours before the match, both the armies gathered in the city centre. Both of the groups threw insults at each other, but none dared to launch a serious assault. Several half-hearted attempts to attack by small groups from both sides were easily liquidated by the militia. About half an hour before the match, the Green & Whites drew toward the stadium. Afterwards, when the majority of Zalgiris supporters had departed, the allies made their progress towards the stadium, sweeping out of their way all the civilians and a couple of Green & Whites, who were foolish enough to split away and remain on their way. According to the Russian sources, they tried to storm Pietu 4 itself, but were beaten off by the militia. Lithuanian sources don't confirm such reports, however... On the whole, the crusade by CSKA ended rather as a loss to stubborn Lithuanians, than a victory by the pilgrims.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old April 22nd, 2004, 09:55
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Again, thanks for that interesting story.
Pity Zalgiris haven't got the team that their fans deserve to have.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old April 22nd, 2004, 09:59
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This story is starting to get very violent. I didn't know there was so much violence in the old Soviet football.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old April 22nd, 2004, 10:33 Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by Orange

This story is starting to get very violent. I didn't know there was so much violence in the old Soviet football.
Yes, I know... I didn't want to make adjustments in the original text -- just take it as it is. This is the most extreme view-point of all the existing fan groups, so it doesn't represent the majority of football fans.

But well, these things exist. Those organised "ultra" groups are still active in the Russian football, as I understand, standing strong. Clashes between Zenit and Spartak fans are just one example...

Inside Lithuania, this hardcore "ultra" section of the Zalgiris fans has basically no one to fight against, so for much of the time it's quite peaceful.

It can get different with foreign teams, though...
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old April 22nd, 2004, 18:42
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Interesting story, thanks for sharing it.

Big games are easy than the other games, unfortunately. Every times we have the control the games, under the control the games, during the games we had the some possibilities, some big chances, some big okazyons, something like that but what can I do, sometimes? AndÖ.itís the football, thatís the football, something happened. Everything is something happened. - Fatih Terim
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old April 23rd, 2004, 11:38
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Quote:
Originally posted by Skroblas
Inside Lithuania, this hardcore "ultra" section of the Zalgiris fans has basically no one to fight against, so for much of the time it's quite peaceful.
That's good, makes the football more enjoyable for the normal fan.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old July 27th, 2004, 20:19
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By Kestutis Gimbutas

FBK Kaunas might have won the last five Lithuanian titles, but FK Žalgiris Vilnius, with four championships to their name, are still considered the country's most prominent team.

Flying the flag
In fact for half a century Žalgiris were the Baltic state's flagship club. During the 50 years that Lithuania was part of the USSR, Žalgiris competed successfully in the Soviet championship. The capital club were able to attract the best players from across the republic and were financed by the budget of Soviet Lithuania.

Name change
They were founded as FK Dinamo Vilnius in 1947, became Spartakas a year later, before adopting the name Žalgiris in 1962. Žalgiris literally means 'green forest' but refers to a battle for Lithuanian independence at the start of the 15th century.

Ups and downs
For many seasons, the team were involved in fights for promotion, or against relegation, as they moved between the first and second divisions. Their rise began in 1982 when they were promoted to the Supreme League, which featured the top clubs from across the Soviet Union.

Glory days
By 1987, Žalgiris were able to finish third in the top flight, beating champions FC Spartak Moskva 5-2 in Vilnius along the way. And to cap a memorable campaign, they represented the USSR at the World Student Games and won the football gold medal.

Popular style

According to the club's then coach, Benjaminas Zelkevicius, Žalgiris had an original playing style compared with the USSR's leading teams of the day. "Žalgiris differed from the rest with their measured passing game. We had a lot of fans from outside Vilnius and the Lithuanian borders," he recalled. "Our style made us popular in Moscow, while more and more Žalgiris got into the national team."

International class
Indeed, Arminas Narbekovas and Arvydas Janonis won gold with the USSR at the Seoul Olympics, while Viaceslavas Sukristovas helped the Soviet team to the final of the 1988 UEFA European Championship.

Moving abroad
Following the collapse of the USSR and Lithuanian independence in March 1990, Žalgiris decided to abandon the Soviet championship. As a result, many of the club's best players departed their homeland to pursue their careers, including Valdas Ivanauskas, the first Lithuanian to appear in the German Bundesliga, with Hamburger SV.

Staying afloat
The haemorrhage of talent has continued, with more than 100 players leaving Žalgiris over the last 14 years, one of the most notable being striker Edgaras Jankauskas, now with FC Porto. Club president Janusas Loputis - who has occupied this role since 1996 - has been criticised for his transfer policy, but argued: "Our national championship is too small, our clubs do not have any financial clout, while Žalgiris do not receive any support from the city authorities. We have to think about survival and taking care of the club's infrastructure."

Cup victories
Before the 2003 season, the Žalgiris players went on strike over unpaid wages. Despite this inauspicious start, the team finished fourth in the league and won the Lithuanian Cup with a 3-1 victory against FK Ekranas. This fifth cup success earned a place in the UEFA Cup, and the club celebrated by beating Kaunas 2-1 to lift the Lithuanian Super Cup.

'Lack of strong individuals'
Of the challenges ahead, coach Kestutis Latoza, who played 515 games in 16 seasons for Žalgiris during the Soviet era, said: "Unfortunately we do not have a sufficient amount of strong individuals these days, although this is the same for the majority of Lithuanian teams."

Cause for hope
Žalgiris do, at least, have a good pool of young players, and last term their reserve team, FK Polonija, won the second division under the guidance of former Soviet international Sukristovas.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old July 28th, 2004, 07:51
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tomorow UEFA Cup match;

Zalgiris-Portadown

GO legendary club!!! Zaliai balti pirmyn!!!
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post #16 of 16 (permalink) Old July 30th, 2004, 17:12
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Zalgiris will meet Danish side, AaB, in the 2nd qualifying round.

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