On this day in 1942, FC Start played Flakelf at football in what became known as The Match of Death. FC Start, made up of players from Dynamo Kiev, were ordered by the Gestapo at half time not to beat the German side ‘or you will be shot.’. They disobeyed that order. After the match, the players’ names were traced from the poster advertising the game and those who didn’t escape in time were arrested. Korotykh was betrayed by his own sister and shot the day after his arrest. Others were sent to the notorious Siretz prison camp. The legendary goalie Kolya and forwards Klimenko and Kuzmenko were shot ‘at random’ in a line up a few months later. Whenever I read about footballers as ‘heroes’ I think of FC Start and what being a hero really means.
To read more, Andy Dougan’s Defending the Honour of Kiev is the definitive version. To read a children’s book on the same subject, look no further than Girls FC and Nika’s story in What’s Ukrainian for Football?‘