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Dynamo Moscow’s 1945 tour of Britain: Was it really ‘war minus the shooting?’

Fans got in any way they could – Stamford Bridge was packed for Chelsea v Dynamo Moscow

It was a Tuesday afternoon in November 1945 and the streets of Fulham were teeming. Tens of thousands of people were about to witness something most hadn’t been able to since 1939, while for some it would be a lifetime first. They were on their way to attend a football match where a British team faced foreign opposition.

Local residents were hiring out their front gardens for bicycle storage, on street corners people were selling toffee apples, oranges and match programmes, while touts were getting £4 for tickets that originally cost 10 shillings – eight times the face value.

The pavements were filled with uniformed armed forces personnel walking alongside shift workers and children darting between gaps among the bustling crowd making its way to Stamford Bridge.

The desire to see the match was insatiable. Some blagged their way into adjoining houses to get a view, others followed rail and tube lines around the stadium to get in unseen. Steeplejacks, the intrepid and the many with military training climbed up the back of stands, sitting precariously 100 feet up on the stadium roofs.

The official attendance was about 75,000. It was clearly way more than that.

Some estimates put the actual attendance at over 100,000

The cloud of World War Two had dissipated just 13 weeks earlier with Japan’s final surrender. The atmosphere in south-west London was one of joyful celebration, unbridled freedom and keen anticipation.

In a spirit of camaraderie engendered by the Allied victory, a Russian football team had been invited to tour Britain. They sent the league champions of the Soviet Union.

It was a club barely anyone in Britain knew anything about, other than some print journalists who had been permitted to attend a few training sessions once they had arrived in Britain.

At 2:25pm, out of the tunnel at Stamford Bridge walked a group of chiselled, mysterious looking footballers, ready to face…

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