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“Five glasses in an evening”: the star of the USSR quarreled with Tarasov and lost everything

In the late 1960s, the trio Vikulov – Polupanov – Firsov shone in the composition of CSKA and the USSR national hockey team. The gang triumphantly held the World Cup in Vienna in 1967. The episode that happened in the match between the USSR and Canada was reflected in one of his comic sports songs by Vladimir Vysotsky. Canadians that year were determined to break the hegemony of Soviet hockey players, who became the strongest in the world for three years in a row.


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Not only songs were composed about Polupanov, but also fan chants. At matches with his participation from the stands rushed: “Who can drink five glasses? – This is Vitya Polupanov.” She was born after the Olympic champion Grenoble and the three-time world champion were not taken to the 1969 World Cup in Stockholm. The head coach of CSKA and one of the coaches of the USSR national team Anatoly Tarasov insisted on such a decision as a punishment for violating the sports regime. It was not advertised, but the fans knew everything.Tarasov can be called the godfather of Viktor Polupanov in big hockey. For a long time, a boy from Khimki near Moscow was torn between hockey and football. Moreover, he drove the puck to CSKA, and the ball to Dynamo. Lev Yashin himself predicted a stellar career for Viktor on the football field and urged: “Well, why do you need hockey?” I just couldn't convince. Yes, and Victor did not become a Dynamo player. Unlike his younger brother Vladimir, who was a goalkeeper. Having failed to break into CSKA, he played for the Wings of the Soviets that season, and then spent his entire career in Dynamo Moscow.

Viktor Polupanov, who played in attack, made his way to CSKA, where the best hockey players gathered. In the youth team of the army team, the trio shone, in which Vladimir Vikulov and Viktor Eremin played together with Polupanov. It was formed by coach Veniamin Bystrov. Many believed that in such a line-up the youth team would play in Tarasov's CSKA.

Only the coach had a different philosophy, which he formulated in his book Coming of Age. Tarasov argued that one should not admire the trio, whose total age is 54 years. Young hockey players must have an “uncle”. And Anatoly Firsov, who was six years older and had already won the title of Olympic champion in Innsbruck, was assigned to this role for Vikulov and Polupanov. The combination turned out to be almost perfect: Firsov, distinguished by filigree technique, killer clicks and scoring instinct, Vikulov, a flexible dribbler, and powerful Polupanov, who has the makings of a dispatcher.


Already at their debut 1966 World Cup in Ljubljana, the army unit helped the national team take another gold at the World Cup. At the next tournament, the trio was unconditionally recognized as the best.

In hockey, then the division into a pair of defenders and a three in attack was considered a dogma. Tarasov, who came to hockey, like most Soviet players in the late 40s, from football, remembered that there was also the role of a midfielder. This is exactly how he built the game schemes in his CSKA. The first such all-rounder was Igor Romishevsky, who began his career in youth teams as an attacker, and came to CSKA as a defender.

And in the Polupanov link there was such a division of duties. Anatoly Ragulin played as a clean defender, Gennady Tsygankov and Firsov played as midfielders, and Vikulov and Polupanov played as forwards. True, they played for a very short time. The fates of the line hockey players Vikulov – Polupanov – Firsov developed differently. The latter lived a long life in hockey, and after the end of his career he became a people's deputy of the USSR.Vikulov's track record includes two Olympic champion titles. He even managed to play with the young Valery Kharlamov, who replaced Polupanov in the army troika. Alas, Vikulov left the life almost forgotten. He was ruined, like many hockey players, by an addiction, which was delicately called a violation of the sports regime.

Because of him, at the age of 25, Polupanov actually ended his professional career. Almost everyone in CSKA and the national team drank. The last straw for Tarasov was the tournament for the Izvestia prize, which took place at the end of 1970. Hockey team members celebrated the housewarming of Alexander Maltsev. After the banquet was over, Valery Vasilyev and Viktor Polupanov failed to board the bus. The young Dynamo defender was punished with a suspension from the national team, because of which he could not play at the 1971 World Cup.

Polupanov was treated much more severely. At first there was a meeting in the national team, at which they branded a malicious violator of the sports regime. Only Spartakist Yevgeny Paladyev tried to support his comrade, but he was immediately besieged: “We, comrade Paladyev, do not need lawyers in the USSR national team.” And at the beginning of 1971, an officer's court of honor was held at CSKA. Such a strict measure was practiced during the time of Tarasov. Of course, Polupanov could have repented, made promises, and perhaps reduced the dose from five glasses to one for a while. I just didn't do it.The Olympic champion and four-time world champion were disqualified, demoted and kicked out of CSKA. 25-year-old Polupanov did not break down. I went with a student detachment to logging. After that, he moved to the Kazakh city of Yermak, where he coached the local team. They paid even more there than in class “A”, as the top league of the USSR championship was then called. No one in the Soviet Union heard of sponsors, but the Ermak ferroalloy plant actually was.

In the summer of 1972, Tarasov's longtime assistant at CSKA, Boris Kulagin, who headed the Moscow Wings of the Soviets, remembered Polupanov. He invited Polupanov to his team already as an “uncle”, putting him on a link with Sergei Kapustin and Sergei Kotov. At the pre-season training camp, Kulagin exhausted Polupanov with crosses and a diet, forcing him to lose weight. “I lost some weight, but I didn’t restore the speed that I had before,” complained, recalling the only season in “Wings” Victor.

Having tied up with big hockey, Polupanov tried himself in various fields. As emphasized in all interviews, there are entries in his work book about 39 specialties. He worked as a loader, mechanic, butcher, not considering it shameful for an Olympic champion. And yet he returned to hockey as a children's coach and player of veteran teams. from an interview with Polupanov. – In Grenoble, I was only 22 years old. I could have played two more Olympics. I don’t blame anyone, I myself was wrong when I went into an open conflict with Tarasov. Another thing is that I didn’t expect a blow in the back from teammates, when I was dismantled at a meeting in the national team and the officers' court of honor in CSKA. He claimed that he had worked with many coaches, but he had not met anyone like Anatoly Vladimirovich. When Polupanov studied at the higher school of coaches, Tarasov lectured there and was always interested in the life of his former ward. He could give practical advice, invite him to a frank conversation. Moreover, as Polupanov emphasizes, it was possible to call Tarasov even at night and ask for a chat.

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