Ep. 2: Starostin’s Spartak Brotherhood Part 1

There’s no other story in world football like that of the Starostin brothers’. Born in a family of hunters from a peasant background in the Russian Empire, they fell in love with the beautiful game, grew up in the revolutionary Presnya district in the middle of the Bolshevik Revolution. Led by their eldest brother, Nikolai, they created Russia’s most popular football club, Spartak Moscow, and became champions. Then suddenly, from night to day, they would go from sporting heroes to enemies of the state and thrown to the wolves in the Gulag.
After 10 long and horrible years of suffering, they come back to cement their position as some of the most important figures in all of Russian football history.
To better understand how everything happened, we take a look at all the moving pieces and watch them fall into place to get a complete picture of this beautiful story of determination, success, glory, injustice, tragedy and survival. It’s nothing short of incredible.

What we cover in this episode:

  • Introduction to the Starostins
  • Russia’s environment in the early 1900’s
  • Krasnaya Presnya
  • Starostin’s childhood and family life
  • Education and its influence on Nikolai’s frame of mind
  • Stenka na Stenku
  • First football experiences
  • Russian Revolution
  • Changes to their way of life


Spartak Moscow: A history of the people’s team in the worker’s state by Robert Edelman

Russia in flames by Laura Englestein

Muzhik and muscovite: Urbanization in late imperial Russia by Joseph Bradley