Qarabag FK – Who are ya?

Qarabag Futbol Klubu (nickname ‘The Horsemen’) was founded in 1951 and originates from a town called Aghdam situated right on the Azerbaijani border with Armenia. Going through a few name changes (Mehsul, Shafaq and Cooperative Society!), plus a ten year period in the wilderness due to financial troubles, the club eventually re-emerged as part of the Azerbaijan Premier League in 1992.

In 1993, as part of the Nagorno-Karabakh war (which resulted from the collapse of the former Soviet Union), Armenia took control of Qarabag’s home town of Aghdam, subsequently rendering it uninhabitable to discourage any returning Azerbaijanis.

Once home to over 40,000 people, it is now a ghost town plundered for building materials and gradually being reclaimed by nature. Head coach of the team, Allahverdi Bagirov, former leader of the Azerbaijani Popular Front party, fought in the conflict and eventually died when his car ran over an anti-tank mine.

The club moved to Baku, the capital, situated on the coast of the Caspian Sea and has gone from strength to strength. Since 2009 they haven’t placed outside the top 4 in the Azerbaijan Premier League, in fact finishing as champions in the past 5 seasons. Although a fair portion of Qarabag’s support still originates from the Aghdam region, the club is well supported throughout Azerbaijan and continues to be a symbol of hope for over half a million displaced refugees.

Their record in Europe is steadily improving, culminating in participation of the Champions League group phase for the first time last season where they gained two creditable draws against Atletico Madrid which helped to consign Atletico to the Europa (as we know to our cost). Oh yeah, Chelsea were also in their group and managed to beat them 10-0 over the two matches!

This season they went out of the CL in the 3rd qualifying round to Bate Borisov who were in our group in last season’s Europa League. (we beat Bate 10-2 over the two games).

Local Food – includes such dishes as Pilaf (Rice and meat flavoured with saffron, cinnamon and aromatic herbs), Qutab (fried pancake stuffed with meat, spinach, pumpkin or cheese – camel meat is popular in Baku), Kufta bozbash (meatball and potato soup) and Lavangi (a casserole of chicken stuffed with walnuts and herbs).

Dushbara is a traditional Azerbaijani meal, a sort of doughy dumplings filled with ground meat and condiments. Similar stuffed dumplings are popular in many countries, but the Azerbaijani version are quite tiny and served in broth.

Let’s hope the lads don’t eat too much camel before taking the pitch on Thursday (though apparently it’s light, lean and delicious). Wouldn’t want anyone to get the hump if they’re asked to play.



49 Responses to Qarabag FK – Who are ya?

  1. mickydidit89 says:

    I like this post Chas. Thank you

    What a sad story and picture of Aghdam

    Like one of those lost Aztec towns engulfed by the Guautamalan jungle

  2. Eddie says:

    the photo made me hungry – they are tiny ravioli dumplings, absolutely delicious
    we eat them stuffed with carp in bortshch of course.

    off to read the post

  3. mickydidit89 says:

    Looked at a map, and Russia aside, it’s the most Easterly European destination

  4. Eddie says:

    oh, cow yesterday 🙂 hillarious 🙂

  5. mickydidit89 says:

    stuffed with carp ha ha ha 🙂

  6. Eddie says:

    brilliant post, thank you chas. I had no idea about Azerbaijani history, really good to know.

    Eating camels is ok, but ….. the animals is probably not

  7. chas says:

    Carp in bortshch dumplings – yummy!

  8. GoonerB says:

    Brilliant post Chas and a great history lesson. I like their club already just because of the hardships they have soldiered through.

    With the food I generally feel that the further east you go in Europe the less palatable I find it but, all camels aside, I quite like the look of their food. It seems to have a touch of Indian cuisine blended to it.

    Really sorry Eddie but I think I prefer the look of the Azerbaijani dumpling soup over the Polish one.

  9. chas says:

    I can’t find audio of Billy Connolly’s knitted swimming trunks sketch but found the text. Just read it to yourself in a Big Yin voice. 🙂

    Swimming In The North Sea

    And during the day, they would take us to factories and stuff, and for, y’know, a wee boy that’s good, you know, that’s very interesting, but there was a teacher there, that didn’t like me, because I couldn’t play football. And he… I’m not very good at football, and he would say “Come on, Connolly, you big fucking Jessie” That’s what you’re called, if you can’t play football. “Come on, you big bloody Jessie. Tomorrow we are going swimming in the North Sea.” And we did.

    Now the North Sea… Now Aberdeen is a beach, ’cause it’s got sand. There the similarity to beaches ends. That’s the North Sea for Christ sake. That’s the Arctic Ocean just around the corner. ‘Cause the Arctic comes down and then it becomes the Atlantic and splits up into the North Sea. On the horizon there’s oil rigs. “Now hear this. All employees must wear survival suits at all times. You wouldn’t last two minutes, if you fell into the North Sea. Failure to wear the survival suit will result in instant dismissal.” Forty miles away there are women taking their children’s clothes off. “In you go, you big Jessie.” I had to get stripped. There was fish looking in the water saying “There’s a fucking pale blue guy coming in.” Standing there, skinny, muscles like knots in a midgets penis. And my swimming costume, it was that knitted cotton stuff, with a belt and a fucking pocket, the reason for which escapes me completely. None of your Speedo, second skin. This was more your second cardigan. Big woolly number, you know. If you were stupid enough to go in above your waist, they grew, like this. It was absorbent, could drag you to the bottom. You had to grab armfuls, when you were coming out, the crotch was away down here. People could look in and see your willy, if you had one, but in the North Sea, you don’t.

    I read a magazine. Sumo wrestlers… it was one of those in-flight magazines. Cliff Michelmore, authority on everything, had written it. Sumo wrestlers have such exquisite control of their bodies, they can withdraw their testicles at will. Wuish. So you aim a hefty boot, and they go wuish. Poof. “Is that the best you can do?” I could do it when I was twelve. One foot in and I see the whole fucking lot disappear. An ugly gaping wound. Whole thing shut up to my lungs. I had to get it out with a chimney sweeps brush. This is why Scottish guys don’t look sexy on the beach, it’s all flopping around here. You go to the Mediterranean or Caribbean people are wandering around with a huge thing… like a baby’s arm hanging out of the pram. There’s your warm water, lap, lap. The wuish has gone.

    “Connolly, in the water.” “I’m going, I’m going.” “Come on, you big bloody Jessie, get in there.” I ran down and put my foot in, and my heart stopped. I’d never felt cold like that before, and I heard this weird noise: “Whooouuuiiiiiiii. Whooooouuuuuaaaaiiiiii.” “What the fucking hell was that?” It was me! You know the way, when you get a fright. You know, if you go through a dark room, and an icy hand touches you. Inside your leg or something. Nah. You don’t go “Oh, what my goodness. Oh, what was that? Oh gosh!” No, you go “Whooooouuuuuaaaaiiiiii.” It’s something you’re not in control of. “Whooouuuiiiiiiii.” You can hear it. Normally you can’t hear yourself, you kind of feel it, but that you can hear like it’s some other bugger. “Whooouuuoooo.” It’s something deeply primal, something from when we lived up trees, it’s stamped in your DNA or something. “Whooooouuuuuaaaaiiiiii.” It’s closely related to the “Blutherlyooouuuuuhhh.” “Oooouuuuoooooo.” You know the noise you get, when you shove a new-boiled potato up a donkey’s arse. It’s exactly the same noise. “Whohohouhohuhu. Ooouuooo.” So the other guys are saying “Go in further, you big fucking Jessie.” “Oooouuuooooohhh. Ooohhuuuu.” And I wandered, up to my knees. I lost the will to live. “Billy!” “Uuhhooop” “Look over there.” “Uuuoopp.” “Look over there.” “Uuoooppp? Uuuhhooo!” There was a guy in a speedboat, a bastard.” “Brrrrr.” “Uhhooop.” Waving. “Uuhooohh.” Coming towards me. I didn’t want to run, case I fell in. “Uuhooohh.” It actually slid in my direction. I hoped it would go away. It got bigger. “Uuhooohh.” I will never forget, as long as my arse looks so… I will never forget that wave going up the inside of my thighs. “Uuhooohh.” And it kissed the underside of my scrotum. “Aarrrggghhh.”

  10. Eddie says:

    GB – just looking??!! pssshhhh…your loss me dear

    Spuds played Qarabag in 2015 twice and won twice. It should be a walk over for us.

  11. mickydidit89 says:

    Chas 🙂 🙂

  12. mickydidit89 says:


    I’m guessing the gastro influence is more likely to be Persian rather than Indian as I looked it up on a map

  13. RC78 says:

    The food has indeed more of a Persian and Turkish influence. Baku is an interesting city and Azerbaijan is a very welcoming country. That said, we just want to win there 🙂

  14. RC78 says:

    Excellent post by the way. Here is my line up

    Leno – Lichten, Holding, Sokratis, Koli – Guendouzi, El Neny – Ramsey – Miky, Wellbeck, Iwobi

    If all goes well, bring Smith Rowe, Nketiah and Auba in as Auba needs to score a few goals

  15. chas says:

    Tweet from yesterday…..

  16. LBG says:

    As you might guess Chas, much appreciation for history lesson……….but Billy Connolly lifts my day heavenward!!! I had dark green woollen trunks early on and hated swimming consequently at that time.

  17. LBG says:

    Think I have “Swimming in the North Sea” on record, and ” Scuba Diving in the Carribbean” on tape. Billy is my equivalent of Tommy and Tony for our Dad.

  18. LB says:


    It will be funny if he plays Ramsey, it really will be declaring that he is now second string.

    Not sure why you aren’t sending Mustafi out there and saving the A team defense for Sunday?

  19. RC78 says:


  20. RC78 says:

    LB – Sokratis and Koli need games and Holding needs to build confidence after the poor showing on the weekend. As for Ramsey, I think he always does better in European football. If he wants to develop and grow as a player, he should join a European team in Italy or Spain. I think he would do well in Italy at a club like Inter, Lazio, Napoli or Roma and in Spain, he could do well in Barcelona but even better in Sevilla or Atletico. If he goes to another EPL team, I am not sure he will learn and grow so much.

    Imagine him in Napoli with Hamsik or in Lazio with Milinkovic or in Roma with De Rossi, he d really strive and grow

  21. Eddie says:

    yeah, they are oilers in Baku, no poverty there

  22. chas says:

    In virtually every account I read of Saturday’s game Rob Holding was MOTM.
    I don’t understand where you’ve got the ‘poor showing’ thing from. Are you confusing him with Mustafi?

  23. LB says:

    Have people noticed how the Chambers to Fulham thing is no longer being questioned?

  24. fred1266 says:

    Think emery said mkhitaryan was out

  25. LB says:

    Nice post Chas

    I wonder where you can eat Camel in London?

  26. chas says:

    Light blue oilers in Germany followed by Mourinho’s misfits in Manchester?

  27. RC78 says:

    Holding defending led to Watford best chances. He played Ok overall but everytime Watford had a chance it was due to him.

    Issue: Miky not traveling to Qarabag due to Armenia – Azerbaijan tensions

  28. LBG says:

    Sure you weren’t watching a different game!

  29. LBG says:

    Liverpool and now apparently Real Madrid interested in Ramsey. Unbelievable! The next thing some will say Sanchez is coming back!!!

  30. fred1266 says:

    Am the only one would love sanchez back at the club

  31. chas says:

    Is Keown the only one to successfully come back to the club?

    I don’t count Henry as that seemed just for show for a few months.

    Campbell came back when he was fat and useless.

    There must be some others who realised they’d left the best club in the world and we actually let them come back?

    You must be barking. 🐕🐕🐕
    Can’t you remember the trouble that little mercenary caused?
    Thank heaven we couldn’t afford his wages anyway and that we have a manager who seems to know a wrongun.

  32. Big Raddy says:

    Thank you so much for the Billy C piece. It had me squirming with laughter on the train, which can be embarrassing. Just brilliant.

    Sanchez back? You are having a Turkish …

    I thought Holding had a very good game vs Watford.

  33. RC78 says:

    Chas – I think you are correct

  34. Big Raddy says:

    Players returning is a good question. I can only think of Keown who made a success of it.

    The Flamster did OK as well

  35. chas says:

    Completely forgot about Flamini.

    I never really forgave him (and Hleb) for breaking up that 2007/8 midfield.

    He was a bit average when he came back, too.
    I’d imagine a lot of his investments were based on that free transfer payment he would have received when going to Milan.

  36. Big Raddy says:

    Agree. Flamini makes me think of the fallow years. He was just OK when we had become used to top class.

  37. Maxwell says:

    Saturday was a rare opportunity for me to be at a game. Thought Rob Holding was IMMENSE, often cleaning up Mustafi’s mistakes or covering for the attacking Monreal. I made him my MOTM before I saw that everyone else had – except, apparently RC78!

  38. Maxwell says:

    Oh, and I had some of those nassssty woollen trunks. Chafed terribly, and threatened drowning if you took your toes of the bottom.

  39. Eddie says:

    maxwell – RC is French.

  40. Eddie says:

    russians scored against RM in first min, blimey

  41. LB says:

    Alexis Sanchez never left Arsenal, we sold manu one of his distant English relatives, Alan Sanchez from Scunthorpe.

  42. Eddie says:

    manu booded off the pitch, how lovely 🙂

  43. chas says:

  44. chas says:

  45. chas says:

  46. chas says:


  47. LBG says:

    Alan Sanchez of Scunthorpe is a much better player than Alexis…….and he refused to go to Manure because he has principles!

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