The first achievements (1935 -1948)

A football team was created in Erivan within the Spartak sports society in 1935. The team was headed by Vramshapuh Merangulyan. At first the team played in the republican-level tournaments and the first trophy they got was the Armenian SSR Cup which they won in 1940 under the name Dynamo. The USSR championship and Cup were not played in the next four years because of the Second World War.

The USSR Cup tournaments were resumed in 1944 and Dynamo participated in them. They were to meet with Dynamo Tbilisi, but the match did not take place through the Yerevan club’s fault. Dynamo Yerevan played under the guidance of Mikhail Sushkov in the 1946 season. In 1947 the team won the silver prize playing in the Transcaucasia Zone of the Second League. Dynamo Yerevan outplayed Krylia Sovetov Tbilisi at home in that championship and achieved their best result for that time – 7:1. In the 1948 season Dynamo was to appear in the First Group (the Top League then), but after 30 games the Yerevan and 15 more clubs were eliminated. Those 16 clubs continued to play in the lower league. In the next season, playing in the Second Group Dynamo improved their results and won the first place in the South Zone. 

The team won 13 matches out of 18. However, the first place in the zone did not guarantee promotion to the upper tier. According to the USSR championship regulations six winners in the Second League Zones were to play one round between themselves at the final stage. Having played five games Dynamo Yerevan came up third in the tournament standings, which signified the club’s promotion to the First Group.

Building up mastery (1949-1970)

Dynamo Yerevan debuted in the USSR Top League in 1949. The team performed poorly and ended in the 16th position. They lost in the first two rounds and scored a win in the third round against VVS Moscow in the home game. Dynamo Yerevan managed to outdo only those of their opponents who were positioned in the lower part of the tournament standings, and twice in away games. They received three large defeats: two from Lokomotiv Moscow and CDKA (both 0:6) and one from Dynamo Tbilisi (1:6). However, in spite of their poor  performance the club remained among the next season competitors as the two bottommost clubs occupying the 17th and 18th positions were to be demoted. As to the battle for the Cup it came to an end right in the first stage, in the game against Dynamo Stalinabad. The team began to play more vigorously in the 1950 season. Their first defeat, from Zenit Leningrad, was fixed only in the 4th round. The team scored 31 points, the same as Dynamo Kiev, but the latter had a better goal difference, and Dynamo Yerevan was relegated to Class B. In the USSR Cup tournament, having outpaced their weaker opponents the Yerevan team confronted Dynamo Kiev in the 1/16 finals. The game was played in Kiev. Fighting stubbornly, the Yerevanians scored the 3:2 victory. In the 1/8 finals they met with Dynamo Moscow and lost 0:7

The team’s performance improved in the second half of the 1950s. The third place in the 1956 championship was their worst result. Being runners-up three times, the Yerevan team, now named Spartak, at last succeeded in attaining “minor gold” in 1959 and got to the higher class. In 1960 the team debuted in Class A of the USSR championship. The first step proved to be troublesome. Playing the first game on their home ground Spartak Yerevan were beaten by Dynano Moscow 0:4. The team came out ninth in that season. Having played three more seasons in Class A they eventually descended to Class B. Two years later Spartak Yerevan came up first and returned to Class A. After that the team went over to the Armenian republican sports society Ashkhatank and was renamed Ararat.

Ararat appeared in the USSR Top League regularly beginning from 1966. Alyosha Abramyan and Alexander Syomin began to play with the team that year and were acknowledged as the best debutants of the season. Norik Demirchyan was awarded the same title in the next season. The team’s performance was quite satisfactory until 1970 as it was virtually being reborn. Players from other Armenian clubs, who demonstrated disposition for leadership, were invited to play for Ararat: Ishtoyan and Zanazanyan from Shirak Leninakan (the latter would be the team’s captain afterwards), and Nazar Petrosyan from the Armenian republican football school; Andriasyan and Markarov came from Neftchi Baku.

The boom of Armenian football (1971-1976)

Ararat won the silver medal in the 1971 USSR championship under the guidance of Nikolai Glebov. It was the first major achievement of the Armenian club.

Six Ararat players were put on the list of the 33 best Soviet footballers of the season: Ishtoyan, Andriasyan, Markarov, Zanazanyan, Kovalenko, and Mesropyan. The team played with no less zeal in the next season and was given the prize “To the Aggressive Guest”, but ended the fourth lacking just one point to climb the winners’ podium. Ararat debuted in Euro Cups on September 13, 1972. They played their first match in Larnaca, Cyprus, against EPA and scored their first victory with the minimal score 1:0. The return game also ended with 1:0 in favour of Ararat. The Swiss Grasshopper were their rivals in the next stage. Without meeting serious resistance Ararat won 3:1 in the away game and 4:2 at home and passed to the third round where they encountered Kaiserslautern of Germany. The opponents exchanged 2:0 scores in their home games. Extra time had not revealed the winner. The German side turned to be more successful than Ararat who eventually lost 4:5 in the penalty shootout.

Ararat the USSR champion and USSR Cup holder

Ararat reached its historical peak in the 1973 season, when the legendary footballer Nikita Simonyan headed the team and led it to its major success. Ararat won the USSR championship that year; it also won the USSR Cup in the memorable final game with Dynamo Kiev thereby making the golden double. The team was awarded four prizes for its remarkable performance: “To the Aggressive Guest”, the Grigory Fedotov Prize, “For the Big Score”, and “For the Best Goal Difference”. Eight Ararat players were put on the list of the 33 best Soviet footballers of the season.

As it chanced, Ararat alternated successful seasons with relatively unsuccessful ones. The team found themselves outside the prize winning trio in the 1974 championship, and in the Cup quarterfinals they stumbled over Shakhtyor Donetsk. In the autumn Ararat debuted in the European Champion Clubs’ Cup. Their opponents in the first two rounds, Viking and Cork Celtic had not put up serious resistance and lost to Ararat 2:6 and 1:7, respectively. In the quarterfinals Ararat encountered Bavaria Munich, the current holder of the trophy.

The guest scenarioof the game proved to be ineffective for Ararat; they lost 0:2. In the return match in Yerevan the team played robustly in defence and even delivered a goal to the formidable opponent’s net, but one goal was not enough to continue fighting in the main UEFA tournament. Eduard Markarov was named the best striker of the tournament (together with Gerd Mller).

In 1975, under Victor Maslov, Ararat repeated half of the achievement they gained in 1973 having won the USSR Cup. Being one down in the beginning of the final game with Zarya Voroshilovgrad Ararat made a levelling goal, then scored one more and thus overpowered their opponents 2:1. As to the championship, Ararat ended up 4 points behind the leading trio. Khoren Oganesyan, the future star of Armenian football, commenced on his brilliant career that year and was granted the prize as the best debutant of the season. The team appeared in the Cup Winners’ Cup for the first time that autumn. Ararat beat Anorthosis of Cyprus rather easily (10:1), but fell back in the next round, where West Ham United London won by scoring 1:1 and 1:3. That was Ararat’s last appearance in Euro Cups in the Soviet history of the club.

Eduard Markarov, Ararat’s former player, headed the team in 1976. The Yerevanians came up as runners-up and got silver medals in the 1976 spring championship. They lost 1:2 to Dynamo Kiev in the last match (the rescheduled match of the 9th round), and the champion’s trophy went to Dynamo Moscow. Arkady Andriasyan was the best goalscorer (8 goals in 15 games).

The team led by Markarov reached the Cup final crushing the resistance of Lokomotiv Moscow, CSKA and Dnepr Dnepropetrovsk on the way. But Dynamo Tbilisi beat them in the final 0:3.

In all, the Yerevanians participated in 33 USSR championships (in the class of strongest teams), played 1026 matches, won 352, drew 280 and lost 394 games, and scored 1150 and conceded 1306 goals. Ararat participated in three Euro Cup tournaments in the period up to 1975. The team took the 7th place in the last USSR championship held in 1991.

Expulsion and crisis (2003- 2005)

At the beginning of 2003 the Armenian national men’s and youth teams were to play friendly matches with Israeli teams. Before the departure of Armenian teams for Israel President of Ararat Grach Kaprielyan sent a letter to Chairman of the Armenian Football Federation (AFF) saying that for reasons of safety he found it inadvisable for five Ararat players – Alexander Tadevosyan, Artur Khachatryan, Artur Petrosyan, Galust Petrosyan and Artur Gabrielyan – to participate in the forthcoming matches. Kaprielyan also assured AFF that under different circumstances the Ararat footballers would certainly take part in training sessions and matches of the Armenian national men’s and youth teams, to which the club’s management had always given priority. Kaprielyan sent a copy of his letter to FIFA as well. However, upon considering the problem on February 16 the AFF disciplinary committee rendered a very rigorous decision regarding football club Ararat. By the decision of the AFF disciplinary committee Ararat was deprived of the right to participate in any competitions held under the aegis of AFF during one year and a heavy fine was imposed on the club.

Alexander Tadevosyan, the team’s captain at that time, sent an official letter to AFF asking to annul his contract with the club in view of the current situation and give him the status of free-lance agent. A few more men left Ararat together with Tadevosyan as they did not wish to spend the season not knowing where they stood.

This situation actually led to a split in the Ararat club in 2004. Knowing that the Lernagorts football club experienced financial difficulties at that time and was unable to pay the admission fee for participation in the championship, Ararat signed a contract with Lernagorts by which the coaching staffs and footballers of the two clubs joined together under the name Lernagorts-Ararat. As a result, the greater part of Ararat members moved to Kapan where the joint Lernagorts-Ararat club was formed. The new team was officially presented as the successor of Lernagorts, but in fact the Ararat footballers made up the core.

The Executive Committee of the Armenian Football Federation sanctioned the contract as an exceptional case in order to avoid changes in the fixtures of the championship that was to begin on April 8. Concurrently, the Ararat team applied for participation in the championship in the First League. The name Lernagorts-Ararat was shortened to Ararat on June 8, and on June 19 the team moved back to Yerevan, but had to play home games in Voskeat, a suburb of Yerevan. In view of these events the Ararat that was to appear in the First League had to change its name and was called Ararat-2. At the end of December Arkady Andreasyan was appointed head coach of the Ararat club. He replaced young coach Sevada Arzumanyan in this post. Ararat headed by Arzumanyan reappeared in the Armenian championship after one year’s interruption and took the 4th place.

After-crisis upsurge (2006 - 2008)

Ararat started the year 2006 practically from scratch, but with the same managers and the new head coach, Suren Barseghyan. The team’s performance improved noticeably. They reached the quarterfinals in the Armenian Cup, but made way to Pyunik after the penalty shootout (5:6). Having changed the head coach in the course of the season (Abraam Khashmanyan was appointed to this post) Ararat ended up fourth. They lost in the concluding rounds allowing Mika and Banants to capture bronze and silver medals. Ararat’s playing transformed and became more technically and tactically skilful with the coming of head coach Varuzhan Sukiasyan in June 2006. The long-awaited successes came to Ararat.

They reached the Armenian Cup final but lost to Banants in the added time. In summer, in the process of the championship, where Ararat held the second position, Sukiasyan left the club because of his conflict with the management. Du an Miji took his place, and with his coming the team’s playing and discipline worsened. Two defeats, one after another, were really catastrophic: Ararat was whitewashed 0:6 by their immediate rivals, Pyunik and Banants at home. After that Ararat made 0:6 by their immediate rivals, Pyunik and Banants at home. After that Ararat made again. Bronze medals went to Mika who outplayed Gandzasar 1:0 in the away game in the last round.

Ararat was strengthened by experienced players as well as players from competitor teams before the 2008 championship. The club management set the task before the team: to win all Armenian football trophies. Varuzhan Sukiasyan returned to the club. The fighting began in the Armenian Cup tournament. Ararat got to the final and managed to score the victorious goal in extra time. That was the fifth Armenian Cup in the club’s history. Ararat gained six through wins at the start of the championship and their first loss happened only in the 10th round. Ararat was the sole leader throughout the first and at the beginning of the second stage. The subsequent unexpected losses of points let Pyunik approach Ararat and then take the lead. The two teams arrived at the concluding round with 3 points separating them.

Moreover, it was the away game for Ararat. The game went on but the score-board continued to display zeros on both sides. It was only on the 77th minute that Brazilian legionary Juliano Gimenes scored the desired goal and thereby equalized the opponents. In compliance with the championship regulations the golden match was played at the Republican Stadium. It was a tough match with the fighting periodically going beyond the rules of the game, which resulted in 3 (!) red cards shown to the contestants. The score was opened by Albert Tadevosyan of Pyunik, but in a minute Vahagn Minasyan brought the levelling goal. When time was called the game stood at an even score. Both teams would not let through a goal in extra time. It was just 2 minutes before the end of the added time that Albert Tadevosyan managed to score his second goal. In this way, Ararat was defeated and had to content themselves with silver medals. After the golden match the press published Varuzhan Sukiasyan’s utterance to the effect that after the end of the golden match the chief referee met him under the stands and attempted to use physical force against him. Sukiasyan left Ararat at the end of the year because of a yet another conflict with the management.

Restoring club’s positions (2009 up to the present)

The new season began poorly for the team. The matter was that the club’s sponsor, who also sponsored the Ararat amateur team in Issy-les-Moulineaux (a suburb of Paris) that played in the 5th Division of the French championship, decided to concentrate his attention on the French team and pruned the Yerevan club’s financing. A dozen players left the team and were replaced by reservists from the second team. Owing to conflicts and lack of license the club did not participate in the Europa League. Mika applied for participation instead of Ararat. In the championship Ararat stood at the bottommost position at the end of the first stage. Several acquisitions were made to strengthen the team, but the team finished last all the same.

The team’s standing was obscure at the beginning of 2010. While preparations for the new season were in full swing in all Armenian teams, Ararat had not even started training. Tigran Esayan, former Ararat player, was appointed head coach. The club did not participate in the Armenian The club management gave up acquiring legionaries on the ground that foreign players could hardly do more good to the team than domestic footballers in the First League championship. Instead, young local footballers were enrolled to play for Ararat. The team led by Esayan won in the First League and came back to the Premier League. The palms of the League top goalscorer went to the club’s young forward Gevorg Karapetyan.

Esayan resigned from the post of head coach on February 16. The reasons of his resignation were the attitude of the club management to the team’s preparative at the time of autumn-spring training sessions and the absence of fresh players who might be able to strengthen the team in matches with Premier League clubs. Edgar Safaryan and Alyosha Abramyan, head coach assistants, were in charge of the team’s training for a short period of time before the championship opening. However, on March 5, in the first round of the 2011 championship, the team was fielded against Banants by Arkady Andriasyan who was not head coach at the moment and did not have category “A” license. Andriasyan was officially put at the head of the Yerevan team three days later.

Albert Safaryan, who had been assistant head coach in the club, replaced Andriasyan in the latter’s post in February 2012. However, the coaching staff shuffling produced no effect on the team’s performance and results. Ararat continued ranking as an outsider.

After a conference with Ararat owner Hratch Kaprielian in the evening of July 5 it was announced that Abraam Khashmanyan would head the club. The state of the team and conditions of its existence were deplorable, and that was the major problem that Khashmanyan intended to rectify in his new position. He also noted that only local footballers would play in the team.

Best players: Ararat players Arkady Andriasyan,Oganes Zanazanyan (1972) and Khoren Oganesyan (1980) were bronze prize winners of the Munich and Moscow Olympiads. Khoren Oganesyan played 35 matches with the USSR national team and scored 6 goals. The best players in the post-Soviet period were Marcos Pizzelli (2006-2008), who played in the Armenian national team and in Kuban Krasnodar, and Artur Minasyan (captain) over many years and to this day.

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Team Standings

Team Pl P
Alashkert 23 45
Shirak 23 43
Gandzasar 22 42
Pyunik 22 36
Banants 23 19
Ararat 23 6

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