One of the two commonly known nicknames for Zenit supporters is meshki which means “the bags”. The other one is bomzhi (“homeless persons”, considered offensive). But speaking of “bags”, the nickname dates back to the ’80s and no one knows for sure what its origin is. One theory is that the name was given because of the bags with which Zenit fans travelled by train to the away games at the time. Another version is that the nickname stuck because of this plastic bag:
The words around the football read: “Zenit USSR Champions 1984″. It was obviously a big deal in the Soviet Union to have a team’s name printed on a plastic bag (polythene bag, as we called them back then). This one was of course dedicated to the Zenit team which became the champions of the USSR in 1984, for the first time in the team’s history. The bag could be bought for 40 kopeks, as indicated by the price printed on it.
Interestingly, while I was searching through my closets trying to find the bag (I knew I had this piece of memorabilia lying there somewhere!), I found another less known Zenit plastic bag:
This one features a team photo (along with some views of St.Petersburg and a note Made In Finland) and most likely dates back to 1995 when Zenit got promoted back to the Russian top flight after spending several seasons in the first division.
I thought about writing this post after a former Zenit player Aleksei Igonin had posted a picture of the 1984 bag on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. Fun stuff.