Previously the city of Mariupol hosted a football team that competed consistently in Ukrainian republican competitions among teams of physical culture (amateur teams). The first mentioning of a Mariupol team could be traced to 1936 when it lost to Dynamo Kryvyi Rih 0:5 as part of the 1936 Soviet Cup. Next season, in 1937, it was seeded to play against another team from Berdyansk as part of the Ukrainian championship, but did not appear for the game and was eliminated. After that there is no evidence a team that represented the city until after World War II. After the war, Mariupol sometimes was represented by two teams, but usually the main was named Metalurh Zhdanov. At the end of 1958 it was renamed into Avanhard Zhdanov.
Football Club Mariupol traces its history to 1960, when it was established as Azovstal based on a former two teams of physical culture (a type of Soviet amateur clubs) FC Avanhard Zhdanov and FC Shakhtar Rutchenkove. The new team of masters Azovstal Zhdanov sponsored by the local Azovstal iron and steel works was admitted to Soviet competitions for teams of masters in Class B (at that time the second division). It was eliminated soon in 1964. After skipping one season the club again was admitted for the 1966 Soviet competitions for teams of masters in Class B, now as Azovets. During that time the club stayed in professional competitions a little bit longer and in 1971 changed its name to more recognizable Metalurh. However, soon after changing its name in 1973, the club again was relegated and now for a much longer period of time.
Missing the 1974 season, the club returned to republican competitions in 1975 as Lokomotyv, sponsored now by "Azovmash". Soon before the final collapse of the Soviet Union, the club already playing as Novator was relegated in 1989 to Ukrainian amateur competitions. In 1991 Novator became a champion of the Ukrainian football championship among amateur clubs. Due to reformation of the Ukrainian football competitions, the new amateur champion was admitted to the newly formed Ukrainian First League.
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1992, the club changed its name to old one Azovets (part of the Azovmash's SC Novator). In summer of 1995 it merged with FC Dynamo Luhansk and during following spring changed its name again to Metalurh.
FC Metalurh Mariupol changed its name to Illichivets during the winter break of the 2002–2003 season when the club was acquired by the Illich Steel and Iron Works.
^Note: In 1973, in case of a draw there would be a penalty shoot out. The team that won the shootout would earn a single (1) point, the losing team would receive no (0) points as in case of a regular loss. In case of Mariupol that placed last among 23 teams, it drew 8 games in four (4) of them it won shootouts, in other four (4) it lost shootouts.