The previous weekend I had been to 4 matches in 4 days in Belgium and Holland. Well, this weekend I went to 4 matches in less than half a day.
My guide Greg drove me to the first match in a small town called POLICE, for a third division match between KP Chemik Police and Kotwica Kolobrzeg in front of about 220 fans at the town stadium. Police is an unusual name for a town or a club, and although they play in green and yellow, their 'away' strip of blue/white evidently makes them look like the real police. They were great in the first half but slacked off and lost 1-3. I think the coach should have taken his wife's advice and gone shopping instead.
We then went to a small stadium near my hotel in the outskirts of Szczecin. Lots of 8-12 floor apartment buildings, little kiosks selling bus tickets, cigarettes, glass jewelry, washing powder, magazines-it could be anywhere on the outskirts of Tartu, Leipzig, Bratislava, Zagreb, Riga, Kiev.... so much for communist era building. At least people are trying to paint and spruce things up. Anyway, Arkonia v Stal Lipiany was 6th Division. We first stopped at an old hunters style pub- restaurant and I had a bowl of hot borsch to warm me up, among wooden tables, a roaring fire, bear skins on the wall and antlers over the log door.
Arkonia had a bigger stadium with cover before the war when it was bombed. It's in a beautiful forest of trees, maybe beech, birch, maple, etc and the forest floor was covered in a golden carpet of leaves. The home team won easily 6-2 and Stahl had an unusual red and black jersey with about 15 narrow hoops, black shorts with blue stripe and trim on the bottom, and red socks. On the way out I photographed a beautiful tabby cat with orange, brown, black, white coat. About 65 fans endured the contest. Their water polo team is also Polish champions.
Then to THE BIG MATCH at MKS POGON SZCZECIN www.pogonszczecin.info. A couple of days earlier we had visited the club and were treated to a very warm welcome and met the two new owners, Artur Kaluzny, who is the spitting image of Buddy Holly, with the appropriate spectacles and a retro velvet suit with black silk trim and his co-owner Grzegorz Smolny,in the furniture business and with a very smart brown striped suit . Artur owns the Rocker Club downtown www.rockerclub.pl. Also I also enjoyed meeting Dariusz Adamczuk who had played for Eintracht Frankfurt, Dundee FC, Udineses, Belenense, and got a silver medal playing for Poland at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. He had 11 caps and even scored on Chris Woods(well, that's not too hard) against England in Chorzow in 1993, faking out Des Walker.
Another local hero is Robert Dymkowski who had also played at PAOK Salonica, Wisla Lodz and the Pogon club and is now Pogon sports director and also a city councillor. The club was founded in 1948 by fleeing refugees from Lvov, Ukraine. The stadium, Florian Kryger, needs a makeover, but when Pogon were in the top league Poland played a dozen international matches here, and never lost, including a record 9-0 victory over Norway. After financial mismanagement and compulsory relegation, the new owners have brought them out of Division 4 to Division 3 and hope to make it back to the EKSTRAKLASA LEAGUE soon. We had a ceremony at their splendid little museum and I was presented with a club scarf and a signed 60th anniversary book.
At the match there were about 3,000-4,000 enthusiastic fans and we were treated to some very 'sexy' soccer, and a 3-0 victory over Victoria Koronowo, and at half time one of the best little buffets I can remember with hot beef soup, cold cuts, drumsticks and the local Bosman beer. You may remember than Jean-Marc Bosman of RFC Liege(not Standard Liege) took his employees to the European Court over the retain and transfer system and changed European football forever. NO RELATION, Bosman means Bosun-on a ship in Polish- and is a local brewery. POGON means Go Forward, but to me it means THE FRIENDLY CLUB. 'PRZYJACIELSKI' in Polish. Good luck for the future.
Our last stop was a nearby sports hall and a packed house for an Eksraklasa Futsal match featuring Pogon '04. www.pogon04.szczecin.pl Pogon were 9th and Slaska bottom-12th place in the national league led by Jango Katowice. The skills were really good and its the first Futsal match I have seen live. Pogon '04 won 3-2 over Gwiazda Ruda Slaska. Try chanting that name when you have had a few beers!!