So the big day had arrived. Finally, as other commentators have noted , Polonia and its fans had the chance to focus purely on football after the trials and tribulations of the summer and the fan violence of last weekend. Polonia were back once more at their Konwiktorska stadium, something that is possible due to city authorities sharply reducing rent payments.
Their opponents yesterday were the amateur side Wkra Żuromin, a team that finished last season in lower mid-table in the Liga IV North. Wkra come from the minute town of Żuromin, 140 kilometres North-West of Warsaw. Wkra have never been very high in the Polish football pyramid, their greatest success being when they spent a season in the third tier at the end of the 1990s. Of all the sides in the division they have the most connections with Polonia: several years ago the two clubs had a friendship agreement and ex-Polonia striker Łukasz Teodorczyk started his career there. For Wkra’s players last night’s game was an exciting moment, representing an opportunity to play in front of a big crowd. They also had the chance to play under floodlights, Wkra’s own stadium, like many in Polish-lower league football, does not possess such amenities.
In the build-up to the match the big question mark concerned fan turnout. Would Polonia’s fans show their support for the club in numbers or would the prospect of IV liga football not be appealing? There were positive signs in the last week as long queues to buy tickets appeared at Konwiktorska. On arriving at the match yesterday we were met with further long queues for tickets. Polonia’s fans had decided to come after all. Indeed throughout the first half fans continued to enter the stadium. Final estimates suggest that approximately 4,500 people watched the game, as many as had come to see Polonia against the likes of Wisła Kraków, Lech Poznań and Legia Warsaw in the Ekstraklasa. It was an impressive and heart-warming sign that Polonia fans are not going to let their club disappear.
As to the match itself, it soon became clear that Polonia were a far more accomplished side than Wkra in terms of speed, technique and physicality. By half-time the match as a contest was to all intents and purposes over as Polonia rushed into a 3-0 lead via goals from Strzałkowski 2 and Kosmalski. The sheer dominance of Polonia meant fans could take the time to enjoy the beautiful late August evening and appreciate the tifos that appeared in the Kamienna stand.
‘Polonia will never die’
Polonia fan tribute to the Warsaw uprising of August 1944
Polonia’s superiority continued in the second half with Strzałowski notching his hat-trick with a beautiful finish and Marcin Kur and Edgar Ghazaryan eventually making it 6-0 to the Czarne koszule. With the match well and truly won Polonia took less risks. It was a case of ‘mission accomplished.’
I drew four main conclusions regarding the match:
1) Polonia seems to have gelled as a side very quickly:
Polonia are already playing some lovely football. Indeed at times some of their play seemed more expressive than the side that did so well in the Ekstraklasa last year. It’s a credit to the club’s coaching set up to have got them playing like this in such a short space of time.
2) Kosmalski and Strzałkowski are way too good for the 5th tier:
It’s immediately clear that Polonia’s two main strikers are capable of playing at a much higher level than the 5th tier. Kosmalski impressed with his pace, strength and vision and Strzałkowski is a very good finisher. If they continue playing like this they’re going to get a hatful of goals this season.
3) Polonia are clear title favourites:
I know it’s only the first game but Polonia playing like this should have very little problems winning the IV liga North title this year. I was surprised at how vast the difference in quality between the two sides was.
4) Konwiktorska is a real advantage for Polonia in this league:
I initially was afraid that playing at Konwiktorska might be a handicap for Polonia as visiting sides would up their game in front of big crowds. It’s early days but I’ve changed my mind now. Polonia’s technique is very high quality for this level and the surface at K6 allows them to play a good passing style of play. They’re going to win a lot of games here, it’ll be away from home on bumpy pitches in front of unfriendly audiences where Polonia will have most problems.
On the whole it was a very enjoyable evening. In two days’ time Polonia take on Wisła II Płock. I’m expecting another three points. This is Rightbankwarsaw signing off.