After a long hiatus in groundhopping for a variety of reasons I got down to it again today as a friend and I took in the delights of third tier football in the small town of Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki, 30 kilometres to the North-West of Warsaw. What prompted me to travel to such a game? Well primarily due to the imminent winter break looming on the horizon. The next time lower league games will show their face in Poland, spring will be in the air. Here then was a chance to watch something before the lights go out on the Polish football world.
The match on the agenda was between local team Świt Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki and a side from the North East of Poland, Wigry Suwałki. Świt have a long (by Polish standards) but not particularly successful history, having been founded in 1935. Their glory days were in the early noughties as they graced the Ekstraklasa for a single season in 2003-4 and then quickly sank back into the lower tiers of the Polish game. This season Świt sit close to the bottom of the II liga East, with the second worst attack in the division – scoring a paltry 13 goals in 17 games.
Their opponents Wigry were originally established in 1947 as an army club and have never really scaled the heights of the Polish pyramid system. They hail from Suwałki, a town which is best known in Poland for having the chilliest temperatures in the country, lying just 20 kilometres away from the Lithuanian border This season has been one of success for the club – before today’s game they sat in fourth place, just one point off the promotion places to the second tier, a level at which they have never played.
To get to Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki we took a train from Warsaw’s East Railway Station. It was an overcast but surprisingly warm day for this time of year by Polish standards. My friend and I sat back to enjoy the comfortable trains which used to take passengers to Modlin airport before its runway was abruptly shut down. Half an hour later we arrived in the town, unfortunately we got there an hour in advance of kick off and – after purchasing tickets for 10 PLN (£2) from two taciturn middle aged ladies at the club’s ticket office – we decided to have a wander around the place.
We soon found out that Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki isn’t the most enchanting of towns. Near the train station, there was a shop selling ludicrously priced vodka, a motorway flyover, a pharmacy, a couple of small supermarkets and a kebab shop run by a chap called Hasan. Having toured the ‘sights’ we made our way into the ground. On entering we dutifully showed our passports (needed as a form of ID) to the old man at the turnstiles. The old fellow looked suitably perplexed by the presence of two foreigners at the stadium and asked his colleague ‘Where does it say the province of issue?’, I explained that we were from ‘an international province’ which seemed to do the trick and the man let us through.
While the ground has some impressive gates (see above) and some lovely floodlights, in other respects it was certainly not awe-inspiring. An all-seater stadium, the facilities were pretty basic with a tent set up to sell Polish sausage and a massive muddy area which was not really used for any purpose whatsoever. Luckily Świt decided to pump out some rather excellent pre-match music including the Crash Test Dummies ‘mmmmmm’ a catchy cover of Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’ and Donna Summer’s ‘Walking on Sunshine.’ The music didn’t do much to warm the crowd up though, and most of the 200 or so supporters awaited the match in stoney silence.
I was struck by the glamour of it all
We took up our position in the main stand to watch the game. The first half was a pretty dreadful affair with neither team imposing themselves on the game and very little goalmouth action to speak of. The most entertaining things happened off the pitch. A gaggle of Wigry Suwałki fans had made the long trip and proceeded to belt out a couple of songs. Some local Świt Ultras then took to singing ‘Jazda z kurwami’ which roughly translates as ‘Fuck up the bastards.’ This got the Wigry fans rather het up and they started to enthusiastically attack the fence that separated the two sets of fans. At this point the mellifluous tones of the match announcer boomed out over the tannoy system ‘Look you chaps over there. I think it would better if we all just watched the game, that’s my opinion anyway.’ Eventually the Wigry fans seemed to listen to him and calmed down. The attack however cowed their Świt counterparts who subsequently took down their banners and were quiet for the rest of the game. It reached half-time with the score being 0-0.
The tempo in the second half was a lot better than that of the first period. This was especially the case after the 60th minute when a Wigry player got his marching orders for an off the ball incident. From this moment onwards both teams woke up and played some more impressive stuff. Despite this the match announcer exaggerated a tad when stating ten minutes from time that ‘It’s been a rather pleasant game so far hasn’t it?’ Although both teams had their chances, the match petered out to a 0-0 draw.
As the fans filtered out of the stadium we too turned to leave but not before the club decided to turn the floodlights off (got to save on your electricity bill you know). In the dark we managed to find the exit and tread down the path towards the train station. Warsaw’s shining lights were calling, it was time to leave the grimness of Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki behind.