Taking advantage of my luxuriously long Christmas and New Year break and eager to test out my new camera I decided to visit some more Warsaw stadiums. As followers of the blog know, there are a host of different club stadiums in Warsaw and its environs, in different states of decay. Perhaps the most spectacular case is that of seventh tier Gwardia Warszawa, whose massive shell of a stadium is situated in the Warsaw district of Ochota, a ten minute bus ride from the centre of the city.
Gwardia Warszawa’s stadium
Several other ‘shell’ stadiums exist though – underlining the once rather greater footballing pedigree of the city – and two stand within spitting distance of each other to the north-west of Warsaw’s old town. I picked up my camera and set off to find them.
It was a remarkably warm day for January in Warsaw standards, with the temperature standing at a whopping nine degrees Celsius and the sun shining bright. In other words it was perfect weather to take some decent photos.
I passed Warsaw’s Gdańsk bridge on the way
From Warsaw’s right bank several buses got me to my first destination, the stadium of Marymont Warszawa. Marymont were once a decent sized club whose origins go back to the inter-war period. They’re also a club with a working class background, something that was emphasised highly by Polish Communist authorities after the Second World War.
The height of Marymont’s success came in the 1950s when for several seasons they played in the Polish second division and were coached by Polish great Kazimierz Górski. The 1950s also saw the construction of a 10,000 seater stadium on Potocka street which stands to this day, despite the fact the football club went bust in 2007. I found the sports complex within which the stadium stands with relative ease, and headed towards the main stand which could be seen from quite a distance. To get there I walked across a sandy surface and then climbed up the steps towards the stadium.
I’m a big fan of decrepit, unused old stadiums and I was pretty impressed with the sight that I encountered.
Indeed I would have taken more photos if it wasn’t for the approach of a security guard to ward me off the premises. Unbeknown to me I had mistakenly stomped my way across a new grass pitch that the local council were planting and had appeared on the security guard’s television screen! After apologising profusely I beat a hasty retreat.
My next port of call was another bus ride away in the nearby area of Bielany. There stands the imposing stadium of sixth tier Hutnik Warszawa. Hutnik were established in 1957 and reached their highest position in 1993 when they finished sixth in the Polish second tier, since then they have generally fluctuated between the third and fifth tiers. Several years ago financial problems meant the club had to start off again at the lowest rung of the Polish pyramid system. Hutnik however maintained most of their playing staff and last season they blew the B klasa away, scoring an amazing 188 goals and letting in 0 in 18 games. In the summer the Mazovian provincial authorities decided to promote them to the sixth tier due to services to the sport in Warsaw.
Hutnik have the third largest ultras group in the Warsaw area, and are renowned for their friendship with the largest team in Warsaw, Legia. This has often provoked violent incidents between Hutnik ultras and those of Polonia Warsaw, Legia’s city rivals.
Hutnik’s stadium stands close to a major flyover. An old man was kind enough to point me in the direction of the ground. As I approached I heard the somewhat unsettling sound of guns being fired – of course this was not gang war but rather a shooting range within the stadium complex. I made my way past a deserted building and found the ground. There was no-one around so I took a few photos and got out of there. I would have stayed longer but the guns continuing to fire in the background gave me quite a chill and I didn’t fancy being thrown off two premises in one day!
Hutnik and Legia
My groundhopping work for the day was thus done and I set off home as the sun started to set. This is rightbankwarsaw signing off.