Friday nights with the Ekstraklasa

Cheers

It’s been about a year and a half since I started watching the Ekstraklasa regularly and the competition has, over time, grown on me. I’ve mentioned many a time on the blog how maligned Polish football is, how people in this country have so little time for it, even those who are paid to be enthusiastic about the league.  At the same time, there’s something enticing about following Polish football – perhaps it’s making the best out of a bad situation – we all know the football isn’t the greatest but sticking with it through thick and thin is actually quite rewarding.

I’ll give you an example.  On a Friday night, while most of the Northern hemisphere is out carousing and seeking adventure, I normally tune in to watch the evening’s action in the Ekstraklasa.  From one side of course there’s something exceedingly sad about all of this, perhaps I should be out causing mischief, but on the other the Ekstraklasa provides a comforting level of intimacy. There’s a select bunch of footballing aficionados on Twitter following the action – often making wisecracks about the poor football on show – and that’s it.  By watching the Ekstraklasa on a Friday night you don’t have to deal with the sheer mass of people that flood through every pore of our existence in the fast-moving modern world.  It is in other words a niche world, one for the initiated, and that’s actually quite nice.

Basically the Ekstraklasa’s a little rundown bar somewhere that you and your mates have discovered.  It might not be the cleanest place in the world, the beer isn’t amazing, but it’s your own little place where the meaning is something you define.  If the Ekstraklasa did suddenly become popular the bar would be filled to bursting with all the other people you know, and secretly despise, from the neighbourhood.  The bar would make more money but spending time there wouldn’t be as much fun.

Of course it helps to know the background to all the characters in your chosen establishment, why the bar lady decided to open the place, who the slightly kooky regulars are, and why some people stopped coming and then suddenly came back.  All of this takes time.  But once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s your territory, and you can’t help but stay until closing time.

Or perhaps I should actually leave the house on a Friday night instead.

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11 thoughts on “Friday nights with the Ekstraklasa

  1. this is a really touching ode to Polish football, sums up perfectly the strange magnetism of catching a game while living in Poland.
    Or keeping one eye on an Ekstraklasa match when it happens to pop up live on Eurosport 2.

  2. This is exactly how I feel towards Polish football too. This is a nice descriptive piece. I suppose really, the pull I have towards it is that it feels a little more intimate and more something you can be at one with, as opposed to the mainstream fanatacism of the Bundesliga, La Liga or the Premier League.

    I like to follow slightly more ‘obscure’ leagues such as the Ekstraklasa or the Hungarian top flight occasionally, as a bit of a release more than anything. There’s something fascinating about following football in the likes of the two aforementioned countries too, a sense of venturing into the unknown.

    I still hope to one day catch a Zagłębie Lubin game in Poland, maybe a Győri game in Hungary!

    • Thanks for the comment man! Yeah there is something exotic about it – but then if you explain that to Poles they think there’s something wrong with your mental state. The standard is slowly getting better – never been to a game in Hungary – have you?

      • You’re welcome, this post spoke volumes to me!

        That’s one of my worries about going to Poland, I don’t know how I’d come across or if I’d be generally accepted for a couple of days. I don’t like to come across as a xenophobe as I like all people, it’s just a worry for someone who doesn’t go abroad much haha!

        Nah, I’ve never been to Hungary full-stop, let alone for a game. I’d love to though!

  3. You’d be fine man! Really – Poles are in general very welcoming – just at times they think it’s weird that anyone would like their footie! You should definitely make a visit over – and also to Hungary – very nice country/ies!

    • Definitely something I’ll consider in the next few years. Think a few of us are looking at going to some German Liga.3 football next season to start things off, then see how we feel about going to other places. Thanks for putting the mind at rest though, I’ll certainly look into it!

      Have you been to Lubin?

  4. Never to Lubin no – although have heard it’s a nice place. At the Cup final on Saturday Lubin fans were dwarfed by the Zawisza contingent. Shame they lost – I was sort of hoping they’d win – I like their coach Lenczyk!

    • Yeah I read somewhere that their ultras didn’t turn up due to Zawisza’s ongoing fallout with the owner. I like the solidarity between clubs, but it’s a real shame they couldn’t put differences aside for a final, I think; particularly with it being Zawisza’s first ever one. I’ll be watching the Zagłębie game tonight though, hoping they can claw some points back!

  5. Pingback: What It Means To Follow A Foreign League | Nick Upton

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