In my ongoing football series, in Polish known as Śmieszne Historie o Piłce Nożnej w Polsce, I aim to write about as many cool and crazy football experiences as I can in Poland. My link to Polish football stems from the fact that my first ever Northern Ireland home win was against Poland in 1991 and Poland was also the venue for my first ever Northern Ireland away match outside the U.K, when myself and a few friends came from Berlin by train to watch Northern Ireland lose 1-0 to Poland in Warszawa in March 2005.
“Traded in my sorrows for the joy that I borrowed, back in the day” – Kylie Minogue.
In the meantime since then, I have managed to watch a Polish sixth division match at Zlotoklos, watch Lechia Gdansk, visit over 10 stadiums in Poland, attend a brave few Legia Warszawa matches, a Kazimierz Deyna pilgrimage and 3 other meetings between Northern Ireland and Poland (including 2016’s famous European Championship encounter). But this day on life’s corridor was another brilliant football adventure!! I would be watching Football in a Speedway Stadium in Gdańsk!! This is a huge stadium, used for Speedway by the Gdansk based Speedway team GKP Wybrzeze. No normal day out, an 8th Division football match in a 15,000 seater stadium!! When has life ever been boring for me?
GKP Wybrzeze are famous for their Speedway team, but they also have a handball team (second most prominent sport in the club) and a football team (third most prominent sport in the club) and they choose to play their home football matches here on this great pitch in a huge stadium surrounded by a motorbike track and holding enough room for 15,000. When I considered this, I realised I was watching Polish 8th division in a stadium 25% bigger than AFC Bournemouth’s Premier League stadium at Dean Court. Football, as we know though is not about numbers or logic or mathematics, except for one thing: the final score.
Today’s opponents were Gryf Goręczyno and this was almost a top of the table clash with the two teams in second and third, with a team from nearby Sopot (Karlikowo) on top of the league. By winning, GKP Wybrzeze actually overtook Gryf Goręczyno on the day…
Websites of the two teams:
The Details of the Match
These details are in Polish from the Website and Facebook page (which is great for me, as I am currently learning Polish in Warsaw): Sobota 11:00 stadion Żużlowy Wybrzeże Gdańsk – Gryf Goręczyno mecz o wszystko dla nas ale postaramy się wywalczyć serduchem i charakterem 3punkty! Jest duża szansa ze do bramki wróci bramkarz Bartek Kulawy a także po kontuzji wraca Łukasz Wawrenty!!! Zapraszamy wszystkich chętnych na mecz !!! Wybrzeze Gol!
Stadion żużlowy im. Z. Podleckiego.
I was invited here by Mateusz, who is the vice-king of Scholandia in the Polish based Micronation of Krolestwo Dreamlandu (the Kingdom of Dreamland). This means the football match also coincided with my visit to Dreamland, a wacaday country I have now become a member of and will be writing about really soon!
“Sink is fulla fishes, she gat dirty dishes on the brain” – Noel
Getting to the Stadium – Stadion żużlowy im. Z. Podleckiego
I went here with Mateusz, and we walked through the charms of Gdansk’s Stare Miasto (Old Town), and the Dolne Miasto (Downtown/Lower Town). Because I lived in Gdansk, and studied Polish there, I knew the area very well. Our walk took us through the main streets of the Stare Miasto, across the bridge and past some nice sights, such as churches, dis-used buildings and local grafitti.
We walk mostly along Podwale Przedmiejskie Street.
The Match Itself
When we arrive the match was underway and seemed very even between both sides. It was a hot day so there were water bottles aplenty by the pitch side. At half time the match was evenly poised at 1-1. Mateusz and I take a seat in the shade part of the main stand on the right. I’d say the attendance in this part of the stadium is around 30 people. There is no entrance fee or match programme.
The standard of football here is slightly lower than Irish League and my team Glentoran but it’s still very competitive with lots of tackles flying in and plenty of red cards. Most of the seats are blue. There are no stalls today selling hot dogs, snacks or drinks.
At half time I chatted with Mateusz and also walked to the back of the stand, where opposite was a dog event! I love the randomness of travel. Here I was on a hot day in Gdansk and I had a choice of 4 events to go to, just for starters:
1.This football match.
2.A dog show.
3.The Corners Art Festival (where I spoke to Deirdre from Northern Ireland).
4.An Archery and Medieval Festival in Owidz (which I had to cancel so I could enjoy the Spa at Hotel Ren).
And that’s not including the fact that I was already ticking off country 151, as I backpacked in Krolestwo Dreamlandu.
And now it was back to the second half of the match with the game delicately poised at 1-1. Near the start of the second half, the Gdansk team (GKZ Wybrzeze) get a fairly obvious penalty. I videoed the penalty at the bottom of this article, and here is a photo of it, number 17 fires it over the crossbar.
And just when we thought that GKP Wybrzeze had lost their chances to go in front, they get another attack and this time, it’s 2-1. A corker of a goal which was caught on video below. A backheel from the touchline, a deft pass and a top corner bullet shot to put GKP Wybrzeze in front!
GKP Wybrzeze try to wrap the game up and almost grab a third.
Towards the end of the match, Gryf Goręczyno muster two brief attacks and almost snatch an equaliser but it wasn’t to be – Gdański Klub Żużlowy Wybrzeże are the winners at home and now sit in second place in the League. Here are a few more photos from the match itself.
Post Match Mini Tour of Dolne Miasto
Our venue for the “post match pint” is a quirky bar in a dis-used factory in Gdansk’s Dolne Miasto called Rzecz Jasna. But first, on route we see some grafitti for the local team, a popular clothing factory and some unusual streets. As part of my day out backpacking in Dreamland, we also saw part of an arts festival.
Post Match Pint in Rzecz Jasna
In this cool quirky bar, Rzecz Jasna I go for a “Donald T” beer which has images of men that “might be” either Donald T rump or Donald T usk! It’s a strong black beer, and following that I get a full tour of the Micronation Krolestwo Dreamlandu! As Rafal Kowalczyk once said “some kind of groundhopping adventure”.
Thanks to all the staff and players at both clubs for a great match and experience. Thanks to Mateusz for helping to organise! I have also written about the Deyna 70 match as well as my long awaited tour to Dreamland.
Here are the details of GKZ Wybrzeze:
Gdański Klub Żużlowy Wybrzeże
80-729 Gdańsk, ul. Zawodników 1
NIP 583-29-30-769, REGON 220197162
tel. (58) 305-12-25
Here are some videos from the crazy experience: