“Some kind of groundhopping adventure” – Rafał Kowalczyk.
My football adventures in Poland continued as I keep up a long term tradition of “ground hopping”. I visited over 50 football stadiums in England during my time living there, as a charismatic Cherry (AFC Bournemouth fan) and keen “3pm Saturday Standard” follower. I have also attended over 100 Northern Ireland matches including a famous 3-1 friendly win over Poland (GAWA member, OWC member, four times a NI Supporters Club member) in over 30 countries and also managed to whackpack my way to Belfast’s Oval where my local team, Glentoran FC still ply their trade in the Northern Irish top flight (well, only just).
“What team do you support mate?” – someone else.
“Hat-trick. NI, AFCB, GFC.” – Jonny Blair.
On my jaunts around the world, many more stadiums were visited by me BUT now, I am loving the chance to tour new stadiums in Poland. It’s a new adventure for me in life. This series came about rather later than billed, imagine my delight on the Kazik Deyna pilgrimage to little ventured Starogard Gdanski last year. On an April Saturday, with the Spring sun beating down, my famous friend Rafal Kowalczyk invites me to a Polish Sixth Division game. Not just any game though LKS Perła Złotokłos v. Pogoń Grodzisk Mazowiecki (Seconds).
In keeping with my travel spontaneous repertoire, this is in a quiet untouristic village, called Złotokłos, where the local team, LKS Perła Złotokłos just happened to be top of the league at the time! Football is not just about the 90 minutes for me – it is the entire experience. This was a day out and a quadruple bus journey to and from the Polish capital city of Warsaw.
“Nice planet. Let’s have it.” – Noel Gallagher.
Getting from Warszawa to Piaseczno
It’s a lads day out, with all due respect to my female friends here in Poland. First of all, we all met up at Metro Wilanowska, southern Warszawa (if your geographical mind likes) where there is a big bus station which links us to many nearby towns. First up we board a bus to Piaseczno. We are aware the match is a 16.00 kick off in Poland, so we meet at 14.10 and I leave the flat probably around 13.25pm. The bus costs 3 zlotys and my friend Piotr has come equipped with some beers. The same Piotr Pawelski that I first met in my early blogging days of 2007 when I first launched the doomed Don’t Stop Living blog and backpacked Poland inspired by the famous duo Rafal Kowalczyk and Artur Gorecki. Rafal is a prominent figure in this story and in his never changing splendour, features again today. Kowalczyk’s friendly demeanour ridiculously unceasing to amaze the friends he makes on life’s vivacious corridor.
It is one of the hottest days of the year so far in Warsaw so we crack the piwos (beers) open on this, the first of two buses on route to the village of Złotokłos. Officially you’re not meant to drink on Polish buses but Polish and Northern Irish like to have this trait in common. “Carryout loyal” as we used to say in my hometown of Bangor. United we stand, divided we fall. Even the bus journey is nothing short of magical.
Backpacking in Piaseczno
We have a tight schedule before kick off so we need to move quite fast. As much as I would have loved to have backpacked the key sights of Piaseczno, there isn’t much time. But I do get to see the main square, city hall and central church though. It is a town of 43,000 people and has a green and red flag. In fact, thanks to the lads for giving me the time to take these photos. They don’t take any photos, nor blog about their lives. Remember, every day of my life I am a tourist. Even when drinking coffee with my Mum in a local shop in the Northern Irish seaside resort of Bangor. I will be a tourist every day of my life. That much is clear. And Piaseczno doesn’t disappoint in its brief entrance and exit into my life, my story…(hey if we never meet again).
The Town Hall sparkles in the Piasecnic sun, the original Town Hall here in Piaseczno was burned down in 1655 by the Swedes during the deluge. The second accidentally burned down in 1730. A third Town Hall was constructed in the middle of the 18th century but yes, it was burned down during the Kościuszko Uprising in 1794. In 1815 the Russians (of all people – cheek tongued) began rebuilding it and the current Town hall was built in a classical style between 1823-1824. And that one, the FOURTH incarnation still sits pretty today, sparkling in the sun…oh the Germans with their death camps didn’t ruin this beauty!
Also in Piaseczno, Rafal goes to top up the beers and bags a bargain of ice cold beers in the local Zabka (baby frog) shop. In a gold and black tin and in English, they propose “welcome to the club”, cost 10.5 zloty for 4, I dare say these creators got the she-bang spot on. Nail on the head. Bang on. Spotty dog. So it is.
As another point of interest, Piaseczno housed a large Jewish ghetto during German (often disguised using the word “Nazi”) controlled Europe, liquidated in January 1941, when all its 2,500 inhabitants were transported in cattle trucks to Warsaw. Another throwback to the days of German death camps, nothing we should shy away from. The Germans set up “factories” here, nothing more than covers ups for murder, maim and mansalughter. #germandeathcamps I’ll stick to my Radiohead LPs from 1997…
“I’ll take my quiet life” – Thom Yorke.
Getting from Piaseczno to Złotokłos
We board the second bus of the day here in Piaseczno, for 4 zlotys and we end up less than 30 minutes later in rural Poland, in dreamy Złotokłos. It is truly gorgeous and epitomises my travel tales, where I also visited Tczew, Pelplin, Biskupiec and Starogard Gdanski in my first year of living in Poland. Wacaday villages and towns with more soul than Marvin Gaye.
Backpacking in Złotokłos
The main sight here is of course the football stadium. Or is it? Move over, Piłka nożna! I went backpacking in Złotokłos! The football stadium was not even the number one tourist sight…
So first, after exiting the bus we head to the local corner shop for some beers. And then there is a surprise extra backpacking sight – a biscuit factory! A biscuit factory. Jurassic Backpacking at its dinosauric best.
Yes along the main junction on the way to the football stadium, we find the biscuit factory! Złotokłos is tiny – it is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Piaseczno, within Piaseczno County, Masovian Voivodeship, in east-central Poland. It lies approximately 11 kilometres (7 miles) south-west of Piaseczno and 25 km (16 miles) south of Warsaw and yet here is a biscuit factory and a top of the league football team! It’s not Wacaday, it’s for real!
And after that dander through Złotokłos we arrive at the football stadium, almost EXACTLY in time for kick off. And we get the bets on straight away, with jokes against the popular Rafal Kowalczyk who changed his bet prediction in an act of sheer lunacy after 10 minutes. Can we let him get away with it? We are greeted with a Vodka bottle and a plastic bag of cold beers on arrival. Nothing short of reality is good enough. Welcome to Poland. We love the life we missed.
“If it’s good enough for you, it’s good enough for me” – Dodgy.
And for the record, here are the bets we placed between each other…
So to confirm the individual bets we had were:
Rafal – Złotokłos 2-0 Pogoń Grodzisk Mazowiecki (changed from 4-0 after 11 minutes – verified)
Jonny – Złotokłos 3-1 Pogoń Grodzisk Mazowiecki
Przyemek – Złotokłos 3-1 Pogoń Grodzisk Mazowiecki (changed from 2-1 after 17 minutes – verified)
Kamil – Złotokłos 3-0 Pogoń Grodzisk Mazowiecki
Piotr – Złotokłos 5-0 Pogoń Grodzisk Mazowiecki
Krzystof – Złotokłos 8-2 Pogoń Grodzisk Mazowiecki
Of course, Złotokłos were at home and top of the league, so form played a part here in our bets but each bet was pretty accurate in their own way. Possibly except Rafal!!! Haha!! 2-0 was having a laugh. Remember Rafi, this is division SIX!! Goals reign here and two is a low number. After 20 minutes, the breakthrough came, another two goals followed and it was 3-0 at half time, Rafal’s bet floated in the wind, burnt by today’s Warszawa Sky. Złotokłos were the Norwich City today in yellow tops and green shorts. The sorry opposition, a shadow of their first team, well they played in Scum dog colours, Sunderland, Stoke City or (London) Derry City colours. Red and white stripes.
“You could wait for a lifetime to spend your days in the sunshine” – Noel Gallagher.
So you want to see some more action from the first half…lots of beerage and banter. We even had:
1.A fight between both teams on the pitch.
2.A pitch invasion (our mate Krzysztof decided to do it!).
3.A ball that went into the bin (I mean directly from the player into the bin!!).
4.A last minute goal.
5.A stunning twenty yarder.
(All that was missing really was a streaker)
“The boys are back in town” – Thin Lizzy.
I had a brief walk round the stadium including watching a corner from behind the nets, taking the piss against a tree and by the side of the road (standard activity) and realised this was what my Dad told me about when I was a kid. This was football again. This was REAL football. No excrement with money. Just 22 lads playing football, 3 guys controlling it and a handful of people watching (girlfriends and sex bomb wifes’ included, MILF also present). Maradona and his hand of God down the park. All over again. If this photo isn’t beautiful, what is?
So the second half was a less impressive affair. GKS Pogoń II Grodzisk Mazowiecki pulled a goal back and so Przyemek and I felt our bets were going well – we both had 3-1…
We were joined in the second half by a few buck eejit local fans – great lads who partied with us until the end of the match.
And on the pitch, well it was still 3-1 and it stayed that way until the 93rd minute…when LKS Perła Złotokłos decided to put icing on the cake and score a fourth…
Liga Okręgowa: Perła Złotokłos – Pogoń II Grodzisk Mazowiecki 4:1 (3:0).
Bramki: Adam Piotrowski 2x, Mateusz Małuj, Cezary Kur.
And that last minute goal destroyed the bets that myself and Przyemek put on. Next we had a short walk again through the village of Złotokłos. We topped up our beers and were invited by Przyemek to his home for a barbecue and a live showing of AFC Bournemouth v. Chelsea on TV live from Dean Court, England!
We get the beers into the fridge, we have snack food including crisps and Paluski (a Polish favourite snack of mine) and Przyemek gets the barbecue going with excellent sausages. Sadly, the Cherries lost 3-1 to Chelsea.
The night faded and we headed into Warszawa again on the double bus journey. Some spicy shots in Cześć Bar and a final beer and I was ready to hit the sack. A shout out to Kuba,Przyemek’s dog who is adorable and was barking sad when we all left.
Bring on the next groundhopping adventure!
As the man said:
“Some kind of groundhopping adventure” – Rafał Kowalczyk.
I didn’t do this as a feature, documentary or tourist report as at the time I wasn’t sure I would write about it, or whether it would have a big impact on me, but yes it did. Here are some videos from this splendid day out in Złotokłos: