Date: 2 November 2019 / League: Polish top flight
Final Score: 1-0 / Attendance: 8,612
In A Nutshell
A soggy, shoddy experience played out in a modern, standard setting…
Founded in 1906, Cracovia’s claim to fame is their status as Poland’s oldest club. Looking at the stadium, you’d never think that. Completely rebuilt between 2009 and 2010, nowadays, at least from the outside, it looks more like a modern municipal gallery – lots of clean polished stonework and intelligent illumination. Nice, but hardly inspiring.
Same applies to the inside – smart and neat to look at, the uniformity is broken only by a double-tiered main stand that peaks above the others. To its credit, its compact nature and proximity to the pitch aids in the retention of noise and atmosphere. Holding just over 15,000, it staged the final of Euro U21 Championships in 2017 and also hosted an international friendly that marked Jerzy Dudek’s final appearance for Poland.
Despite being other ends of the country this is a pretty meaningful rivalry due to Cracovia’s friendship with Gdansk’s arch-rivals, Arka Gdynia. As such, this match looked like it was going to have a juicy edge and I spent much of the previous week double checking, triple checking and whatever comes after to be sure that away fans were coming. Day of the game, and Bob’s your uncle, I find that they’ve been banned: welcome to the headbanging world of Polish effing football.
When highlights include a pre-match ice cream and a Homie Burger from a Simpsons food truck you know it’s been an underwhelming match. It breaks my heart to see an empty away enclosure, and doubly so when you realize how well segregated it is in the first place – were the police expecting Lechia to turn up with wire-cutters and axes?
Hat’s off to Cracovia for keeping the noise levels loud, but the whole experience lacked the sparkle that I hunt. A second half downpour that gave way to sleet added to my general sense of life-sucking despondency – for sure this ground has seen some epic evenings, but this wasn’t one of them.
To anyone newcomers to Polish football, my advice is thus: pick a city that you know you’ll enjoy, for if the football is a flop then at least you’ve got something else to look forward to. In this regard, it’s simply impossible to leave Krakow without anything but a storming hangover and foggy, splintered memories of a bloody good time. For more on the city itself, CLICK HERE.