Matches South Poland Stadiums

GKS Katowice v GKS Tychy

Date: 12 November 2023 / League: Polish second tier

Final Score: 1-0 / Attendance: 3,835


I’ve been down to GKS Katowice a few times over the last few years, but not since 2019 have I swagged accreditation to prowl the touchline like a stadium-obsessed pervert.

Actually, I didn’t expect to ever have the chance again – when I was here in 2019, it was for a match against Elana that got a little fruity at the end (for that, CLICK ME!). Following that, the club appeared to freeze out photographers specialising in ‘fan culture’. So yeah, fully expecting another letter of rejection from GKS, I’d actually already made plans to head elsewhere.

So bugger me sideways – when I got the green light to photograph about 20-hours before kick-off I knew I had to take my chance. With the club scheduled to relocate next summer, for all I knew this match against Tychy could well have represented my final opportunity to shoot the ground from the pitch. I wasn’t going to miss out on that.

I have no time really to waffle on about my day, but I’m really glad I seized upon the chance. Aside from a banner drop that invoked the spirit of Yoda (actually, from afar, I originally thought the green geezer was Kermit), for me the real draw was being able to walk around unmolested following the final whistle.

As the crowds melted away, the ground found itself bathed in the golden glow of Autumn. From murky November gloom, it suddenly presented itself in a spectacular palette of colours, the moss-covered terrace flushed in vivid green shades. Just beautiful.

Anyway, no more words, though I shall include below a recent passage that I penned recently for a British mag describing this vintage paradise…

“It’s a commonly accepted fact, Silesia is the beating heart of Polish football. Sadly, however, of the bigger clubs only GKS Katowice can be found playing in an old school stadium – and old school it certainly is. A pearl of bygone Poland, from the outside it looks like a cross between a brutalist housing estate and something that the Nazis would have built to fortify the Atlantic Wall – heavy, overbearing and totally immovable.

Within, it’s even more curious. Featuring a colour selection straight from Abba’s wardrobe, find the main stand decked out in a florid selection of pea green shades, sunshine yellow, battleship grey and the kind of brown you’d associate with Bungle from Rainbow. Talk about retro paradise.

And that’s the posh bit. Opposite, running the length of the other side of the pitch, stands a dark, knackered stand cloaked in shadow but slashed in occasional streaks of sunlight that seep in from the gaps at the back. Locally known as the Blaszok, it’s here that the ultras gather. Bookended by an empty six-step terrace reserved for police observers, and a low bank of temporary seating for away fans, taken as a whole it’s a unique and engaging ground.

Though crowds hover at around the 3k mark, the wall of noise that echoes from the Blaszok can send tingles down the spine, and that’s never truer than during a big Silesian derby – the hate and passion pouring from the stands can be electrifying. But book your tickets now. In line with the region’s other giants, GKS will be moving at the end of the season to a regular anonymous box that looks like it was ordered from a catalogue.

Romantics will rue the move, but even the biggest nostalgist won’t begrudge the reasoning behind it. Showing telltale signs of age, just how much an upgrade is needed becomes clear should you opt for a VIP ticket – no swanky suites and skyboxes here, instead find yourself ushered into a dank, gloomy room decorated with untouched platters of lard and gherkins. As a vaguely creepy Frank Sidebottom-style mascot lurks around, you can’t help but see this as a stadium of another era.

In many respects, the upcoming move is reflective of Katowice’s own resurgence. Whereas some veterans of the England away circuit will remember a grim city steeped in white knuckle violence, recent years have seen the centre undergo a loving renovation. Feeling fresh and dynamic, the city’s spirit is mirrored by the vibrancy of its nightlife – and for the record, don’t leave without checking into my favourite pub in Poland: the craft emporium that is the Biala Malpa.”

Brief as that description I wrote may appear, I like to hope that it conveys the magical charisma that this epic ground has. Visit now or forever hold your peace.

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