Date: 22 August 2018 / League: Polish regional cup, 2nd round
Final Score: 7-0 / Attendance: approx. 400?
I’ve written about Kartofliska previously, but to remind you, they’re essentially the creation of a lower league blog that places value on things like booze, rubbish football and anywhere you’ll find cows grazing on a pitch.
Often dubbed Poland’s worst football team on account of their beer monster players, it had been seen as a minor miracle that they’d even reached this stage. Around the ground, the pre-match talk was of how much they’d lose by – the general consensus was around 15-0.
I know bugger all about them, and I’m happy to confess. Their name mind is interesting. In Polish the word Grom means ‘thunder’. But it’s also the name of the Polish special services, a unit rightfully regarded with reverence around the whole country.
Clearly, this lot were not serving members. Veterans, maybe? Or just a bunch of geezers that like the word thunder? On that, I have next to no clue.
As a team though, they were comedy gold – a mix of young, old and even older. Orchestrating the midfield, meanwhile, was a bloke with a pirate’s eyepatch. Hogging the ball and blaming others for his own misplaced passes, it was like being back at school and watching the class bully being exposed on the pitch. Hobbling off injured, his substitution was met with the glee: “bet you didn’t see that coming,” and suchlike.
(To clarify, I saw him chatting after with fans and he seemed a really nice fella’!).
This was played at the home of GKS Swit, a lower league team based in Warsaw’s north western suburbs. It’s architecture limits itself to a rickety metal stand half-swallowed by brambles and a few portacabins. Best view? From the tractor on the other side of the pitch.
An absolutely beltingly friendly atmosphere on a hot, dusky evening; comprised mostly of Kartofliska fans, this was a match in which the must-have accessory was a six-pack of lager. Though slow to simmer, the atmosphere picked up the more the team suffered. But given the doomsday pre-match predictions, 7-0 was seen as a valiant triumph of sorts and the final whistle was met with raucous scenes from Kartofliska’s tipsy following.
Showing their appreciation of this backing, the players greeted the whistle by handing out gherkins to the crowd before launching into their traditional post-match pyro show. To be there, it just felt fabulous.
Once named by The Sun as “the world’s sexiest referee”, the match was overseen by Karolina Bojar, a sports lawyer and upcoming ref. Followed by over 150,000 people on Instagram, she’s become a celebrity in her own right.
Actually, I even once interviewed her and found her to be hugely personable, passionate about the game and, of course, every bit as bright as you expect a lawyer to be.
But for all that, I can’t help but think back to the first time I posted this set of pics to a football stadium Facebook group – in one of the images, Grom’s pirate captain can be seen looking downwards, seemingly at her bottom. “Look at my arse again, and I’ll take your other eye out,” captioned one of the group’s users. Makes me laugh to this day.