Date: 10 February 2023 / League: Polish top flight
Final Score: 0-0 / Attendance: 9,423
Should it require any explanation, then allow me to justify my recent digital exile – the winter break felt like it lasted forever. It had been nearly three months since my last Polish football, around half of which had been spent in excruciating torment following an ACL reconstruction (thank you Pogon Siedlce). Honestly, I suspect my recovery would have passed quicker had I been handed a cleaver and told to operate on myself.
Bearing this winter of discontent in mind, you can bet the last hair on your head that I was relishing a return to the Polish football trail – and for me, that meant Lechia Gdansk versus Widzew Lodz.
I’ve waffled about Lechia before, so for fear of repeating myself you can read about the logistics and boring stuff by CLICKING ON THIS LINK.
Instead, let’s get down to business. This game was solely chosen because of the scant choice on offer. With the more intriguing leagues not resuming till March, this was the best option on a weekend that was… well, weakened.
Not that this fixture lacks history – with relations far from cordial between these two sides, I knew for sure this would be a decent reintroduction to the thrills of Polski football. What it wouldn’t be, was a fan classic.
As I found only days before, Lechia’s followers were involved in an ongoing wrangle with their owners and board. Why, I can’t really tell you, but the conflict had resulted in plunging attendances and a general outbreak of lingering gloom. Basically, this was not the ideal time to visit Gdansk for football.
It was, though, the ideal time to visit Gdansk. I was buzzing to be just back on a train, but even more so to be treading the damp, cobbled alleys of this handsome old town. Within minutes, I was in my favourite pub.
“What can I get you,” asked the barman peering up.
“Ooh, erm… I’ll have three pints of everything you’ve got.”
At least, that’s how I remember it. By the time I got to the ground I could feel the earth’s orbit. That’s probably not the best state in which to watch a game of football, but it would be hard to describe this as being such anyway – with a ‘real feel’ temperature dipping to around -5, the enthusiasm of the players was questionable at best.
It was a different story in the stands. Pretty much filling their 2,000 allocation, Widzew did their bit to back their club, whilst Lechia used the first half to engage in a flag drop depicting an angel and a demon. Invoking the classics this, I later learned, was a reference to the words of Virgil: “If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.”
It’s not often you hear an Ancient Roman poet quoted at a football ground, so that alone deserves respect. But so too did the performance of Lechia’s stubborn band of fans. Bursting into a sustained show of pyro thereafter, the first half concluded under a thick, soupy mist.
Unfortunately, that was that. Never really getting going in the second half, the following 45-minutes were played in a more somber atmosphere – a pleasant enough evening all things considered, but one that I knew would be forgotten by the time morning came (then and again, I could barely remember my name by the time I woke up).
As for the stadium, I remain unconvinced. As an events arena it’s clearly world class – however, given that its bread-and-butter lies in hosting football, as opposed to Beyonce, it just doesn’t quite click with the club that is tenant.
Passionate as Lechia’s fans are – and crikey, they can really fill this place with noise – for me it smacks of spotting someone wearing an expensive suit that’s obviously fancy but totally outsized. There’s just something not right about it – but that’s me I guess. As one of those purists that prefers their grounds to be squalid, rotting relics, there’s just no pleasing some – and in that case, that’s me.
Nil-nil final score, with the result leaving Widzew – in their first season back in the top flight – flying high in third, and Lechia sinking towards the relegation spots.