Date: 28 August 2021 / League: Polish 5th tier
Final Score: 0-0 / Attendance: approx. 400
In A Nutshell
A hazy summer evening in a quiet, backwater town: and in that mix, a charming wooden stand, creeping woodland and… an away end of the same size and design as the gorilla cage in a Victorian era zoo. Regard this stadium as one of The Seven Wonders of Polish Football!
Though a provincial town, Przeworsk is easy and quick to reach if you’re coming from Rzeszow – I promise, it is ‘doable’ as a daytrip via train. In my case, though, I was travelling from the ‘other side’ and from nearby Przemysl (click here!) – also, however, a dead easy trip. With Przeworsk’s hotel scene non-existent though, I made a pit-stop in Jaroslaw, ditched my bags in a hotel and then ordered a cab. Just one train stop away, it would have been easier and, actually, quicker, if I’d taken the public transport option.
Orzel Przeworsk, as far as I know, have never achieved anything. Their opponents, Jaroslaw, also have little to boast about in terms of trophies, but are highly rated in the fan community for their nutty turnout. When things go mad in Poland’s south-east, you can usually bet that Jaroslaw are involved. Set 15km apart, this match was technically a derby, but with Orzel’s ‘fan movement’ long dissolved anything loopy was more than a long shot.
There’s so much to love about this stadium that it’s difficult to know where to start. Having purchased your ticket from a garden shed, visitors pass a line of trees to reach a showground-style stand seemingly rendered from stone and wood. Accessed via two curling stairwells set to each side, it’s dark and creaky effort neatly trimmed with red and white handrails.
Flanking it to the left and the right, two scaffold-like stands coated in rust provide open seating shaded by the trees that rustle behind. Opposite, capacity is further bumped up by the presence of a low bank of temporary seats that back onto a strip of woodland behind.
Engaging as these are to admire, the biggest talking point is provided by a unique away section featuring six or so steps of terracing completed encased inside a cage – topping it, a rusting metal roof that’s been placed there to prevent guests escaping rather than to offer them any shelter. Extraordinary to look at, were it ever to be dismantled I would hope to see it rebuilt in its entirety in some museum of Polish football.
Overall, an idyllic time inside a ground that could have been designed with such experiences in mind. The arrival of 80 or so Jaroslaw fans briefly threatened to shatter the serenity, and though they were denied entry – meaning that the away end remained sadly empty – they were allowed to stand by a distant gate voicing their support with no chance of seeing anything of the match.
Tensions rose briefly when around 20 locals made an effort to reach the visiting rabble, but this was little more than a token gesture – had they got through the security, they’d have been eaten alive. Jaroslaw, ringed by riot police, were left to rattle the gates, bang their drums and fill the air with insults and curses. After taking a customary group photo as evidence that they’d done their bit, they were then marched back to their transport and the day settled back into its lazy Saturday evening groove.
A calm and soothing atmosphere thereafter, the match had more in line with attending a county cricket match – something amplified by the number of old geezers pottering around sharing sandwiches and chuckles.