Matches North Poland Stadiums

Stomil Olsztyn v Olimpia Elblag

Date: 8 October 2023 / League: Polish third tier

Final Score: 1-1 / Attendance: 4,205


There are some things in life I just can’t say no to – curry, beers and football in Olsztyn. One of Poland’s unsung gems, it’s a treat of a town with a handsome historic quarter filled with snaking cobbled alleys and redbrick Gothic landmarks.

And yes, there’s a half-decent curry house and my favourite Irish pub in the whole of the country. That’s the Carpenter, a creaky pub full of steps and wobbles and dark little corners. Feeling exactly as an Irish pub should, there aren’t all that many places I’d rather check into for a pre-match pint.

Welcome as all these details are, for me Olsztyn’s biggest selling point is a stadium so knackered out that over two-thirds of it are cordoned off. Set in the shadow of a giant billboard featuring a slightly ominous looking Michelin Man, most of this oval bowl looks ready to received its last rites.

When it opened in 1978, it must have felt bold and visionary, a place that encapsulated commie Poland’s sporting ambitions: indicating just as much, a set of rusting Olympic rings teeter over what was once the main home stand. Today, they’re all but ready to collapse under the next gust of wind. Dare I say it, at one point they must have felt symbolic of the collective glory that the Party had promised.

As dank and decrepit as the ground is now, it’s perhaps a sign of how quickly it’s deteriorated that it was once deemed fit to host the Polish Cup Final (1989) and, even, the national team itself (1997).

For lovers of vintage, it is quite a sight, but whilst much of it has been left to discreet rot below giant canvas sheets, it’s still capable of generating a fine atmosphere. I found this first-hand when I visited in March for an eagerly awaited derby against Olimpia Elblag. Played in brutal conditions, there were moments when the sleet, tear gas and pyro merged as one to form an impenetrable, eye-stinging fog. Without a doubt, it was a game to remember (for more on that, CLICK ME!).

With that in mind, there was no way I was going to miss the next meeting between these two rivals. Far less lively than previous, the rerun of this fixture still hardly lacked talking points: billowing smoke, captured scarves going up in balls of fire, seats flying out from the away pen and a last-minute equaliser to send the visitors into raptures. Olsztyn, don’t you dare ever change.

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