Firestarter

Poland Trip part one

GAME

Lech Poznan 1 Wisla Krakow 1

Ekstraklasa

Attendance: 26,361

Gate: 45 zloty (£9.30)

Programme: 5 zloty (£1.03)

What a way to start a trip.

Having witnessed the Poznan fans on TV a few years back when they visited Man City, this game was on my must do list. It was that good, I hope when I return to Polska that they are at home again.

Arriving at the INEA Stadion, to give its current name, or Bulgarska Street Stadium as it is otherwise known, I was impressed by the size from the outside as the blue lights lit up the cold night Poznan air. I quickly found my entrance and was inside. The noise that you can hear as you approach the stadium starts to grow, first though having not eaten for some time I was off for some food. Not for the last time Kielbasa was consumed with some accompaniment adding spice, delicious.

Food eaten. Time to go out into the atmosphere.

The ground is fairly typical of modern day stadium. The main difference was the amount of leg room you get, take note other clubs. There isn’t a lot to relate about the ground that you could not probably guess. I was opposite the Main Stand, sat on a white seat that made up the ‘z’ in the clubs name. To my right, was a two tiered structure which also houses the away fans, if any exist. Opposite is where all the action happens, where the noise comes from, where the pyro party takes place. The noise, the show, it drags you in and keeps your attention all night.

The Ultras were at it when I got there. Did not stop all the match. Were still singing as I made my way into the Poznan night. Whilst a little orchestrated, the overall effect and noise was incredible.

A through ball was controlled somehow by Wojtkowski, he then held up the ball for Lopez to arrive and the forward thumped the ball into the keepers bottom right hand corner. Still the crowd sang. You would not know anything had happened. Great strike though.

Cue, Poznan onslaught. The blues came forward in waves. Unfortunately for the hosts they came up against Buchalik, the Wisla keeper was incredible. Shot after shot was held, blocked or pushed away. The ‘Kolejorz’ must have wondered what they had to do.

After the break the same service was resumed by Mr Buchalik as he kept the hosts at bay, even when he was out of position following a save, Poznan were wasteful, Rakels missing a glorious chance. Ten minutes to go he missed again, this time heading over from close range. Finally with 2 minutes to go Poznan had the ball in the net, a corner played in fell to substitute Radut, he swung a leg and the ball bobbled in, the place erupted, however, the assistant had his flag up. No goal!

As the clock turned to 90 minutes, the ultras let off fire crackers and the air was filled with smoke. As the smoke was still lingering one final attack was launched and this time Poznan scored. This time Poznan were not to be denied. This time the score was 1-1. A cross fell for Jevtic. His finish on the half-volley from 13 yards out was perfect. The whistle went moments later. Lech Poznan should have won. Easily.

Pre-Match

Alarm set for 3am. No wonder I had the 1903 lounge at Manchester Airport to myself for most of my stay.

For the first time in my life I used Ryanair. To be fair, you get exactly what you pay for. A no-frills airline service. More than happy to use them again. Once in Gdansk, bags dropped at my base, I was off to Poznan on the train, First class. What an experience that was. An old carriage from decades ago had 6 of us in an single compartment, with a corridor outside, as we passed through the Polish countryside I felt like I was in the middle of an Agatha Christie saga.

Booked in to the Hotel DeSilva Premium, good quality for £40 per might for a huge double room, I set off for the match in a taxi. Easy enough.

Post Match

I decided to walk. Took about an hour, which most of it was passed wtching trams come past me every couple of minutes or so. Rammed. Every one with a Police Escort. Back at my hotel I was asleep in no time at all. Tomorrow was another long day.

FACTS

Games: 431

Goals:  1468

Grounds: 204

Games since a 0-0: 44

Milestone: Total crowds now past 300,000

Random Fact: My 75th all-time draw

SOUNDTRACK

Fat of the Land – Prodigy

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