Posts Tagged ‘Poland 2012’

A Toast from the coast to our Hosts

This morning the Ireland team flew from Gdansk down to Poznan for tomorrow night’s match against Italy. It’s a four hours train journey for some of us as we leave the coast and Gdansk to return to Poznan having spent a very pleasant few days here on the Baltic coast (except for a certain 90 minutes).

Our hosts Poland are also out. Their 1-0 defeat by the Czech Republic last night consigned them to last place in their group. We watched the game in Sopot. We had a side bet on first goal scorer and so I don’t think the Poles around us enjoyed one of us celebrating when the Czechs got the winner from Petr Jiracek.

By last night most of the hoards of Irish had moved on from Sopot, where the Irish team have been staying on the Baltic. The weather has been living up to location with rain and relatively low temperatures for most of the time here. The boozy Irish had been replaced by the slightly less boozy Poles on this night compared to Sopot the previous Wednesday night when we were there till all hours.

It is a pity that one of the hosts is out and it is up to Ukraine tonight now to see if they can keep a host nation in the tournament. We had watched the Polish draw with Russia in the Poznan Fanzone and that was a great occasion last week. The place was filled to capacity by Poles wearing their national colours with pride. Bedecked in red and white, there were 30,000 fans watching the game on the big screens. Lots of Polska chants and one that seemed to be “about a big semi-colon” but don’t think I got that right.

At national anthem time the locals booed the Russian anthem and unsurprisingly didn’t seem overly impressed with the massive tier sized “This is Russia” banner that the visiting fans unveiled on what was Russian Day.

For their own anthem, we were treated to a very loud rendition of the Polish anthem by all the Poles in the Fanzone. It was like being at the stadium. Polish striker Robert Lewandowki was very popular with the locals having played some of his football with Lech Poznan before moving on to Borussia Dotmund. His team found themselves 1-0 down when the impressive Alan Dzagoev scored for Russia. When the ball hit the back of the net the Fanzone fell eerily quiet.

In the second half, Poland raised their game and the atmosphere was intensive. That intensity was due in part to the excitable Polish commentator whose hyper style sounded like every square pass was a shot on target! Add in the high pitch screaming from the younger Polish fans in attendance and it was quite some noise.

That decibel level went through the roof when Jakub Blaszcykowski ended a fine Polish passing move by powering home an equaliser. The place went mental and it didn’t seem to matter that we were Irish as we were hugged and high fived as if we were Polish born and reared. Sadly Franciszek Smuda’s side couldn’t find a winner in that game and that ultimately proved their downfall.


We have been staying about half way between Gdansk and Sopot in a place half way between a hotel and a hospital! Nice rooms but all a bit communist. We had taken the opportunity when in Gdansk to visit the famous shipyards. The excellent Paths to Freedom exhibition was well worth visiting at the formerly named Lenin Shipyards close to the shipyard gates where Lech Walesa had made speeches during the days of Solidarity.

We also took the ferry out through the shipyards to Westerplatte. On the way we could see the many abandoned cranes and warehouses in the massive shipyard that now only has a small amount of work going on in it. At Westerplatte we saw where the German battleship Schleswig-Holsten fired the first salvos of World War II. The garrison of just 170 Polish troops held out for a week at the start of September 1939 against the Germany navy and Luftwaffe.


It is probably too late for the Irish team to make history at this championship but there is still lots to play for tomorrow. Italy require a win to go through to the quarter final while the Irish team will want to leave a good final impression on the tournament from their football rather than just from the colourful singing Irish fans off the pitch. Trapattoni, his team and the fans want to end the tournament with a win. It will be a big ask.


Categories: EURO 2012, Travel Tags: ,