I arrived at the ground at around 1pm. Wisła were scheduled to play Polonia Warszawa at 5pm. After this match, the final league game of the season, the team would be handed the championship trophy. This led to a lot of interest from the Wisła supporters and I understood from the Wisła website, with a little help from Google Translate, that the game was a sell-out. Although I was disappointed about that, I wanted to take a few pictures of the stadium nevertheless even though I did not expect to see the stadium from inside today.
Even though it was four hours before kick-off there was already a large presence of riot police at the stadium. Polish football still has a lot of problems with a hooliganism and you would expect the police to turn up in large numbers at such a high-profile game. When I arrived near the stadium a bus transporting members of the riot police had collided with one of the Kraków trams. From what I could see there were no major injuries.
I then walked to the stadium and I noticed that the ticket office was very busy. I asked a member of staff in English if there were still tickets available but he did not speak English. Then I asked another two guys outside but again they did not know what I was talking about. I tried it in German but they did not speak German either. When I asked another guy he indicated me to wait. He walked away and came back with someone who apparently spoke English. He told me that there were still tickets available but I needed a form of ID, such as a passport which I had luckily brought with me. The ticket office had a large number of windows and when it was my turn I was hoping that the guy would be able to understand me but it turned out he spoke perfect English. The only tickets available were in the C stand behind the goal but I was more than happy with that. Amazingly, a ticket was only 25 złoty, which is slightly less than six pounds.
After having bought the ticket I walked back to my hotel to freshen up and I returned to Stadion Miejski im. Henryka Reymana a few hours later. Upon entering the ground I was searched, as is the norm in the Netherlands as well, but I was also asked for my passport and my name and passport number were checked with the name and number on my ticket. This was all done in a very friendly manner. I then made my way to my seat. I believe that this was the first time this part of the stand was used and that that was why there were still tickets available. Everything looked very new. The stadium is still not complete and the largest stand was not in use, even though it looks like it is almost complete. When finished the new ground will have a capacity of just over 33,000. Amazingly, there will not be any Euro 2012 games played at this new stadium, despite it being the home of the league champions in the second largest city of Poland.
The atmosphere at the game was brilliant and exceeded all my expectations. The fans in the opposite end of the ground were the most vocal but the supporters in 'my' end were certainly not quiet either. After a few incidents with supporters in recent months the Polish FA had decided there would not be any away fans allowed at games in the top three divisions and therefore there were no Polonia supporters in sight. The fans in my stand seemed all very civilised and there were loads of women and children as well. The football on display was of a lesser quality. It fact it was a terrible game and Wisła deservedly lost by two goals. Although the fans were clearly not happy with their team's performance on the night they had come here for only one reason: to celebrate the 13th league title. After the game the trophy was presented to the team and shown to the fans but the whole built-up took ages. No-one seemed to mind however and the party atmosphere continued.
After the game almost all Wisła fans walked to the main square in the city centre where the players would once again show the trophy. I walked to square as well but it had been a very long day for me, I had got up at 4am that day, flown from Scotland to Poland and walked around Kraków all day and I was not really in the mood to wait for another hour or so for the Wisła squad to turn up. Also I had to work the next day so I did not want to go to my bed too late so I made my way back to the hotel at around 9pm. I regretted that decision when I saw these images the next day but all in all it had been another great groundhopping day.
When I took this picture all bystanders were given the Polish version of: 'Move along folks, there's nothing to see here,' or something similar.
A Wisła corner-kick. If you look closely you can see a few Wisła fans on an elevated platform who acted as 'conductors', showing the fans in the Trybuna C how and when to clap etc.
Sunday 29th May 2011
Wisla Kraków 0 Polonia Warszawa 2
Goals: Smolarek 22, Baluster 39.