Category Archives: POLANDIAN NEWS

Update

Catching up with Happy Valentines Day and Easter wishes plus Earth Day today!

earth day

Topical news story – David Moyes sacked as manager of Man United. Article.

Dealt with 61 comments of which about a third were trashed. The rest related to the “10 things about having a Polish girlfriend” post, which is surely deserving of its own TV series by now. Gra o Polski Laska, or something similar. Half of those comments were slagging Jamie off for incorrect use of your / you’re. I’ve spoken to Jamie about this and he told me to tell you all to go **** yourselves. Probably just having a bad day. It’s when he mixes the pills with the beer.

What the hell happened in February? Every month plugging away with around 10,000 views (not bad for a dead blog) and then a spike in February up to almost 70,000!

Otherwise, nuffin going on.

2014 update

Hi there,

Happy New Year and all that but I should make it clear that if you leave comments here they WILL NOT BE ANSWERED. Sorry about that but we are all busy doing other things and this material has simply been left here as a (maybe) helpful reference point. This is not an active blog. This is the Mount Vesuvius or Etna of blogs, used to have a bit of fire in its belly but now……

Anyway, around 30 comments have been dealt with. Roughly 10 approved and the rest trashed.

Euro 2012 – in the middle of the real Poland and Russia battle

Sitting in my flat, I can hear a faint shouting. A group of lads are down a nearby park, dressed up in Poland shirts, drinking and singing with 6 hours to go before the Poland – Czech Republic game begins… It appears the Poles have learnt something from the Irish. All around me today in a low key way in the Warsaw suburb in which I live I can sense this great tension in Poles. Today is the day. This is it.

It was a tension that reached a fever pitch I’d never seen before in all my football life last Tuesday, when Poland and Russia met each other at the National Stadium across the river from central Warsaw. Lucky enough to get a ticket at the last minute for a mere 15 Euros, my Irish friend and I walked in to a completely full ground, scarves held aloft in a mass show of unity. It was breathtaking to see the stadium for the first time. It’s every bit the equal of Wembley and it seems that in the steepness of it upper stands it captures something more of the passion of a national game. In this case that was a raucous, swelling tumult of noise that ebbed and flowed as much as the game did. The Russian visiting fans, who’d been perfectly friendly to us on the way into the stadium (a few minutes after the violence by Poniatowski bridge) were completely outsung by the 40,000 or so Polish fans in the stadium.

I don’t want to write about a few thugs fighting each other or attacking innocent bystanders who happened to be nearby. There were well over 200,000 people in Warsaw from one of the two teams. The fact that, at most, 500 blokes (0.2% of that two hundred thousand) decided to have a go at each other does not reflect the experience I or most of the people attending the game had. Shameful but by no means representative.

So by the time Poland were a goal down and the second half had started, I was completely hoarse, but the noise grew and grew. It was breathtaking and the explosion of joy when Błaszczkowski belted the equaliser in was phenomenal. I have never been to a game quite like it. Exhausted after the game, we staggered out of the ground and picked ourselves up to drink a fair bit of wódka and stumble home well after the sun had risen for the next day. One to tell the grandchildren, that’s for sure. Hell, I even got on TV.

And they say the camera adds ten pounds!

But that was Tuesday and already that phenomenal result against the group’s strongest team feels like a lifetime away. In the papers I’ve been reading, everyone’s talked about the excitement when the host nation gets out of the group. From my point of view, I can barely sit on the edge of my seat without falling off. Though my poor liver is a massive Czech Republic fan – hoping for a dismal defeat which sends us all home – I feel like every other fibre of my being is willing Poland on already.

Multiply that force of will by 40 million, then stuff 1/400th of that into the car park which makes up Warsaw’s fan zone and then set that passion alive by beating Czech Republic today. If that happens then all the passion and joy we’ve seen before will look like a kick about in the park. Today is the day.

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Euro 2012 – inside the stadium

On Sunday, my wife and I attended the Euro 2012 Group C game in Poznan, between Ireland and Croatia. Unlike Ian, I had been able to source tickets through the UEFA website, although not through the initial general lottery, but rather when the tickets came on offer later. As an Irish person, the 3-1 defeat to Croatia was hard to take, but was a great experience to have attended. I won’t cover the football in too much detail, as that will have enough coverage elsewhere. However, some other points of note are covered below.

Poland/Poznan as a host

My initial feelings around how Poland was preparing to be a host to many other countries was that the expectations were very low-key and low level. Poznan normally works well as a tourist location, and has the Poznan International Fair, which occurs each few months. However, it seemed like a lot of people and businesses in Poznan were treating Euro 2012 as just an extension of normal tourist operations. However, with in the region of 60,000 to 70,000 extra visitors, across 3 match-days, it seems like there were no specific plans in place with how best to manage them, and make the most of the visits. The supermarkets and off-licences had long queues, while there were parts where there were no people at all visiting, only a few minutes from the city centre.

Poland as a Central European location

It seemed like a criticism of Ukraine and positive for Poland, when 12 of the ‘visiting’ 14 teams (apart from the 2 hosts) chose to base themselves in Poland. With most teams opting to stay in Poland and fly into Ukraine if needed, it seemed to point at the availability of facilities in Poland versus in Ukraine. However, another factor was Poland’s central location, and thus availability to most of the qualifying countries as an easy-to-reach location. This was highlighted in two ways. Firstly, the Czech Republic team had the best draw when it came to location. The closest Euro 2012 location to Czech Republic was Wrocław and all of their games take place there. Not even the hosts have that luxury, as they have a change of venue at least once. This allows the Czechs most convenience with the border being only one hour by drive from Wrocław.

However, this was also highlighted in two other ways. When driving from Kraków to Poznań on Sunday, there were many cars with Croatian flags and number plates also travelling north. This showed Poland’s worth as a central location. We even saw two cyclists who were travelling from Croatis (presumably taking a few days to get to Poznań from Croatia). While travelling near Wrocław, we also saw many cars from Germany, who seemed to be returning from L’viv after watching Germany win 1-0 against Portugal on Saturday night. Whatever about available infrastructure, most locations for Euro 2012 seemed to give options to most fans to travel to the games.

Ireland vs. Croatia

Inside the stadium versus television

In the Municipal Stadium (Stadion Miejski)in Poznań, there was a great atmosphere. The stadium design means that noise reverberates and echos to make a great atmosphere. However, there were a few signs where the stadium did not feel fully finished, despite officially reopening almost 2 years ago in September 2010. When the first football games were played there were a number of concerns raised by UEFA, and while most seem to have been addressed, there were small points noticeable. For example, there were a few points where covers for plug sockets had been broken and in other places where plastering had not been fully completed to the best of standards. However, for the game between Ireland and Croatia, there was a great atmosphere. About 70% of the audience was Irish, with most of the remainder Croatian and while the result meant the Croats had reason to sing, the Irish fans continued to give support. Due to the stadium shape, this gave a great atmosphere, although this may not have translated as well to the television screens.

Stadion Miejski in Poznan

When watching some other games on TV, the crowd seems somewhat muted. However, having been in the stadium I can say that it does not seem to reflect the amount of singing which takes place. Furthermore, when watching a game on TV, it seems that most stadia are all the same with the same ads scrolling past and so on. This seems to be a ‘curse’ of the modern stadium where it is designed with commercial effects in mind rather than for the fans.

National Anthems

Clashes, Fights and other disturbances

It was interesting to visit the Rynek and fan-zone in Poznań. With thousands of people collecting there, and much alcohol being consumed, it was easy to see how some clashes could occur. However, what made it most interesting was that the clashes that occurred seemed to be more between fans (of one nationality) and police, rather than between opposing fans. The Irish fans in particular seemed to be looking for the party and something to forget the economic reality. However, the Croatia fans did let off some fireworks and flares to celebrate scoring goals, only for the Polish stewards and police to step in. A video of fans on Poznań’s Rynek seems to support this, showing fans attacking police rather than other fans. This also seems to align to the story of Russian fans attacking Polish stewards last Friday. Thus, it is interesting to see the response prepared for future such situations, should they occur over the coming couple of weeks.

Polish Army Helicopter patrolling Poznań

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Catastrophe: All too common?

The train crash at the weekend in Szczekociny turned the eyes of the world towards Poland once more, with a transport accident once again the cause. With a significant number of people losing their lives and others injured, 3 days of national mourning was announced once again. However, it seemed to me that Poland was all too ready for handling such a tragedy, and that even now, 5 days after the crash, it feels like Poland is moving on.

The first signs I noticed of the ‘preparedness’ for a catastrophe came about while watching the rolling news reports on Sunday morning, approximately 12 hours after the crash itself. The news channels such as Polsat News, and TVN24, already had computer-generated images of the crash. Furthermore, there were experts in mental health commenting on the psychological effect of the crash victims and families, while other emergency medical experts were describing how they would have reacted had they been on the scene.

When the comments were gathered from the prominent politicians, one that stood out was Donald Tusk saying something like “…This is the worst disaster since… the last such tragedy”. That comment alone made me think back towards recent times to other such disasters, and the more regular occurrence of such crashes. Finally when the flags were rolled out to be hung at half-mast, it showed how quickly people were willing to move on. One colleague in work asked why the flags had been hung outside of buildings, despite we having touched on the topic of the train crash in an earlier conversation a few hours beforehand.

So, the question is: has catastrophe become too common in today’s society, or has Poland become tired of tragedy?

I would suggest that it would be a little of both. In today’s all-information society, the world tends to know the most breaking news before friends and families of those affected would know. Being able to provide simulations of crashes within a few hours shows how fast we have moved on from trying to confirm bad news, to a state where people are almost awaiting the next piece of bad news.

There is a thin line between not enough news and too much news though, and I would suggest Poland is on the edge of too much news and too many tragedies. With situations such as Pope John Paul II dying and the Smolensk crash happening in recent years, it feels as though Poles have used up their tears. Thus, it feels like Szczekociny didn’t get as much attention as it might have. One might even say that without Euro 2012 upcoming, you would not have the transport minister saying that trains are fine. Thus for a moment more, Szczekociny should get a touch more attention, considering those that suffered and lost lives, but without the computer simulations and medical emergency experts giving advice on how they would theoretically handle such a catastrophe.