Poznan

Local Football

05 Oct 2017

You are probably in the best place in the country to watch football. Because believe it or not Lech Poznan, rather than Wisła Kraków or Legia Warsaw, is Poland’s best supported club. A rich football heritage, enthusiastic and vocal support and of course a modern, supporter friendly stadium, mean that this is one of the best places in the country to watch Polish football.

Back in 2010 Poznan seemed to have confirmed its place as the new capital of Polish football. Local club Lech’s 3-1 win over Manchester City and exciting 3-3 draw with Juventus in Turin gave the local fans hope, especially as Poznan was the first 2012 venue to be opened and played host to the largest and the loudest support in Poland.

Lech’s championship, won in some style that year after a seventeen year wait, was only the sixth in the club’s history. However, the roots of the club can be traced back to the 1920s, with probably the key moment coming on the 1st May 1930 – when, as it was popular back in those days, the railway decided to take patronage of Lech. This relationship lasted for sixty-four years and gave the nickname to the club and its fans that they identify with to this day – “Kolejorz”, which is a local variation of the Polish word for “Railwaymen”.

Lech’s first big success came in the seventies, when the club became very popular locally – in 1972 the all-time attendance record was broken when over sixty thousand people came to the game with Zawisza Bydgoszcz. That was the start of better times, and under the management of Jerzy Kopa Lech secured their first European place in the UEFA Cup following a third place finish in the 1978 championship. Despite huge hopes, German club MSV Duisburg proved too good for “Kolejorz”.

One of the most popular players was Mirosław Okoński, who made his debut for the club just before his twentieth birthday, but was vilified for moving to Legia Warsaw after defeat in 1980 Polish Cup final. It was a game that would become infamous as the start of a long-lasting hatred between the clubs, as host city Częstochowa witnessed with day long fighting between rival hooligans. Okoński, after two unsuccessful seasons in the capital, came back to Poznań and was welcomed back by the Lech crowds. This skilful attacking midfielder played 27 times for Poland, making his third debut for Lech in 1992, when he returned at the end of his career after spells with Hamburg and AEK Athens.

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