Monday, October 5, 2009

Yugoslavia, Sweden, and Denmark provided the main supply of foreign players to small European market. It was enough. Occasional Turk or Finn appeared here and there, Austrian players went to play for small West German clubs, German journeyman not able to establish themselves at home went to help an Austrian or Swiss club to win a domestic title and practically that was all. Except one more country with peculiar exporting practice should be added: Poland. Occasionally and on individual basis, Poland allowed aging local stars to play abroad, almost exclusively in France. It was quite affair, never mentioned in the press, so very often fans thought that certain player already retired, when he was kicking the ball in France. So little was known – and always discovered too late and accidentally – that it is impossible to tell what the exact policy was, if there was established policy at all. Some players were allowed, but others – not. A middle of the road player may be allowed to go at about 30 years of age and end up in First Division, when a star would be kept until he was well over the hill and useless for anything else but Third Division. Active national players were not going to foreign pastures of course and in any case it was not frequent event – years may go by without any Pole allowed to play abroad, then suddenly four-five veterans were unleashed. It hide and seek game, played by the Polish Federation trying to establish export without attracting Communist political attention in the process. Certainly more Poles played abroad than, say, Turks, but it was insignificant number anyway.

Ryszard Gregorczyck, a typical Polish case: aging former national player with 23 matches and 2 goals, he was not included in the national squad since 1966. In 1971 he was allowed to play in France – here is with RC Lens kit during 1972-73 season. Nobody heard of the transfer and my original impression was that he defected. Apparently, I was wrong in 1973, but learned I was wrong in 2007.