Monday, December 20, 2010

Before 1974 Poland appeared at World Cup finals only in 1938. It was long time ago and Polish football did not rank high. Their successful elimination of England was mostly seen as a freak accident. Polsih players were largely unknown and the general verdict was that Poland would be just happy to appear at the finals. They were in Group 4, the easiest to predict round robin group: mighty Italy first; strong Argentina second, very weak Haiti last, and Poland – third. They were surely to win over Haiti and to lose against the favourites. When Wlodziemierz Lubanski got heavy injury and was out of the national squad, observers shrugged – without the only relatively famous player, what chances Druzina Polska had? None. True, they were the last Olympic champions, but the Olympics were seen as Eastern European affair without much clout – the Poles were brave enough to resist orders (real or imagined) and eliminate the Soviets at the Olympics, and good for them, but now they were not to play against fellow Comminists, but against real teams. The sensational elimination of England? Just luck and English folly. Don’t bother with Poland.
And nobody bothered - especially since the only relatively good Polish club, Gornik (Zabrze) was going through generational change and was not winning at home. In 1972, at the Olympics, the team was more or less based on Gornik, but now those players were gone (retired or playing abroad their last football years). What was left? Gorgon, Gadocha, and Deyna – may be good by East European standards, but far below ‘real stars’… nobody paid attention to the steady and methodic work of Kaziemierz Gorski, who was building his team for quite a few years, carefully adding and shaping. The lack of interest and expectations was just as well for the coach – without Lubanski he had enough trouble on his head. At the end, it was typical Polish selection of players representing many clubs – the country never had dominant 2-3 teams, providing the bulk of the national team anyway. The list of players was interesting only because of their numbers: one more team with unusual numbers on their backs. The Poles numbered their players by lines – 1,2,and 3 were the goalkeepers; then followed the whole defense; then the midfield, and the strikers got the highest numbers. Number 9 was the central defenseman Zmuda. After the finals the Poles joked that the numbers were due to Adidas – so unknown were the names of the players, that Adidas was not able to figure out who plays what and produced the kit following just the list of names. Jokes are jokes – it was not really Adidas fault, for at the time there were no names on the backs of the shirts, so it was up to the Polish to give numbers, not to Adidas, but still the fact remains: the Poles were absolutely unknown.
Head coach: Kazimierz Górski
No. Pos. Player DoB/Age Caps Club
1 GK Andrzej Fischer 15 January 1952 (aged 22) 1 Górnik Zabrze
2 GK Jan Tomaszewski 9 January 1948 (aged 26) 14 ŁKS Łódź
3 GK Zygmunt Kalinowski 2 May 1949 (aged 25) 4 Śląsk Wrocław
4 DF Antoni Szymanowski 13 January 1951 (aged 23) 28 Wisła Kraków
5 DF Zbigniew Gut 17 April 1949 (aged 25) 9 Odra Opole
6 DF Jerzy Gorgoń 18 July 1949 (aged 24) 31 Górnik Zabrze
7 MF Henryk Wieczorek 14 December 1949 (aged 24) 3 Górnik Zabrze
8 DF Mirosław Bulzacki 23 October 1951 (aged 22) 16 ŁKS Łódź
9 DF Władysław Żmuda 6 June 1954 (aged 20) 2 Gwardia Warszawa
10 DF Adam Musiał 18 December 1948 (aged 25) 25 Wisła Kraków
11 MF Lesław Ćmikiewicz 3 May 1947 (aged 27) 32 Legia Warszawa
12 MF Kazimierz Deyna 23 October 1947 (aged 26) 49 Legia Warszawa
13 MF Henryk Kasperczak 10 July 1946 (aged 27) 17 Stal Mielec
14 MF Zygmunt Maszczyk 3 May 1945 (aged 29) 16 Ruch Chorzów
15 FW Roman Jakóbczak 26 February 1946 (aged 28) 1 Lech Poznań
16 FW Grzegorz Lato 8 April 1950 (aged 24) 13 Stal Mielec
17 FW Andrzej Szarmach 3 October 1950 (aged 23) 6 Górnik Zabrze
18 FW Robert Gadocha 10 January 1946 (aged 28) 49 Legia Warszawa
19 FW Jan Domarski 28 October 1946 (aged 27) 13 Stal Mielec
20 FW Zdzisław Kapka 7 December 1954 (aged 19) 2 Wisła Kraków
21 FW Kazimierz Kmiecik 19 September 1951 (aged 22) 9 Wisła Kraków
22 FW Marek Kusto 29 April 1954 (aged 20) 1 Wisła Kraków
Poland at their training camp, posing with visiting pop star Malgorzata Potocka. Can you name the boys? Don’t worry – they were anonymous yet.
After training with the singer, the Polish squad quietly arrived in West Germany. They were not expected to excel.