Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Poland produced bigger surprise than Romania: if Rapid (Bucharest) were well known club, neither of the finalists for the Polish Cup were. Curiously, the finalists came from cities famous for their motorcycle speedway clubs and races, but not for their football.
Stal (Rzeszow) won their first – and so far last – trophy. They were lowly club, rarely playing in First Division, with no famous players. Rather, with no players to speak of – a typical small and modest club. If Stal occasionally reached First Division, their opponents would not even dream of playing in the Second, for they were not a ‘normal’ club.
ROW II (Rybnik) – they are always written like that, for they were… the second team of ROW (Rybnik). The reserves even did not play at the home town of the mother club – they were officially listed as team from Chwalowice. Well, normally listed there, but since they reached the final, they had to follow the location of the real club. So – Rybnik… even less known than Rzeszow.
The final was scoreless and decided by penalty shoot-out – 3-2 for the ‘big boys’.
Of course, it is admirable when small clubs heroically disturb the status quo, but this final is more irritating than anything: did Rybnik played with their reserve team, or did they used their first? I have no idea, but it is reasonable question: after all, it is one and the same club, permitted to move players at will between its ‘first’ and ‘second’ formation. And not only that: the finalists earned the right to play in the old summer Intertotto tournament – there they were no longer ROW II, but just ROW Rybnik, meaning the ‘mother’ club participated, not the second squad. Meaning, the ‘mother’ club absorbed the success of the ‘reserve’ team – which is normal… Apart from that, the final was strange in another aspect: Poland just finished third in the whole world. Yet, the country football seemed to be in some hangover in 1975, instead of building on the big achievement. True, Polish football was never dominated by two or three ‘big’ clubs and was more democratic than most countries, but was it really an expression of general improvement or of a decline? Well, no need to be extra harsh on the small clubs: for both finalists 1975 is the best year they ever had!