Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Poland. Perhaps one of the most difficult for evaluation seasons – on one hand, in the summer of 1982 Poland finished 3rd in the whole world. Boniek was hailed as one of greatest stars on world scale. Widzew (Lodz), already without Boniek, reached the semi-finals of the European Champions Cup. On the other hand, the country was mostly in the news because of the turmoil and the ongoing clash between its Communist government and the people. Football was affected, naturally – players got involved in the bitter struggle and the sport was hardly on the mind of many. Strange results came at the end and it is almost impossible to say with any certainty were they good or bad – unusual winners could be a sign of positive change and of weakness simultaneously. Especially when players were moving to play abroad in great numbers and traditionally Polish football was fairly equal and without dominating big clubs. 
 Second Division was hardly something to brag about, so at a glance everything appeared as it was. Some former First Division members played here, but they were smallish clubs anyway. No big surprise if some of them dropped even further down – it was not like famous and powerful club suddenly went into a grand decline. 

So, ROW (Rybnik) ended 13th and was relegated from Group 1 of Second Division? Big deal... so far ROW reached once the Cup final, their only claim for success. 
 At the other end of the table two teams fought for promotion – Olimpia (Poznan) and Gornik (Walbrzych). On a big scale, the season was indeed good for Poznan's football. Yet, Olimpia finished 2nd and remained in Second Division. On the same scale the season was good for Walbrzych's football too – it was the only city with representatives in Group 1 of Second Division and both performed well: Zaglebie finished 6th. 
Gornik clinched the top spot with 41 points – 2 more than Olimpia (Poznan). Naturally, it was great victory for Gornik – they hardly ever played top level football and going up was wonderful achievement.
 Group 2 was no different than Group 1 – one city with two representatives, both performing well this year, one better known club, but in decline for many years already, was relegated – Polonia (Warszawa), two clubs competing for the 1st place and promotion.  The city of Radom had the only local derby in the league. Bron finished 8th with 30 points. 
Radomiak, however, got the 3rd place with 35 points. Well done, but they were out of the promotional race. Scored the most goals in the league, though. 
 Resovia (Rzeszow) and Motor (Lublin) competed for the 1st place and at the end a single point decided their immediate future. Resovia remained in second division, finishing with 40 points. 
Motor triumphed with 41 points, clinching promotion. Standing from left: administrator Tadeusz Kamiński, coach Lesław Ćmikiewicz, Zbigniew Slipiko, Dariusz Bartoszewski, Janusz Kudyba, Dariusz Opolski, Zygmunt Kalinowski, Stanisław Karwat, Modest Boguszewski, Krzysztof Witkowski, Roman Żuchnik, assistant coach Waldemar Wiater, specialist Ryszard Sowiński.
First row: Mirosław Car, Andrzej Łatka, Marek Szaniawski, Leszek Iwanicki, Roman Dębiński, Andrzej Pop, Waldemar Fiuta, Robert Grzanka, Zbigniew Kakietek, Tomasz Jasina, Kazimierz Gładysiewicz. 
Like the winners of Group 1, Motor had minimal experience with top level football and just going up was fine enough. Unlike the other promoted team, they had some familiar names in the squad – or at least players, who eventually became familiar names. Like Zygmunt Kalinowski, bronze medalist of the 1974 World Cup, although he did not play a minute, and Stanislaw Karwat, who made his name years later. Both goalkeepers, one from the past, the other of the future. 
 In a nut shell, Second Division was significant only in terms of promotions for the next season – Gornik (Walbrzych) and Motor (Lublin). Neither club was expected to make a big impact, but then again who can ever tell what would happen in the future.