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Polonia Warsaw (Polish: Polonia Warszawa, pronounced [pɔˈlɔɲa varˈʂava]), founded on 19 November 1911, is the oldest existing Warsaw sports club, with football, basketball, track and field and swimming teams.
|Full name||Polonia Warszawa Spółka Akcyjna|
|Nickname(s)||Czarne koszule (Black Shirts)|
|Founded||19 November 1911|
|Ground||Stadion Miejski Polonii,|
|League||III liga (Group I)|
|2018–19||Group I, 6th|
Polonia Warsaw was formed in the autumn of 1911 as a union of two school teams ('Stella' and 'Merkury'). The founder of the club was captain Wacław Denhoff-Czarnocki, who also came up with the name of the club. Polonia is Latin for "Poland" and is often used by Polish ex-patriates in reference to their communities in other countries. The choice of such a name was a brave decision at the time, since Poland was not an independent country, and Warsaw was a part of Russian partition.
Initially, the players played in black-and-white striped shirts, but in the spring of 1912, they switched to their now traditional design of all black shirts. The legendary patriotic explanation for this color scheme was that it was a sign of mourning for the occupied and divided motherland of Poland. This lasting devotion to tradition resulted in the club's popular name: The Black Shirts. The uniform's white shorts and red socks come from the colors of the Polish flag.
The club's first match on 19 November 1911 was against a strong local rival, Korona, and ended 3–4 in favor of Korona. Two years later, in February 1913, The Black Shirts defeated Korona 4–0. During the first world war, German occupants were slightly more liberal in their ways than the previous Russian counterparts, and allowed the official registration of sports clubs on Polish territory, on 15 October 1915 Polonia official became a football club, despite already existing for four years.
The first match between Polonia and Legia Warsaw was played on 29 April 1917, ending in a 1:1 draw. It was the first historic "Great Derby of Warsaw" – the clash of these two rival teams. A month later, there was a second match between the teams, ending with the same score.
Hatred divided their supporters early in the clubs' history and continues to this day, driving strong emotions during the matches and sometimes even greater emotions between matches.
In 1921, the Black Shirts came second in the first ever season of the Polish football championship. In 1926, they also finished the season as joint-champions. Polonia was Warsaw's favorite club – the great majority of the city's inhabitants were devoted Black Shirt supporters. In the late 1930s, Polonia became one of powerhouses of Polish football, with players, such as Jerzy Bulanow, Wladyslaw Szczepaniak, Erwin Nyc and Henryk Jaznicki capping for the national team. The friendship between Polonia and KS Cracovia – the prewar Polish football legend and the first ever champions of Poland (1921) – dates back to those days.
The first Championship, the first Polish Cup and relegationEdit
In 1946, Polonia finally won the Polish Championship title. It was symbolic among the ruins of the bombed and burned capital. The final match was played on "Wojska Polskiego" (the Polish Army's – Legia's – ground) Stadium on Łazienkowska Street, because Polonia's stadium on 6 Konwiktorska Street (which lay close to the Jewish ghetto area) had been ruined during the war. The Black Shirts defeated AKS Chorzów in the final.
In 1952, Polonia Warsaw won their first Polish Cup. In the final, Polonia managed to outscore local rivals Legia Warsaw 1–0, much to the delight of Warsaw's fans, who mainly supported the Black Shirts.
During the Stalinist period, Polonia's name and colors were changed – Warsaw's oldest club was renamed Kolejarz (which means "Railroad worker"), as the team was now tied to the Polish National Railroad company. The Black Shirts were banned, as the Stalinist regime was trying to erase everything which was associated with Warsaw from before the war. Every Polish football club got a 'sponsor', such as the army, militia or mining industry. Unfortunately, at the time, the railroad was one of the poorest sponsors, even choosing another club, (Lech Poznań) as the main club they were investing in. Polonia's management also struggled to face the problems that the club came across, which contributed to its eventual relegation to the Polish second division. Fifteen years later, there were still thousands of fans on Konwiktorska Street. Nobody even thought it would take 40 years for Polonia to come back to top-flight football. One of the reasons behind this, was that all the young men, promising footballers to be – from all over Poland, and especially the Warsaw youth academies, were called up for compulsory army training, which under the communist rule lasted about 5 years, or sometimes even longer. Many of the players received an offer to play for the army sponsored Legia Warsaw, which led to some of Polonia's bitter rivals biggest successes, in the 1960s. Till the modern day Polonia's fans attribute Legia's current popularity in Warsaw to the communist regime, and the 'stealing' of talented players. Polonia's ultras fans put up a flag with an anti-communist symbol, in the center of 'Kammienna' sector every game.
Back to the top flightEdit
In the 1992–93 season, after 40 years playing in the lower leagues, Polonia Warsaw was finally promoted to the first division. The organization of the club was insufficient to compete with the strongest clubs in Polish football - the biggest problems being lack of money and a sound training base. After one season, the team was relegated yet again, but only for a year as in the 1995–96 season Polonia Warszawa won promotion again. In 1996, Janusz Romanowski took over as chairman of Polonia, having just backed out from sponsoring local rivals Legia Warszawa. In 1998 'The Black Shirts' finished runner-up in the top flight and in 1999 reached the semi-finals of the Intertoto Cup.
The second Championship, the second Polish Cup and relegationEdit
In the 1999/2000 season, Polonia were not considered challengers for the title. At the end of the autumn round, the Black Shirts were for the first time in club's history leading the league. That team had two managers – Jerzy Engel (who later became the coach of the Polish national team, which qualified for the World Cup 2002) and Dariusz Wdowczyk (former Polish international). During the winter break, Polonia signed two talented players in Tomasz Wieszczycki and Tomasz Kielbowicz. In the spring round, the Black Shirts lost only two games and drew one.
Polonia won the Polish Championship after thrashing Legia Warszawa at Wojska Polskiego Stadium 3:0. Prior to that, the team also won a League Cup yet again beating Legia Warszawa away 2:1. In July, they confirmed their place as the best that year, by winning the Super Cup in a match against Polish Cup winners Amica Wronki by a score of 4:2.
In the Champions League qualifiers, the Black Shirts won in the 2nd qualification round against Dinamo Bucureşti (4:3, 3:1 aggregate), just to lose at the hands of Panathinaikos Athens (2:2,1:2) in the final qualification round. Despite losing the battle for Champions League, Polonia Warszawa started in 1t round of the UEFA Cup where they lost to Udinese Calcio twice 0:1 and 0:2.
In 2000/2001, the Black Shirts lost their form, playing poorly in the 1st division, yet still managing to win The Polish Cup. During the next few years, Polonia managed to stay in the top division, however finishing mainly in the bottom part of the table. During this time, the club was owned and sponsored by a longtime supporter, Jan Raniecki, a car parts company entrepreneur. Unfortunately, Raniecki died after a heart attack on 1 March 2006. His family, who inherited the club, were not interested in running and sponsoring Polonia, so the search for a new owner began.
The 'JW' eraEdit
In March 2006, the club was bought out by a new owner, Józef Wojciechowski, the owner of JW Construction, the biggest housing development company in Poland. The club budget was strengthened and at first it seemed, that Polonia would quickly become one of the main forces in Polish football yet again. However, the club was relegated to the 2nd division after ending in last place in 2005/2006.
In 2006/2007 Polonia struggled to get promoted to the 1st division again, coming close but ultimately failing, finishing in seventh place. There were reports in the newspapers, that some older players in the squad were not interested in promotion, as they probably would have lost their places in the team had Polonia gone up. In 2007, a bar/cafe called Czarna Koszula (Black Shirt) for fans of the club was opened at the stadium by Paweł Puchalski, former KSP driver; featuring memorabilia from the team's history, it serves as both a social venue and a small museum for the club. The little pub, praised for its positive and friendly atmosphere, has positive ratings and over the years became an important meeting place for the fans, players, and staff of Polonia alike.
In July 2008, Polonia Warsaw merged with Dyskobolia Grodzisk Wielkopolski (3rd in the Ekstraklasa in 2007/08) and took over its place in the Polish top division. Most of Dyskobolia's players moved to Warsaw to form the core of Polonia's new team. Several players from Polonia's old squad stayed in the club too. The team managed to finish 4th at the end of the 2008/2009 season, and subsequently reached the 3rd qualification round of the Europa League. After beating Budućnost Podgorica and thrashing Juvenes/Dogana, Polonia gave in to the Dutch side NAC Breda
In 2009/2010, after several changes in managerial positions, and with the team performing below expectations (15th place - mid-season), the club chairman Józef Wojciechowski decided to employ the former FC Barcelona captain José Mari Bakero as manager. While the team was last in the league at that point, Bakero managed to save the season by avoiding relegation and winning against the local rivals Legia Warszawa for the first time in 10 years. It was also Polonia's first win against its bitter rivals at home in 60 years sending supporters into the summer break ecstatic.
For the 100th anniversary of Polonia Warszawa's (season 2010/11), its owner Józef Wojciechowski strengthened the squad significantly, by signing 6 new players – including Euzebiusz Smolarek and Artur Sobiech - raising the expectations and hopes of fans for the new season dramatically.
Things got off to a good start with 3 wins (including a 3:0 trashing of Legia Warsaw) and a draw from 4 matches and first place in the standings. However, the press was reporting difficulties with the relationship between the team owner and the coach. After suffering the first defeat of the season to Korona Kielce at home, Józef Wojciechowski and Jose Bakero parted company - against the supporters' wishes. The former Polish national team manager Paweł Janas, already working at the club as football director, was installed as a replacement for the Spaniard, signing a 2-year contract.
It all went from bad to worse for Polonia from that point on. A string of unconvincing performances from the team, left Polonia in 8th place, 10 points from the top of the table after the 1st round. On 6 January 2011, Dutch national Theo Bos was confirmed as the new manager of the club. However he lasted only 5 matches and was dismissed after losing in the Polish Cup and amassing just 1 point from 3 league games, leaving the club only 3 points above the relegation zone. Assistant coach Piotr Stokowiec had been promoted to the head role, but like his predecessors he didn't last long, being sacked after just one defeat to Widzew Lodz. Tarnobrzeg born Jacek Zielinski, who had been sacked from Polonia Warsaw back in 2009 by Jozef Wojciechowski, was appointed as a new head coach. Polonia won 5 out of 7 matches under Zielinski saving itself from relegation and finally finished in 7th place in 2010–11 Ekstraklasa. On 6 June 2011, Polonia's star playmaker Adrian Mierzejewski was sold for a record fee in Polish football history 21 million zł (5,3 mln euro). On 11 October 2011 Polish footballing legend Włodzimierz Lubański was appointed as vice-chairman/sports director to relieve Józef Wojciechowski of his duties, to secure Polonia's immediate future. Lubanski lasted a mere 3 months.
On 28 March 2012 Jacek Zieliński was replaced by Czesław Michniewicz ad Polonia's manager. Despite a 3:0 victory over champions to be Śląsk Wrocław in his debut, Michniewicz had a string of poor results and failed to win the title which was there for the taking, worse Polonia failed to qualify for Europe, finishing 'only' 6th in the Ekstraklasa. For Józef Wojciechowski this was too much, and he decided to withdraw from football altogether, offloading the club to Ireneusz Król after an unseen by European standards deconstruction of the team in which over 15 players left, and the club ceased to exist for a week, ending the "JW era" on a massive low.
Back from the dead, with the naked KingEdit
On 24 July 2012 a week after buying out Polonia's players to move them to Katowice, the new owner Ireneusz Król (King, in Polish) acquired the rights to the club name and the emblem for a symbolic "1zł" and kept the club in its rightful place, despite rumours of a merger with GKS Katowice in which Król had "invested" in previous years. By then the youth coach Piotr Stokowiec was appointed as Polonia's first coach, and started building the new team based around literally 11 survivors from the previous season, mixing them with young (ME) talents and lower leagues players, notably a promising Under-21 Polish central midfielder, Tomasz Hołota was signed.
Mid-season however, with Polonia surprisingly sitting in 3rd place in Ekstraklasa, merit to young coach Piotr Stokowiec, the worst possible scenario turned out to be true, Polonia's new owner Ireneusz Król turned out to be financially unreliable, delays in contract payments caused a repeat of the turmoil from the summer, and again Polonia lost more than half of its first team, and nearly all the high-priced players left on free transfers. Adding insult to injury, Polonia's star players joined main title rivals, Georgian National striker Vladimer Dvalishvili and influential winger Tomasz Brzyski joined local rivals Legia, young talented Polish national poacher Łukasz Teodorczyk joined Lech Poznań. Additionally 'enfant terrible' and Polonia's top scorer from the previous season - Edgar Cani joined Catania, leaving Polonia with only one striker (of four at the beginning) to finish the season. Almost the entire defensive block was destroyed with Cotra, Kokoszka and experienced Marcin Baszczyński leaving the club.
On the positive side, Paweł Wszołek rejected a last-minute move to German outfit Hannover 96 to stay at Polonia till the end of the season. Sebastian Przyrowski and Łukasz Piątek - two players with over hundred caps for Polonia (Przyrowski had 99) decided to stay at the club, despite the financial situation being very unclear, and debts mounting. Manager Piotr Stokowiec after the success of the first round had to re-build the team from scratch - again, just like he did at the begin of the season, both times he succeeded far above expectation. Among last-minute deals and loans of young talented players, Polonia surprisingly signed 23-year-old experienced Estonian national defender Igor Morozov from Levadia Tallinn. Piotr Stokiwiec converted few players positions to fill in the gaps, notably Polonia's only Striker, and the new Capitan Daniel Gołębiewski was shifted to left-back, leaving Polonia with only midfielders to play up front.
Despite performances remaining at a high level, Polonia witnessed a string of poor results mainly due to the off pitch troubles. On 3 April 2013, Ireneusz Król's "IDEON" filed for a strategic bankruptcy (with the possibility of an agreement), with increasing debts, doubts over Polonia's future existence were mounting, as the licensing process for the next season coincided with the exact date of IDEONs financial debt clearing deadlines. There have been accusations of fraud on Król's part.
Despite efforts from the association of Polonia's supporters to regain control over the club to clear the debts with new sponsors and assure Polonia's survival, Ireneusz Król was not interested. On 28 May 2013 - Polonia did not receive a license for the coming season in the ekstraklasa, due to an outstanding debt of around 8 million Polish złoty, subsequently the club lost its place in the PZPN (Polish football association) ranks, On 17 June 2013 Ireneusz Król filed for bankruptcy of Polonia Warszawa S.A. Due to the circumstances Polonia despite finishing 6th in the ekstraklasa 2012/2013, automatically dropped (at least) five league levels to the lowest level in its hundred and one-year history.
Another year, another resurrectionEdit
On 20 June 2013, the Masovian Football Association (MZPN) confirmed a place in the semi-professional Masovian "Liga Okręgowa" (6th tier in Poland) for the newly formed "Polonia Warsaw" (senior) team, which was created by association of Polonia's supporters led by Grzegorz Popielarz, and based on the youth players of MKS Polonia Warszawa, a local youth academy, which was not a part of KSP Polonia Warszawa S.A. (Ltd.) owned and destroyed by Ireneusz Król. Due to "sporting merits" MZPN along with PZPN changed their previous decision, and on 10 July 2013 Polonia was moved up one tier, to the 4th league (5th tier in Poland) -the bottom professional league in the National - Polish Football Association (PZPN) structure.
Piotr Dziewicki was named as the new manager, and along with Paweł Olczak they managed to find and sign 26 players, within a month - Most of whom were connected with the MKS Polonia academy recently, or played in Polonia Warsaw team at higher levels before.
The debut for the newly formed Polonia Warsaw team was set for Łomianki, a nearby Warsaw suburb. The game started very well, with the experienced Polonia legend Jacek Kosmalski (109 caps for Polonia) scoring only after 10 minutes, with Michał Strzałkowski adding another 5 minutes later. Unfortunately the game had to be suspended after 36 minutes, due to third party hooligans, supporters of Legia Warsaw (supposibly supporting K.S. Łomianki) who put up illegal banners, threw objects onto the playing field, and finally invaded the pitch in numbers, resulting in riots with the Police, subsequently ending the football for Łomianki, and Polonia.
However, only a week later, on 26 August 2013 the dream debut was realized, Polonia's community proved their worth organizing an unforgettable footballing spectacle with the stadium at almost full capacity (by far a 5th tier, IV.liga record), in their actual full debut Polonia Warsaw's newly resurrected team, beat Wkra Zuromin 6:0, with Michał Strzałkowski scoring a hat-trick, and more importantly leaving the so far unknown Polonia team, as the main title contender in the league. The team was strengthened mid-season, with experienced Mariusz Ujek replacing Jacek Kosmalski, joined by ex-Polonia Warszawa ME(youth) players that used to train with the Ekstraklasa team few years earlier, notably Dominik Lemanek and Michał Gliński, also two Nigerian players joined the club, to follow up in Polonia's legend Emmanuel Olisadebe footsteps. Polonia won the promotion to III.liga in June 2014, with one game to spare. Unfortunately Piotr Dziewicki was let go, despite proving his worth, and against the supporters wishes... by the club's officials, notably Paweł Olczak. Mid-season, at the end of 2014, more dubious decisions were taken by the club, after a very poor round with an almost unknown coach, Polonia hired coach Dariusz Dźwigała, only to let him go after only few successful games... few strong players were let go by the club with no official explanation: Błenszykowski, Gliński and notably Lemanek and Szymanek left the club. Piotr Szczechowicz had a poor episode at the club, only to be dropped few games before the end of a poor season. Club legend Igor Gołaszewski became the head coach for the last six games of the season (of which he won five). The club finished just above relegation, 14th in the 4th tier of Polish football leagues "third league" - III.liga, for the Masovian-Łodzkie voivodeship.
Jerzy Engel & Co.Edit
On 25 June 2015 "Polonia Warsaw Co." under the leadership of Jerzy Engel took over the senior team from the MKS Polonia Warsaw Academy, which helped to reinstate Polonia Warsaw back from nonexistence, to the bottom-half of the 4th tier (third league) of professional football in Poland. Under "Engel's Co." the club returned to the emblem, and the sponsor from the Polish Title winning season (1999/2000).
The stem of the team from the previous season was kept, Igor Gołaszewski remained as main coach. Wojciech Szymanek, Jacek Kosmalski and Radosław Majdan all returned to the club as coaching staff. The club signed four experienced offensive players: Kosiorowski, Marczak, Truszkowski and Obłuski to help Polonia in the promotion fight. "Polonia Warsaw Co." at their first press conference, also made a strong intent of building a modern stadium at Konwiktorska 6 within five years (until 2020), meanwhile getting back to the Ekstraklasa.
In late 2018, Jerzy Engel resigned as the club did not see much sporting success, and the club's finances deteriorated. The city authorities were uninterested in collaborating with the clubs shareholders to build a new commercially self-sufficient stadium to stabilize Polonia's financial troubles, but opted for building a municipal youth center instead. Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz as one of her last decisions as the president of Warsaw, announced a design contest for the new municipal stadium at Konwiktorska 6 - Polonia's homeground, along with 158 mln zł reserved in the 2019 Warsaw budget to kick off the project. In May 2019, the results of the competition were announced with JSK Architekci (who already designed two other major stadiums in Warsaw) as the winners, with a 15,500 seats stadium, and an open sports complex project, to be built at Konwiktorska 6.
Meanwhile, Polonia's finances crippled, Peter Kaluba the new chairman was unable to bring stability or financial backing to the club, and "again" in recent history Polonia found itself on a verge of bankruptcy. To add insult to injury the vice-major of Warsaw Renata Kozłowska suspended works on the stadium in late 2019. Many players left the club, with the final blow on the brake of 2020, when much liked coach Krzysztof Chrobak left the club, along with the fan favorite Krzysztof Pieczara - Polonia's top scorer of the last decade, the capitan and number 10, who followed suit.
In mid-February 2020, Polonia's city rivals fans, launched media attacks on Grégoire Nitot - The Chairman of Sii Poland who was negotiating a Polonia takeover. As a reaction, Polish footballing community started an Anti-Hate campaign #BonjourGregoire, to welcome the support for Polonia. On 5 March 2020, Grégoire Nitot acquired the controlling stake of Polonia Warsaw football club, from Krystyna Bnińska-Jędrzejowicz. On the 19th he was named the chairman, as all of the football came to a halt, due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Polonia unfortunately sitting in the relegation zone of the III.liga. Wojciech Szymanek remained as coach, and on the 30 of April Piotr Kosiorowski was named as the sporting director, along with the presentation of ambitious plans for the future, to reach the Ekstraklasa by 2029. On the 15th of May with Polonia sitting in the relegation zone, MZPN confirmed that no relegations would take place, despite the season coming to an end due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This section needs to be updated.November 2020)(
Out on loanEdit
This section needs to be updated.November 2020)(
Internationally capped players
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Czech Republic
- North Macedonia
- Mateusz Bartczak
- Marcin Baszczyński
- Arkadiusz Bąk
- Krzysztof Bąk
- Grzegorz Bonin
- Tomasz Brzyski
- Michał Chałbiński
- Marek Citko
- Dariusz Dziekanowski
- Piotr Dziewicki
- Dariusz Dźwigała
- Jerzy Engel
- Janusz Gancarczyk
- Michał Gliwa
- Radosław Gilewicz
- Igor Gołaszewski
Polonia in European CupsEdit
|1998–99||UEFA Cup||1Q||Tallinna Sadam||2–0, 3–1|
|2Q||Dynamo Moscow||0–1, 0–1|
|1999||Intertoto Cup||1R||Tiligul Tiraspol||4–0, 0–0|
|2000–01||UEFA Champions League||2Q||Dinamo Bucureşti||4–3, 3–1|
|UEFA Cup||1R||Udinese||0–1, 0–2|
|2001–02||UEFA Cup||Q||The New Saints||4–0, 2–0|
|2002–03||UEFA Cup||Q||Sliema Wanderers||3–1, 2–0|
|2003||Intertoto Cup||1R||Tobol Kostanay||0–3, 1–2|
|2009–10||UEFA Europa League||1Q||Budućnost Podgorica||2–0, 0–1|
|3Q||NAC Breda||0–1, 1–3|
Supporters & RivalriesEdit
Support & Notable FansEdit
The average attendance at Polonia's matches is around 4,425. The shirt number 12 is reserved for the club's supporters.
Famous supporters include Doman Nowakowski, Maciej Dowbor, Jan Englert, Michał Listkiewicz, Stanisław Tym, Kazimierz Górski, Krzysztof Ibisz, Marek Jurek, Grzegorz Jankowski, Wojciech Wysocki, Hanna Śleszyńska, and Tomasz Konatkowski Adam Bahdaj wrote a famous book entitled Do przerwy 0:1 (0:1 at half-time) which centres around local children playing football inspired by Polonia's team.
The main rival is the local team Legia Warsaw with whom they contest the Warsaw derby. The rivalry stems from not only geographical reasons but from the fact that in the PRL era Legia had significant help from the city and various other sources whilst Polonia languished in the lower leagues. Polonia consider themselves the club of the local population whilst Legia draws significant support from the surrounding region and the population which has settled in the capital city from outside.
The matches between them currently stand at:
|Matches||Legia wins||Draws||Polonia wins|
- Winners (2): 1952 ,2000-01
- Winners (1) : 2000
- Winner (1) : 2000
- Youth Teams:
- Polish U-19 Champion: 1977
- Polish U-19 Runner Up: 1991, 2000, 2005, 2008
- Polish U-19 Bronze Medal: 2001, 2015
- Polish U-17 Runner Up: 1998
- "LOTTO Ekstraklasa - Strona oficjalna". ekstraklasa.org. Archived from the original on 28 August 2013. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
- Olgierd Kwiatkowski (30 June 2013). "Właściciel Czarnej Koszuli: Stadion Polonii jest jak dom otwarty. Nie to co na Legii". Gazeta.pl. Retrieved 12 December 2020.
- "Czarna Koszula". BEERPUBS.pl. Retrieved 12 December 2020.
- Nowy Stadion Polonii.
- "Przyjaciele - Polonia Warszawa online - Duma Stolicy - Czarne Koszule - KSP". www.dumastolicy.pl. Archived from the original on 24 March 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
- "Polonia Ole" (ISSN 1641-3326) Nr 5(53) maj 2005 r.
- "Królowa Beata Konwiktorska 6" (in Polish). 28 February 2008. Archived from the original on 15 August 2016.
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