Hutnik v Olimpia Hutnik v Olimpia

I love the occasional foray to Łazienkowska, and there aren’t many thrills more genuine than hearing the stadium rise as one to raucously recite Czesław Niemen’s epic ode to Warsaw. It’s a moment of pure electricity that makes the hairs stand on end. For all that, my enjoyment of Legia is undermined by the fact that, basically, I don’t like what modern football has become: the membership schemes, the swaggering players, the stupid seats and general greed. It’s just not the game I fell in love with. Which is why, yesterday, you’d have found me slipping down the league ladder to catch Hutnik Warszawa take on Olimpia Warszawa.

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As far as grass roots football goes, this is as real as it gets. The stadium, if you can call it that, is little more than a disintegrating concrete heap that, you sense, is almost in danger of being eaten by the forest that rings it.

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But in an age when the match day experience has become increasingly artificial, the very nature of this dilapidated beauty is a reminder of a lost era.

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As someone more used to attending games held in anonymous big box developments, Hutnik’s shambolic ground has a sense of glory in the truest of senses.

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Can you imagine Ronaldo getting dressed in a portable cabin?

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And this has to simply be the best press gantry I’ve ever had the fortune to see.

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The facilities aren’t so much Spartan as practically non-existent.

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Scoping out the ground, I’m startled to find myself mistakenly in the players tunnel – the temptation to improve the game by jogging onto the pitch races through the mind.

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The football is, at best, dismal, but the atmosphere is surprisingly lively, aided by a healthy following of vocal Olimpia fans.

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In spite of the long list of do’s and don’ts, these regulations appear to be more of a recommendation…

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There’s plenty of beer swilling openly going on, and despite the inhuman kick-off time (11 a.m.!), spirits are buoyant as both sets of fans get right behind their team.

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And then, of course, there’s just those who use the match for some quality dog time.

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The match descends into a grisly hoof-and-hope affair, and with little to love on the football pitch, it’s the atmosphere that captures the imagination: flags, banners, flares and song. Typically, my camera runs out of juice just as it all heats up.

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Final score: 1-0 to Hutnik. The football might have been ragged, but it’s been a day to remember – further, it’s an honest antidote to the standardized experience fans are more used to.

Hutnik Warszawa
ul. Marymoncka 42, hutnikwarszawa.pl

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