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RKS Radomsko - My Education In Polish Football


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3rd July 2003:

It is late afternoon in rural Poland as I walk through the outskirts of the town of Radomsko. I’m looking to get a cheap room for the night. I pass a sports field and there’s a group of guys playing a football match. Suddenly the ball comes toward me and I know I shouldn’t be a smart-ass, but I juggle it a few times and volley a left-footed pass 30 metres straight to the nearest guy’s feet. I turn to walk on and someone calls out in Polish. “Damn, I was too smart and now someone has taken offence.†I don’t understand Polish anyway, so I just keep on walking. He calls out again, this time in English, “Hey Australia.†I remember the Australian flag sewn onto the back of my pack. I turn and look at the guy. “Football, good player?†he questions. I nod and he points at my left leg. “Left good?†I nod again and he points to the field. “Play footballâ€, he commands. “Okayâ€, I reply, realising that it is the first thing that I have said.

I’m wearing shorts and trainers anyway, so it’s not too difficult to play. I am given a yellow bib and shown the left side of midfield. A quick count of the players shows that it was 11 versus 10 until I arrived, so I am just evening up the teams. I don’t want to get into any more trouble, so I concentrate on getting the ball and giving a simple pass to a team-mate. A couple of tackles also win me the ball, but I pass it quickly before I lose it. These lads aren’t world superstars, so I’m not too much of a liability to my yellow-bibbed team-mates. Everyone seems to be getting tired, so it must be about to end soon. I’m about 25 yards from goal when the ball bounces my way and I think “What the hell, I’ll smack this one.†I hit a sweet left-footer right in the top corner and even I’m fairly chuffed at this effort.

There is a loud clapping of hands behind me and a large fellow, about 50 years old, exclaims something in Polish whilst looking in my direction. Then he calls out something else and all the players jog over to him. The first guy that I talked to motions me over as well. I stand there while he talks to the players, then he points at me and speaks more Polish. I shrug my shoulders and look to my English-speaking companion. “This our new manager, Mr Gorniak. He say you play tomorrow against Opava.†I shake my head saying “Noâ€, but he continues, “Is friendly, any man play.†I nod my head in agreement. That seems to be that, the training is finished and everyone starts to leave.

The English-speaker comes over to me and offers his hand. “Me Adrian Klepczynski, you call me Klep. Helloâ€, I reply, “my name is Gavin Mathieson. He continues “Welcome to Radomsko. You stay my family tonight.†I never knock back free accommodation when it is offered, especially when I’m getting a bit on the skint side. We walk about a mile to Klep’s house where I met his family. They show me to a small, simply furnished room where I leave my pack and then we sit down to dinner together. I have a very enjoyable night as the family ask me lots of questions, Klep translates, I answer and he translates my answers back in Polish. Later on, Klep, his father and I knock back several shots of vodka and discuss the chances of RKS Radomsko for the upcoming season. I crash out in my little room around one o’clock and sleep very soundly.

4th July 2003:

The next day I wander around town while Klep is at work. I see a few of the lads from training the previous evening. They shake hands with me and say “Hello†which appears to be the only word of English they know. We laugh and grin at each other stupidly as there is nothing else we can say, then I wave to them and continue my walk around town. At six o’clock I meet Klep and we head down to the stadium. He has the same size feet as me, so he lends me an old pair of his football boots. We get changed and Mr Gorniak throws me the number eleven shirt. He gives me instructions which Klep translates. “Play left midfield, play like training yesterday, that very good.†I give Mr Gorniak a thumbs-up and then its outside to warm up before the friendly match against Opava.

I play out wide on the left, but I don’t see a lot of the ball in the first half. We are slightly the better team and our forwards create a couple of chances whilst our defence is fairly solid. Our attacking midfielder Kowalczyk looks dangerous when moving forward and he scores twice, once after 41 minutes with a low shot from the edge of the area, and secondly right on half-time with a close range shot. Early in the second half we concede a headed goal from a corner. The Opava full-back has been marking me well and he cuts out several passes made towards me. I have a couple of heading contests, but heading is not my best feature. I get one decent chance with the ball at my feet and I pass to Tomasiak who hits the post with his shot. We have a corner soon after and Kowalczyk heads it home for his hat-trick. After 65 minutes Mr Gorniak waves me to the sidelines and I am subbed by Lato. I sprawl out on the ground trying to get my breath back. I’m fairly knackered because it’s been about two years since I’ve played a proper match, but this has been great fun.

Radomsko 3-1 Opava

Kowalczyk 41, 45, 62

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3rd July 2003:

It is late afternoon in rural Poland as I walk through the outskirts of the town of Radomsko. I’m looking to get a cheap room for the night. I pass a sports field and there’s a group of guys playing a football match. Suddenly the ball comes toward me and I know I shouldn’t be a smart-ass, but I juggle it a few times and volley a left-footed pass 30 metres straight to the nearest guy’s feet. I turn to walk on and someone calls out in Polish. “Damn, I was too smart and now someone has taken offence.†I don’t understand Polish anyway, so I just keep on walking. He calls out again, this time in English, “Hey Australia.†I remember the Australian flag sewn onto the back of my pack. I turn and look at the guy. “Football, good player?†he questions. I nod and he points at my left leg. “Left good?†I nod again and he points to the field. “Play footballâ€, he commands. “Okayâ€, I reply, realising that it is the first thing that I have said.

I’m wearing shorts and trainers anyway, so it’s not too difficult to play. I am given a yellow bib and shown the left side of midfield. A quick count of the players shows that it was 11 versus 10 until I arrived, so I am just evening up the teams. I don’t want to get into any more trouble, so I concentrate on getting the ball and giving a simple pass to a team-mate. A couple of tackles also win me the ball, but I pass it quickly before I lose it. These lads aren’t world superstars, so I’m not too much of a liability to my yellow-bibbed team-mates. Everyone seems to be getting tired, so it must be about to end soon. I’m about 25 yards from goal when the ball bounces my way and I think “What the hell, I’ll smack this one.†I hit a sweet left-footer right in the top corner and even I’m fairly chuffed at this effort.

There is a loud clapping of hands behind me and a large fellow, about 50 years old, exclaims something in Polish whilst looking in my direction. Then he calls out something else and all the players jog over to him. The first guy that I talked to motions me over as well. I stand there while he talks to the players, then he points at me and speaks more Polish. I shrug my shoulders and look to my English-speaking companion. “This our new manager, Mr Gorniak. He say you play tomorrow against Opava.†I shake my head saying “Noâ€, but he continues, “Is friendly, any man play.†I nod my head in agreement. That seems to be that, the training is finished and everyone starts to leave.

The English-speaker comes over to me and offers his hand. “Me Adrian Klepczynski, you call me Klep. Helloâ€, I reply, “my name is Gavin Mathieson. He continues “Welcome to Radomsko. You stay my family tonight.†I never knock back free accommodation when it is offered, especially when I’m getting a bit on the skint side. We walk about a mile to Klep’s house where I met his family. They show me to a small, simply furnished room where I leave my pack and then we sit down to dinner together. I have a very enjoyable night as the family ask me lots of questions, Klep translates, I answer and he translates my answers back in Polish. Later on, Klep, his father and I knock back several shots of vodka and discuss the chances of RKS Radomsko for the upcoming season. I crash out in my little room around one o’clock and sleep very soundly.

4th July 2003:

The next day I wander around town while Klep is at work. I see a few of the lads from training the previous evening. They shake hands with me and say “Hello†which appears to be the only word of English they know. We laugh and grin at each other stupidly as there is nothing else we can say, then I wave to them and continue my walk around town. At six o’clock I meet Klep and we head down to the stadium. He has the same size feet as me, so he lends me an old pair of his football boots. We get changed and Mr Gorniak throws me the number eleven shirt. He gives me instructions which Klep translates. “Play left midfield, play like training yesterday, that very good.†I give Mr Gorniak a thumbs-up and then its outside to warm up before the friendly match against Opava.

I play out wide on the left, but I don’t see a lot of the ball in the first half. We are slightly the better team and our forwards create a couple of chances whilst our defence is fairly solid. Our attacking midfielder Kowalczyk looks dangerous when moving forward and he scores twice, once after 41 minutes with a low shot from the edge of the area, and secondly right on half-time with a close range shot. Early in the second half we concede a headed goal from a corner. The Opava full-back has been marking me well and he cuts out several passes made towards me. I have a couple of heading contests, but heading is not my best feature. I get one decent chance with the ball at my feet and I pass to Tomasiak who hits the post with his shot. We have a corner soon after and Kowalczyk heads it home for his hat-trick. After 65 minutes Mr Gorniak waves me to the sidelines and I am subbed by Lato. I sprawl out on the ground trying to get my breath back. I’m fairly knackered because it’s been about two years since I’ve played a proper match, but this has been great fun.

Radomsko 3-1 Opava

Kowalczyk 41, 45, 62

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5th July 2003:

The day after my first match started with a massive hangover. The players and supporters had celebrated at the stadium and later at a restaurant whose name in English was “The Peasant’s Feastâ€. At least the mounds of potato pancakes I had eaten had helped to absorb some of the alcohol. I had met a couple of people who spoke English and we had some good discussions. I wondered how the celebrations would go if Radomsko won the league, instead of just a friendly game.

6th July 2003:

Radomsko train 4 nights a week, so there was that to look forward to this evening. In the meantime, my days were free and I took the chance to acquaint myself with the town. My temporary hometown was working-man’s town, close to the coal mines and the main employer was a massive steelworks on the other side of town from the Klepczynski’s home. The townspeople obviously loved their football and were passionate about their team. I made a mental note not to treat the next couple of friendlies lightly before I moved on. The fans of Radomsko deserved my best efforts.

9th July 2003:

I’ve got rid of the stiffness in my legs from my first game five days earlier and I’m looking forward to our next friendly against Korona. Mr Gorniak has kept me working at left wing in training and I think he plans to use me for the remainder of the friendlies.

I start out wide on the left, but again most of our passing moves are through the centre of the park. There are not many chances created in the first half, but after 33 minutes Korona work a good move down their left and the cross is converted with a diving header from their centre-forward. We are struggling to get into the game during the second half and I see Lato warming up and getting ready to come on, so that should be the end of the match for me. However Kowalczyk has picked up a slight knock, so Lato swaps with me on the left wing and I am told to move into Kowalczyk’s position in the centre behind the two strikers. I’m immediately more involved in play, but there is little time to dwell on the ball. At 73 minutes we get a free-kick on the edge of the box and Klep heads the ball back across goal. It lands at my feet and as I go to turn a defender slides through me from behind and I fall to the ground. The whistle blows and the referee is pointing to the penalty spot. I pick up the ball and place it on the spot for the kicker, but no-one moves forward. Klep tells me to take the kick, so I step back and then side-foot the ball past the keeper. I resist the urge to run away in wild celebrations, but my team-mates all congratulate me. From this point on, neither side can produce the winning goal, so we both settle for the 1-1 draw.

Radomsko 1-1 Korona

Mathieson 73 (pen)

13th July 2003:

Ruzomberok are the visitors for the third friendly of the season. They are a non-league team like the others that we have played recently. Klep tells me that he believes Mr Gorniak expects us to win this match to show that we are progressing with our plans for the season ahead.

After my performance in the slot behind the strikers last match, Mr Gorniak asks me to play there from the start today. I feel a bit lost in the centre as the play seems to bypass me a lot. I get a few touches, but nothing significant happens as Ruzomberok look more intent on defending. Early in the second half I forget my defensive duties at a corner for a moment and in my haste to get back and cover I get tangled with my opponent and he falls rather dramatically to the ground. The ref gives them a penalty and moments later we are 1-0 down. Lato is having a shocker on the left, so he is subbed off and I am directed out there. I feel better having a bit more room and ten minutes from the end Klep and I work a good passing move before Klep’s pass into the box is prodded in at the near post by Gawronski. Ruzomberok push hard for a winner as the game nears the end and we are defending desperately. A mistimed tackle get me a yellow card, although I don’t have a bloody clue what the ref says as he books me. Luckily the resulting free-kick goes wide and that is about the last noteworthy piece of action in the match.

Radomsko 1-1 Ruzomberok

Gawronski 79

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16th July 2003:

To complete training tonight we have a full-scale match for 45 minutes. As Lato and I both play left wing, we are placed on opposing teams. However Lato switches to the right midway through the game. He makes several harsh tackles on me, and then when I nutmeg him, he deliberately chops me down as I go past. I pick myself up straight away and confront him. He pushes me in the chest and I push him back. Before we can come to blows, we are pulled apart by team-mates. “Watch yourself, moronâ€, I yell. He probably says something similar to me in Polish. Luckily Mr Gorniak is not there at the time, or it may have been curtains on my short stay at Radomsko.

19th July 2003:

The final friendly of the pre-season will be a tough encounter. The visitors are Wisla Plock from Division 1 and they have claimed a UEFA Cup berth based on their league position last season.

We have our best start to a match yet this season and we are all over Wisla Plock. At 16 minutes our keeper Borkowski thumps a long clearance down the middle and their centre-half heads it straight to Klep. He hits a beautiful 30 yard pass first time into the path of Kowalczyk who is free behind the defence and he calmly pushes it under the advancing goalie. Straight from the kick-off we win back possession and Kowalczyk’s flicked header sends Gawronski clean through. Another piece of calm finishing and we are 2-0 up. I see Mr Gorniak pumping his fist in the air with delight. But Wisla Plock are not in the top division for nothing. The start to play the ball around and we are chasing them, not able to get any decent possession. Prokop makes a terrible blunder when he has a free-kick at the back and tries to pass it across the goal. His miskick falls in no-mans land between Borkowski and their centre-forward. In a race for the ball, Borkowski loses and it’s back to 2-1. It stays that way until half-time.

Within two minutes of the restart it is 2-2 as Nowak is outjumped at a corner and his opponent heads home. 53 minutes and we are behind as their speedy right winger makes it to the bye line and sends over a perfect cross which eludes our central defenders and finds a forward who heads it in at the far post. I then get my second booking in consecutive matches when my elbow is deemed to have been raised in a heading duel. At 69 minutes we get a rare corner on the left and it is my job to take it. There is a mass of players at the near post, but my kick goes over them and finds Klep at the far post. His header loops over the keeper and brings us level at 3-3. He runs over to me, grinning like a madman and we celebrate with the rest of the team. In the last 10 minutes both teams have a goal disallowed for offside. Folc has his goal ruled out after I am deemed to be offside, although I was on the far side and not interfering in my opinion. Wisla Plock’s offside goal was fairly obvious and is not hotly disputed. In the end we are very happy with our 3-3 draw.

Radomsko 3-3 Wisla Plock

Kowalczyk 16, Gawronski 17, Klepczynski 69

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20th July 2003: (morning)

After last nights game, Mr Gorniak asked Klep and I to return to the stadium today for a discussion. We go to his office and take a seat. Mr Gorniak says a little speech and places a four page document in front of me. I turn to Klep for the interpretation. “Mr Gorniak say you good player, he say you please sign contract, play for Radomsko.†I look at the paperwork in front of me and then back to Klep. “What does this say?†I ask him. He reads it for a minute or two, then replies, “Is like my contract. You play one year Radomsko, then you can go. If you want play one more year, Radomsko have first choice or can make transfer fee to new club.†So this was it – do I continue with my trek around Europe or do I commit myself to a year in southern Poland? I had come to Europe for adventure and to sample the lifestyles there. What better way then to become a temporary resident of a new country, to work and get paid to play football into the bargain. I pick up the pen and sign on the final page. We all stand and Mr Gorniak comes around from his side of the desk and gives me a big bear-hug which knocks the wind out of me. He laughs as I gasp for air, and then holds out his hand. We shake and he says in English, “Welcome to Radomsko.â€

My new team-mates:

As we get ready for our first official match of the season, I’ve put together my impressions of my new team-mates here at RKS Radomsko in Polish Division 2.


Tomasz Borkowski GK 27 First choice keeper who started at top league Legia Warszawa, but couldn’t break through there. Fourth season here for the dependable club captain.

Krzysztof Kozik GK 21 Backup keeper in his first season after signing from fellow 2nd Division side Aluminium. Will challenge Borkowski and looks one for the future.

Marcin Markiewicz GK 29 Third choice keeper and wants to move on. Is currently on the transfer list and will only play in an emergency.


Artur Prokop SW/D RC 30 Solid, if not spectacular, centre-half in his fourth season and should perform consistently all year.

Artur Kowalski SW/D C 31 Another dour defender, has spent his entire career at Radomsko and will be a regular this season.

Artur Lamch D RC 33 The third of the defensive Arturs and from the same mould as the previous two. Second season here and will finish up his playing career soon.

Marcin Nowak D RC 24 Nowak is a younger version of his three central defensive contemporaries who is in his sixth season. Should figure regularly.

Adrian Klepczynski D/DM RC 21 My new friend Klep can play in defence or midfield. Mr Gorniak uses him as a defensive midfielder and his reading of the game is excellent. Third season for this home-town boy.

Robert Kurek D/DM RC 31 Backup defender about whom little is known. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say anything.

Krzysztof Smolinski D RL 24 Full-back in his first season from lower league Hetman. Mr Gorniak plays a 3-2-3-2 system, so full-backs don’t get much time on the park. May provide cover for the wingers.

Lukasz Chmielewski D L 21 Reserve team player who will struggle to step up to the seniors. Not expected to get much game time.


Michal Osinski DM R 24 New signing from non-league Siarka, but may not be up to the task. Provides cover on the right of midfield.

Damian Wicher DM LC 20 Another reserve player yet to make the grade. Has requested a transfer and will be allowed to leave if a bid comes in.

Rafal Dopierala DM C 25 In the sixth season of his second spell at the club. Backup for Klep and Leszczynski and will not disappoint when called upon.

Zdzislaw Leszczynski DM C 34 A long career is coming to an end. Totally professional journeyman who tackles hard and runs tirelessly for the team and is surprisingly gifted as a banjo-player at after-match get-togethers.

Dariusz Filipczak M RL 29 Currently transfer-listed after falling out with Mr Gorniak during the first training session of the season. Personal problems with drinking are said to be the root of his troubles. Likely reserve player only.

Jaroslaw Lato M L 26 Was a regular on the left of midfield last season which was his first at the club. I’m not his favourite player and he will take my position as soon as he can. Solid, but can be predictable at times.

Rafal Balecki AM RC 22 Broke through at the end last season with 6 games and 2 goals. Can do the unexpected. May well become a regular this season.

Bogdan Jozwiak AM RC 33 Veteran midfielder who started at top league Widzew Lodz, but was badly injured. Returned with Radomsko and is in his seventh season. Hard-working team man and will start on the right of midfield.

Andrzej Dziuba AM L 19 Left winger who was the club’s youngest ever player. Brilliant first season at 16 years of age, but lost his place to Lato last year. Ready for a comeback, but has to get past myself and Lato in the pecking order.

Gavin Mathieson AM/F L 20 That’s me, recently-arrived Australian wunderkind. Not really, actually I’m so surprised to be here and I’m treating this as a big adventure. Naturally left-sided and I can whip in a mean cross.

Jacek Berensztajn AM C 29 (1 cap) First season at the club and just recovering from a knee reconstruction. A stint in Austria in the mid-90’s saw him win an international cap, but his career has been downhill from there. Unpredictable.


Mariusz Gawronski F RLC 23 Technically gifted forward, but lacking in pace. Late arrival into football and is ready to become a regular in his third season. Also the practical joker of the club. I’ve already had the toes cut out of my socks.

Radoslaw Kowalczyk F RC 30 Last season’s top scorer who is at his best playing behind the strikers. Agile, pacy and dangerous to the opposition when running from midfield. Should be excellent in his fourth season.

Sebastian Tomasiak F C 24 Backup striker who has been on the brink of regular football for the last three seasons. Will get plenty of games this year.

Marcin Folc S C 21 Expected regular in his fifth season. Not a prolific scorer, but does get plenty of assists and is a great team player.

Lukasz Smialek S C 21 Reserve striker who may go on loan to gain first-team experience.

Cezary Stefanczyk S C 19 Another young striker, similar to Folc in style and looks to be good in the air. May get a few games as the season goes on.

Przemyslaw Wegier S C 21 Yet another reserve striker who is looking for a loan stint to gain first-team experience.

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20th July 2003: (evening)

A function is held at the stadium to celebrate the start of the new season. My new home stadium is called Brzeznicka and it has a capacity of 5,000 with seating for 3,500. There are about 2,000 people in the main stand this evening. The players are introduced to the fans and presented with their jerseys for the upcoming season. I am presented with the number 19 jersey and I feel slightly embarrassed by the cheers that I receive from the supporters. The club chairman Mr Sliwakowski makes a rather long-winded speech which we all have to put up with. Later on, officials, players and supporters all mingle together on the pitch. There is vodka, schnapps and beer for all, but we players have to be restrained as we have the first round of the Polish FA Cup in a couple of days. People talk to me, even though I can’t speak Polish, and I reply in English, which they can’t understand, but it is all good-natured and humorous. I am starting to feel like a native of Radomsko already.

22nd July 2003:

Hutnik are based in Krakow, Poland’s third largest city and 120 kilometres to the south of Radomsko. They are in the regional league below Division 2, having been relegated 2 seasons earlier. The players are feeling tense during the 2 hour bus ride as this is our first serious match of the season. My stomach is churning as we arrive at the Hutnik stadium.

We have the line-up that Mr Gorniak has played in the last couple of friendlies. The nerves are still showing as Hutnik settle quicker than us and we are suddenly 2-0 down in the first 15 minutes. Lamch loses the ball on the right and a cross is headed in by their tall striker. Only a couple of minutes later Klep is booked for a late tackle and the resulting free-kick is headed in by the same lanky player. After 24 minutes we win our first corner and I go over to try an in-swinger from the right. Folc meets it at the near post with a glancing header and it flies into the net. 1-2 and our nerves are settled by the goal. But only 3 minutes later Kowalski and keeper Borkowski get in a terrible mix-up and Kowalski knocks the ball in for an own-goal. Borkowski then has to make two great saves before half-time to stop the score blowing out further.

The half-time break seems to have taken the momentum out of Hutnik’s play and we are evenly matched in the first period of the second half. At 59 minutes Klep makes up for his contribution to their second goal with a lovely cross-field ball to Jozwiak who is cutting in from the right. He controls it on the edge of the box and hits a sweet low shot past their keeper. Hutnik are stunned and Gawronski presses home the advantage with a bustling run down the right wing. Suddenly he is inside the last defender and he looks up for someone to cross to. I have come in from the left and his cross finds me on the penalty spot. It’s on my right side, but I volley it cleanly and keeper doesn’t even have time to dive. It is 3-3 and we all run to Gawronski to congratulate him for his superb set-up play. There is still 30 minutes to go and both teams want to get to get a winner, but the 90 minutes eventually arrives without another clear chance being created. Both sides gratefully accept the breather before extra-time begins. We are both more scared of losing then risking going for a winner and the first 15 minutes is suddenly over. 3 minutes into the second period I intercept a pass from their tiring full-back. I don’t feel capable of running far, but I see Gawronski with his arm raised, moving into the centre. I chip the ball in and Gawronski takes his time to pick his spot before powering a header into the top corner. We lead 4-3 and we manage to play out the last period of play without incident to win the match and move through to the next round of the cup. Gawronski is deservedly man of the match for excellent performance.

Polish FA Cup 1st Round

Hutnik 3-4 Radomsko (after extra time)

Folc 24, Jozwiak 59, Mathieson 61, Gawronski 108

23rd July 2003:

I meet Klep, Folc and Balecki at the canteen of the steelworks where they are all employed. During their lunch-break, the draw for the 2nd round of the Polish FA Cup is made and it is televised by State television. All 14 teams from Division 1 join the 18 remaining teams as the 16 ties are drawn. Midway through we are drawn first as a home team and then our opponents follow. It is Zaglebie, who are in Division 2 with us. Klep tells me that they are the early season favourites to win Division 2, so a tough game is expected. If we win this game, we have the 3rd round to follow 4 days later.

When we get to training that night, Mr Gorniak announces that we have another friendly to play. Earlier in the day, Division 1 side Lech Poznan had called as their friendly planned for Saturday had fallen through, so that gives us a game this weekend instead of a break.

26th July 2003:

I have been selected on the bench for today’s friendly against Lech Poznan. Having started every game, I actually feel annoyed that I am not selected to begin, although it will probably mean I will be fresher for our FA Cup game. However there are several other changes to give some of the fringe players a game.

Lech Poznan has won all their friendlies so far and they are fitter and faster than us. Kowalski is caught dwelling on the ball after 15 minutes and loses possession. Lamch attempts to win the ball back with a desperate tackle, but only directs the ball into another forward’s path and he drills it past our keeper. We don’t see a lot of the ball for the remainder of the first half. Lech underline their superiority with a dynamic move that cuts our defence to shreds and leaves Borkowski stranded as the ball is tapped into an empty net two minutes before the break.

It’s 0-2 at half-time and Mr Gorniak is not happy. I’m glad that I don’t understand Polish as he gives the team his first bollocking of the year. We start much better in the second half and we are now giving Lech Poznan a run for their money. At 58 minutes we execute a perfect counter-attack as a Lech corner is cleared to Folc on the left. He hits a beautiful cross-field pass to Tomasiak who runs through to the edge of the box and clips it over the advancing goalie. I replace Lato at 66 minutes and I’m itching to get a run at their tiring defenders. Balecki comes on to the right wing at the same time and he creates our equaliser at 74 minutes with a lovely jinking run before sliding it through to Berensztajn who slams it past the keeper from twelve yards. I think that we deserve a draw based on our second half performance, but Lech show their first division pedigree with a classy move that is topped off with their substitute striker rounding Borkowski and pushing the winning goal into a unguarded net eight minutes from time.

Radomsko 2-3 Lech Poznan

Tomasiak 58, Berensztajn 74

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Originally posted by Peacemaker7:

I was wondering why the title looked so familiar, then realised that its cos binny's name is Radomsky!QUOTE]


Good luck with this lot; I've taken them on in a couple of versions of CM, and Polish football can be a difficult league to crack.

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30th July 2003:

I’m starting to come to terms with the daily going-ons of being a member of a semi-professional league football team. Word of my push-and-shove match with Lato 2 weeks ago has reached Mr Gorniak’s office. At the same time, an enquiry was received from another club regarding Lato’s availability for a transfer. Klep tells me that Radomsko were prepared to sell Lato, except that the clubs couldn’t agree on a fee. He said that my arrival had made the decision to transfer Lato a possibility. Now Lato will have double the reasons to dislike me. Not only has he lost his first-team place, but he has now missed out on a transfer as well.

2nd August 2003:

It is a quiet start to the match. Nothing of note until 25 minutes when Lamch’s long ball is flicked on by Gawronksi and Folc nips in front of his marker to crash the ball against the post from 12 yards out. The rebound falls to a defender who panics and slices his clearance straight up in the air. Folc gratefully accepts the second chance and slams the ball home. We are playing really well and Zaglebie are not in the game, but we cannot extend our lead. We reach half-time leading 1-0.

I haven’t seen much of the ball in the first half, but it is out on the left regularly during the second period. Joswiak crashes onto his shoulder early in the second half, injuring himself, so Balecki comes on. He continues his recent fine form with several good runs down the right wing. At 58 minutes Balecki cheekily back-heels the ball into the path of Kowalczyk who holds off his marker and scores with a low shot at the near post. It’s 2-0 and victory is just about assured several minutes later when Gawronski is hauled to the ground in a rugby tackle by the last defender as he is about to be clean through. The referee shows the Zaglebie defender the red card. At 70 minutes Kowalski sends a beautiful 40 yard pass out to me on the left wing. I have plenty of space to run with the ball and as the defence moves across to cover me, Folc is left free. I slide a pass through to him and he fires it home from 10 yards. 3-0 and we are through to the next round of the cup.

Polish FA Cup 2nd Round

Radomsko 3-0 Zaglebie

Folc 25, 70, Kowalczyk 58

3rd August 2003:

It’s Sunday, the day after our cup win. The players meet at Brzeznicka to watch the draw for the 3rd round of the Polish FA Cup. This time we are drawn away. Our opponents are Unia Skierniewice, who are the giant-killers from the previous round. They are a non-league side, but they beat Division 1 team Wisla Plock 4-1. We had met Wisla Plock in an earlier friendly and drawn 3-3. Despite this, the mood of the players is one of quiet confidence. If we can win this game, we will have reached the quarter-finals of the cup, which is no mean feat for a club of our size.

6th August 2003:

This time we travel north 100 kilometres to the town of Skierniewice, which is very similar in size and population to Radomsko. Their small stadium is already nearly full as we arrive 90 minutes before kick-off and head off to the visitors dressing-room.

Mr Gorniak changes his usual 3-2-3-2 formation to 4-1-3-2 to give us more cover at the back. Klepczynski is moved to left-back which means that I may not have to do as much defending as I have in my earlier games. There are about 4,000 people in the crowd, more than I have ever played in front of before. The home fans are making a lot of noise, but in one corner a group of several hundred people wearing the blue and yellow of Radomsko are trying to match them. The locals have something to cheer about first as they take the lead after 13 minutes. Prokop appears to be held of the ball, allowing a clear run for their second striker who scores with ease. But 3 minutes later, Jozwiak finds Folc who curls the ball in from the edge of the penalty area. At 19 minutes we lead 2-1 as Lamch overlaps down the right and crosses to the near post where Folc gets a slight touch. It is enough to divert the ball away from my marker and I am able to slide in at the far post to prod the ball home. That has silenced the home fans. We are playing well now and we extend the lead to 3-1 just before half-time when Folc runs onto my through ball and slides it under the Unia keeper.

As the second half begins, I think that one more goal for us should kill of the challenge of Unia. Kowalczyk takes us to a 4-1 lead when he volleys in Gawronski’s cross after 55 minutes. With 25 minutes to go Mr Gorniak brings on Smolinski and Dziuba and I push up into Gawronski’s forward role. Mr Gorniak obviously sees this as the chance to try out a couple of other players. But the substitutions upset the rhythm of our play and Unia’s Nigerian striker scores twice in four minutes with a close range shot and a header from a corner. The score is back to 4-3 and the Unia fans are urging their team on. At 71 minutes a long clearance finds me on the left and a quick counter-attack is on. I loft a long pass to the right and Folc takes it on his chest, slips past his marker and rifles it into the net. That seems to put an end to Unia’s challenge and we control the rest of the match to run out 5-3 winners.

Polish FA Cup 3rd Round

Unia Skierniewice 3-5 Radomsko

Folc 16, 40, 71, Mathieson 19, Kowalczyk 55

7th August 2003:

There are several hundred people at our Brzeznicka stadium on Thursday to celebrate our cup win from the previous day and to see who we draw in the quarter-finals. All eyes are glued to the television screen as the draw is made.

Lower League Odra Opole draw Division 1 Legia Warszawa

Division 1 Groclin Grodzisk draw Division 2 Arka Gdynia

Division 2 RKS Radomsko draw Lower League Korona Kielce

Division 1 Wisla Krakow draw Lower League Slask Wroclaw

We now have to wait until October for the quarter-finals. These games are played over two legs. The players are all extremely happy with draw and as we celebrate, there is much talk (so I’m told by Klep) of us going all the way to the final.

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8th August 2003:

Tomorrow we begin our league matches. There are 18 teams in Division 2 which means a 34 match league season. The top 2 teams are automatically promoted to Division 1 whilst there is a two-legged playoff between third from top and third from bottom in Division 1 for the final place. At the other end of the table, there is relegation for the bottom 4 teams down to non-league regional football.

9th August 2003:

Our opponents on the opening day of the league are Aluminium from the city of Konin, 120 to the north-west of Radomsko. We are in good spirits after the Polish FA Cup matches and I sense that everyone is confident of a successful season ahead.

Aluminium fire in a couple of long rang efforts early on, but Borkowski is not troubled. However, that is no longer the case at 20 minutes when Kowalski is booked for his challenge on the edge of the box and the Aluminium captain curls his free-kick over the wall and into the top corner. We are a goal down and struggling to get into the match. Gawronski takes a knock and has to be subbed by Tomasiak. We battle to contain the opposition and go in at half-time just 1-0 down. Jozwiak has not been good on the right of midfield, so he is replaced by Balecki. Mr Gorniak tells me to get more involved or I will be subbed shortly as well. He is not very happy.

Aluminium are still playing confidently at the start of the second half, but then we get a lucky break when Kowalski’s long clearance skids past a defender and Tomasiak is clear on the right. He crosses to the near post and Folc scores with a magnificent scissors-kick from 12 yards out. 1-1 at 55 minutes, but we are still second best at the moment. Mr Gorniak decides that my contribution to the match is over and I am subbed by Dziuba at 63 minutes. With 10 minutes to go there is a massive scramble between several players in our penalty area and an opponent goes flying to the ground. A penalty is awarded and Klep is booked for protesting his innocence. Borkowski throws himself to his left to stop the penalty, then gets up and acrobatically palms away the rebound shot for a corner. Aluminium’s frustration at not taking the lead reduces their superiority. A second yellow card and consequent sending off for one of their defenders means that we are able to hold on for the draw.

Polish Division 2 – Round 1

Aluminium 1-1 Radomsko

Folc 55

16th August 2003:

We have a second away game, this time against LKS of Lodz. This means a short bus trip 70 kilometres to the north and a chance for many of our fans to come to this local clash. Balecki has suffered a bad groin injury at training and will miss a couple of months, so Klepczynski shows his versatility by playing right midfield and Smolinski comes in at left-back.

The game is only 10 minutes old when our defensive midfielder Leszczynski is injured, so Klep drops back to the holding role and Jozwiak comes on to the right. We continue our habit of conceding the first goal in a match when LKS score at 30 minutes following an error by Prokop. But in injury time at the end of the first half Kowalczyk runs onto Gawronski’s headed flick and calmly slots it under the keeper to make it 1-1.

As we start the second half, I feel that a certain fluency is finally coming into our play. Kowalczyk is a having a blinder in his attacking midfield role and he has two goals disallowed for offside as we start to press home our superior play. The midfield and defence are starting to give myself and Jozwiak plenty of ball on the wings and we have LKS chasing us all over the park. Finally, at 82 minutes, we get the reward that our play deserves as Klep slides an inch-perfect pass into the path of Kowalczyk and he side-steps the keeper and slots in the winner. After the match Leszczynski may have a sore leg, but that doesn’t stop his enthusiasm as he dedicates a banjo solo to man of the match Kowalczyk on the bus journey home.

Polish Division 2 – Round 2

LKS 1-2 Radomsko

Kowalczyk 45, 82

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23rd August 2003:

Our first league match at home today and Szczakowianka are the visitors. Jozwiak injures himself in the warm-up, so Dziuba starts on the left and Mr Gorniak asks me to play on the right wing, but to cut inside when possible.

The crowd is hardly settled before Kowalczyk has them jumping to their feet as his shot smacks against the post after only 40 seconds. But, yet again, we concede the first goal as Lamch deflects a cross onto the head of the opposition centre-forward who scores after 6 minutes. The chances come thick and fast for us after that. Gawronski hits the post, Dziuba curls a free-kick onto the bar and Klep hits a 25 yarder inches over the top. But injuries interrupt our search for an equaliser as our two strikers Gawronski and Folc collide and both must leave the field after 30 minutes. I move up to the forward line with substitute Tomasiak, whilst Berensztajn comes on to the right of midfield. It takes a few minutes for the changes to settle in, but Klepczynski ends our unease as he thumps in a cracker from 25 yards. We then go into half-time leading 2-1 as Berensztajn fires in a low shot which the keeper blocks, but Kowalczyk nets the rebound.

Berensztajn is having a major influence as the second half begins. He doesn’t confine himself just to the right wing, but moves around causing trouble all across the park. At 62 minutes Tomasiak benefits from Berensztajn’s vision as he runs onto a lovely through-ball and curls it past the keeper. At 66 minutes I receive a delightful chip from Berensztajn and move in on goal. The keeper gets a hand to my shot, but there is just enough power for it to trickle over the line and take us to a 4-1 lead. Near the end Kowalczyk goes on an amazing dribbling run the length of the field, but his shot clips the outside of the post and goes wide. Our home supporters are well pleased with our win and we are loudly cheered from the ground.

After the match Klep continually describes his goal to anyone who will listen. He is so excited because that was his first league goal for his home-town side. My goal wasn’t as spectacular, but it was my first league goal also. We make a bet that whoever scores in future will have dinner bought for them by the other one at “The Peasant’s Feastâ€.

Polish Division 2 – Round 3

Radomsko 4-1 Szczakowianka

Klepczynski 43, Kowalczyk 45, Tomasiak 62, Mathieson 66

27th August 2003:

Yet another first for me as we have a mid-week game under floodlights. This will be the first time I have played a proper match under lights and our opponents are Pogon Szczecin. Injuries mean more changes. Gawronski is fit after his clash with Folc, but Folc isn’t. Tomasiak gets a knock in training, so I stay up front, Berensztajn starts on the right after his great game on Saturday and Lato replaces Dziuba on the left.

This is a truly awful match, both to play in and to watch. Pogon have no thought of attacking – they have come to stifle our creativity and go home with a point. The midfield is crowded and service to Folc and me up front is non-existent. Berensztajn finds room to get a pass away to Kowalczyk after 19 minutes and he doesn’t let us down with his fourth goal in four games. Pogon finally launch a decent attack after 42 minutes and it results in an equaliser. Borkowski makes a fine block from a header, but he cannot reclaim the loose ball and it is whacked into the unguarded net. 1-1 at half-time and that is how it stays until the final whistle. There are two half chances for us in the second half. I hit the side netting from acute angle and Gawronski has his shot blocked as he is about to fire it towards an empty net. For the first time since I joined Radomsko I am very disappointed with my personal performance. In the change-rooms afterwards, my team-mates are also disappointed, especially with the tactics that Pogon employed. We make a vow that we will do our best to thump them in the return game later in the season.

Polish Division 2 – Round 4

Radomsko 1-1 Pogon

Kowalczyk 19

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30th August 2003:

For the first time since my arrival in Poland I am travelling to the capital of Warsaw, 180 kilometres to the north. Our opponents are Stasiak Opoczno, but they located in a rather drab industrial suburb to the south, so I don’t get to see some of the beautiful Old City. Gawronski is fit to play, so I return to left midfield and Lato drops to the bench.

There has been rain and this is the first wet pitch that we have played on this season. I have several good runs and passes early on and their full-back is rather slow, so he is giving me plenty of room to make sure I don’t get in behind him. I push the ball past him yet again, but this time he follows through with his tackle and clatters right into me. I get a whack on the ankle and have to leave the pitch for treatment. He gets a yellow card for his trouble. From the resulting free-kick, Berensztajn curls it to the near post and Kowalczyk heads well, but the keeper blocks it. However it goes straight back to Kowalczyk who pushes it into the net. I limp back onto the field to join the celebrations and then I start to run the injury off. Just on the half hour the opposition are reduced to ten men when Prokop and one of their strikers get into a shoving match. Both are booked, but their player continues to argue and is shown a second yellow, followed by the red card. At 38 minutes we get another free-kick near goal and we work one of our rehearsed routines. Berensztajn plays it to me on the left and I shape to cross it as our attackers move towards goal, but instead I roll it back across the edge of the penalty area. Klep is lurking there and he hits a first time shot that flies through the mass of bodies and bulges the net.

Our 2-0 half-time lead is soon 3-0 as Lamch sends a long pass from defence directly to my feet. I run at the heart of the Stasiak defence and as their sweeper commits himself to a tackle on me, I slip a pass to Kowalczyk who calmly carries the ball forward and beats the now unprotected keeper. At 80 minutes Gawronski works well on the right and crosses for Folc to volley us into a 4-0 lead. Ten man Stasiak get a consolation goal for their efforts when a low free-kick skims along the wet turf and bounces off Borkowski, leaving their sole striker to tap into the empty net. In injury time we deservedly go to a 5-1 lead when Klepczynski hits a 25 yarder against the post and, as it rolls along the goal-line, Folc smacks it home.

After the match Mr Gorniak is ecstatic and he congratulates all of us individually. He asks Klep to tell me that he is extremely pleased at my progress and that I am becoming an important member of the team. After that Klep reminds me that he has scored yet again and I owe him dinner at “The Peasant’s Feast†restaurant.

Polish Division 2 – Round 5

Stasiak Opoczno 1-5 Radomsko

Kowalczyk 14, 48, Klepczynski 38, Folc 80, 90

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | | Podbeskidzie | | 5 | 4 | 1 | 0 | 11 | 3 | +8 | 13 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | | Blekitni | | 5 | 4 | 0 | 1 | 13 | 7 | +6 | 12 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | *** | RADOMSKO | | 5 | 3 | 2 | 0 | 13 | 5 | +8 | 11 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | | Jagiellonia | | 5 | 3 | 1 | 1 | 11 | 8 | +3 | 10 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | | Tloki | | 5 | 3 | 0 | 2 | 11 | 5 | +6 | 9 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | | Zaglebie | | 5 | 3 | 0 | 2 | 11 | 5 | +6 | 9 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | Arka | | 5 | 2 | 2 | 1 | 5 | 5 | 0 | 8 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th | | Pogon | | 5 | 2 | 2 | 1 | 4 | 5 | -1 | 8 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | | Ruch Chorzow | | 5 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 6 | 9 | -3 | 7 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th | | KSZO | | 5 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 5 | 4 | +1 | 7 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 11th | | Belchatow | | 5 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 6 | 5 | +1 | 7 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 12th | | Stasiak Opoczno | | 5 | 1 | 1 | 3 | 8 | 12 | -4 | 4 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 13th | | Cracovia | | 5 | 1 | 1 | 3 | 5 | 10 | -5 | 4 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 14th | | LKS | | 5 | 1 | 0 | 4 | 3 | 9 | -6 | 3 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 15th | | Piast | | 5 | 0 | 2 | 3 | 2 | 7 | -5 | 2 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 16th | | Aluminium | | 5 | 0 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 10 | -6 | 2 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 17th | | Polar | | 5 | 0 | 1 | 4 | 1 | 9 | -8 | 1 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 18th | | Szczakowianka | | 5 | 3 | 0 | 2 | 6 | 7 | -1 | -1 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|


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2nd September 2003:

With a two week break before our next match, I have some extra time on my hands. This is the chance to get a few jobs done. My small room at the Klepczynski’s home is starting to feel cramped, so Klep and I have decided to move out and share an apartment together. There is a newly completed complex near the stadium and we have rented a two-bedroom furnished apartment. I spend the next few days moving in and buying some additional items. I have just enough savings from my first two months wages to buy a computer so that I can play my favourite game – Championship Manager 03/04.

6th September 2003:

About six of us – the younger players – go to the new sports bar “Sportz One†to watch Poland play in Latvia in a Euro 2004 qualifier. Poland wins 3-0 and Emmanuel Olisadebe scores a hat-trick. The local girls are flirting with us because they know that we play for Radomsko and we have a top night partying with about ten of them. I must say that it helps to be a bit different from the locals. My Australian accent helps to get the girl’s attention and there is one in particular that catches my eye.

10th September 2003:

Back to “Sportz One†tonight to watch Poland play Sweden in Chorzow in another Euro 2004 qualifier. This time Poland wins 2-0 with a Zdebel penalty and a Wichniarek goal. We shouldn’t be drinking tonight as we have a game in three days, but Balecki is still recovering from his groin injury, so he drinks more than the rest of us. He gets so drunk that he gets into a fight and we have to jump in and help him. I get a whack on the cheek for my trouble, but I did have that satisfaction of throwing a punch that stuns one of the guys we are fighting, dropping him to the floor for a moment. Luckily the management support us and kick the other guys out.

13th September 2003:

It’s good to have a game again after the break for the internationals. Cracovia of Krakow are the visitors to our Brzeznicka stadium today. Our good start to the season has given a warning the other teams in Division 2. Consequently the visiting teams don’t come with much ambition to win, but rather to stop us winning.

Cracovia play like Pogon did a few weeks ago – they pack the midfield and get players behind the ball as much as possible. At 13 minutes Lamch plays a terrible ball across the back line and lets in their only forward. Prokop valiantly chases him down and lunges just as he shots. The shot is deflected away, but Prokop twists his knee and must be replaced by Nowak. We only get two shooting chances in the first half and they both fall to me. The first one is a shot from 20 metres which clips the outside of the post and the second one is a similar effort which clips the bar, although the keeper probably had it covered. 0-0 at half-time and the second half is more of the same. We only get two more chances on goal with Klep shooting wide from 15 metres and Kowalczyk volleying over from 12 metres late in the match. Apart from the shot that Prokop injured himself blocking, Cracovia have no other attempts on Borkowski’s goal. There are a few boos from the crowd near the end, although I think it is more out of frustration at Cracovia’s tactics than our unsuccessful attempts to break through.

Polish Division 2 – Round 6

Radomsko 0-0 Cracovia

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17th September 2003:

Tonight we are in Lubin to play local side Zaglebie. It was a three and a half hour, 230 kilometre bus ride to the west over some very poor roads and all the players are grateful to get out and stretch their legs. It is a huge stadium that holds about 25,000 people, but there would be no more than 2,000 fans here.

No changes to the team from our mid-week game as we kick off the match. All goes quietly until the 12th minute when the Zaglebie keeper clears long down the park. Folc, Gawronski and I are all miles offside as Klepczynski collects the ball in the centre circle and lobs it all the way back into the Zaglebie net. It is a magnificent effort and we rush to congratulate Klep on what must be the goal of the season. But the linesman has his flag up for offside and the referee agrees with him. The ref is immediately surrounded by Radomsko players. How could Folc, Gawronski and I be interfering when it was a lobbed goal and we were thirty yards away at the time it went in? The ref refuses to change his mind and gives Klep a yellow card for dissent. We are furious and this terrible decision has given a nasty edge to the game as we take out our anger on the Zaglebie players. It is an untidy game that reaches half-time at 0-0.

Early in the second half we go a goal down. Smolinski wins the ball at left back and passes sideways to Folc who is down from the forward line helping the defence. He stupidly tries to dribble the ball out and is caught in possession. Our entire defence is caught on the wrong foot as Zaglebie sweep forward and it is a simple task to draw Borkowski before slotting the ball into an unguarded net. Gawronski then limps off, so I push up front and Dziuba comes on to the left of midfield. At 76 minutes we get a deserved equaliser. Dziuba beats two men on the left and knocks over a cross which my marker and I contest. The ball drops to the ground near the penalty spot and Folc makes up for his earlier error by quickly prodding the ball past the advancing keeper. A couple of minutes later and the anger in the game finally erupts. Twice since I have been playing up front, my marker has caught me with his elbow. I get another elbow in the side of the head and I’ve had enough. I lash out with my right boot and catch the centre-half in the shin. He falls down, screaming in pain, even though my kick wasn’t that hard. Instantly, there is a scrum of pushing, yelling players. Prokop and Kowalski pull me away for my own protection as the referee and linesmen struggle to gain control. It takes a couple of minutes to calm things down and then the ref calls me over. He says nothing, but pulls out his red card and I am sent off. “Assholeâ€, I yell at the guy that I kicked and I turn and walk off. Luckily for me, my team-mates hold on with ten men and we get a 1-1 draw.

Polish Division 2 – Round 7

Zaglebie 1-1 Radomsko

Folc 76

18th September 2003:

Before training tonight, Mr Gorniak calls me and Klep into his office. He tells me that he is very unhappy with my lack of discipline. I have received an automatic one match ban and the disciplinary tribunal will be meeting next Tuesday to consider the referee’s report and a possible additional suspension. As well, Klep picked up his fourth yellow of the season and he also gets an automatic one match ban. Next time anything like this happens, we will both be fined for our actions. But for now we are both out of Saturday’s visit to Arka of Gdynia.

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20th September 2003:

It’s a long coach trip all the way north to Gdynia on the Baltic Sea. Over 400 kilometres means nearly five hours of travel, so we leave quite early in the morning. It also means that Klep and I have plenty of time to think about how we are not going to be getting a game today. Mr Gorniak announces the changes for today’s match as we travel. Dziuba replaces me on the left whilst Dopierala get his first start of the season in the defensive midfielder’s role. Osinski is promoted from the reserves to sit on the bench.

Dziuba starts well on the left wing and he combines with Folc to set up Gawronski from close range for the opening goal after 12 minutes. For the rest of the first half we are generally in control. Kowalczyk, Folc and Berensztajn all have good chances, but fail to get their shots on target. But the second half is totally different as Arka come out of their shell and start attacking us. Borkowski pulls off three outstanding saves to deny Arka an equaliser. However he is left helpless at 67 minutes when Kowalski slips and completely misses a deep cross, allowing his opponent time to control the ball and shoot past our goalie. Borkowski then saves a point-blank header to keep it at 1-1, but in the final minute I am convinced that we are going to lose our unbeaten status. A low cross flies across the six yard box and Borkowski can’t cut it out. An Arka player is completely free on the far post, but from three yards out he somehow manages to knock it wide. Shortly afterwards the final whistle is sounded and we have our achieved our third frustrating draw in a row.

Polish Division 2 – Round 8

Arka 1-1 Radomsko

Gawronski 12

23rd September 2003:

The assistant manager Krzysztof Budka took us for training tonight. Mr Gorniak was in Warsaw at the Polish FA to represent me at my disciplinary tribunal hearing. I was hoping that the referee’s report would say that I had been provoked and had retaliated, rather than having just committed a straight out violent offence. Mr Budka’s mobile phone rang just as we were finishing showering after training. He spoke for about thirty seconds and then looked over towards me. He shook his head and then held up two fingers. I had been banned for a further two games.

27th September 2003:

A seat in the stands for me again today as Tloki are the visitors. They are second on the table and we are expecting a difficult match. Klepczynski returns from suspension and Kurek replaces Smolinski at left back.

The first half hour is quiet, although Dziuba is enjoying his run in the team at my expense. If he keeps playing this well, I won’t get my place back in the starting line-up after my suspension. Dziuba puts a lovely cross onto the head of Folc who rattles the cross-bar. Tloki scramble it clear, but Jozwiak gets it on the right and crosses, this time finding Gawronski just inside the box. He swivels beautifully and curls a left-footer into the bottom corner to put us 1-0 up. We are not too troubled in holding onto the 1-0 lead until half-time, but at 55 minutes Tloki equalise. Borkowski was the hero in our previous match with several great saves, but today he lets in a howler as a weak header from a free-kick slips through his arms and rolls over the line. “Not another bloody drawâ€, I think as the Tloki players celebrate. It’s been three games since our top scorer Kowalczyk has found the net, but he puts us back in front with the 50th league goal of his career for Radomsko after 66 minutes. He is on the end of a wonderful five player move, all first time passes, which rips the Tloki defence to shreds and leaves Kowalczyk with a simple side-footer to score. At 74 minutes Klep makes it safe for us when he jumps high at the far post to head in Jozwiak’s right wing corner. We take the match 3-1 and end our sequence of three drawn matches.

Polish Division 2 – Round 9

Radomsko 3-1 Tloki

Gawronski 32, Kowalczyk 66, Klepczynski 74

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29th September 2003:

I am a bit low today. We have a vital FA Cup quarter-final coming up in two days and I am suspended from playing. As Radomsko are a semi-professional team, there is no training during the day as most of the players also work. This leaves me with a fair amount of spare time. I am walking down by the river and I decide to stop by at a café I have discovered recently. There is a dark haired girl sitting by herself near the fireplace. It is the girl from the “Sportz One†bar that I was talking to three weeks ago. I decide to be brave and go and sit with her. Her English is basic, but better than my Polish. Her name is Katerina. We have a good time talking and we make a deal – she will help me learn Polish and I will help her with her English. Afterwards I’m not as depressed as I was earlier.

1st October 2003:

I join my team-mates in the dressing room before this vital first leg match, even though I can’t play. There is one change to the team from the weekend. Lato starts on the left as Dziuba is not 100% fit. There is tenseness in the room and even Gawronski, our team comedian and joker, can’t get a laugh with his usually hilarious impersonations of George Bush and Osama Bin-Laden sharing a shower together.

We get into our rhythm fairly quickly and start to press Korona back. They are defending deeply and playing with only one man up front. Jozwiak on the right and Lato on the left are getting room to play and we are trying to get them to the bye line to pull the ball back and create dangerous situations. There are long range efforts from Kowalczyk, Klepczynski and Gawronski which don’t trouble the Korona keeper whilst our defence has no difficulty containing the rare Korona attacks. Jozwiak clips the post with a low shot just before half-time and that is the closest that we have come to taking the lead. So it’s 0-0 at the break and I have a horrible feeling that Korona are going to hold out for the draw that they are desperately seeking. There is more of the same for most of the second half – we are attacking but not getting the final pass to the player in the best position whilst Korona are defending resolutely. Folc has two great chances, one which he scuffs wide and the other which he shoots straight at the keeper. Our supporters are desperate for a goal and the noise is the loudest that I have heard at Brzeznicka this season. We are coming up to injury time and I have counted 18 shots to 2 in our favour, but it is still 0-0 on the scoreboard. There are three minutes of injury time to play according to the fourth official’s board. I am sitting on the edge of my seat, begging the guys for one final effort. Lato moves down the left and crosses to Folc. He knocks a header back to Klep who hits an inch-perfect first time pass into the stride of Kowalczyk just on the edge of the box. Kowalczyk takes it first time with the outside of his right foot and curls the ball past the keeper into the bottom corner of the net. I leap from my seat with the rest of our supporters and yell with delight. We have taken the match 1-0 and we have something to defend in the second leg in three weeks time.

Polish FA Cup Quarter-Final 1st Leg

Radomsko 1-0 Korona

Kowalczyk 90

4th October 2003:

I have trained hard the last few days prior to our home league match with Jagiellonia, trying to convince Mr Gorniak that I should be back in the starting line up now that my three match suspension is over. However Mr Gorniak goes with the same team as our mid-week cup win, so I have to be happy with a place on the substitute’s bench.

Kowalczyk gets us off to a flyer when he collects Lamch’s long pass from defence and chips the Jagiellonia goalie after only 3 minutes. At 20 minutes Kowalczyk turns provider when he breaks into the box from the left. The defence forces him wide, but he suddenly swivels and plays a lovely cross to the far post. Jozwiak arrives perfectly on time to head us into a 2-0 lead. We have the opposition on the ropes and a third goal arrives at 40 minutes when Klepczynski’s free-kick on the right is headed home by Folc. 3-0 at half-time and Jagiellonia have not offered much resistance. Radomsko continue to control the second half, but there are no clear cut chances to extend our lead. With about 30 minutes to go I get up from the bench and do some stretches and sprints, trying to indicate to Mr Gorniak that I am ready to go on and help the team search for a fourth goal. He smiles and laughs at me, then tells assistant manager Budka something. The board comes out and number 19 is feed into the display. At 66 minutes I replace a tiring Gawronski up front and I am itching to get back onto the field. I get a few chances to run with the ball and late on my cross from the left is headed against the post by Folc. It is so good to be back on the pitch and we run out comfortable 3-0 winners.

Polish Division 2 – Round 10

Radomsko 3-0 Jagiellonia

Kowalczyk 3, Jozwiak 21, Folc 40

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6th October 2003:

State Television is filming a story about the increase in foreign players playing for Polish clubs. They have discovered that I am the only Australian playing in the top two divisions in Poland and they want to film a segment about me for their weekly sports show. Mr Gorniak thinks it is a good idea as it will give us some exposure and may generate bigger attendances at our games. He also tells me not to show off or to get a big head or else he will drop me very quickly. I get the message.

7th October 2003:

A film crew from State Television was filming us at our light training run tonight. I tried hard to look impressive, but several of my moves and tricks failed and our reserves defender Chmielewski gave me a torrid time. To top things off, Dopierala took a shot at goal and hit me flush in the face with the ball, causing me to stumble around like a drunken idiot and giving everyone the chance to have a good laugh at my misfortune.

8th October 2003: (morning)

I filmed an interview with the State Television crew this morning. It was a bit nerve-wracking, but I think it went well. I had to do everything through an interpreter and I hope that my words were translated correctly. I’m not sure what they made of my Australian expressions such as “She’ll be jake†and “Bewdy, mateâ€. The film crew will be covering our game against Blekitni tonight.

8th October 2003: (evening)

Tonight we are at Stargard Szczecinski, 400 kilometres to the west and nearly on the German border, to play Blekitni. I am back in favour and have been restored to the left wing at the expense of Lato.

We continue the good form that has seen us win our last three matches. Klepczynski and Kowalczyk continue to dominate the centre of midfield as they have been doing recently. We work a couple of shooting chances but the final efforts are wayward. Finally at 40 minutes Klep adds to his growing list of assists as he splits the Blekitni defence with a delicate pass and Kowalczyk strides through to dribble around the keeper and put us 1-0 up. The lead does not last for long. Almost straight from the kick-off of the second half, Blekitni attack and Lamch and Prokop both attempt to head the same cross, causing the ball to drop for their striker to slam it past Borkowski and make it 1-1. Blekitni are lifted by the goal and it is our turn to defend vigorously for a lengthy period of time. Gawronski has had a poor game tonight and Jozwiak has also been quiet, so Mr Gorniak makes a double substitution at 76 minutes, bringing on Tomasiak and Lato and pushing me over to the right wing with instructions to drift inside where possible. Lato immediately gives their right-back several difficult moments. At 82 minutes he gets to the bye line and sends over a teasing cross. It is half cleared to the edge of the box where Klep takes it on his chest and then dinks the ball five yards to the right where I am standing. It’s at a perfect height to volley, so I lash it with my left foot and it flies into the net via the post. I run over to the side line to hug Mr Gorniak to thank him for putting me back in the team and to celebrate with my joyful team-mates. A few minutes later the final whistle is blown and we have won 2-1. The win also takes Radomsko to the top of Division 2 for the first time this season.

Polish Division 2 – Round 11

Blekitni 1-2 Radomsko

Kowalczyk 40, Mathieson 82

10th October 2003:

It’s Friday night and the team has gathered at Brzeznicka after training to watch the weekly sports show. There is a loud cheer as the segment about me begins. Klep gives me a running interpretation of the commentary. There is an interview with Mr Gorniak where he says some nice things about my performances this season, but he says I must learn to control my temper. They show some footage of me at training and then my interview which is dubbed over in Polish. Then Borkowski, Prokop and Klepczynski are all interviewed. I hadn’t realised that they were included, but they are all very complimentary about my contribution to the team. Finally they show highlights of our 2-1 win over Blekitni and I see myself scoring the winning goal and racing to the touch line to celebrate with the manager. The presenter comes on and finishes up by saying that Radomsko are currently top of Division 2 and are a good bet for promotion at the end of the season. There are more cheers at that comment, then Gawronski gets up and presents me with a baggy number 19 Radomsko shirt with “Movie Star†written above the number. I must wear it at training for the rest of the season.

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This is how RKS Radomsko are currently lining up (with backups in brackets).

GK – Borkowski (Kozik)

DR/DL – Lamch, Smolinski (Kurek)

DC – Prokop, Kowalski (Nowak)

DMC – Klepczynski (Leszczynski or Dopierala)

MR – Jozwiak (Balecki)

ML – Mathieson (Lato or Dziuba)

AMC – Kowalczyk (Berensztajn)

FC – Gawronski, Folc (Tomasiak)

11th October 2003:

There is some good news for Balecki today as the physio declares that he is fit enough to return to training after his recent groin injury. The final round of Euro 2004 qualifiers is played this afternoon. As usual, we go to “Sportz One†and my Polish team-mates are very happy as they watch Poland draw 0-0 in Hungary to claim second place in Group 4 behind Sweden. This means a play-off spot for the Poles and a home and away tie to be contested against Switzerland next month.

13th October 2003:

With the team settling into a regular starting eleven, the first sign of annoyance has surfaced. Berensztajn demanded to see Mr Gorniak in private and declared his anger at not being a regular in the team. He had moved to the club from fellow Division 2 club Belchatow and had expected to be a regular this season. Klep tells me that Mr Gorniak told Berensztajn to start performing on a consistent basis and he might be considered, although it would be difficult with Kowalczyk in such superb form.

16th October 2003:

We were doing sprint training tonight when Lamch suddenly screamed in pain and crashed to the ground holding his right hamstring. It looked bad and the initial diagnosis is that he will be out for about 3 weeks. Nowak has been told that he will be replacing Lamch at right-back for the next match.

18th October 2003:

Piast are the visitors today. They have had a terrible start to the season, failing to win in their first nine games before winning their last two matches. Nowak starts in defence whilst Balecki is happy to be fit enough to get a place on the bench.

Despite our high percentage of possession in the first half, we create little in the way of chances. Folc is ruled offside as he heads in from Jozwiak’s cross at 28 minutes, but that is all we really have to show for our first half endeavours. Mr Gorniak is not impressed at the break and he gives us a major bollocking. I recognised some of the swear words as being similar to those that the lads have been teaching me. Even though I didn’t understand what was said, I certainly got the picture. Lato replaces Jozwiak, who is suffering from the flu, and I move to the right for the second half. The first time I get the ball I cut inside and I see Kowalczyk ghosting in behind the last defender. I chip it towards him and he takes it down beautifully and half-volleys it in from 20 yards out. The defender has clattered him at the same time and Kowalczyk stays down as we go to celebrate with him. The physio helps him from the field and we play for a few minutes with ten men before Balecki comes to the touchline and is bought on as a substitute. Balecki goes to the right and I move to the attacking midfield role behind the front two. At 58 minutes Klep breaks up a Piast attack and we quickly counter-attack. I have acres of space through the middle and Klep slots a pass to my feet. I run to the edge of the box and side foot the ball past the advancing keeper before he can dive. The ball hits the post and goes in to give us a 2-0 lead. We are certainly on song now and a third goal arrives in the 70th minute. Folc is fouled 25 yards out and Klepczynski lines up the free-kick. He curls it over the wall and it dips at the last moment to creep in under the cross-bar. The keeper has no chance and the crowd chant Klep’s name as he runs behind the goal to celebrate. From this point on we are comfortable in maintaining our 3-0 lead and this remains to be the final score.

Polish Division 2 – Round 12

Radomsko 3-0 Piast

Kowalczyk 47, Mathieson 58, Klepczynski 70

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Cheers Simon


<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | *** | RADOMSKO | | 12 | 7 | 5 | 0 | 26 | 9 | +17 | 26 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | | Podbeskidzie | | 12 | 8 | 2 | 2 | 21 | 13 | +8 | 26 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | | Arka | | 12 | 7 | 3 | 2 | 15 | 9 | +6 | 24 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | | Stasiak Opoczno | | 12 | 7 | 1 | 4 | 27 | 17 | +10 | 22 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | | Zaglebie | | 12 | 6 | 3 | 3 | 23 | 13 | +10 | 21 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | | Pogon | | 12 | 5 | 6 | 1 | 16 | 9 | +7 | 21 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | Blekitni | | 12 | 6 | 2 | 4 | 25 | 17 | +8 | 20 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th | | Tloki | | 12 | 6 | 2 | 4 | 24 | 16 | +8 | 20 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | | Jagiellonia | | 12 | 5 | 2 | 5 | 22 | 20 | +2 | 17 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th | | Ruch Chorzow | | 12 | 4 | 4 | 4 | 16 | 17 | -1 | 16 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 11th | | Belchatow | | 12 | 4 | 2 | 6 | 16 | 21 | -5 | 14 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 12th | | Szczakowianka | | 12 | 7 | 1 | 4 | 18 | 13 | +5 | 12 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 13th | | Cracovia | | 12 | 3 | 3 | 6 | 18 | 19 | -1 | 12 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 14th | | LKS | | 12 | 3 | 2 | 7 | 11 | 20 | -9 | 11 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 15th | | Piast | | 12 | 2 | 4 | 6 | 8 | 17 | -9 | 10 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 16th | | Polar | | 12 | 1 | 4 | 7 | 8 | 23 | -15 | 7 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 17th | | KSZO | | 12 | 2 | 1 | 9 | 11 | 32 | -21 | 7 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 18th | | Aluminium | | 12 | 0 | 3 | 9 | 5 | 25 | -20 | 3 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|


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21st October 2003:

Suspensions and injuries hit our plans for the biggest game of the season to date. Prokop has picked up four yellow cards and is suspended for our 2nd leg match against Korona, whilst Lamch is still out injured. Then in training tonight Jozwiak took a kick to the calf which ended his participation for the next couple of weeks. Osinski has been drafted in at right-back whilst Balecki will start on the right of midfield despite just returning from injury himself.

22nd October 2003:

A midweek cup match under lights in Kielce, 90 kilometres to the east. Their stadium holds 8,000 people and it is nearly full. For a change I feel that we are the underdogs and that will be the ones defending against a team committed to attack.

Having played 15 games so far this season, we are finding that our defensive play is getting better and better. We hold Korona at bay without too much trouble. It is nearly half an hour before the first real chance is created. They work a good move down their left and the cross catches Nowak ball-watching, allowing his opponent to peel away and meet the ball with a powerful header which luckily goes straight at Borkowski. We win our first corner in the 34th minute and I go to the right to try an inswinger with my left foot. Everyone packs into the six yard box and I notice Balecki hovering in the semi-circle on the edge of the penalty area. I quickly drive a low corner towards him and he hits it perfectly on the volley. It flies into the crowd of players and takes a deflection off a defender, completely bamboozling the Korona keeper as it flicks up into the roof of the net. We are ecstatic – that’s 1-0 to us and 2-0 on aggregate, plus we have a vital away goal. This will make it very difficult for Korona to beat us now as long as we maintain our good defensive play. It stays at 1-0 until half-time.

Korona desperately attack us throughout the second half, but our resolve is unbreakable. Borkowski saves well on three occasions whilst Osinski is having an excellent debut, blanketing their left winger and clearing off the line when Borkowski was beaten late in the match. Finally the referee blows his whistle and ends the match. All of the players huddle together to celebrate and then we run over to our supporters to thank them for their vocal support. Amongst the supporters I spot one fan with an inflatable kangaroo. I’m laughing as I reach over and shake his hand. He grins back at me and waves his kangaroo in the air. “Radomsko win cupâ€, he shouts. “Too bloody right, mateâ€, I shout back.

Polish FA Cup Quarter-Final 2nd Leg

Korona 0-1 Radomsko (Radomsko win 2-0 on aggregate)

Balecki 34

23rd October 2003:

I join the lads at the steelworks canteen yet again to watch the lunch-time draw for the semi-finals of the Polish FA Cup. There are two Division 1 sides plus us and another team from Division 2 still remaining in the cup. I know which team I would rather be facing when the games come around in April. The first team drawn is Arka from Division 2. We hold our breath as we wait to see who their opponents will be. The next team drawn is Radomsko. Yes, it is the draw that we wanted. Division 1 teams Legia Warszawa and Wisla Krakow are drawn together in the other semi-final tie. Klep, Folc, Balecki and I give each other high-fives and pats on the back. We are already thinking about a place in the Polish FA Cup final itself.

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25th October 2003:

Ruch Chorzow are the visitors three days after our FA Cup victory. Mr Gorniak warns us to get our heads out of the clouds and back to the serious business of league football. The right side of midfield seem to be our hoodoo position as Balecki had strained his neck late in the cup match against Korona and was thus unavailable today. I moved to the right and Lato came in on the left. Tomasiak also got a start at the expense of Gawronski.

We quickly got into our stride and peppered the Ruch Chorzow goal with several efforts. Folc was twice denied by splendid saves from the opposition keeper, but I felt certain we would take the lead after 18 minutes when I headed Lato’s left wing cross back across the goal and Kowalczyk was standing unmarked only six yards out. However he somehow managed to smack his shot into the cross-bar and it rebounded to safety. A minute later and Klepczynski lay in agony on the ground after he was the victim of a late tackle. The stretcher was bought on and I knelt next to him, concerned that he was seriously injured. He’d taken a nasty knock to the ankle, but he told me it wasn’t too bad. Leszczynski came on in his place. Kowalczyk made up for his glaring miss after 22 minutes when he ran onto a superb long ball from Kurek and curled a shot past the keeper. At 41 minutes I got some space on the right and cut inside on my left foot. I was thinking of hitting a long shot when I saw Kowalczyk making a run across the last defender. I waited till I saw him turn and I pushed the pass through. It was timed perfectly and he was clear through, going on to dribble around the keeper and make it 2-0. However Kowalczyk wasn’t done yet and he completed a first half hat-trick 2 minutes later when he surged onto Folc’s flicked header and stabbed it past the advancing goalie to give us a commanding 3-0 lead at half-time. The second half was a much tamer affair and I think that the exertions of the mid-week cup match started to take their toll. Ruch Chorzow got a goal back from the penalty spot after 65 minutes when Kowalski was adjudged to have held back their centre-forward in the box. Despite that goal I didn’t feel we were in any real danger of losing the match and, in fact, that turned out to be the last significant moment of the game. We played out the remaining time to clinch a 3-1 win.

Polish Division 2 – Round 13

Radomsko 3-1 Ruch Chorzow

Kowalczyk 22, 41, 43

26th October 2003:

Before the last match I had mentioned that playing on the right of midfield was to play in the team’s hoodoo position. Well, today the curse struck me. We were just having a light run on Sunday morning to loosen up the legs and get out the stiffness from yesterday’s game when I somehow managed to trip over one of the orange cones that we used in training. I put my right arm out to break my fall, but I landed awkwardly and it jarred all the way up my arm to my shoulder. I felt a click and a sharp pain in my shoulder. The physio iced me up straight away, but it was throbbing terribly and there was no way that I could even raise my arm part of the way up without causing agony in my shoulder. My arm was put in a sling and the physio will take another look at it tomorrow.

27th October 2003:

The physio has diagnosed strained shoulder ligaments and suggested that I should miss the next two games to allow it to recover. I was really ****ed off as it had been my own stupid fault for falling over the cone, plus I was just feeling comfortable being back in the team following my three match suspension the previous month.

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29th October 2003:

As I was out of the squad for the Wednesday night match away to KSZO, I talked to Katerina and we decided to travel the 130 kilometres east to Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski in her car to see the game. It would be the first time that we had been to the football together as she normally worked on Saturdays and wasn’t able to get to our home matches. The KSZO stadium was recently built and very modern. We took our seats in the main stand right on the half-way line in the area that was reserved for officials and guests of the visiting club. Klep had remarkably recovered from his ankle knock, Smolinski was in at left-back for Kurek and Berensztajn was on the right of midfield in the hoodoo position that I had vacated.

We immediately went onto the attack and camped ourselves in the KSZO half. Tomasiak was having a good game up front, pulling his marker out of the centre and creating room for Kowalczyk to maraud through from midfield as he did so well. Folc went the closest to scoring when he headed against the post from Lato’s cross after 22 minutes. As usual it wasn’t enjoyable sitting in the stands watching the game instead of playing, but Katerina helped keep me relaxed by asking loads of questions in her basic English. I took my time trying to answer simply and clearly and that helped a bit. Down on the sidelines I saw the board come up to indicate two minutes of injury time. I was just explaining to Katerina what that meant when Klep rolled a short free kick to Smolinski who drove it low at goal from 25 yards. It flicked off a defender, completely wrong-footing the goalkeeper and nestled in the back of the net. I leapt to my feet to celebrate, although my sore shoulder stopped me from going too crazy. Katerina looked up at me and laughed. “You are most funnyâ€, she said. “Yeah, and you women just don’t understand football, do you?†I replied.

There were several half-chances for Radomsko to double their lead early in the second half, but it took until the 60th minute for goal number two to arrive. Klep created it with a sweeping pass from right to left to find Lato who then went past the full-back and crossed to the far post where Kowalczyk arrived unmarked to head home with ease. That knocked the stuffing out of KSZO and I knew that we would take the three points from that moment. Our closest chance to add a third goal came in the final minute when Smolinski roamed forward yet again, this time to drive in a shot from 15 yards which rattled the cross-bar and rebounded clear.

Polish Division 2 – Round 14

KSZO 0-2 Radomsko

Smolinski 45, Kowalczyk 60

1st November 2003:

Klep informs me that this week’s opponents Belchatow are our traditional rivals. Situated just 30 kilometres to the north, they are the nearest based club to Radomsko. Belchatow is an industrial town, similar to Radomsko, and their supporters are fiercely loyal like our own. My shoulder is starting to heal and I can raise my right arm now, but there is still stiffness and some discomfort, so unfortunately I will miss out on the big derby match. Kowalczyk will also miss due to suspension after receiving four yellow cards, so Leszczynski comes in to the centre of midfield and Klep will push up in to the attacking midfield role. There is also a place on the bench for our young striker Stefanczyk who has been scoring regularly in the reserves.

It is a cold, wet day and winter is clearly coming along, but the stadium is packed with 5,500 fans and a local derby will definitely warm things up. Several crunching tackles highlight the first 5 minutes and then we have our first chance to apply some pressure with a corner. It is headed clear and the ball falls to the feet of a speedy Belchatow forward who makes dangerous ground down the right wing. They have got several players quickly forward in support and our midfielders are struggling to get back and cover. Before we can get the numbers back, the ball is crossed and a Belchatow midfielder slides in at the near post to give them the lead. Straight from the kick-off we move forward and Lato’s pass finds Folc free on the left. He dummies to cross deep, but instead drives it low across the area. Tomasiak has the jump on his defender and looks certain to score when he is pulled back. Penalty!! Our players are demanding a red card for the defender, but the ref only produces a yellow. I am the designated penalty taker, but today Folc is the deputy. He steps up and coolly places the ball into the bottom corner to make it 1-1 after 8 minutes. However, 5 minutes later Folc is forced to limp off and Stefanczyk comes on for his debut. We go to a 2-1 lead after 18 minutes when Klepczynski performs Kowalczyk’s role to perfection by ghosting in behind the defence to pick up Leszczynski’s through ball and drill a low shot past the helpless keeper. We hold our lead until the 36th minute when a right wing corner is headed in by their towering centre-half. It remains 2-2 until half-time and both the players and supporters take the opportunity to take a breather from this pulsating derby match.

Belchatow come out all charged up and we are pressed back in our own half of the pitch for much of the second half. Borkowski maintains the status quo with a superb double save in the 63rd minute, but from the resulting corner we concede again, this time when a near-post flick flies into our net via the far post. The home fans are drowning out our travelling band of supporters, but our guys do their best to be heard. This has been the loudest and rowdiest crowd of the season, surpassing even the noise of the cup game against Korona ten days ago. We claw our way back into the game, but with two minutes to go Belchatow hold onto their 3-2 lead. Our final fling of the dice is then made - a sweeping move down our left and a cross which is partially cleared to the edge of the box. The ball sits up invitingly to be hit and it is our left-back Smolinski, scorer of his first ever goal last week, who is in the right place. His first time shot rockets past the keeper, hits the cross-bar and thumps down onto the goal line. “Goalâ€, I scream from my seat in the stand. The Radomsko players surround the referee, who looks to his linesman and then waves play on. Today lady luck is on our opponent’s side. Our unbeaten start to the season is over after fifteen games and it is our bitter rivals Belchatow who have ended it.

Polish Division 2 – Round 15

Belchatow 3-2 Radomsko

Folc 8 (pen), Klepczynski 18

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Dark_Soccer:

Luckily enough I am half polish so I don't have one of those crazy last names icon_biggrin.gif

For some reason I thought I had seen this story before in another forum. The CM5 forum maybe? icon_confused.gif

KUTGW icon14.gif <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I have read this story also a while ago. Doesn't matter though. Still like it...

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5th November 2003:

I completed a full training session tonight and my shoulder is probably about 90% healed. Afterwards the physio gave me a workout lifting some weights, then he told Mr Gorniak that he was convinced that I should be fully fit for Saturday.

8th November 2003:

Polar from the city of Wroclaw are our opponents at the Brzeznicka today and they have had a wretched start to the season. Only one win in their first fifteen matches and just the sort of opposition that we need to help get us back on the winning track. As well as myself in for Lato, there are other changes. Balecki starts for the injured Berensztajn (this week’s victim of the right wing hoodoo), Gawronski replaces Tomasiak and Kowalczyk returns from suspension.

As expected Polar have stacked their midfield and defence and they hope to stifle our creativity. The cold, windy and wet weather doesn’t make things easy for us either. There is not a single attempt on goal for the first 23 minutes, but then Kowalczyk intercepts a sloppy pass and puts Folc clean through on goal. Folc calmly sidesteps the keeper and rolls the ball home for a 1-0 lead. At 35 minutes we give Polar a lesson in the art of the quick counter attack. Borkowski bravely dives at the feet of a Polar striker to win the ball. He quickly gets to his feet and throws the ball to me out on the left. I run for a short distance and spot Kowalczyk haring through middle. I chip a pass in behind the centre-half and Kowalczyk traps the ball expertly and then fools the keeper by hitting an early shot with the outside of his right foot which skids along the wet grass and into the net. All in all, about six touches to go from one end to the other and Polar are gutted. It stays 2-0 until half-time.

The second half is littered with poor finishing by Radomsko. Folc, Kowalczyk and Klepczynski all contrive to miss open goals when it looked easier to score. With both Balecki and I having just returned from injury, we start to feel the pace of the game, so Mr Gorniak subs us off with just over 20 minutes to go. I take my seat in the dugout just in time to see Folc bought down for an obvious penalty. Folc himself takes the kick, but it is weak and straight at the keeper who gathers the ball without too much difficulty. It looks like we are fated not to score any further goals in this match. And just to jingle our nerves, Polar get a late breakaway and pull the score back to 2-1 with three minutes remaining. I sit huddled in the dugout, praying that we will hold on. Someone up above is listening and thankfully we finish up 2-1 winners.

Polish Division 2 – Round 16

Radomsko 2-1 Polar

Folc 23, Kowalczyk 35

15th November 2003:

We have the international break this weekend. Poland is in a play-off for a spot in the finals of Euro 2004 against Switzerland. The first leg is held in Chorzow and it is the Swiss who take the spoils with a 4-3 away victory despite goals from Olisadebe, Kaluzny and Zurawski.

19th November 2003:

The return leg of the Euro 2004 play-off game between Poland and Switzerland is held in Basel and the Poles pull off a stunning 4-2 win to progress to the finals 7-6 on aggregate. A hat-trick from Olisadebe and one from Kosowski completes a result that has my Polish team-mates in raptures.

22nd November 2003:

The week off for the internationals had given us the chance to recharge our batteries and I, for one, was raring to go. Our opponents today were Podbeskidzie who had taken over at the top of the table after our loss to Belchatow three weeks ago. Both teams had opened up a slight break on the rest of the clubs in Division 2, so this would be our chance to take back top spot and maintain that break. No changes to the starting line-up this week, but Jozwiak had returned from his shin injury to take a place on the bench.

Both sides take a few minutes to settle down, but Podbeskidzie have the first chance to do something when they are awarded a free-kick 25 yards out from our goal. However the two players over the ball totally stuff the routine up, allowing Folc to nip in and steal the ball. He races away down the left wing as our opponent’s defenders are caught out upfield for the free-kick. We have a three on two advantage as Folc reaches the goal-line, but he craftily plays a pass onto the edge of the box where Klep is the fourth Radomsko player arriving. He controls the ball, sidesteps a desperate lunging tackle and curls a beautiful shot high into the corner of the net to give us a 1-0 lead. Credit to Podbeskidzie, they are not phased by our goal. They launch wave after wave of attacks, only for our defensive quartet of Osinski, Nowak, Kowalski and Smolinski, plus keeper Borkowski, to deny them in a determined fashion. At 40 minutes Kowalczyk breaks up another attack deep in our half and sprays a long ball to the left. Folc does the hard yards again, working his way down the wing before whipping in a low cross to find Kowalczyk arriving at the near post to force it in. 2-0 at half-time and we are fortunate as Podbeskidzie have had the greater possession of the ball. Mr Gorniak praises our defensive work during his talk and singles out Folc for praise for his lead up work in both goals.

Mr Gorniak’s speech has raised our morale even higher and we charge into Podbeskidzie early in the second half. Folc and Kowalczyk work a lovely move on the edge of the box after 48 minutes and Folc’s neat cross is headed home by Kowalczyk for 3-0. Two minutes later and Smolinski’s long throw on the left lands at my feet. I race to the bye-line before crossing low to the feet of Folc who buries it first time in the net for a thoroughly deserved goal. That puts us 4-0 in front and our opponents have had the stuffing knocked out of them. It stays that way until we produce a late flourish to the game. Firstly Gawronski gets his name on the score sheet as he tucks away the rebound from Folc’s shot after 89 minutes and secondly Kowalczyk claims his hat-trick in the final minute as he runs onto Kowalski’s long pass to nutmeg the keeper with a sizzling low shot. That’s 6-0 to us, the top spot on the table has been recovered, and Folc is the unanimous man of the match.

Polish Division 2 – Round 17

Radomsko 6-0 Podbeskidzie

Klepczynski 6, Kowalczyk 40, 48, 90, Folc 50, Gawronski 89

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25th November 2003:

I’m looking ahead and making a few plans for the upcoming winter break in Polish football. After our game on 6th December we don’t have another official match until 21st February next year. That is an eleven week break and Mr Gorniak has given us seven weeks off with a return to training on 26th January. I have planned to head over to England to catch up with a couple of mates and take in a match or two with my favourite team Chelsea. Things have been going great between myself and Katerina and we have decided that she will join me in London after spending Christmas with her family. Apart from a brief trip to Berlin in Germany it will be her first visit outside of Poland and she is looking forward to it very much.

29th November 2003:

LKS Lodz are down in 15th place on the table and they must be fearing the worst after our 6-0 demolition of Podbeskidzie last weekend. There is only one change as Jozwiak replaces Balecki who drops to the bench.

We fly out of the blocks, quickly pushing LKS back into defence. Folc get the show started after 5 minutes, pushing away his own team-mate Kowalczyk, to latch on Klep’s pass and fire in from 12 yards. Gawronski heads in two minutes later, but it is ruled out for offside. Kowalczyk is given space after 12 minutes and the deadly finisher makes no mistake from close range for our second goal. Almost straight from the restart, Klep wins a 50-50 ball in midfield and knocks a through ball for Kowalczyk to run clear and emphatically finish taking us to 3-0. Just another couple of minutes and Folc heads in my cross, only for the referee to mysteriously rule it out for an offside that no-one can explain. Never mind, we just get on with business and Kowalczyk claims his second hat-trick in a row as he ghosts in behind the LKS defence to control Smolinski’s cross and thrash the ball home. So there are 18 minutes gone, we are 4-0 up and a further two goals have been ruled out for offside. I’m honestly thinking that this could be a double figure game for us at this rate. Then it all suddenly comes to a stop. We still have the majority of the possession, but our final pass never makes it to the intended target. Credit also goes to LKS for tightening up their defence and their marking, but it stays at 4-0 until half-time. The second half is devoid of chances until late on, with Folc hitting one straight at the keeper after 85 minutes and myself hitting the cross-bar from 20 yards in the last minute of the match.

Polish Division 2 – Round 18

Radomsko 4-0 LKS

Folc 5, Kowalczyk 12, 14, 18

5th December 2003:

Before training this evening Mr Gorniak calls Klep and I into his office. When Klep is called in as well, I always know that it is something that will require a major translation. There is already another guy in his office. He steps forward before anything is said and introduces himself. “G’day, I’m Tony Watson. How ya goin’, orright?†Ah, a fellow Australian. “G’day, I’m Gavin Mathieson and I’m goin’ greatâ€, I reply. Mr Gorniak speaks, via Klep, and informs us that Tony is here as a scout for the Australian Under-21 team. He says that he sent out the video of the State Television sports show about me, plus a few other highlights that were privately filmed by the club, to friend in London who had passed them on to Tony. “We’ve got a couple of Under-21 games against club sides in Belgium in early February and I’m here to have a look at youâ€, says Tony. I’m a bit stunned, but it’s a great feeling to know I have been noticed. Tony goes to say that they will be naming a squad in mid January and that I will be notified then if they want to call me up. In the meantime, he will be at tomorrows match against Szczakowianka to watch me play.

6th December 2003:

It is the last game before the winter break and we are travelling 100 kilometres to the south to play Szczakowianka in Jaworzno. It is the usual game of musical chairs on the right of midfield. Today’s occupant is Balecki as Jozwiak has a thigh strain.

Szczakowianka kick off and we don’t even get to touch the ball before we are a goal down. Osinksi and Nowak both leave a pass for each other and the opposition striker is clean through to beat Borkowski at his near post after 22 seconds. After 8 minutes Kowalczyk’s tackle wins the ball and he quickly sends a pass my way. I use my speed to outpace the lumbering centre-half and find myself one-on-one with the keeper. As usual I prefer to shoot rather than attempt to dribble around the goalkeeper and my low shot creeps in at the near post to make it 1-1. Five minutes later and the same move occurs. This time the keeper blocks my shot, but it rolls free to Folc who strokes it into the unguarded net to give us the lead. There are 17 minutes gone when Balecki makes a surging run down the right and crosses into the box. The referee spots Folc having his shirt pulled and awards us a penalty. This is my first chance with a penalty-kick in an official match. I hit it low to my left, but the keeper dives full length to push it away, then a defender finishes the job by belting it out for a corner. I’m not happy with myself at all, but I can see Mr Gorniak on the sidelines urging me to carry on. Play moves to the other end and Szczakowianka earn a corner. Nowak rises to head clear, but his header strikes Klepczynski’s arm just inside the penalty area and the ref awards them a penalty. I stand on the edge of the box, whispering to myself that their player will save my embarrassment and miss, but he shows me how to score a penalty by thumping the ball high past Borkowski to make it 2-2 after just 19 minutes. Things settle into a quieter pattern for most of the remaining first half, but at 43 minutes our opponents take a 3-2 lead when the scorer of their first goal meets a left wing cross with a diving header that gives Borkowski no chance. It is a frustrating second half for us. Szczakowianka defend well and look to be happy with the 3-2 score line. There is one clear chance for us to equalise when substitute defender Kurek beats the keeper with a header from a corner, only to see the full-back head it off the line. At the end we trudge off in despair, although this is later tempered when we learn that Podbeskidzie could only draw and we will go into the break as winter champions.

Polish Division 2 – Round 19

Szczakowianka 3-2 Radomsko

Mathieson 8, Folc 13

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7th December 2003:

All the players meet at Brzeznicka for a loosening up session after yesterdays match. We are not happy that our last game before the winter break was a defeat and neither is Mr Gorniak. However we are still top of the table and there are two automatic promotion places up for grabs, so we are in a reasonably good position at this stage of the season. Mr Gorniak asks us to keep as fit as we can during the break, to watch what we eat and to take it easy on the vodka. After the team meeting we all wish each other the best for the holidays. Several of the players still have their day jobs to go to whilst some of the others have planned holidays. Klep, Folc and Balecki, the trio from the steelworks, are heading off to the Greek isles after Christmas and they beg me to come with them, but I am looking forward to my England trip and I have to say no.

12th December 2003:

Tonight is my last night in Radomsko before my holidays. I have dinner at Katerina’s house and meet her parents for the first time. Her father is a science teacher at the local secondary school and her mother gives piano lessons on a part-time basis. They both can speak English reasonably well, so our conversation is not too difficult. There is a little bit of a fuss when Katerina announces that her trip to England is with me and not a girlfriend as her parents has previously thought, but in the end they seem happy with me and our trip will proceed. After dinner we go down to “Sportz One†to meet our friends for one last big party before the holidays. I have a great night and it is the best way to farewell everyone for the next few weeks.

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | *** | RADOMSKO | | 19 | 12 | 5 | 2 | 47 | 17 | +30 | 41 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | | Podbeskidzie | | 19 | 12 | 4 | 3 | 37 | 22 | +15 | 40 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | | Zaglebie | | 19 | 10 | 6 | 3 | 35 | 17 | +18 | 36 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | | Blekitni | | 19 | 11 | 2 | 6 | 42 | 25 | +17 | 35 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | | Jagiellonia | | 19 | 10 | 3 | 6 | 33 | 22 | +11 | 33 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | | Pogon | | 19 | 8 | 8 | 3 | 24 | 17 | +7 | 32 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | Arka | | 19 | 9 | 5 | 5 | 26 | 21 | +5 | 32 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th | | Stasiak Opoczno | | 19 | 9 | 4 | 6 | 37 | 25 | +12 | 31 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | | Tloki | | 19 | 9 | 3 | 7 | 32 | 24 | +8 | 30 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th | | Belchatow | | 19 | 7 | 3 | 9 | 29 | 35 | -6 | 24 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 11th | | Cracovia | | 19 | 6 | 5 | 8 | 32 | 33 | -1 | 23 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 12th | | Piast | | 19 | 5 | 7 | 7 | 20 | 25 | -5 | 22 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 13th | | Ruch Chorzow | | 19 | 4 | 8 | 7 | 26 | 35 | -9 | 20 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 14th | | Szczakowianka | | 19 | 9 | 3 | 7 | 26 | 25 | +1 | 20 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 15th | | LKS | | 19 | 5 | 2 | 12 | 18 | 35 | -17 | 17 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 16th | | KSZO | | 19 | 3 | 2 | 14 | 19 | 53 | -34 | 11 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 17th | | Polar | | 19 | 1 | 7 | 11 | 12 | 35 | -23 | 10 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 18th | | Aluminium | | 19 | 1 | 3 | 15 | 11 | 40 | -29 | 6 |

| --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|


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20th December 2003:

I’ve had fun catching up with my friend Nick and a few of his mates. I’ve been staying at Nick’s home in Essex and we’ve already had a couple of big nights at his local. He can’t believe that I went off backpacking in early June and that I am now playing football for a living in Poland. We’ve got a couple of tickets to the Boxing Day match at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and Newcastle which I’m really looking forward to.

25th December 2003:

I spent Christmas Day with Nick at his parents place and his mum stuffed us full of a traditional English Christmas lunch. Late in the evening I called Australia and had a chat to my parents, wishing them a Merry Christmas. Dad said it was going to be 32 degrees in Sydney for Christmas Day and I must admit that I did miss the warm weather and a trip to the beach as we usually did back home at this particular time of year.

26th December 2003:

A great day at the Bridge as Chelsea beat Newcastle 3-1 to stay in second place two points behind Arsenal in the English Premier League. Damian Duff scored twice for Chelsea and I was very impressed with his form. Frank Lampard also put in an excellent display and was rewarded with the third goal late on.

29th December 2003:

I meet Katerina at Stansted airport and we headed into London to stay at the home of another mate of mine. Dean is a freelance journalist and part-time writer and he’s always full of ideas about where to go and what to do. We meet up with Dean and his Swedish girlfriend Claudia who is a part-time model and we have a top night hitting the clubs.

3rd January 2004:

After wiping ourselves out on New Years Eve and needing a couple of days to recover, a visit to Stamford Bridge is just the tonic for me. It’s the English FA Cup 3rd Round and Chelsea are playing Leicester. Dean and I take in the game and leave the girls to go shopping together (or whatever it is that girls do when guys are at the football). Chelsea wins 4-0 with Eidur Gudjohnsen bagging a hat-trick and skipper John Terry weighing in with a thumping header at the end.

12th January 2004:

On a whim I decide to blow the last of my savings on a pair of cheap airline tickets to Malta. Katerina and I head over to Malta for a week and stay in a lovely villa near the beach where we just relax and take in the sun during a spell of lovely fine weather. It’s a great way to end our holiday together.

20th January 2004:

We are in London for the day before getting our flight back to Warsaw. I give Tony Watson, the Australian Under-21 scout, a call on his mobile phone as I’m not sure who else to call. “I’m glad you calledâ€, he said. “We’ve rang your club in Poland, but no-one was sure where you were. We’d like you to join the squad in Belgium on 8th February. What do you reckon?†A surge of adrenalin goes through me. “Yeah, I’d love to be there, count me inâ€, I reply. Life just keeps getting better every day.

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26th January 2004:

It’s the first training session since the winter break and it is great to catch up with everyone. Klep and the lads who went to the Greek isles are looking tanned and healthy. Gawronski insists on wearing the lederhosen that he picked up on his skiing holiday in the Austrian Alps. We have a light exercise session and a couple of five-a-side games indoors at the gymnasium.

1st February 2004:

The snow that has been lying around since mid-January has started to melt away and we have our first serious practice game in a seniors versus reserves match. It feels good to get outside and stretch my legs as I run up and down the wing.

4th February 2004:

Train tickets are waiting for me in the office at Brzeznicka for my trip from Warsaw to Brussels to join up with the training squad of the Australian Under-21 team. Mr Gorniak passes them on to me and wishes me the best of luck for the trip. I’m sure that he is happy that I will hopefully be getting some matches under my belt as well some additional coaching that can only benefit Radomsko.

8th February 2004:

I meet up with 21 other young Australians at a hotel in Brussels. The coach is Angie Postecoglou, a former Australian international. He outlines the schedule over the next 9 days which includes matches against Anderlecht reserves and the first teams of La Louviere and KRC Genk.

11th February 2004:

I sit on the sidelines as one of four unselected players as Anderlecht reserves beat the Australian Under-21’s by 3-1.

14th February 2004:

I am named as a substitute for the match against La Louviere which ends in a 1-1 draw, but I don’t get a chance to take the field.

17th February 2004:

Mr Postecoglou names me on the left wing for the match against KRC Genk. They have a combination of seniors and reserves in their team and I find the standard just above what I am used to at Radomsko. Genk score first, but we equalise before half-time. Genk retake the lead early in the second half and as the game comes to the final five minutes they are still leading 2-1, but then a loose ball drops in front of me and I score from close range. In injury time our right winger makes a break and fires over a hopeful cross. I have raced in from the left wing and arrive just in time to slide in at the far post and prod the ball home for the winner. Apart from the two goals, I am reasonably happy with my form during the match. I feel that I have made some sort of impression, but I am obviously only a back-up in Mr Postecoglou’s plans.

19th February 2004:

I arrive back in Radomsko after my trip to Belgium. Both Klep and Katerina are waiting at the apartment and they want to hear all the details about my adventure. We have half an hour to talk before Klep and I return to Brzeznicka for training. I put in a good session and Mr Gorniak tells me afterwards that I will be in the team to play Aluminium on Saturday.

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21st February 2004:

Everyone is in a good mood as we prepare for the first game after the winter break. The weather is crisp and clear and we are anxious to get out on the pitch. Our opponents are Aluminium, who are bottom of the table, so we feel that our chances are very good for a win on the restart of the competition.

Mr Gorniak has named the line-up that has served us well for the last half dozen games before the break, although Tomasiak has forced himself into the starting eleven in place of Gawronski. The team is in a 4-1-3-2 formation as follows: Borkowski; Osinski, Nowak, Kowalski, Smolinski; Klepczynski; Jozwiak, Kowalczyk, Mathieson; Tomasiak and Folc.

It takes only 49 seconds for Radomsko to take the lead. Aluminium are still sorting out their defensive marking when Kowalczyk glides through the centre of their defence to collect Jozwiak’s pass and place the ball around the keeper from the edge of the box. Tomasiak runs onto Kowalczyk’s headed flick after 4 minutes, dribbles around the keeper and slots it in for 2-0, then scores his second of the match after 17 minutes when Kowalczyk unselfishly squares a pass to leave Tomasiak with a simple tap-in. Everything that Tomasiak touches turns to gold and he believes that he has his hat-trick after 24 minutes as he deftly deflects Klepczynski’s long range shot past the goalie. The linesman has other ideas though and it is ruled out for offside. Tomasiak doesn’t have long to wait for his hat-trick as I get a good pass from Smolinski in the 27th minute and sprint past the full-back before crossing to the near post where Tomasiak meets it with a bullet header. The Aluminium keeper somehow claws it away, but Tomasiak gets to his feet to smash home the rebound. Our supporters are loving this performance and Tomasiak is beaming as the crowd chant his name and salute our fourth goal. But there is still more to come as the hapless Aluminium defence are pulled to the right side of the pitch, then a superb cross-field pass from Klep lands at my feet on the left wing. I make it to the bye-line and cut the ball back for Tomasiak, but he steps over it, totally fooling the defence and leaving Folc with a simple finish. We round off the first half with a sixth goal in the 39th minute as Osinski finds Tomasiak on the right and he cuts inside before sending a searing low shot across the keeper and into the far side of the net.

Having taken a 6-0 lead into the half-time break, the fans would surely have expected several more goals in the second half. But like our match against LKS Lodz in Round 18 we failed to expand on our excellent start. There were a couple of half-chances which were not taken, but on the positive side Borkowski had only one save to make. After 76 minutes Dziuba replaced me as I started to feel the effects of my time in Belgium and the travelling back home. Gawronski also replaced Tomasiak who received a standing ovation for his four goal performance. Needless to say Tomasiak got one of Mr Gorniak’s famous bear-hugs when we returned to the dressing-rooms after the match.

Polish Division 2 – Round 20

Radomsko 6-0 Aluminium

Kowalczyk 1, Tomasiak 4, 17, 27, 39, Folc 37

27th February 2004: (morning)

I got a call this morning from Angie Postecoglou, the Australian Under-21 coach. He asked how I was and how I had felt after the games in Belgium. He went on to say that he had been happy with my form and that playing senior football in Poland was obviously helping my development. I asked him if he had any plans for using me further. He said that he couldn’t confirm anything definite, but that I was probably his back-up left winger for the upcoming Olympic Games tournament in Athens in August 2004. I felt a real rush of adrenalin at the thought of playing in such a major world event as the Olympic Games. Mr Postecoglou promised to try and see me play later in the season, or at least have his scout Tony Watson watch me again. I hung up the phone and did a little dance of joy in my lounge room.

27th February 2004: (evening)

It is time for our longest away journey of the season – a 450 kilometre trip to the north-west of Poland to Szczecin right on the border with Germany. The club has decided that we will travel by bus on Friday evening and stay in a hotel overnight so that we can have a light loosening-up run on Saturday morning before the match. We have 29 people on board with the players plus officials. I’m sitting with Smolinski who is becoming one of my newer friends and we are practising Polish and English. Kowalski starts singing an old Polish folk song and several of the senior players join in. Leszczynski gets out his banjo and tries to play along, but it is not really suited to the song. Someone calls out “Australian folk songâ€. I don’t know anything except Waltzing Matilda, so I start to sing that, but after a verse or so they all start to boo and hiss, then several soft drink cans fly in my general direction, so I shut up. And so the frivolity goes on for several hours until we reach Szczecin.

28th February 2004:

There are no changes to the team for the match against Pogon. Their stadium holds 25,000 people, but there are only about 3,500 fans in attendance, so it is no wonder that the club is bankrupt and in receivership at the moment.

Pogon start very brightly and we are on the ropes for the first 20 minutes. I spend much of that time trying to cover their right-back who is intent on overlapping as much as possible. Thankfully our defence is on song and any threatening attacks are firmly dealt with. Klep takes a knock to his left ankle and must leave the field after 15 minutes with Kurek coming on to replace him. Our first serious attack after 27 minutes results in the opening goal when Smolinski’s cross is headed down by Kowalczyk and Folc volleys in from twelve yards. Ten minutes later and Kowalski seriously misjudges a long pass allowing his opponent a clear run on goal. Borkowski races from the net in an attempt to clear the ball, but the Pogon striker is first to it and he slides it past our keeper for the equaliser. Pogon have been good value for their 1-1 half-time score-line and we know that we will have to be very determined in the second half to get a result today.

Borkowski keeps the scores level with three fine saves early in the second half. Pogon have a Brazilian pulling the strings in midfield and Kurek is having trouble shackling him. Folc picks up a thigh strain and Gawronski joins the fray in his place at the 61st minute mark. Balecki also comes on at the same time for Jozwiak on the right of midfield. These changes seem to freshen up our play and Balecki intercepts a poorly-taken free-kick before sliding an inch-perfect pass in to the path of Gawronski who runs on to the fire the ball past the Pogon keeper after 70 minutes. You can see the heads drop on our opponents as they go behind after all their possession and domination. It takes another 18 minutes however before we can kill off the game. Kowalczyk heads on a long clearance and Tomasiak is clean through. Tomasiak’s shot rebounds off the post and falls to Kowalczyk who is following up and he has no trouble in prodding the ball into the empty net. Finally in injury time we take the score to 4-1 when Gawronski’s shot is smothered by the keeper, but Tomasiak lunges in to scuff the ball over the line. It has been a courageous effort by Pogon, but we are very proud of the way we weathered the storm and took control of the match in the final stages.

Polish Division 2 – Round 21

Pogon 1-4 Radomsko

Folc 27, Gawronski 70, Kowalczyk 88, Tomasiak 90

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Everyone seems very keen to point out that they have seen this story somewhere else previously.

Yes, this has been posted by me earlier this year on two other boards.

Is there a problem with submitting a story that was written earlier and which the majority of people on this board will not have seen before? icon_confused.gif

I'm not trying to claim it is the world's best story, I'm not trying to scoop any awards or take credit away from anyone else, I'm just sharing something which I am proud of having written.

If the management here at CMS feel that it is inappropriate to post this story here, then I will cease immediately.

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3rd March 2004:

A mid-week game against mid-table Stasiak Opoczno and this is the sort of game that we must take maximum points from. No changes to the team tonight for Mr Gorniak as we look to draw away from Podbeskidzie in second place.

Stasiak Opoczno make their intentions obvious straight away as they line up with a 3-5-2 formation designed to curb our wingers and pack the centre of midfield. Consequently there are few chances created in the first half with our closest efforts being a 25 yarder from Klep that skims the top of the bar and a rising shot from me on my weaker right foot that goes a foot or two too high. Kowalczyk is currently the division’s top scorer with 23 goals and he has been marked out for some rough attention by the opposition defenders. Twice he is caught by late tackles and a third one ensues midway through the opening half which wrenches his knee and forces him from the ground. I move to the attacking midfielder’s role and Dziuba comes onto the left wing. In injury time at the end of the first half I chase a through ball from Klep but it appears to be the keeper’s ball. However it suddenly strikes a divot and the keeper totally misses it. I sprint again and throw myself at the ball just as it rolls against the post. There is an almighty thump as I crash against the post and roll to one side. I can’t see the ball, but I hear the crowd let out a moan. I finally recover my senses and see the ball nestled in the side-netting, but unfortunately it’s on the wrong side of the goal. So it’s 0-0 at the break and we will have to work harder in the second half.

The curse of the right midfield position strikes again as Jozwiak damages his knee and is replaced by Balecki after 57 minutes. Stasiak Opoczno are not creating much in the way of chances, but they are certainly denying us with their determined defensive play. It will take something special to break their resistance and it is Balecki who provides it after 71 minutes. I take a corner from the right and curl it in with my left foot. It is a near-post effort which a defender clears back in my direction. I retrieve the ball and line up another cross when I see Balecki all alone about 25 yards from goal. I drive a pass towards him, but instead of trapping it, he takes it first time on the volley. It is a perfect connection and the ball rockets into the top corner giving the keeper no chance. After this there are several chances for us to make the game safe. Folc heads into the side-netting, Dziuba slices a shot wide and I fire straight at the keeper when a half-chance comes my way. Our fans are whistling, urging the referee to end the match when Stasiak Opoczno break away down the left. Osinski is out of position and the winger gets time to measure a cross which finds a team-mate just on the penalty-spot. A quick shimmy to one side and room is made for a shot which Borkowski gets a hand to, but cannot stop. Our pocket has been picked in the final minute and Stasiak Opoczno have made off with a precious point in a 1-1 draw.

Polish Division 2 – Round 22

Radomsko 1-1 Stasiak Opoczno

Balecki 71

6th March 2004:

One of our tougher opponents visits us for our second consecutive home match at Brzeznicka. Zaglebie are 4th on the table and arrive on the back of a 12 game unbeaten run. They were the early season favourites for the title and their current form shows that the bookmakers were not far off the mark in their expectations. Suspensions due to accumulated yellow cards have robbed us of Osinski and Tomasiak and they are replaced by Prokop and Gawronski respectively. Kowalczyk has not recovered from his knee injury so Dziuba starts on the left and I remain in the attacking midfielder’s role. Balecki starts for Jozwiak on the right side merry-go-round.

We are not at full strength and Zaglebie are a skilful and determined opponent. It is a battle in the midfield with little in the way of goal-scoring chances being created. Balecki makes the first real chance in the 13th minute as he beats two men on the right and sends over an inviting cross. Klepczynski arrives late and climbs high to send a header towards the far corner, but the Zaglebie keeper pulls off a fine save. Borkowski is called into action after 33 minutes as he palms away the first serious effort that Zaglebie have on our goal. We go into the break all square at 0-0.

The second half is similar to the first with dominating defences and an arm wrestle between the two midfields. Dziuba is replaced after a poor performance on the left wing and suddenly we have a breath of fresh air in the form of substitute Lato. After 61 minutes he breaks free and sends over a cross which eludes the defence and lands at my feet. I have time to line up a shot, but the keeper charges out and spreads himself well to block my effort. Minutes later and Lato finds me yet again, but the angle is tight and my shot hits the side-netting. I hold my head in my hands, wondering what we have to do to score. Balecki is finally getting on top of his marker on the right wing and is causing havoc just as Lato is doing on the left. After 72 minutes Balecki wriggles free on the right and crosses low to the near post. Gawronski moves towards the ball, but his jersey is pulled and the referee has noticed it. A penalty is awarded and I realise that it is my job to take it. I missed my last effort against Szczakowianka in December and that contributed to our defeat on that day. A miss today and I will have to hand the job over to someone else. The Zaglebie keeper tries to unnerve me by taking his time to position himself on the goal-line, but finally he is ready. I decide to hit it to the keeper’s left and start my run up. I strike it well and he dives the wrong way, so there is no chance for him to save it. The ball bulges the net and we are 1-0 up. A feeling of relief comes over me and I run to the fans behind the goal to celebrate. Zaglebie attempt to push forward, but they have surrendered the initiative to us and we are determined to hold on. There is another nerve-wracking 20 minutes to play though, but we maintain our hold on the lead to end Zaglebie’s unbeaten run and continue on as league leaders.

Polish Division 2 – Round 23

Radomsko 1-0 Zaglebie

Mathieson 72 (pen)

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Spav:

Everyone seems very keen to point out that they have seen this story somewhere else previously.

_Yes, this has been posted by me earlier this year on two other boards._

Is there a problem with submitting a story that was written earlier and which the majority of people on this board will not have seen before? icon_confused.gif

I'm not trying to claim it is the world's best story, I'm not trying to scoop any awards or take credit away from anyone else, I'm just sharing something which I am proud of having written.

If the management here at CMS feel that it is inappropriate to post this story here, then I will cease immediately. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

As long as its your own work, its perfectly acceptable. The only thing that wouldnt be acceptable is if you had posted someone else's work as your own, so dont worry about.

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